Lifepath System

Lifepaths

This is an alternative method of character creation, which allows players to detail the course of their character’s life up to the point at which the game begins.

A modified Character Sheet including space to record a character’s careers can be found here.

Attributes are calculated as normal. However the manner in which Specialities are chosen is different.

Instead, the character starts at the age of 16, with:

1 point in Region/City dweller in their home region or city
1 point in one of: Region/City: Academic, High Society, Military, Mercantile, Ecclesiastical, Journalistic, Law Enforcement, Occult, Worker or Underworlder
1 point in one of: Woodsman, Spacer, Plainsman, Mariner, Courtier, Streetwise, Mountainman, Desert Dweller or Airman

Their life from the age of 16 onwards is broken down into periods of 1-5 years (rolled randomly, or, with The GM’s permission, chosen by the player) during which they will pursue a career or living. During this period they gain one rank in three Specialities chosen from that career’s Speciality list. Only 1 rank can be gained in each Speciality per career period. Where a single Speciality isn’t specified, such as (Language) or (Close Combat Speciality), then more than one can be bought in a single career period. For example, an Academic could gain a rank in both Language: Latin, and Language: Greek during the same period (and then, if their next career allowed them to take (Language), could gain another rank in each one if they so wish).

After Specialities have been bought, there is a chance that at some point during this period, something bad happened to the character, and they have suffered a mishap or sustained an injury, whether in battle, in a duel, an industrial accident, magical explosion, assasination attempt, traffic accident etc etc. Each career has a Mishap Rating. The player must roll equal to or under this on a d20, or the character has suffered a mishap. Roll 2d10 on the Mishaps table below to determine what this is.

Once any mishaps for the career period have been resolved, the character must make an advancement roll to see if they have succeeded in furthering themselves in their career. In careers with a strict hierarchy or clear ladder of seniority this will normally involve gaining a promotion to the next rank up. In less well-defined careers advancement represents increasing levels of influence, fame and/or popularity. However, it is hard to increase your influence and notoriety without making a few rivals or enemies along the way!

Advancement rolls are made on one of the character’s 5 core attributes, without modifiers. Each career has 2 attributes the character may roll against, and the character may choose which they will use.

If the roll is successful, the character gains 1 point in a (Region/City) Speciality relevant to their current career (I.e High Society, Academic, Military etc.). As usual, this also gives the character an ally or patron in that area of society, or membership of an organisation (regiment, holy order, noble society, guild etc.). However, the character also gains one rival or enemy, who will seek to do the character harm if they get the chance.

If the roll is a failure, the character doesn’t advance in that career, and there are no further effects.

A critical success means that the character is a rising star, soaring up the ranks or gaining great renown. The character gains 2 points in a (Region/City) Speciality relevant to their current career (I.e High Society, Academic, Military etc. The character will gain 2 allies, membership of 2 organisations, or one of each. However, their meteoric rise will also gain them 2 enemies.

A critical fail means that not only has the character failed to progress, they have actually been demoted or lost prestige! The character loses the support of 1 ally or the membership of 1 organisation. They do not lose any points gained in any (Region/City) Specialities, nor do they lose any enemies they have made so far, although these will probably be revelling in the character’s set-back.

The character then begins a new career period, which may be in the same career (depending on mishaps). Each character is allowed a maximum of 5 career periods.

The player also has 5 ‘free’ Speciality points to spend on any Speciality they want from the main Specialities list. These can be spent at any point during the character creation process, either as skills learnt in childhood or as ‘extra-curricula’ activities during a career period. No more than a total of 5 Speciality points (either from career periods and/or the ‘free’ points) can be spent on a single Speciality.

Sorcerer, Priest, and equivalent Specialities cost 2 Speciality points per rank as normal, and give the same amount of starting Power. Thus, in a career period in which a character gains a rank of Sorcerer or Priest, they would only gain a rank in one other Speciality that period. Once all of a character’s career periods have finished, the character chooses their spells, based on their total Speciality ranks, and can elect to spend Attribute points on additional Power as normal.

There is no restriction on which careers are selected, or the order in which they are chosen, but the player must give a reason for the career change, creating an interesting life-story for their character. Players are also encouraged to think about how their characters met, and this can be worked into each character’s lifepath. All background details arising from careers and mishaps must be cleared by the GM, and should have a genuine impact on a character.

The Career options are:

Academic: Scientists, Historians, Sorcerors, Archaeologists, Students etc.
Aristocrat: Royalty, Nobles, Gentry, Extremely Wealthy Merchants, Politicians etc.
Crewman: Sailors, Airship Crews, Pirates, Starship Crews, Pilots etc.
Criminal: Thieves, Burglars, Gangsters, Hackers, Conmen etc.
Engineer: Mechanics, Engineers, Cyberneticists, Inventors etc.
Entertainer: Actor, Musician, Novelist, Playwright, Bard etc.
Healer: Doctors, Herbalists, Apothecaries, Healers, etc.
Journalist: Writers, Journalists, Reporters etc.
Law Enforcer: Police, Thief Takers, Security Guards, Bounty Hunters, Watchmen etc.
Military: Soldiers, Warriors, Marines, Mercenaries, Gladiators etc.
Outdoorsman: Hunters, Gamekeepers, Cowboys, Rangers, Nomads, Drifters etc.
Priest: Clerics, Priests, Druids, Monks, Nuns etc.
Professional: Lawyers, Architects, Businessmen, etc.
Spy: Intelligence Agents, Corporate Spies, Undercover Detectives etc.
Trader: Merchants, Traders, Pedlars, Shopkeepers etc.
Worker: Peasants, Miners, Craftsmen, Factory Workers, Office Workers, Slaves etc.

Career Specialities

Academic Aristocrat Crewman Criminal
Specialities (Region) Academic (Region) High Society (Region) Mercantile (Region) Underworlder
Botanist/ Plant Lore Banter (Region) Military Charmer
Chemist/Alchemist Carouser Airman Climber
Computer User Charmer Artilleryman Close Combat Speciality*
Debator Close Combat Speciality* Astro-Navigator Computer Hacker
Detection Courtier Carouser Concealment
Doctor Debator Climber Conman
Geographer Dancer Close Combat Speciality* Detection
Geometrician Discern Combat Pilot Vehicle Discern
Historian Etiquette Communications Disguise
Knowledge: Other* Evasion Engineer Evasion
(Language)* Gambler Geographer Forger
Occultist Gossip (Language)* Intimidator
Psychic Historian Mariner Locksmith
Researcher (Language)* Navigator Pickpocket
Robotics Leader Pilot Vehicle Ranged Combat Speciality*
Sorceror Negotiator Ranged Combat Speciality* Stealthy
Teacher Orator Spacer Streetwise
Theologian Ranged Combat Speciality* Swimmer Strongman
Writer Rider Tactician Trapper
Zoologist/Animal Lore Seducer Zero-Gravity Vehicle Driver/Pilot
Mishap Roll 15 14 12 10
Advancement Roll Kno, Per Wit, Per Wit,Kno Crd, Wit
Engineer Entertainer Healer Journalist
Specialities (Region/City) Academic (Region/City) High Society (Region/City) Academic (Region/City) Academic
(Region/City) Economic/Mercantile Actor Botanist/ Plant Lore (Region/City) Ecclestiastical
Administrator Artist Chemist/Alchemist (Region/City) Economic/Mercantile
Artilleryman Banter Computer User (Region/City) High Society
Chemist/Alchemist Charmer Detection (Region/City) Journalistic
Communications Conjurer Doctor (Region/City) Law Enforcement
Computer User Conman Electrician (Region/City) Military
Demolitions Dancer Gossip (Region/City) Underworlder
Detection Disguise Interrogator Administrator
Electrician Gossip Knowledge: Other* Charmer
Engineer Haggler Negotiator Communications
Knowledge: Other* (Language) Psychologist Computer User
Researcher Leaper Researcher Conman
Robotics Negotiator Robotics Debator
Siege Engineer Orator Teacher Detection
Strongman (Performer) (Vehicle) Pilot/Driver Discern
Teacher Poet Writer Gossip
(Vehicle) Pilot/Driver Seducer Zoologist/Animal Lore Interrogator
Strongman Negotiator
Tumbler Poet
Writer Writer
Mishap Roll 14 14 14 13
Advancement Roll Wit, Kno Kno, Per Wit, Kno Kno, Per
Law Enforcer Military Outdoorsman Priest
Specialities (Region/City) Law Enforcement (Region) Military (Animal) Rider (Region) Academic
(Region/City) Underworlder (Region) High Society Animal Wrangler (Region) High Society
(Animal) Rider Artilleryman Climber (Region/City) Ecclestiastical
Close Combat Speciality* Cavalryman Close Combat Speciality* Administrator
Computer User Close Combat Speciality* Concealment Conman
Concealment Combat Vehicle Driver/Pilot Desert Dweller Courtier
Cryptography Concealment Evasion Debator
Detection Demolition Hunter Detection
Discern Detection Ice Dweller Doctor/Healer
Evasion Evasion Leaper Discern
Interrogator Infantryman Mountainman Gossip
Intimidator Intimidator Navigator Historian
Lawyer Leader Night Vision Interrogator
Leader Ranged Combat Speciality* Plainsman Knowledge: Other*
Negotiator Rider Ranged Combat Speciality* (Language)
Psychic Siege Engineer Runner Leader
Ranged Combat Speciality* Stealthy Stealthy Negotiator
Runner Strongman Strongman Orator
Stealthy Tactician* Swimmer Priest
Streetwise Thrower Trapper Theologian
(Vehicle) Pilot/Driver Vehicle Driver/Pilot Woodsman Writer
Mishap Roll 12 10 12 14
Advancement Roll Crd, Kno Brn, Crd Brn, Wit Kno, Per
Professional Spy Trader Worker
Specialities (Region/City) Academic (Region/City) Law Enforcement (Region/City) Economic/Mercantile (Region/City) Worker
(Region/City) Economic/Mercantile (Region/City) Military (Region City) High Society (Region/City) Economic/Mercantile
(Region/City) High Society (Region/City) Underworlder (Region/City) Underworlder Administrator
(Region/City) Law Enforcement Actor Administrator Animal Wrangler
(Region/City) Underworlder Close Combat Speciality* (Animal) Rider Communications
Administrator Charmer Charmer Computer User
Communications Computer Hacker Computer User Cook
Computer User Concealment Conman Detection
Cook Conman Detection Gambler
Discern Cryptography Discern Gossip
Engineer Detection Etiquette Haggler
Haggler Discern Evaluate Locksmith
Knowledge: Other* Disguise Geographer Negotiator
Lawyer Evasion Gossip Researcher
Negotiator Forger Haggler Rider
Orator Gossip Knowledge: Economics Streetwise
Researcher (Language)* (Language)* Strongman
Teacher Locksmith Navigator Teacher
Ranged Combat Speciality* Negotiator (Trade)*
Rider (Trade)* (Vehicle) Pilot/Driver
Stealthy (Vehicle) Pilot/Driver Undergrounder
Mishap Roll 15 10 15 14
Advancement Roll Kno, Per Wit, Per Kno, Per Crd, Kno
  • 1 specific Speciality must be chosen. This can be selected more than once in a single Career Period, for different variations. For example, a character could take 1 point of both Swordsman (Cutting) and Parrying Weapon: Shield in a single period, but not 2 points of Swordsman (Cutting)

Mishap Table

Roll Injury Effect
2 Lost eye -2 Coordination, -2 Wits from the character’s initial attributes
3 Mutilated -3 Personal
4 Severe Head wound -2 Wits from the character’s initial attribute. This will also affect the character’s Reaction Speed.
5 Head Wound -1 Knowledge from the character’s initial attribute.
6 Lost finger(s) -1 Coordination. This will also affect the character’s Reaction Speed.
7 Hatred Your character develops a deep, ferocious hatred of a single specific race, nationality, tribe, culture or other large group. Whenever your character encounters a member of this group, they must pass a Wits test or instantly attack them.
8 Indebted Whether it is a debt of money, honour, a favour or whatever, someone has a hold over you. They may call the debt in at any time, and you are bound to do your utmost to repay it. The debtor could be a friend, ally, rival, enemy, business contact or anything else that you can think of and is appropriate.
9 Personal tragedy A spouse, lover, family member(s) or close friend(s) die or are killed, possibly under suspicious circumstances, or through the fault of the character.
10 Disgraced The character is forced to leave their current career as a result of a (possibly fabricated) scandal, misdemeanor, betrayal, bankruptcy or dereliction of duty. They may return to this career after a period spent in another occupation while the uproar dies away. The character will return at a lower rank or level of esteem than he left in.
11 Emnity The character acquires the bitter emnity of someone that they’ve encountered during the course of this career.
12 Phobia The character develops an irrational fear of a specific item, creature, race or situation. Examples could include spiders, darkness, enclosed spaces, combat etc. Whenever your character encounters the object of their phobia, they must pass a Wits test or flee as far away from it as possible. If impossible to flee, they will either cower away as far as they can, or completely freeze and be unable to move until the object of their fear has been removed.
13 Loss of Influence As a result of the character’s (real or alleged) actions, they lose the patronage of an ally or the membership of an organisation that they have gained as a result of (Region/City) High Society, Mercantile, Underworlder etc.
14 Long Convalescence As a result of illness or injury, the character is bed-bound for a long period. This character only receives 2 Speciality Points for this career period.
15 Deep wound -1 Brawn from the character’s initial attribute. This does not affect the character’s initial Durability.
16 Head wound -1 Wits from the character’s initial attribute. This will also affect the character’s Reaction Speed.
17 Scarred -1 Personal from the character’s initial attribute.
18 Leg wound A serious injury or illness leaves the character with a pronounced limp. -3 Reaction Speed.
19 Weakened An illness or injury has left the character weakened. -3 Durability from the character’s initial score.
20 Calamity! Roll twice and combine the results

Example

Oliver Preston, gentleman.

Born in 1702 in Wiltshire, to local gentry, at the age of nine Oliver was sent to school. At the age of 16, he returned home for a few months, before travelling to London.

Oliver takes 1 rank in Region: Wiltshire, 1 rank in Wiltshire: High Society, and due to his bucolic surroundings, 1 rank of Woodsman. He also spends 4 of his 5 free points on Climber, Language: French, Etiquette, and Swordsman: Thrusting, due to schoolboy lessons, and days climbing trees and receiving the rudiments of fencing

The youthful Oliver arrives in London, and in receipt of a generous allowance, lives a life of leisure and frivolity, not always behaving as well as he ought!

1 period of the Aristocrat career, lasting 3 years. He acquires 1 rank of Gambler, 1 of Carouser, and a further rank of Swordsman: Thrusting. No mishaps occur, but he doesn’t succeed his advancement roll

After 3 years, with his money running out and his ‘friends’ abandoning him, young Oliver uses some of the last of his money to purchase a commission as a subaltern in an infantry regiment.

1 period of 3 years in the Military career. He learns 1 rank of Tactician: land, 1 of Evasion, and 1 of Rider. Again he escapes misfortune, and this time succeeds his advancement rollmeaning that Oliver gains a rank of London: Military, having become well-known in the army and receiving the patronage of a senior officer.

After 3 years, Oliver is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and continues his military career, serving with distinction. During a skirmish, his left hand is struck by a musket ball, severing 2 of his fingers. After 2 years as a lieutenant, he is promoted to Captain, and is marked by his Colonel as a man to watch.

Another period, this time of 2 years in the Military Career. A Mishap is rolled, resulting in lost fingers, reducing his Coordination by 1. . He also gain a rank in Pistoleer, and a further rank in Swordsman: Thrusting, along with a rank of Stealthy. He spends the last of his free points for another rank of Rider. He also once more succeeds his advancement roll, gaining promotion, and entry into the London Officer’s Club.

Now, partly due to his knowledge of French, and partly due to his successful military career, he is recruited as a spy by the intelligence service. He travels to Paris, where he makes friends in the criminal underworld. After 3 years he is recalled to England.

The last career period is spent as a Spy, lasting 3 years. He improves his Language: French by 1 rank, and gains a rank in Pistoleer and Underworlder (Paris). He manages to avoid serious injury during this time, but also fails to gain advancement. Oliver’s player decides to stop here, although he could choose to have one more career period if he wished.

At the start of the game, Oliver Preston is 26 years old, holds the rank of Captain in the infantry, and is a proven agent of the intellgience service. He has a wealthy relative in Wiltshire, a highly-placed contact in the army (who may well have recruited him to the intelligence services), and an ally amongst the Parisian thieves. He is a member of an exclusive London Club for military officer.

He is missing his little finger, and part of his ring finger on his left hand, but usually wears gloves to hide this. During his career, he has earnt the emnity of a sergeant whom he had flogged for drunkeness, and a fellow officer who believes Preston received unfairly preferential treatment in being considered for membership of the LOC, preventing his own membership. As a result, both these individuals will go out of their way to hinder or even hurt Captain Preston.

He has the following Specialities:
High Society: Wiltshire 1
Region: Wiltshire 1
Woodsman 1
Climber 1
Rider 2
Language: French 2
Swordsman: Thrusting 3
Stealthy 1
Etiquette 1
Gambler 1
Carouser 1
Evasion 1
Tactician: Land 1
London: Military 2
Pistoleer 2
Underworlder: Paris 1

Lifepath System

Generic, Endlessly Applicable Roleplay System (3rd Ed.) DrMagister