Saturday, 26 September 2009

Starting ages

As I am now adding level draining monsters to my random encounter tables (shock!) I'm considering swapping the level draining rules for instant aging rules, ala ghosts. I'll probably go with one level drained means you've just been aged by five years, and have some stat decreases on hitting specific age milestones. This means I need tables to work out how old the characters are when they begin their adventuring careers.

Class based characters are not created equally. That is to say, I can see that characters of differing classes will start at different ages. The mage, who locks himself up in the library, studying spells, is very likely to be older (and consequently frailer, which the mechanics of the system do bear out) than his fighter friend, who may have just ended his military service. With this in mind, I have created the following table:

Class...Starting age... Learned trade in...
Fighterd8+18Military school, guild or in battle
Magic Userd20+30Library, apprenticeship or in self study
Thiefd6+14The streets, thief's guild, or the marketplace
Clericd12+25Temples, holy tomes or in silent contemplation

Note that I haven't included ages for demihumans on the table, at the moment we have none in the party and I'm a little unsure about their lifespans. I suppose I could consult my 2e PHB which I still have from all those years ago, but for the moment, this should suffice.


seaofstarsrpg said...

Honestly, all of those seem a bit old for a 1st level character to me.

Fighters and thieves I would have at 14+1d6, and Clerics only slightly older, at say 16+1d6. And if a 1st level wizard is going to start at age 50 . . . well he is just flat out of luck. I would dial that back to 19+1d8 at the most. Adventuring is a young person's game.

The Recursion King said...

You don't like the idea of older mages? I kind of thought that /was/ the idea ... ;-)

I figured I would have variation in the ages because of the difficulty in learning the various 'trades' and the schooling involved in it. Magic would be the hardest skill to learn, with mages pouring laboriously over old tomes learning arcane secrets... clerics similarly spending years in piety to gain favour with their deity (you do know their magic is divine, right?). Fighters make sense to me as coming out of the army (or similar), having experience with arms and armour, explaining their ability to use all of it without penalty. None of those skills strike me as occuring overnight.

Ragnorakk said...

I like the idea of ageing instead of level draining. Do you have any criteria other than class for starting age? I like the idea (right now anyway...) that older characters might gain an experience point bonus...

The Recursion King said...

I haven't thought much further into this but if you were starting characters at higher levels than level one, then you might add a year for every level above the first that the character starts at, to reflect their (slower) advancement outside of a player's hands during the normal course of his career. Also, it might reflect time off between adventures, too.

Older characters gaining an experience bonus is interesting. you could also play around with older characters beginning with more starting money, or some default equipment... the fighter of a certain age probably already has a suit of armour and so on. Maybe even a reputation already, too.

seaofstarsrpg said...

A squire spent years learning to be a combatant, years ending when he was 13-16. Roman legionaries, fresh faced boys, spent a year learning how to become soldiers and at the end of that year they were a working part of the Roman military machine. Remember, no universal schooling in the middle ages, you trained for what you were going to be. If you were going to be a soldier, you probably started at age 10-13 -if you were not from a knightly or military family- and after a few years of knocking about, you were ready to fight.

Priests, your magic is from the divine, if you have faith why do you need more? Who has more faith than a teenager? And I am not convinced you can train piety.

If you are using the apprentice/ master model for wizards, apprenticeships started at 10-15 and a 7-year term to learn the craft was usual. Say magic takes twice as long that is still in the 24-29 year old range.

That is why I see adventurers as being young. Gaining the basics (1st level) is something they should have been working towards their life previous to adventuring.

The Recursion King said...

"A squire spent years learning to be a combatant, years ending when he was 13-16. "

You are only telling part of the story...

"At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of the knight’s meals, caring for the knight’s horse, and cleaning the knight’s armor and weapons. He followed the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield. A squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse. When he was about twenty, a squire could become a knight after proving himself worthy."

Taken from

Also, the idea that just having faith gives you divine powers is clearly a nonsense; only the most pious are chosen to become clerics and directly wield powers of the diety. They are outnumbered by many hundreds to one of normal folk who pay tribute and worship the various religions and receive no powers back. So, it is not unreasonable to say that getting a deity's attention might take some time ;-)

As for adventuring being a young persons game... maybe... but it's also for the greedy and desperate and last time I checked, that can apply to anyone of any age.

Good discussion though, it at least makes me examine my own reasons and is making me think of perhaps dialing the fighter down a little in age.