Characters in Lasers & Feelings (a free, one-page RPG. It’s so good!) are defined by contrast & tension. It’s right there in the name: Lasers oppose Feelings. They pull characters apart instead of leading them to a single point. It’s quite a paradigm shift for me, because I usually build characters around a central theme, with each detail re-enforcing the others. Can I define the stock characters of fantasy dungeon-delving in terms of contrast? Let’s try!
Rogue: cowardice & greed
Heists, reconnaissance, and assassinations are tense activities, so it’s easy to see how a Rogue is torn between making the score and avoiding a fair fight.
Wizard: knowledge & destruction
Wizards are nerds that love books, research, and high-quality paper. Wizards will also turn you into a newt, strike you with lightning, and drop you through a portal to Hell.
Bard: sex & puns
This is the cultural consensus on proper Bard activities, although not many systems provide official support for them.
The Fighter only has one stat, because Fighters are one-dimensional and boring. A fighter who tries to do something that doesn’t fall under “combat” fails without rolling.