It uses a standard deck of playing cards. Thirteen cultural influences, laws, or taboos are assigned to the ranks of the cards, and the suit determines whether the character is an exemplar of that influence, or if they invert it in some way, or some other relationship between the character and the influence. I can't recall the details, which is why I'm searching for it. It's not Traveller: New Era or Twilight 2000, both have turned up in my search but they are not it.
2\$\begingroup\$ While I can't help with this question, I am interested in the idea. It could be good for other games to randomly create NPC's in places like towns or castles to give them a unique feel. \$\endgroup\$– Lost SorcererJul 5, 2013 at 3:04
\$\begingroup\$ When I only saw the title I thought you were going for Deadlands' stat determinatiob \$\endgroup\$– CatLordJul 5, 2013 at 19:44
1\$\begingroup\$ Relevant answer by Sardathrion. \$\endgroup\$– VoracJul 8, 2013 at 10:42
\$\begingroup\$ I could expend the answer that @Vorac mentions but since you are looking for a particular game and not a method... \$\endgroup\$– Sardathrion - against SE abuseJul 9, 2013 at 13:31
\$\begingroup\$ Could the game be Maléfices? \$\endgroup\$– Sardathrion - against SE abuseJul 9, 2013 at 13:33
The variation of the idea that I'm most familiar with is about five years old and was system independent from the start.
The process was created by Simon Carryer on storygames, in Generating "Culturally Rich" NPCs.
His work inspired Mo, at Sin Aesthetics, to write about it in Simon Says.
I later shared the idea via Deep as a Puddle: Characters and Culture. I've returned to it again a couple of times over the years, in Dwarven Culture, and later a Central Asian Fantasy version.
In 2012, the mechanic was incorporated into a very cool 24 hour RPG called The Oathbreakers.