2011-03-08 More Character Shortcuts

A bit over a year ago I wrote my first draft of the Character Generation Shortcuts fold old school D&D with four backgrounds each for fighters, wizards and clerics. In a way I wanted to show that I didn’t need thieves, rangers and paladins – I wanted to model these classes using a base class with some appropriate background and equipment – and I wanted to speed up character creation by avoiding rolling for starting gold and shopping for equipment. Half a year later I increased the number of backgrounds to eight and used it in a convention game I ran, but I still missed backgrounds for demihumans. The following is a list of four backgrounds each.

1d4 Elf Dwarf Halfling
1 you are a woodland hunter; you own an elven longbow with twenty arrows and a curved dagger decorated with silver runes; the lore masters have taught you the spell sleep to keep you safe while alone in the wilderness you are a miner but it was dangerous work for little gain; you own a canary bird in a wooden cage, a small pony to carry your load, a lantern, studded leather armor and a heavy pick you are a shepherd; you own a sling, a dagger, a woolen cloak, and a ferocious dog that will defend you in combat
2 you are a student of ancient lore; you own a ceremonial elven longsword in the old tradition and a set of chain mail; the lore masters have taught you the spell read languages to help your studies you are a gem cutter by trade but decided to go looking for the real thing; you own gleaming chain mail, a beautiful two-handed sword and a jewel encrusted girdle handed to you from your father you are a gardener; you own a hammer and a sling and some ill-fitting goblin leather armor
3 you are a spell singer; you own an elegant elven longsword, a dagger, leather armor, a wooden shield, a lyre and a silver flute; you have learned the spell charm person to keep you safe in human lands you are berserker with warding tattoos covering every inch of your skin; you own a two-handed dwarven battle axe inscribed with old runes of death and destruction and battered scale armor you are a scout and have travelled the wilderness; you own leather armor, a shield, a short sword and a sling
4 you are a fae knight; you own a white horse, a white steel plate armor, a shield, a lance, a long sword, a mace; your master taught you the spell protection from evil before sending out into the world you are rune warrior and a defender of the realm; you own the finest dwarven plate armor, a heavy shield engraved with runes of protection and an axe. you are a bored landowner but left your siblings in charge of it all; you own a short sword, a shield, light dwarven chain mail and a sling

We’ll see about adding more entries and revising the PDF when I have some extra time. :)



Typical – if you are elf, you can be awesome things like a hunter, spell singer, or fae knight, and if you are dwarf, you could be a rune warrior or berserker. But if you are a halfling, you probably used to be a gardener :)

Adrian 2011-03-08 18:00 UTC

Looks like Alex got a whiff of “implicit setting” here …

Harald 2011-03-08 19:54 UTC

Absolutely. One roll life-path, baby! :)

Actually, I’d love to brainstorm some more:

Elf: a sea elf with trident, net, bow, longsword; a moon elf with a horse, a member of the wild hunt, a horn, a bow, a scimitar, a wolf hound companion; a shadow elf from a far realm, an illusionist with a spider companion and a dagger; a dark elf that lived under the hill, a member of the winter court, a forger of rings (lame easter egg?)

Halflings: a crazy naked ferocious halfling cannibal; an escaped slave, broken by years spent in the darkness deep underground; maybe something crazy like a windling – those halflings that were picked up and blown across half the world by the five great storms; a fool that was sent on adventure by a wizard (lame easter egg?)

Dwarf: Any ideas?


Dwarf - beardless outcast, apprentice brewmaster, grizzled campaigner (fought against orcs and goblins) Halfing - deputy shiriff

Adrian 2011-03-08 23:46 UTC

Nice! There’s also the Thief to think of... Cutpurse, burglar, harlequin or clown, dancer, rat catcher, assassin, contortionist (too much circus?), spy.

1d4 Elf Dwarf Halfling
5 you are a sea elf; you own a trident, a net, a longbow and a longsword; the captain of your first ship has taught you the sleep spell you are a surface merchant; you own a suit of chain mail armor, a shield, a hammer, a donkey, a cart, 200 gp in trade goods, and three gems worth 50 gp each you are a crazy naked halfling cannibal; you own a dagger, a femur bone usable as a club and a lot of blue body paint
6 you are a moon elf and belong to the wild hunt; you own a horse, a horn, a longbow, a scimitar, a silver dagger and a wolf hound companion that will attack anything that flees; the lore masters have taught you the spell detect magic to aid you in your raids ... you are an escaped slave, broken by years spent in the darkness deep in a kobold mine; you own a pick axe, ill-fitting goblin armor, a serrated goblin dagger and a wooden shield
7 you are a shadow elf from a far realm with a fist-sized spider companion; you own a billowing shadow cloak, studded leather armor, a black shield, a scimitar and a curved dagger; you have studied the spell hold portal you are a brewmaster ...
8 you are a dark elf from under the mountain and a member of the winter court, you own elegant flowing robes, a silver diadem worth 100 gp, a scimitar engraved with silver runes of banishment; you have studied the light spell you are a grizzled campaigner from the goblin wars, you own plate mail, a polearm (halberd), a hand axe, and a dagger ...

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-09 17:51 UTC

Gaah, need some dwarven background inspiration. Perhaps I should look at some Warhammer careers. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-14 17:21 UTC

A dwarf criminal, his beard shaved off and his face branded, fled to the surface and surviving as a ruffian. Leather armor, club or axe, dagger.

What about an apprentice smith? Seems like an obvious one. Nice hammer or axe, decent armor, some gold.

Adrian 2011-03-14 18:36 UTC

This will do. Thanks!

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-14 23:01 UTC

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