Character Lifepath (3.5e Variant Rule)

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A Character Lifepath is not a new or revolutionary idea in the RPG circles. In fact, I do believe most of us over at EN World were pretty stumped when we couldn't readily find a D&D themed lifepath table. This entry looks to build one. And if you are reading this wondering what a Lifepath is - it is simply a progression of tables, each with an assortment of events, items, attitudes and other character defining items, that one randomly rolls on to come up with a varied and fun sketch of a character's life prior to the beginning of the game. A player can then flesh this out to have a fully functioning character background. Its random nature makes for interesting, often funny twists and turns that a players sometimes has to get creative to explain away as part of his PCs life.


The original lifepath idea, as far as I know it to be, are the R. Talsorian books. I own and played a number of them and it is this format that will be followed when structuring the D&D themed lifepath.

Lifepath Instructions[edit]

Simply roll a d12 for each table, following your character's Lifepath. There will be times when you skip tables, or roll on additional tables as the text describes when appropriate. The Lifepath table is meant to provide a skeletal outline, a foundation for fleshing out your background. You are welcome to simply look at the tables and pick whatever you think is most appropriate for the character you intend to make but I humbly suggest trying to do it at random. Very interesting stories seem to grow out of trying to explain quite disparate results from the tables. A short description, sometimes a few examples are given with each entry, however the user of the table is by no means constrained by the few examples given.

Birth & Childhood[edit]

Place of Birth[edit]

d12 Birth Location Sub-Tables
1 Out in the wilderness You were born outside the confines of civilization
2 A Rural Hamlet/Village A few houses, isolated from any one kingdom. Not on the map
3 Slave Pit You were born amongst slaves
4 Town Medium size town, part of a kingdom and usually on a map
5 Religious or Scholarly Institution You were born in a monastery or university or similar setting
6 Fortress A structure built for military use
7 Palace Place of residence of the royal family
8 Major metropolis, Capital City A sprawling conglomeration of residences and businesses, always on the map
9 Caravan or other mobile You were born on the move, by nomads or on a ship, maybe the circus.
10 Alien racial environment Raised in the forest by an elven family, or in a cave by wolves, etc.
11 Alien racial city Raised by another race or species in a conglomeration of said species.
12 Extraplanar Raised in a plane other than the prime material

Childhood Environment[edit]

d12 Childhood Environment Description
1 No Adult Supervision No one was around a majority of the time, or at all, to supervise. No real structure.
2 Abusive Caretakers provided significant physical and/or mental abuse
3 - 4 Sheltered Constant supervision by adults or others, kept you confined to "safe" areas.
5 - 8 Supportive You were provided guidance and care and allowed room to grow and explore
9 Gang You were raised by a gang, band or other group
10 Strict Most of your care was left up to monks, military schools or other strict institutions
11 Owned Put to work from early or outright owned, very little care given
12 Apprenticed Given over to a Master to be apprenticed from an early age

Family History[edit]

Caretaker's Origin[edit]

d12 Caretakers Description
1-4 Original Parents Raised by the ones that gave birth to you
5-7 Close Family Raised by family members, not your parents (aunt/uncle, grandfather/mother, etc)
8 Adopted Never knew original parents. Raised by a couple not related to you.
9 Institution Raised at an institution, be it an orphanage, monastery or other. Skip to Personal Preferences
10 Master Sold or given or kidnapped at an early age and raised as property. Skip to Personal Preferences
11-12 On Your Own Have had to rely on yourself for as long as you can remember. Skip to Personal Preferences

Caretaker's Background[edit]

d12 Family Background Description
1 Homeless Pan handling in the streets
2 Entertainers Bards,Minstrels, Poets, Actors
3 Serfs/Servants In service to a feudal lord
4 Free Laborers Self sufficient farmers, fishermen or other subsistence trade
5 Monks or Scholars Parents were immersed in a higher calling
6 Military Career soldiers or mercenaries
7 Tradesman Practiced a minor trade
8 Guild Practiced a popular trade as members of a broad guild
9 Merchant From peddlers to gypsies, trade in everything and anything
10 Minor Noble Part of a knight's, minor liege lord or other minor household
11 Major Noble Member of a recognized noble family with ties to dukes and barons
12 Royalty In the same bloodline as the ruling family

Caretaker's Status[edit]

d12 Status Description
1-6 Alive and well Your parents or guardians are both doing well
7-10 Misfortune On an even roll, only one is affected. On an odd, both. Roll on the Misfortune Table
11-12 Death On an even roll, only one is affected. On an odd, both. Roll on the The Death Table


d12 Misfortune Description
1-2 Cult Became involved with a religious cult
3-4 Addiction Be it drugs, alcohol or gambling
5-6 Crippled Accident, random encounter or worse causing a partial or complete incapacitation
7 Cursed Lycanthropy, vampirism or other such
8 Taken Be it by roaming barbarians, organized crime or slavers
9 Indentured Servant Bad deals or bad luck left a large debt to be paid off by labor, or outright slavery
10 Bankruptcy Responsible, directly or indirectly, for the loss of all gold and lands
11 Crazy Some lamentable situation caused complete mental breakdown
12 Prison Situations led to long term incarceration

The Death Table[edit]

d12 Death Description
1-2 Warfare An event ranging from a raid to a siege caused death
3-5 Disease Anything from a simple cold to a Pox caused death
6-7 Accident Any number of random events, from a mule kicking at the wrong time to a fire
8-9 Murdered From the random pick pocket to a planned assasination. Roll 1d12 - on a 10+, you know who did it
10-11 Unknown Found dead under mysterious circumstances
12 Murdered by You You did the killing


  1. Roll 1d6 to determine if you have siblings, a 6 means you are an only child
  2. If siblings are present, Roll 1d12 for Number of Siblings.
  3. Roll 1d12 for Each Sibling.
    1. 1-6 indicates a younger sibling. 7-12 indicates an older sibling. Odd indicates a boy, even a girl.
  4. Roll on the Fate of Your Sibling Table for each sibling.

Fate of Your Siblings[edit]

d12 Fate of Sibling Description
1-2 Lost Touch It is unknown to you what became of this sibling
3-4 Lives with Parents This sibling is home with your parents
5-6 Misfortune This sibling has had bad luck in life. Roll under the Misfortune table.
7-8 Keeps in Touch This sibling is enjoying his or her own life, apart, but keeps in touch
9-10 They Hate You This sibling despises you for some past transgression
11-12 Dead This sibling has died. Roll on the Death table.

Personal Preferences[edit]


Garb refers to the clothes your character prefers to wear. Most characers will have to wear armor for adventuring, or maybe their ninja garb if they are a sneaky bunch. This table represents what they wear when they can choose their garb, when they can relax and wear what they want versus what is necessary.

d12 Garb Description
1-3 Conservative Attire suitable to the region you are from
4 Provocative Skimpy clothing, showing skin with the intent to be sexually attractive
5 Military Like to keep your armor on always
6 Rags Don't care about clothing, wear moth eaten rags
7 High Fashion/Noble The latest fashions, expensive materials with embroidery
8 Chameleon Changes style for whatever is the local trend
9 Ninja Loose fitting, dark clothing good for sneaking or comfort
10 Naked Prefer no clothes
11 Furs Prefers pelts and animal skins for clothing
12 High Seas Likes to wear clothing suitable for a pirate or sailor


The stuff that keeps your scalp warm.

d12 Hair Style Description
1-2 Long Hair Past the shoulders, as long as you'd like.
3-4 Short Hair Cropped close to your skull, or down to the shoulder, or anywhere in between.
5 Bowl Cut Common among monks and soldiers.
6 Thin Braid Skinny braid of hair from short rat tail to long and luxurious.
7 Thick Braid An elaborate, thick braid that takes up most of your hair.
8 Dreadlocks Multitude of individual braids. Often decorated with beads or bells.
9 Bald Either on purpose or by nature's design, you have no hair.
10 Top Knot Shaved bald except for a single spot from which you grow hair.
11 Crazy Radical styles such as mohawks, spikes, weird colorings, etc.
12 Wild Unruly mass of unkept hair. A dirty, dingy bird's nest.


A mark refers to a distinguishing feature of the character that is not the norm, and sets him apart from others. For some characters they may be known by this mark - Eric the Red Axe, or Beatrice Scarhand. A mark is unique, but doesn't hold any value beyond that of the basic item.

d12 Mark Description
1-4 None There is no one distinguishing mark that sets you apart.
5 Tattoo(s) A tattoo or tattoos that are unique enough or extensive enough to set you apart.
6 Jewelry A piece of jewlery that is unique or unusual such as a nose chain or rhino-head ring.
7 Scar(s) Scar or scars savage or extensive enough to be memorable. Could also be missing part.
8 Weapon A weapon with unusual styling such as a red axe or spear with the head carved like a wasp sting.
9 Armor Armor with a design that sets it apart and makes it stand out in a crowd.
10 Item Any of a myriad of things that might be memorable such as a silver flute or an elaborate plumed hat.
11 Body Paint Pigments applied to the body in great enough quantity to seem unusual.
12 Mannerism Any of a wide range of odd behavior such as howling at stray cats or chewing on leather belts.

Personal Treasure[edit]

Personal Treasure is something that has deep value to the character, even though it may have little to no monetary value. The character may also think the item lucky, kissing it before a bet or prior to jumping off the side of the ship, and losing it would be a bad omen. Usually these are not displayed openly, but only shared with someone that is close to you.

d12 Personal Treasure Description
1 Item of Clothing Your mom's scarf or similiar
2 A Toy A childhood memory or maybe a sibling's
3 A Document The deed to family land, proof of your noble birth maybe
4 Religious Symbol Helped you get through tough times, or added strength
5 Item Any random item such as a musical instrument or a carving
6 Tool A memory of a trade left behind maybe
7 Weapon The knife that killed your parents, or your dad's trusty axe
8 Body Part A lock of hair, or a baby tooth, very personal reminders
9 Tattoo Your sister's name or a monolith that is in memory of some sacrifice
10 Animal A favorite pet, maybe one given to you
11-12 None

Significant Times in Your Life[edit]

Fate Table[edit]

Roll 1d12 Number of eventful years in your life thus far. Roll that many times on the Fate Table. The order they are rolled in is their chronological order, although years may pass between significant events.

d12 Fate Description
1-2 Tragedy Fate has not been kind
3-4 Windfall Lady luck smiles on you
5-6 Made a Friend Someone enters your life in a beneficial way
7-8 Made an Enemy You rubbed someone wrong
9-10 Cupid Strikes A relationship develops
11-12 Personal Enlightenment Events unfold that help you grow as a person
d12 Tragedy Description
1-2 Financial blow You manage to lose all your gold/possessions
3-4 Debt Financial or otherwise, you make yourself indebted to someone or some group
5-6 Imprisoned Through crime or mistake, you end up imprisoned for 1d12 months
7-8 Accident You have a serious accident that leaves you incapacitated for 1d12 months
9-10 Addiction You lose 1d12 months of this year battling an addiction such as alcohol or gambling
11-12 Lose a Pet An animal you held dear dies
d12 Windfall Description
1-2 Financial Boon You nearly double your worth in lands and possessions
3-4 Someone Owes You You managed to be at the right place and at the right time and someone owes you
5-6 Fame Through your deeds you manage to make a name for yourself locally
7-8 Long Lost Someone You find a sibling you never knew you had. Roll on the sibling tables
9-10 Scruffy! You find yourself a pet
11-12 Travel The opportunity arises to travel to far distant lands for 1d12 months

Made a Friend[edit]

d12 Made a Friend Description
1 Like a Big Brother or Sister to You Someone that is older and looks after you, fussing over you at times
2 Like a Little Brother or Sister to You Someone you look after as well as tease
3 Teacher or Mentor A sage becomes a friend that instructs you in matters
4 Partner or Co-worker Someone you work with often becomes a close friend
5 An Old Lover You said - I just want to be friends - and meant it
6 An Old Enemy Bygones become bygones and old rivalries become funny stories
7 Like a Foster Parent to You This friend regails you with advice as well as cares for you
8 Old Childhood Friend You bump into someone you had not seen in years
9 Relative A relative becomes a friend as well as a relation
10 Gang or Tribe Somehow you earn the friendship of a gang or tribe of people
11 Creature with Animal Intelligence You befriend a badger or horse, or even a random Displacer Beast you can no longer find
12 Intelligent Creature Maybe you ran into a Sphinx or a Wemic and managed to take the proverbial thorn out of the proverbial paw

Roll on the Heft Table to see how much help your friend can be.

Heft Table[edit]
d12 Heft Description
1 Peon This person has no real pull, only has himself
2 Clan Close family ties translates into an extended family all willing to lay their lives for this individual
3 Gang A small (1d12x5) group of like minded individuals
4 Tribe A large group of individuals tied by culture
5 Minor Figure A local hero or minor noble that can pull on the resources of a single town
6 Major Figure A famous hero or major noble that can pull resources over an entire province
7 Military Connections Someone that is part of a mercenary outfit or part of the guard
8 Black Market/Underground Powerful connections with the black market and the criminal world
9 Powerful Individual Someone who is a power unto himself, like a mage or a powerful priest
10 Connected to the Light Angelic forces or extra planar due gooders with wide ranging reach
11 Connected to the Dark Demonic forces, or connections with Abyssal entities or other such nasties
12 Royalty A member of the ruling family with pull anywhere within the kingdom, some beyond

Made an Enemy[edit]

d12 Made an Enemy Description
1 Ex-Friend You use to have lunch together and the like, but things went sour
2 Ex-Lover All that love turned to hate
3 Relative Family bonds cut by strife
4 Childhood Enemy An old face you hoped you would never see again
5 Person You Worked For One overtime too many
6 Person That Worked for You You should have paid for that overtime
7 Ex-Partner A working or adventuring relationship turns to arguments
8 Gang or Tribe You managed to step on the really wrong foot
9 Authorities There are those amongst the law that dislike you
10 Dark Powers Somehow you've come to the attention of dark forces, and they know your name
11 Creature with Animal Intelligence You kicked that mule one time too many, and now it hates you to the bone
12 Intelligent Creature You have some creature like a beholder or dragon angry with you

Roll on the Heft Table to see how much trouble you are in. Roll on the Animosity Table to see how this enemy and you are connected.

Animosity Table[edit]

What caused the animosity? Then roll on the Intensity Table to see how bad it is between you. After that roll to see Who Hates Whom? , to establish how things stand.

d12 Animosity Description
1 Humiliation Caused the loss of face or status publicly
2 Rift Caused the loss of a friend or lover
3 Busted Truly or falsely brought criminal charges against the person
4 Betrayed Left the other out to dry or outright backstabbing
5 Cold Shoulder Turned down for a job or turned down romantic advances
6 Rival Had been competing for a job or romantically and won over the other
7 Foiled Caused the failure of some plot, quest or undertaking
8 Sore loser Defeated this person in combat or game/gamble
9 Bigotry From race to religious beliefs, the hatred stems from stereotype
10 Murdered Convinced this person killed a friend/relative/lover
11 Jealousy This person's looks/life/luck/wealth bother you
12 Took Advantage Took economic advantage by scam, or physical advantage through force
Intensity Table[edit]

How intense are the bad feelings?

d12 Intensity Description
1-2 Annoyed It rubs you wrong to be around this person, but you can control it
3-4 Bothered You can't restrain quips and cut downs when you are around this person
5-6 Angry Proximity to this individual leads to arguments, shouting, yelling
7-8 Ignore This person doesn't exist to you
9 Violent A fight will erupt when you are around this person, if you have to start it yourself
10 Hot Murder All bets are off and so are the gloves - if the two of you are in the same room, Thunderdome rules apply
11 Cold Murder If you catch sight of this person, your head starts drawing up schemes for death
12 Ruination Whatever you have to do to bring this person down, her personal life, her job, family, etc
Who Hates Whom?[edit]

Where is the bad blood coming fom?

d12 Who Hates Whom? Description
1-4 You towards the other person The animosity is from you for them
5-8 The other person towards you The other person has the strong feelings, not you
9-12 Mutual You both feel strongly about each other

Cupid Strikes[edit]

d12 Cupid Strikes Description
1-2 Casual The year is marked with relationships. You date several people throughout the year, each for about 1d12 weeks
3-4 Serious You find a certain someone whom you date for 1d12 months
5-6 A Good Thing A serious relationship has lasted into this year. Roll 1d12 - On a 1-5 it ends, on a 6-11 it continues through the year, on a 12 you marry
7-8 Dog You find someone else, while dating someone seriously. Roll 1d12 - odd they find out and dump you, even they never find out
9-10 Heartbreak Someone whom you'd been dating cheats on you. Roll 1d12. Even, you find out, odd they dump you and you don't know why
11 Tragic Someone whom you'd been dating for over a year dies
12 Even More Tragic Pregnancy. Roll 1d12; 1-3 You leave, 4-6 He/she Leaves You, 7-8 You Marry, 9-12 Crossbow Point Wedding

Personal Enlightenment[edit]

d12 Personal Enlightenment Description
1-3 Attribute Improvement
4-6 Skill Learning
7-9 Magical Ability
10-12 New Feat
Attribute Improvement[edit]
d12 Attribute Description
1-2 Strength Heavy labor and little rest develop your muscles
3-4 Dexterity Running with a band of rogues or maybe at the circuit with the jugglers sharpen your reflexes
5-6 Constitution Training under a veteran or ex-mercenary, or time spent in harsh terrains, toughens you
7-8 Intelligence Time spent at an university or with a scholar teaches valuable skills and how to apply rational thinking
9-10 Wisdom A sage or priest schools you in the benefits of faith and strength of mind
11-12 Charisma You meet a very charismatic leader or powerful entertainer who teaches you the strength of assertiveness and charm
Skill Learning[edit]
d12 Skill Improvement Description
1 Strength Skill, New You are able to learn a new Strength-based skill.
2 Strength Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Strength-based skills improves.
3 Dexterity Skill, New You are able to learn a new Dexterity-based skill.
4 Dexterity Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Dexterity-based skills improves.
5 Constitution Skill, New You are able to learn a new Constitution-based skill.
6 Constitution Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Constitution-based skills improves.
7 Intelligence Skill, New You are able to learn a new Intelligence-based skill.
8 Intelligence Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Intelligence-based skills improves.
9 Wisdom Skill, New You are able to learn a new Wisdom-based skill.
10 Wisdom Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Wisdom-based skills improves.
11 Charisma Skill, New You are able to learn a new Charisma-based skill.
12 Charisma Skill, Improvement Through lots of practice or much use, one of your Charisma-based skills improves.
Magical Ability[edit]
d12 Skill Improvement Description
1 Abjuration You learn a new Abjuration spell.
2 Conjuration You learn a new Conjuration spell.
3 Divination You learn a new Divination spell.
4 Enchantment You learn a new Enchantment spell.
5 Evocation You learn a new Evocation spell.
6 Illusion You learn a new Illusion spell.
7 Necromancy You learn a new Necromancy spell.
8 Transmutation You learn a new Transmutation spell.
9-10 Spell-Like Ability, 1/day You somehow gain the ability to use a Spell-Like Ability 1/day
11-12 Supernatural Ability, 1/day You somehow gain the ability to use a Supernatural Ability 1/day
New Feat[edit]
d12 Skill Improvement Description
1-2 Weapon Proficiency You learn how to use a weapon.
3-4 Armor or Shield Proficiency You learn how to handle a type of armor or shield.
5-6 Skill Feat You gain a feat (for which you meet the prerequisites) which only improves skill(s).
7-8 Basic Feat You learn a new Feat that has no prerequisites.
9-10 General Feat You learn a new General Feat for which you meet the prerequisites.
11-12 Feat You learn a new Feat for which you meet the prerequisites.

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