Real World/Historical Figures that would make great PCs


While we often look to strong literary characters as inspiration for RPG player characters, there are quite a lot of real world historical figures who's backgrounds and exploits would make for great PCs. This is the thread where we share our favorites and discuss them!

I'll start with the incomparable Chevelier d'Eon, a French spy, soldier, diplomat and celebrity that was also andogynous and possibly trans. d'Eon spent time in Russia countering English interests and (politically) courting Empress Elizabeth. The story goes that d'Eon was so convincing and beautiful as a woman that Empress Elizabeth was delighted with the spy, even after learning of the deception. Later, d'Eon was a Dragoon captain and then the French diplomat to England. This figure has all the hallmarks of a player character: a strange backstory, a unique quirk, competence, important and dangerous missions, and, frankly, quite a bit of luck.

Who do you nominate for "Historical Figure Most Likely to be a PC?"


Dying in Chargen
Aloha Wanderwell.jpg

Aloha Wanderwell (Idris Galcia Hall née Welsh, October 13, 1906 – June 4, 1996) was a Canadian/American Internationalist explorer, author, filmmaker, and aviatrix. In the 1920s, while still a teenager, she traveled 380,000 miles across 80 countries, becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a Ford 1917 Model T. Beginning when she was just 16 years old, the journey took seven years to complete.



Richard the Lion-hearted. For those players who cannot abide anybody telling their character what to do.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Julie d'Aubigny, known as La Maupin. French woman born in late 1600's and who learnt to fence, worked as an opera singer, and according to rumour participated in duels and had an interesting love-life (including seducing a young nun)
Was gonna say this if no one had.

You undersell her, though. She became a famous and respected opera singer, and she seduces the nun before she took holy orders, joined the order when her girlfriend was sent to the convent, and set the convent on fire to cover their escape.

aramis erak

If there's any historical figure whose memoirs scream, "I'm a PC!!!"...
LtCol Greg "Pappy" Boyington, USMC.
Fighter pilot, US Marine, he volunteered for detachment to the American Volunteer Group under MGen Claire Chennault, wound up commanding the VMF 214 "Black Sheep", holder of the CMH, survivor of a Japanese POW camp,

Better still, I met him, once, got to spend some time talking. Even two years before his death, he was still a hard drinking story-teller with no regard for rules.


Mod Squad
Staff member
I'm going to go with Bass Reeves. The first African American deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi, back in 1875.

The man is credited with bringing in 3,000 felons*, but was never wounded. He shot and killed 14 people in self-defense.

A great many of these felons ended up in the Detroit House of Correction. Interestingly, a couple of decades after his death, Detroit Radio Station WXYZ first aired radio plays about a character we now know and love... The Lone Ranger. It may be surmised that Reeves was part of the inspiration.

*Including, it is sad to say, his own son.


After watching Doctor Who, I’d like to put in a word for Ada Lovelace (nee Byron), Mathematician who first noted that the punchcards created for Babbages Analytical device could go beyond mere number crunching to be used for complex symbolism as ‘computational devices’.

She hung out with Babbage, Faraday and Dickens, studied magnetism and mesmerism and had a desire to create a mathematical model for how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings ("a calculus of the nervous system")


After watching Doctor Who, I’d like to put in a word for Ada Lovelace (nee Byron), Mathematician who first noted that the punchcards created for Babbages Analytical device could go beyond mere number crunching to be used for complex symbolism as ‘computational devices’.
The worlds first programmer. ;)


Mod Squad
Staff member
There's also Julia Child. Yes, that Julia Child, of "The French Chef" fame...

It is only slightly inaccurate to say that, before she got into cooking... she professionally scared sharks for the CIA.

(It was actually for the OSS, in WWII, but yes, she came up with some of the standard repellents used to keep sharks from detonating marine ordinance)


Ned Kelly is considered by some to be the Australian Robin Hood. He led a gang of bushrangers with the help of a vast network of sympathizers. He created a set of bullet proof armour scrounged together from farm ploughs to wear during shoot outs with police. Wearing heavy armour in an age of firearms is surely a PC thing to do.


Nancy Wake, the White Mouse.
New Zealand born, she was the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman of WWII, and the Gestapo’s most-wanted person. They code-named her ‘The White Mouse’ because of her ability to elude capture. When war broke out she was a young woman married to a wealthy Frenchman living a life of luxury in cosmopolitan Marseilles. She became a saboteur, organiser and Resistance fighter who led an army of 7,000 Maquis troops in guerrilla warfare to sabotage the Nazis.



I'm currently part-way through Runciman's three volume history of the Crusades. One of the prominent Franks in the early period was Joscelin of Courtenay, who was captured in battle in 1122. Subsequently Baldwin II, trying to find out what happened by scouting the area of Joscelin's capture, was himself ambushed and captured while engaging in some falconry.

The fortress where the two were being held was in Armenia, and Joscelin had a good relationship with the Armenians. He had an Armenian peasant take a message to his friends, and as a result fifty Armenian allies entered the fortress disguised as merchants and monks seeking an audience with the governor. They then produced concealed weapons and took over the fortress. Joscelin left the fortress with two Armenians to seek help while Baldwin and the rest stayed on to try and hold it. Joscelin, who couldn't swim, escaped across the Euphrates river by floating on two inflated wineskins while being aided by the Armenians, who could swim. He then led an army back to the fortress to try and free Baldwin II.

Unfortunately for Joscelin and Baldwin, and fortunately for their captors, this didn't work out - Baldwin's defence of the captured fortress had failed and he'd been taken to a more secure fortress. Still, this is like an episode from a mediaeval/fantasy game, and characters like Joscelin and Baldwin would fit right in as PC warrior types.