A PDF version of this post is available which includes the tables needed to create a character.
Download it here
Why create a new method?
Although there are several methods for character creation outlined in the Player’s Handbook, one thing they all fall short on is explaining how the character gained the ability scores they were blessed with. Does Balfor, the fighter, have a 17 strength because he was born ripped or did he spend time working as a lumberjack? Usually, these questions are left up to the players to answer; and sometimes they do. However, most character histories are filled with wonderful backstories that never really explain how the character’s abilities were developed. The method provided here fills in those gaps.
What is in this guide?
This guide will provide you with all the tools needed to create a D&D 5E character using Hornbook’s Life Path Method. A character worksheet included in this guide, which will make the process of rolling up a character easier. There is also a “one leaf” character sheet. Players can attach the worksheet with the character’s history to the character sheet. Feel free to make copies.
What is The Life Path Method?
The Life Path Method assumes that all characters were once, not heroic adventures. No matter race or creed, most people that populate this fantasy world are commoners. That is where we start. Upon reaching the age of accountability for each race, it is logical that a character will choose one of three paths to start in life.
The Academic Path involves study, attending a University or other place of education, and learning from others in your field. This path set upon when the character wishes to become a Wizard, Cleric, or Druid.
The Military Path involves serving in an organized military unit. It could be a Navy, an Army, or even a roving pirate ship. This path leads to classes of Fighters, Paladins, or Barbarians.
The Life Experience Path is the middle ground. It is the path of the common man. It is full of odd jobs and varied experiences. It is also, where you end up when you are tossed from another path. The skills earned here are very useful to the Rouge, Ranger, Monk, Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock.
Any class can come from any path, but the experiences on each table favor the given classes. For example a character may start on the military path and get thrown out of the army only to become a strong rouge or a charismatic Bard. Each character spends one-year, gaining experience and improving their abilities, before they choose a class and become an adventurer.
How it works.
You will need 2d10, a writing instrument, and a worksheet for each character to be created. All characters start out with abilities scores of 10 across the board. This is the given stats in the 5E Monster Manual for commoners. (DM discretion: You may start characters out with 9’s if you feel this system is producing over powered characters.) Next, the players will either choose or roll for a race. Racial modifiers are then applied to the abilities. They player will choose a path for their character. Once on this path, the character cannot change unless directed by a roll. They players will roll a 1d100 or percentage dice (2d10) and write down the results. This is done 12 times, once for each month of the year before embarking upon their adventuring career. A step-by-step guide follows.
Hornbook’s Life Path Method for character creation:
Step 1: Choose or roll for a race on Table 1.
Step 2: Apply any racial modifiers on Table 1.
Step 3: Choose a path to start upon using Table 2, 3, or 4.
Step 4: Roll 2d10, designating one die as the 10’s and the other as the 1’s.
Or roll a pair of standard d10 percentage dice.
Or roll a 1d100 die.
Step 5: Consult the table and write down the experience in the space provided on the worksheet. Adjust your ability by the stated amount, and roll again. Do this 12 times.
Step 6: (optional) After scores have been tallied and history written down, consult Table 5 for preferred classes. If the character’s two highest scores match with a given class, that character may choose that class and start at Level 2. If they do not match any of the favored classes, they may choose any class and start at Level 1.
Step 7: Fill out the character sheet and calculate needed scores. Background, Ideal, Bond, Flaw, and Trait can be created from the 12 listed experiences.
Limitations and rules:
A player may not change paths unless a roll instructs them to.
A player may only use a number once per table. If the same number is rolled again, transpose the number and use.
If the transposed number has also been used, discard result and reroll.
If a player rolls an experience that alters the path he or she is on, they do not adjust an ability score off that roll.
This method is at the DM’s discretion. As a DM, you may change or tweak an experience to make it better fit your world.
Standard practice is 12 rolls, however, a DM may allow for additional rolls if a higher-powered character is needed.
Tables 1,2,3,4,and 5 can be found in the PDF version. The tables are to large to post here.