CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Begin from the Beginning

Looking at Where Our Characters Come From

Illustration by Luis Perez
Where characters came from, where life began for them can be one of the most telling things about them. Their family life, education, and social status among other things will affect how they see the world and interact with it. Many times players just wonder about how their characters became whatever occupation they are at the beginning of adventuring but don’t truly delve into where it all began.

A lot of players like to play the fresh off the farm character and that is certainly a fine place to be from. The peasant to hero character is tried and true but there are some things people forget to consider. Coming from the farmlands will have effects on your character’s outlook on life. Was his family a self-sufficient frontier farmer, or were his parents serfs beholden to a monarch? Many who come from poverty are willing to spread their wealth around a little more. Consider how growing up a laborer has tinted your character’s outlook. Consider how being beholden to a noble flavors his interaction with those of wealth. What farm habits does he keep even off the farm? Up at the dawn every day even though it’s been a long time since he had to tend the fields? Maybe he doesn’t trust a man without the callouses of work on his hands. There is a lot to be taken into account when making this type of character.

On the opposite end you have the noble born hero. This is a character that has wanted for nothing through most of his early life. How does this affect how he handles a life on the road? Is he used to others serving him and so expects that of his companions? Does he carry a lot of excess gear because there are luxuries he can’t live without? His interactions with those not of his standing could be confrontational as he expects them to defer to him; or was his family or just he himself egalitarian? You cannot just slap the title son of a Duke on the character and just let that be the end of it.

You have rich and poor but you also have city folk and country folk. Whether you’re making a street urchin or the son of a merchant, being a city dweller leaves a certain impression on you. In the city you are used to being piled upon by other people, living closely together, always some kind of noise going on. If you become an adventurer who travels from town to town and location to location how do the silent nights in the countryside make you feel? Little quirks like finding it hard to fall asleep without noise can help make a city character more than just the guy from Magnimar.

Country living can be harsh in ways the city is not, although that doesn’t make the city less dangerous. Frontiersmen, outlying farms for cities, and even small hamlets all bring a certain air to a character. Self-Sufficiency is a hallmark of those who live far from others. Close familial ties are key to survival out in the wilds. Frequently farmers and woodsmen have many children to help with the day to day chores. How does a character with numerous brothers and sisters differ from one who has just one or no siblings at all?

The military family is another common choice for players. Maybe you are the child of a soldier, guardsmen, or knight. They have country or city, rich or poor backgrounds and all that those entail, but having to deal with a parent or parents who have been militarily trained lends to certain types of children. Detail oriented, punctual, and self-disciplined are some of the personality traits that may come from these types of families. Pathfinder’s Golarion campaign setting has a number of military factions from the Hellknights to the Eagle Knights to the crusaders of Mendev. Each group can put their own spin on how a character might be raised.

Being raised the child of academics has its own perils and pitfalls that can manifest as personality traits for a character. Even if the character isn’t a serious academic themselves, a love of reading might be something that sets them apart from their fellow adventurers. Depending on the parents involvement, many children of teachers and scholar spend a lot of time on their own, this can play out as awkwardness around other people.

These are just some bare bones of potential childhoods, there are many other possible upbringings as well as the fact some of them can be combined. Although this is by no means exhaustive, hopefully it gives you some food for thought. Making sure aspects of our character’s childhood are reflected In them as adults is a sure way to expand our role playing horizons.

What childhood upbringings have you used in your backgrounds before? How have these experiences in their youth been reflected in how your character acts now? Why does your character hold on to some parts of his childhood and not others?

Just as we look back to the beginning of our characters life we can look back to the beginning of the CRB. If you’ve been enjoying our content and its been helping shape your gaming, please consider donating to my Patreon. The CRB is also all over social media. Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter all have a CRB presence so come join our community. My inbox on all platforms is always open.

The opening illustration was created by a fine artist Luis Perez. You can find him on Twitter and on Instagram at luisperezart.

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