Sunday, 29 July 2018

5e: A Random Character Creation Walkthrough, Part I

A few weeks back I talked about various resources I know of that can help you randomly create your character's backstory, and even their race and class if you wish. These resources include: Xanathar's Guide to Everything, the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, @TheKindGM's Character Creation Tables, and @giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons.

You can read that post for more details.

Today, I'll start randomly rolling a character using a combination of tables from some of these sources and weaving their story together. For the sake of this exercise, I'll be making a Forgotten Realms character while limiting myself to only official sources (excluding Unearthed Arcana and the recent Eberron guide).

Origins Part 1: Parents, Birthplace, and Siblings

First, I'll roll up the traits decided my character's beginnings, including their race, their sex assignment, their family, and their birthplace.

Their sex is a simple binary: let's say a result of 1 for female and 2 for male.

As discussed in the previous post, there are two possible options for rolling the character's race. Darker Dungeons has weighted tables, meaning that you're more likely to roll a human or one of the core races. That's very useful if you want to factor in the relative rarity of each race, but for the sake of this exercise it really doesn't matter. Therefore I'll be using The Kind GM's character creation tables.

This does involve a little extra work on my part, as the default assumption in these tables is that the player chooses their preferred sourcebook. I want to do things completely at random. Fortunately, I already created the appropriate table for this last week:

Race Options
(Official Only)

Player's Handbook
Elemental Evil Player's Companion
Volo's Guide to Monsters

Looks like I'm getting a race from the Player's Handbook! Referring to the Kind GM's tables, I see I'm to roll a d10 next:

A 7 is perhaps the worst result I could have gotten for the sake of this creative exercise: a Human. But oh well, I'm committed to following the rolls where they take me!

We now know that our character is a human woman (or depending on either preference or where the emergent narrative takes us, was assigned the female sex at birth). Next I turn to This Is Your Life in Xanathar's Guide to Everything to go through the Origins stage. First is a d100 roll on the table to decide whether my character knows who her parents were.

Oh dear, it seems like the DuckDuckGo search engine's otherwise useful dice roller can't handle a d100! I suppose I'll be rolling a d10 twice. Note that in the following image and all future d100 rolls I'm taking the two results (the numbers in squares) rather than the numeric total in bold.

A result of 58 means that the characters knows who her parents were. So where was she born?

There are more interesting options on the table, but a result of 13 means the character was born in her parents' own home. So far she's shaping up along fairly expected lines!

How about siblings? First, I'm told to roll a d10 to determine the number of siblings my character has. Based on the result of that roll, a 3, I get to roll d3 and have that many siblings.

Two siblings! Are they older or younger? For each, I roll 2d6 and compare the totals of each to the table in Xanathar's Guide.

The first result is an older sibling, while the second result is a younger sibling.

I can also determine the siblings' sexes in the same way I generated the character's. Remember, if the result is 1 they're female, and if it's 2 they're male.

So! Our female character's birth was sandwiched between two brothers.

Tangent: Current Status of Siblings

There are several supplementary tables we can roll on to determine further details about who the siblings evolve into, and now is as good a time as any to do it. Xanathar's Guide recommends rolling on the following supplementary tables: Occupation, Alignment, Status

Occupation. What does the sibling do for a living?

Alignment. What is the sibling's alignment? If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll probably know that I don't really care for D&D's alignments. But in the context of random character creation, I think they are a useful tool for quickly determining what sort of attitudes a given character might possess, which can be fully developed later.

Status. Is the sibling alive? Dead? Unwell? In trouble?

Relationship. How does the sibling feel about you?

Now, a slight criticism of the supplemental tables as presented: they all assume that the sibling is an adult. If a sibling has died, fallen ill, or come to hate my character, I would like to know if the event occurred during their mutual childhood, teenage years, or after they became an adult.

Sibling Status - Timing of Event

Event Timing
Event occurred during your character's childhood.
Event occurred during your character's teenage years.
Event occurred during your character's adulthood.

I'd also suggest reordering the supplementary tables and rolling for the sibling's status first. After all if they tragically died as a child, they don't need an occupation.

So let's start there: the status roll is 3d6.

Oh dear, it appears that the character's older brother is "doing poorly due to injury, financial trouble, or relationship difficulties." Fortunately for our younger brother he is alive and well. I'll roll a further d6 to decide the nature of the older brother's difficulties (1-2: Injury, 3-4: Financial Trouble, 5-6: Relationship Difficulties).

It looks like our dear brother is having money troubles. I do hope he doesn't owe money to the wrong people!

Next, what are the occupations of the two brothers? This is a d100 roll. You'll see that for one of these rolls a d10 came up "10" which as you no doubt already know, is actually a "0" on a d10.

A result of 71 means the older brother is a laborer. 09 is a far more exciting result, as it means that our character's younger brother is also an adventurer! This means that I roll on the supplementary class table.

A result of 80 means our younger brother is an adventuring rogue!

Next, we'll determine the alignments of the two brothers. The table for alignment requires a 3d6 roll, creating a bell curve that will skew probabilities toward neutrality. Which makes sense.

Looks like the brothers aren't interested in bucking the trend!

Finally, what about our character's relationship with both brothers? This is a 3d4 roll, which skews towards friendly in the middle with hostile and indifferent to either end of the range.

It seems that both brothers are friendly with our character. While we're at it, why don't we roll on that table once more to determine the relationship between the brothers?

Well, apparently all the siblings are friendly with each other. Some friction might have been more exciting, but we're at the mercy of the dice here.

Origins Part 2: Family & Friends

Our character knows who her parents are, but did she actually know them in person? Was she raised by them? We roll on the Family table, a d100, to find out!

A result of 42 means that the character was raised by a single father. We can roll a d4 on the absent parent table to discover why.

This is an interesting, unfortunate result: the character's mother abandoned the family. Of course there are many reasons why this might be the case. Before I make any decisions about that, I'm going to find out some more details about the family. Starting with a 3d6 roll for their quality of life.

This result means that the family lifestyle was comfortable. It comes with a +10 modifier to the childhood home table, so let's roll that now.

Well. This is a twist! That's a 94 on the dice, with a +10 modifier thanks to the comfortable lifestyle we've already rolled. A result of 104 means our character's childhood home was a mansion, suggesting they are from the aristocracy. The fact that their lifestyle was merely comfortable, rather than either wealthy or aristocratic, might suggest that the family was either particularly frugal or had begun to fall on hard times.

So how did oldest son and heir of this noble family become a laborer? What brought the other two into the world of adventuring? We've already surmised that the family might have had a downturn in fortune. Perhaps they lost their mansion and lands. We could assume that their father has either passed away or is in no fit state to lead the family, leaving the oldest brother to take responsibility for trying to recover the estate. Swallowing his pride, he entered into the service of another noble family, using his knowledge of the aristocracy as a butler or majordomo (this seems possible because there is no servant entry on the table, indeed laborer is the closest match).

We could further surmise that one reason, if not the only reason, that both younger siblings became adventurers is to help restore their family's fortunes.

There's a final table in this section called Childhood Memories, but it requires the use of the character's Charisma modifier (3d6 + Cha). Since we don't know that yet, we could just leave it for now. Rather than that, I'm going to just assume an average modifier (+2). It's really not a big deal if our character winds up with a different modifier, this is only generating story.

A result of 6 means "Others saw me as being different or strange, and so I had few companions." This is quite an informative result. It'll pair very well with certain classes if we happen to roll them. Otherwise it might represent an unusual personality or peculiar hobby. Whatever it is, it hasn't stopped the character's family from loving her.

Tangent: Current Status of Parents

As we did for the siblings, we can roll on supplementary tables to find out a bit more about the two parents.

First is to determine their occupations. Before I do so, it's worth noting that I may get results that seem incompatible with what we already know. Since the family home was a mansion, they must have been wealthy, suggesting aristocracy or perhaps a rich merchant. A different result might only suggest that the parent had an extreme reversal of fortunes to become a wealthy landowner in the first place.

A result of 02 means the character's mother is or was an academic. 45, on the other hand, makes the father a "farmer or herder". I think the most likely possibility here is that the aristocratic mother was also an aristocrat. Perhaps she inherited the estate and was thereafter able to marry for love, choosing a simple local farmer? But if the family land is technically hers, why did she abandon her home along with her family? Is it possible that she had a reason for leaving without a word? Perhaps something to do with her research?

I'm not going to roll on the Status table for the mother: I've just decided that her status is missing or unknown. I'm also going to use a modified table for the father, because my thinking about the family condition suggests that he's either deceased or not fit to head the family. Therefore, I'm going to roll a single d6. On a 1-3, he's passed on. On a 4-6, he is alive but unwell.

Unfortunately, the character's father has passed away. This means that I can roll a d12 on the cause of death table.

Another big twist here: Our character's father didn't pass on naturally, but was "consumed by a monster". Aside from rebuilding the family fortunes, it seems that she and her brother may have another clear motivation for becoming adventurers. We already know that the character was raised by her father, so this can't have happened during her early childhood. So I'll roll to determine whether it happened when she was a teenager, or when she would have been considered an adult.

Father's Death - Timing of Event

Event Timing
Event occurred during your character's mid-late teens.
Event occurred during your character's adulthood.

Apparently the death occurred during our character's adulthood. Given everything else we know about the character and her siblings, and the fact that both she (and presumably her younger brother) are 1st level adventurers, we can surmise that she hasn't been an adult for very long, making the father's death a relatively recent event, perhaps four years at most. This helps us determine our character's approximate age, which is likely between 20-25. Why not split the difference, and call it 22 and a half. Being a bit more specific is nice, as once we know on what calendary day the DM's game begins is set we'll even have a rough idea of when the character's birthday is!

Finally, let's determine the alignment of the two parents:

It appears that both parents were neutral, not just the two brothers. This suggests strongly that the children were raised with the morality and ethics of their parents, and it's quite likely that our developing character would also be neutral. If she isn't, it might be interesting to think about why she differs from her entire family.

We'll leave it there this time! Next time, I'll move onto the character's Life Decisions!

In Summary (So Far!)

  • Our character was born female.
  • She is a human (therefore so were both of her parents, and her siblings).
  • She was born in the family home, which was a mansion.
  • She is from an aristocratic lineage, but the family no longer has its wealth and properties.
  • Her mother was the sole heir of said aristocratic line and a noted academic. She married for love, not politics. She has since seemingly abandoned the family, but unknown to the family there are mysterious reasons why she had to leave. She is or was neutrally-aligned.
  • Her father was a simple farmer until marrying the character's mother. His being out of his depth after the mother left may have exarcebated the family's already waning fortunes. He was eaten by a monster around 3-4 years ago. He was neutrally aligned.
  • She has an older brother, who now works as a major domo or butler. He is trying to shoulder the responsibility of regaining the family's lost fortunes alone. He is neutrally aligned.
  • She has a younger brother, who is now an adventuring rogue. He is neutrally aligned.
  • She and her younger brother are likely motivated by the desire to help rebuild their family fortunes, and because of the loss of their father to a monster.
  • All three siblings are friendly with eachother.
  • Other than her siblings, the character had few friends owing the perception that she was somehow different or strange.
  • At the time of the game start, the character is roughly 22 and a half years old.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

5e Fallout: New Feats!

Fifth Edition Fallout fans can now enjoy another small content update: a selection of new feats inspired by perks from the Fallout series! You can find them on the wiki. I started with perks from the original Fallout game, converting only those I felt made for good, flavourful feats that aren't already a function of either a class feature or an existing feat (you won't find a Bonus Move or Bonus Ranged Damage feat for instance, but you will find Cult of Personality and Heave Ho!). I'm not finished yet—I got as far as the letter "M". At some point I'll finish up the perks from Fallout and then go over the perks from later games for further additions.


As of today, feats include:
  • Action Boy/Girl. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Animal Friend. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Bloody Mess.
  • Chem Resistant.
  • Cult of Personality. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Devastating Allure.
  • Dodger. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Educated. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Heave Ho! NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Ghoulish.
  • Gun Fu.
  • Inspirational Presence.
  • Lead Belly.
  • Lone Wanderer.
  • Master Trader. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Miss Fortune.
  • Miss/Mister Fixit. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Moving Target.
  • Mutate. NEW. Inspired by the Fallout perk.
  • Mysterious Stranger.
  • Pack Alpha.
  • Pyromaniac.
  • Rad Resistant.
  • Scrounger.

Excluding feats from other sources including the Player's Handbook, there are currently 24 feats in the game, 9 of which are new as of today.

Other News

In case you missed it, I recently added Soldier statblocks to the wiki which you can use to represent mercenaries, Minutemen, NCR Soldiers, Caesar's Legion, and other armies.

You can also now submit your own homebrew creatures to the wiki!

More details here.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

5e Fallout: Skillful Soldiers and Custom Creations!

I've got a pretty big update for Fifth Edition Fallout fans! First: I've created some more statblocks for you to use! Second: you're now free to submit your own!

Soldiers added to the Wiki

As of today, soldiers have been added to the Fifth Edition Fallout wiki! There's a lot of content on this page, including:
  • 10 soldier statblocks
    • Conscript (CR 1/8)
    • Recruit (CR 1/4)
    • Private (CR 1/2)
    • Corporal (CR 2)
    • Sergeant (CR 3)
    • Lieutenant (CR 5)
    • Captain (CR 7)
    • Major (CR 9)
    • Colonel (CR 11)
    • Brigadier (CR 13)
  • A sidebar providing guidance on adjusting the base statblocks to represent members of the following factions:
    • Caesar's Legion
    • Gunners
    • Minutemen
    • New California Republic Army
    • Talon Company
  • A sidebar providing guidance on adjusting Corporals and Sergeants to represent NCR Military Police officers.
    • MP Corporal (CR 2)
    • MP Sergeant (CR 3)
  • A sidebar providing guidance on adjusting soldiers of Private rank and higher to represent reconnaissance specialists (eg. NCR's First Recon or Legionary Scouts).
    • Recon Private (CR 1/2)
    • Recon Corporal (CR 2)
    • Recon Sergeant (CR 3)
    • Recon Lieutenant (CR 4)
    • Recon Captain (CR 6)
    • Recon Major (CR 8)
    • Recon Colonel (CR 10)
    • Recon Brigadier (CR 11)
  • A sidebar providing guidance on adjusting soldiers of Lieutenant rank and higher to include T51b power armour.
    • Power Armoured Lieutenant (CR 10)
    • Power Armoured Captain (CR 12)
    • Power Armoured Major (CR 14)
    • Power Armoured Colonel (CR 16)
    • Power Armoured Brigadier (CR 16)

Including all variations in the sidebars, that's 25 types of soldier for your PCs to fight or to ally with.

I'd originally planned on creating statblocks for mercenaries, Minutemen, NCR Soldiers, and Caesar's Legion. But I realised these would be very similar and could probably treat them as a single category. By combining all these factions into the "Soldiers" grouping, I've managed to reduce 43 planned statblocks to 10 which is a significant reduction in the number of creatures still required before I can say the bestiary is complete! I'm counting it as a big win!

Homebrew Creatures

Are you tired of waiting for me to get around to your favourite Fallout creatures? Or perhaps you're not so keen on the way I designed some of the creatures already in the bestiary? Simply want additional variants of an existing creature?

Well now you have the opportunity to fix these issues!

Yesterday I spent some time setting up a new section of the Fifth Editon Fallout wiki that members can contribute to: the Homebrew Bestiary. You can start contributing your own homebrew creatures by following this guide.

Everything should be working but if you have any troubles signing up, please send a tweet my way or leave a comment!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

5e: Resources for Random Character Creation

One of my favourite things in Xanathar's Guide to Everything is the section entitled This is Your Life. I like creating my own character backstories a lot, but as I read through the random tables in this section it sparked a lot of ideas, and I began to think it might be fun to let the dice decide and then use my own creativity to fill in the blanks, no matter how strangely disconnected the results might seem.

Of course, the tables in Xanathar's Guide to Everything only determine story elements. Your race and class choices are left entirely in your hands. But what if you're open to trying anything? I know of two resources that can help you.

Additionally, there are a number other resources available that will determine yet more aspects of your character at the drop of a die. The following sources can be of use to you:

Xanathar's Guide to Everything

Xanathar's Guide includes the aforementioned This is Your Life, which is populated with tables to determine your character's origins, decisions they have made, and events that have occurred in their past, along with enough tables to flesh out key details of NPCs connected to your backstory.

You'll also want to look at the character options for your chosen (or randomly generated!) class, as each class has a handful of new tables to help you flesh your character out. Admittedly, some of these tables are populated with more inspiring results than others, but they're worth a look.

The Player's Handbook

After you've determined your background using Xanathar's Guide or one of the alternatives listed above, don't forget to take a look at the trait, ideal, bond, flaw, and background-specific random tables (like the charlatan's scam table). You may find that some of your backstory results from Xanathar's Guide already suggest answers to some of these, in which case you might not need to roll!

The Dungeon Master's Guide

Granted, many players don't own a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide but it deserves a mention here by merit of its excellent tables for creating an NPC. Why not use them for a PC, if you've decided to randomise?

The tables let you generate unique physical/appearance traits, talents, distinctive mannerisms, social behaviours, ideals, bonds, and flaws and secrets.

If your character is evil, don't forget to take a look at the tables for villain's scheme, villain's methods, and (with DM approval), your single villain's weakness!

@TheKindGM's Character Creation Tables

These character creation tables, released as a Pay What You Want product on DMsGuild, have a dual purpose: a complete listing and page reference for every race, class, and archetype from all the following sources:

  • Player's Handbook
  • Dungeon Master's Guide
  • Elemental Evil Player's Companion
  • Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
  • Volo's Guide to Monsters
  • Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Unearthed Arcana (official playtest material)
  • Plane Shift (Magic the Gathering content for 5e)

In addition to page reference numbers, the character options are arranged on tables and assigned numbers so that you can randomly determine all your decision points when making a character. The distribution of results is equal (or as equal as is possible), so you have a good chance of getting any combination.

The character creation tables haven't been updated to include Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes just yet, but that's likely on the cards in the near future.

A limitation of these tables (for the purpose of complete randomisation, at least) is that background and race options from different books/sources are kept as separate tables and it is up to the player to decide which table they want to roll on. If you want to remove these decision points, this is fixed fairly easily. Here are a few options you might consider:

  1. For backgrounds, note that there are 13 options in the Player's Handbook and 12 in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. That means 52% of backgrounds are in the PHB, so you can roll d100: 1-52: PHB, 53-100 = SWAG.
  2. For races, here are two options:
    1. Refer to the table entitled What You Need which lists the sources used. Assign a value to each and use those values to randomly determine a single sourcebook at the beginning of the process. At each stage, use the tables for race or subrace from that sourcebook. When a sourcebook includes subrace options but no races (eg. Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, use the race table from the Player's Handbook.
      • If you want to use all available sources, including unofficial content, assign values from 1 through 8 starting from the top of the table and then roll a d8. If you roll an 8, Plane Shift, assign the 5 options two-digit ranges between 1 and 10 (1-2 for Amonkhet, 3-4 for Innistrad, etc.) and roll 1d10 to determine which you use.
      • If you want to use only official sources, assign values from 1 through 6 starting from the top of the table and ignore the last two rolls, then roll a d6.
    2. Use the tables below. The percentage chance is weighted based on the combined number of races and the distribution of those races throughout the sources. Plane Shift was not included because I'd have to create 5 more tables and it was too much of a PITA, but you get the idea if you want to make one for yourself!

Race Options
(Official Only)

Player's Handbook
Elemental Evil Player's Companion
Volo's Guide to Monsters

Race Options
(inc. Unearthed Arcana)

Player's Handbook
Elemental Evil Player's Companion
Volo's Guide to Monsters
Unearthed Arcana

@giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons

Darker Dungeons is a set of houserules intended to make a D&D 5e game a grittier, more risk-prone experience. One of the optional rules presented is to randomly generate everything about your character. Accordingly, Darker Dungeons includes several pages of random tables for both character options, backgrounds, and unique features/personality traits.

The character class and race options are up to date with Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but the backgrounds are limited to only those in the Player's Handbook.

It's worth noting that the race and subraces are weighted, making some results more common than others. You have a 40% chance of rolling up a human, for example, and a 5% chance of becoming a gnome, or a 0.5% chance of being a deep gnome/svirfneblin. These weightings make sense when we think about the actual distribution of the various races, and it helps build out the grittier, more down-to-earth world Darker Dungeons seeks to create. They may not be to everyone's taste - you may prefer your heroes to be exceptions to the world's normal ruless. If that describes you, here's a quick fix: there are 18 races, so assign values to each starting from the top of the table then roll a d20. On a 19, reroll. On a 20, you choose.

@giffyglyph's tables shine when it comes to Character Details. Some of these tables overlap with those in Xanathar's Guide (family and memories, for instance), but provide an alternative approach. Others generate details unexplored in Xanathar's Guide, including weight, height, distinctive features, and habits. The motivation table is also excellent.

There's lots of other great resources/house rules in the document, but they're beyond the scope of this article. I'd simply encourage you to check them out!

Disclaimer: I recently discovered @giffyglyph is a real-life friend, but that has no bearing on my opinions about what he's created here - and he's not asked me/offered me anything to tout praises (I'd accept a pint in retrospect though, if you're reading this. :P)

Combining Resources

To create a character thoroughly at random, why not mix tables from any of the above?

We might choose to randomly determine race, class, and background using either @TheKindGM's character creation tables or @giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons, depending on whether we want weighted results for race or not. If we choose Darker Dungeons but want more background options, we could patch in the relevant tables from @TheKindGM's document.

After generating backstory details using Xanathar's Guide to Everything, we might use Darker Dungeons and/or the Dungeon Master's Guide to establish details about our character's appearance and mannerisms, and use those same tables to also flesh out any non-player characters we created along the way! We can also refer to the character options tables in Xanathar's Guide and roll on the tables for our background (ideals, bonds, etc.) at this point.

Next time, I'll walk through the process of creating one or two characters using tables from some of these sources.