Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blogging the Dragon: Birth Tables

I love how early D&D'ers seemed to want a random generator for everything. In the Dragon #3, p. 14, we get birth tables for players who want quick backgrounds for their characters with a minimum of effort.

I'm not sure that I can legally reproduce the tables verbatim, but here is an outline of the process. DM's can complete the tables by furnishing their own data, or just get a copy of the article from the source.

STEP I, SOCIAL CLASS
  • In the article, a d% results in the character being a Commoner, Merchant, Gentleman, or Noble. DM's should arrange this table to reflect the social strata of his chosen campaign world.
STEP II, SIBLING RANK
  • The results of this roll determine how many siblings the character has (up to 4 in the original article), or whether the character is an only child, orphan, or bastard (their words, not mine).
  • The article also adds that on a roll of 1 on a d6, the character is orphaned. That sounds a bit too probable to me.
  • At the DM's discretion, there may be a chance of inheritance. The article suggests that only a first born receives an inheritance (10% extra starting gold). It also says bastards get 10% less starting gold, but I don't agree. In fact, divorced parents could use generosity to compensate for the percieved emotional stress they caused their children.
STEP III, SOCIAL RANK
  • Commoners, Merchants, Gentlemen, and Noblemen each consult a separate table.
  • Each table is a d% roll, with results ranging from Impoverished to Very Wealthy.
  • Each result carries an initial amount of starting gold, multiplied by level, and an allowance, which is sent to the character by his family once per month for up to a year, or when he reaches 3rd level, whichever comes first.
  • Each result also has a code referring which skill tables to refer to. These aren't "skills" in the 3.0 sense, but more profession-related talents.
STEP IV, FATHER'S OCCUPATION
  • Depending on which social class a character belongs to, his father rolls on appropriate skills tables.
STEP V, SKILLS
  • Depending on the results of Steps III and IV, consult one or more of these three tables. All are d100:
  • Group 1: Includes lower-class professions like Vagabond, Tinker, Woodsman, Sailor, and Soldier.
  • Group 2: Includes professions like Merchant, Craftsman (which can be fused nicely with the related 3.0/3.5 skill), Animal Trainer, and Shipwright.
  • Group 3: Includes professions like Sheriff, Physician, Interpreter, Don Juan (?!), and Biologist.
  • All tables include the entry 00 = Adventurer, for the PC's father.
  • There are further restrictions, such as "Peasant may not roll above a 70," etc.

Make sense? Let me know if it doesn't. I'm not sure if I'd use these tables on a regular basis, but they do provide a quick means of generating a character's background when time or creative juices are in short supply.

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