There are a number of different tools and ideas out there to help you come up with more in-depth backgrounds for your characters. Heck, we even host a bunch of them here! That said, if you’re wanting something that goes just that much further in spicing up your whole character creation process, check out Hornbook’s.
Hornbook’s Lifepath Method
Hornbook’s original Lifepath Model came in a classic TTRPG form: random tables. Players would roll a certain number of times (usually 10-15) on either of three different Lifepath tables (Academic, Military, Life Experience) in order to generate a set number of significant life events that, together, would make up their background. It was a way to give characters a real history. But it also did more than that. With each of these life events came an incremental adjustment to your ability scores. So PCs would start with all of their abilities at 10 and then, by the end of their Lifepath rolls, they would have an adjusted set of starting abilities for level one. In this way, the Lifepath method acted as a more nuanced alternative to “rolling your stats” before character creation, with the added benefit of giving your character an enriched history along the way! Now, they have a complimentary generator to get you started even faster!
Check out the original PDF tables here and roll yourself!
Check out the online generator!
Ways to Use Hornbook
This is the suggested method and the way that I’ve had the most fun playing with Hornbook’s. Roll out your Lifepath before even considering the type or role of character you want to play. Then, once you’ve got your backstory, strengths, and weaknesses, weave them together into the “class” pursuit that makes the most sense! Min-maxers beware, though, as this won’t always yield the optimal mechanized automaton (but who wants to role-play that anyway, right?).
Come up with your basic character concept first (race, class, alignment, etc.) and then use the random tables as a reference tool to slowly piece together a handmade Lifepath background. We’d suggest still rolling a portion of your events randomly, if nothing else because it’s exhilarating, but also to keep things honest. Maybe talk with your GM about “picking” a fixed number – 3 out of the 10, for example.
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