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Old 09-05-2018, 09:34 PM   #21
Agemegos
 
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
I've noticed that lifepath systems tailored to the outcome work better. If you say you want to be a Wizard, that's one lifepath system. If you want to be a powerful noble, that's another. It gets you over the simple fact that more than 90% of people in medieval societies were farmers with no other options.
That's a good point, and one that I think applies far more generally than just in fantasy. Something was funny about Traveller in that the characters it produced were all former-something but weren't currently anything; and in particular weren't currently a party of all the same thing. And that made it harder to imagine, let alone set up and play, several types of campaign that would otherwise have been promising and extended the scope of the game.

I feel that this is related in a way to a difficulty that I often have in getting character-players to decide on (and explain) a character concept before they start character generation in a point-buy system like GURPS. I keep getting backstory instead of character concept. It's very often all about what the character did in the past and too seldom about what he or she is going to be like on adventures. But that is perhaps a de-rail.

The character generation system in the original version of ForeSight depended strongly on a random roll for age. Players tended to resent that, and grumbled, so a new version came out with a system in which the GM set the power level for PCs by specifying how many "background factors" they ought to be built on. Players then chose elements of backstory from the tables, and this set the sizes of the several pools of generation points on which the characters could be built. Players were encouraged to arranged the background factors into a skeletal character history and think about the specifics, and this might possibly guide the choice of skills and abilities. I knew some players to generate their characters as a series of accumulations, spending the results of each background factor on specific knowledge, skills etc. before moving on to the next.

The background factors were rather abstract and un-specific, and the players in my fantasy campaigns found them not quite comfortable. So I devised a set specifically for my fantasy setting Gehennum; crafted to a specific setting they were able to be a lot more explicit about what life experiences they represented. They were kind of satisfactory, but some players found that they were okay for any generally conventional Gehennese life, but lacking when it came to generating unconventional characters and backstories. That's a general problem with life=path generation systems, I think.
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:37 AM   #22
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
That's a good point, and one that I think applies far more generally than just in fantasy. Something was funny about Traveller in that the characters it produced were all former-something but weren't currently anything; and in particular weren't currently a party of all the same thing. And that made it harder to imagine, let alone set up and play, several types of campaign that would otherwise have been promising and extended the scope of the game.
This was easy enough to hack, of course - just say "for this campaign, you'll all join the Navy, and when you fail a re-enlistment roll you're still on active duty but that's where this game starts". If you had High Guard, so much the better.

LBB-era Traveller was much more amenable to this kind of hacking than its later iterations.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:16 AM   #23
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

Maybe the class system has a role to play here - as noted, if you're aiming for a specific class, you need a specific life path - and I tend to associate class-and-level systems with fantasy. Okay, with that RPG since, say, RuneQuest doesn't have such. If your system simply needs a guy with adventuring chops, lifepathing is probably easier.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:30 AM   #24
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by Melichor View Post
How about this:
Central Casting One : Heroes of Legend
https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/centra...sbn=0922335001

I have a copy of this in a box somewhere.
The Central Casting series definitely are skewed towards producing !ADVENTURERS!, which is perfect. Heroes Now! also has GURPS rules in it, although they're 3e and mostly just for selecting skills, and really should be interpreted artistically anyways.

Something to watch out for is that the Central Casting books (at least earlier printings, don't know about reprints) are artifacts of the culture of their era, and the author at the time had some very firm Opinions. They include a screed in the introduction that sets those Opinions down which I'd recommend reading just so you understand where the book stands and don't stumble face-first into it.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:13 PM   #25
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

One of the couple who ran our gaming group when I lived in Darkest Iowa was rather dismissive of the Central Casting books. She was an English teacher in her day job, and felt that creating backstories ought to be a creative process and that leaving them to the roll of a die was using a crutch. And I can see her point of view.

But I found the Central Casting tables fun to play around with, even if I did not get a whole lot of use out of them. For one thing, despite the author's best intentions, when I used the table the characters I rolled up began to have a kind of sameness about them. For one thing, they all seemed to have tattoos.

My Wacky Brother Steeve used Central Casting to make up a character in a Star Trek campaign, and he wound up with a star tattoo over one eye. We mocked his tattoo, but Steeve enjoyed playing goofball characters and so he just went with it.

When I got married and moved to the Enchanted Land-O-Cheese, I left my Central Casting books with my former roommate who was an aspiring writer and thought they'd be useful as a tool for developing characters for his fiction. And maybe they were.

I think I found them most useful when I mined the table for ideas rather then following die rolls.
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Old 09-07-2018, 04:12 AM   #26
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
So ... has anyone actually created a fRPG with a lifepath generation system? The nearest I have encountered so far is Harnmaster, which settles for a very detailed background, including generating how well you get on with the head of the extended family.

Lifepath seems to be a Sci-fi system so far ... but I'm a long way from having read every RPG out there...
Arrowflight has a lifepath which generates some skills, and adds points on top.
Setting's great; 2e mechanics are not.
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Old 09-07-2018, 11:17 AM   #27
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Roll 1d10.


1-9: you are a peasant farmer. You may legally forbidden from leaving the land you work, you may be an outright slave, or you may rent the land you work, leaving little money left over. You have several obligations to the local noble.
10: work in progress.
For one of my fantasy settings, it would be something more like:

Roll 1d6.
1-2 You (or your father) worked on a farm.
3-4 You (or your father) worked in a factory or manufacturing workshop.
5-6 Other (roll on table 5b, which doesn't yet exist)

Not every fantasy setting is low tech. Not every low tech setting is fantasy.
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:59 AM   #28
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
The character generation system in the original version of ForeSight depended strongly on a random roll for age. Players tended to resent that, and grumbled, so a new version came out with a system in which the GM set the power level for PCs by specifying how many "background factors" they ought to be built on. Players then chose elements of backstory from the tables, and this set the sizes of the several pools of generation points on which the characters could be built. Players were encouraged to arranged the background factors into a skeletal character history and think about the specifics, and this might possibly guide the choice of skills and abilities. I knew some players to generate their characters as a series of accumulations, spending the results of each background factor on specific knowledge, skills etc. before moving on to the next.
This works, it allows for many choices and twists.

Quote:
The background factors were rather abstract and un-specific, and the players in my fantasy campaigns found them not quite comfortable. So I devised a set specifically for my fantasy setting Gehennum; crafted to a specific setting they were able to be a lot more explicit about what life experiences they represented. They were kind of satisfactory, but some players found that they were okay for any generally conventional Gehennese life, but lacking when it came to generating unconventional characters and backstories. That's a general problem with life=path generation systems, I think.
You, the GM, would need a skeleton key of a basic system of lifepaths with notes on how to customize. Example: The different Orders of Knighthood in your campaign setting have different political goals and functions, different forms of training, different ideals of honor. The choice can't be random. Meanwhile, the many Wizards guilds are local and somewhat interchangeable.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:13 AM   #29
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

Hmm ... now I'm reminded of a couple of cRPGs, not least Mount and Blade and the long-overdue-a-remake Darklands, where the "lifepath" is controlled by a series of player decisions: social status, childhood education (early and late) and then one or more adult jobs.
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:56 AM   #30
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Default Re: Lifepaths in Faaantasy!!!

How many mechanical effects do the various lifepath systems have? I'm most familiar with Burning Wheel's system, in which each lifepath grants resource points and unlocks traits to be taken; someone who takes Born Noble as their first lifepath has access to traits that a Born Villager doesn't, for example. (They also probably have more resource points, because BW is all about spotlight time over mechanical balance.)
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