This week, we explore a powerful alternate archetype that puts the power of chaos and probability in the hands of any class that wants it–the RNGer.
That’s right, time to put on your blackest jeans and be incredibly puzzled when you suddenly find yourself alone in a moving vehicle talking about chaos theory–because this week we’re looking at a new kind of character archetype. One that puts creation completely in the hands of random chance: the RNGer.
No wait come baaaaack.
Yup, we’re putting a character’s life completely in the ever waxing and waning hands of fate. Now, mind you, this character archetype won’t necessarily give you any new class features or powers. And it may in fact clash completely with the character class you’re playing. Like the song says, hateful life first oppresses then soothes as fancy takes it–but this can be the perfect shot in the arm your character needs.
Playing unexpected, or seemingly contradictory facts can make a character stand out. Look at characters like Minsc, the Ranger with a heart of gold. They took a little detail like “has a pet that he talks to–you’re not sure if he talks back” and ran with it. And little discoveries like that are absolute gifts for your roleplaying, and especially at character creation, you may not be looking for them. But this can help you breathe new life into your character before the first session.
And we all know that life…uhhh…finds a way.
And sure, random character creation is no new thing. There are plenty of systems out there that allow for it–Traveller, famously, was potentially fatal if you didn’t roll well during character creation. Cyberpunk 2020 had methods in place to help you end up with an…interesting…character. But, since I’ve been rereading Volo’s Guide (and all its wonderful monster generation tables) I thought it’d be neat to take a character and make them no more than grist for the mill of the dice.
So we’ll take a background, like the Acolyte, and see what kind of character we end up with at the end. Will we be a stern vigilant warrior of justice, or will we end up in unexpected directions–a paladin who has spent so long in the temple, they have difficulty interacting with the outside world, for instance.
Not necessarily a character I’d have ever thought to play–but I gotta say that one sounds kind of interesting. So feel free to play along at home, and let’s see what we end up with. Fifth Edition is probably one of the tamest of random lifepath systems. Odds are good you won’t end up regretting everything about your character by the time you’re through.
Step 1: Pick a Background
Why even make a choice here? There are 13 backgrounds presented in the PHB. And since we’ve already used Acolyte as an example, that leaves us 12 we haven’t tried yet–and there are 12 different classes, and d12s can never have too much love, so let’s give the greataxe of fate a couple of swings!
Which, going alphabetically gives us…Monk and Guild Artisan.
This is the accompanying image from the PHB. I’m confident already. Kind of looks like a Chaddeus, to me.
Step 2: Pick a Business
Alright, so Chaddeus is an artisan. But what kind?
With this chart you can also play Guild Artisan job or Indie RPG Title? Jewelers and Gemcutters sounds like it’d be fun.
Let’s roll a d20 and find out:
Chaddeus is a Cobbler. That sounds about right. Here are the rest of the charts we’ll be rolling on:
What could possibly go wrong?
Step 3: Determine Two Personality Traits
Bear in mind that each of these choices is supposed to tell you something fun and interesting about your character. Here’s where discovery begins. You pick two personality traits, because everyone has lots of opinions about everything. So let’s see what the longsword of chance brings us today:
4: I’m full of witty aphorisms and have a proverb for every occasion.
Alright, not too bad. Chaddeus is kind of clever–he’s probably got a book of folksy sayings that he keeps close to hand. He’s the sort of guy who’d buy one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books and actually read it. Fitting, I suppose, for a monk–although these aphorisms might be more related to being an artisan. So maybe it’s all related to cobbling? Maybe cobbling is Chaddeus’ real passion.
5: I’m rude to people who lack my commitment to hard work and fair play.
OH NO. Chaddeus is the WORST! He’s the kind of guy who’d buy Chicken Soup for the Soul and then quote it in annoyed tones at people! Noooo! Chaddeus! Don’t do this to me. You gotta learn that it takes more than hard work to get people going–still at least he is committed to fair play. Even if saying things like, “don’t worry about your failures, worry about the chances you missed when we never tried,” are why we don’t have any friends.
Step 4: Determine an Ideal
1: Community – It is the duty of all civilized people to strengthen the bonds of community and the security of civilization.
OH NOOOOOOO. The shortsword of destiny has betrayed us! He’s the sort who argues about Chicken Soup for the Soul on Facebook! Although, I suppose we could look at it a different way. After all it’s our ideal. Maybe Chaddeus is just very civic minded and he thinks that if people could just get along and build communities together they’d be okay. If he’s committed to fair play, maybe he tries his best (even if he’s a dick about it), and tells himself that the reason he’s out adventuring is to find the friends that will help him make a better civilization.
Step 5: Determine a Bond
6: I will get revenge on the evil forces that destroyed my place of business and ruined my livelihood.
Ahahahaha, this is great. The scimitar of luck has favored us! Chaddeus is a dick because EVIL FORCES destroyed his place of business! Chaddeus is out for revenge for a destroyed shoe store–maybe that’s why he became a monk. Or maybe he was a monk who quit to live the life of a peaceful cobbler, and now he has picked up a quest for revenge, and all the aphorisms are quips like, “shoe’s on the other foot now.” Whatever the case, we can take all that vindictiveness and focus it on our enemies. Alright, I’m back on board!
Step 6: Determine a Flaw
Oh this oughta be good. Let’s see where the arrow fired from the Shortbow of chaos has landed.
1: I’ll do anything to get my hands on something rare or priceless.
Hmm. Okay. So Chaddeus likes the finer things in life. Probably comes from taking too much of an interest in the “treat yourself” parts of whatever his self-help book was.
Putting it all together:
So let’s take the disparate arsenal of probability and assemble our character.
So we are a cobbler monk. Making shoes is the way we make a living–we’re a member of a guild. We have the potential to wield some kind of political power (should we lean that way), which is kind of cool. So maybe Chaddeus is a monk who finds his peace/meditation through shoemaking. Definitely likes working with his hands, and probably still trains people in the evenings. Chaddeus is full of aphorisms, which makes sense, he was once part of a monastic order, and he likes what he does. There are plenty of sayings Chaddeus can have–most of them probably don’t mean anything other than “things will get better.”
We’re a bit of a dick to people who aren’t committed to hard work or fair play. Rude, according to the book–probably we picked up this attitude when EVIL FORCES destroyed our shoemaking shop. So right away, we have a reason to adventure. We are looking for revenge–maybe we suspect it was rival shoemakers, who can only get ahead by cheating.
And now, with our business burned, we’re out for revenge. But–we want to make the world a better place. We think everyone has a duty to help out. So we *definitely* go out of our way to attend guild meetings. We are probably super invested in artisanal politics.
Especially if it gets us some of that sweet sweet treasure.
Huh. I was a little worried at first, but I kind of like him. Not bad. This is probably not the way you’ll always want to create your character, but it’s lead us to something that I definitely wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
Now it’s your turn. What did you end up with? A baker paladin? A fighter with a library card and a mission? A warlock sailor who is a pirate king? I wanna know! Share your own twisted abomination of fate and chancery in the comments.