Home » Meet Your Humble Ravenland’s Graverobbers – I love random player-character generation!

Meet Your Humble Ravenland’s Graverobbers – I love random player-character generation!

Rolling the dice may spark imagination to create an unusual idea - especially when you do a random player-character generation.
Rolling the dice may spark imagination to create an unusual idea – especially when you do a random player-character generation.
| Photo by Ugo Mendes Donelli on Unsplash

It’s our very first session of the Forbidden Lands campaign. From the very first moment, I see players’ interactions reflecting their alter-egos, the relationships seem like they’ve been there for a long time now. But in fact, we’ve finished creating them just seconds ago. That’s all thanks to random player-character generation and its powerful ability to inspire.

I often see player character ideas that are given a lot of thought, detailed and planned both narratively and mechanically. Especially when there’s a long campaign starting. And that’s great! As a GM, I very much appreciate the player’s effort to create their character and make it fit into the setting. But running sandbox, I discovered that I love even more getting inspiration for player-character generation from random dice rolls. Why?

How random rolls stimulate creativty in character generation

Getting to somehow make sense of random rolls may be challenging at first. Most of us – both Game Masters and players – prefer information that is complete and logical. And the dice roll rarely yields such. For example (sticking to the Forbidden Lands’ Legends & Adventurers booklet): How would you make sense of a Half-elf with the “Student” childhood becoming a “Cattle herder” (formative event for a Rider class)? Or, a “Druid’s apprentice” Ailander who proceeds to pull a “Succesful heist” as a Rogue? There’s no obvious connection between these examples. And that’s it! Your imagination has to start running to think of e.g. the half-elf leaving his sorcerous studies for a peaceful life due to some terrible event, or a faithful Ailandergiving up his trust into the ways of the Raven-god and becoming a ruthless opportunist. Aren’t those very dramatic stories that leave a lot of room for development throughout the campaign?

Not only players can benefit from random rolls!

As word on the same thought process on the GM’s side. If you look up my sandbox tables, you may see a page full of random words to pick through the d666 (3d6) roll – an Abstract Table. I’ve just rolled “sword”, “tale” and “agreement”. If I rolled these as an encounter in an area being explored, I’d probably come up with a wandering bard telling a tale of a sell-sword who agreed to protect a place in the region once, but (rolling again – “trade”) eventually gave in to his materialistic nature and traded the secret for gold. Then, I’d refer to the Legends booklet again and generate the missing parts of the story (what was the place, where it is, etc.) For another example, you may have the dice telling that the party meets an undead knight that’s friendly towards them. Maybe he’s looking for someone to lift his curse? Such twists may add a lot of depth to your game and keep it fresh for a long time.

The characters my players generated

Now, let’s introduce the dramatis personae for this series:

Buri – “The Lush”

13th son of 13th son – a theme the Buri’s player came up with. 13 being a lucky number in the dwarven culture, the thirteenth son of a thirteenth son is considered as a kind of oracle or chosen one. The legend has it that such an individual may solve any problem simply by getting involved in it. But it turned out differently for Buri, who wasn’t as successful in his family business of bakery. Hence, he had left his parents’ premises to find a destiny on his own. He’s a master swordfighter that tries hard to forget what an important role in society he cut himself from – often with the help of some strong spirits. The group’s jester and prankster, always looking to relieve a bit of tension while making fun of others.

Mara – “The Wench”

An Aslene young woman who almost inherited a large herd of livestock – if not for her nature intolerable of being someone’s subject. She escaped just before the formal agreement between the nomad families was made and started her life as a small-time peddler, constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure that no offended tribesmen are chasing her. She’s the most pragmatic, down-to-earth part of the company, often reminding the other two that there’s something more important to do than squabbling.

Hrod – “The Goblin”

Growing up in the woods, he met a band of robbers who seemed like a welcoming bunch at first. But when they burned a village of innocents down, he fled from them only to have the memory of the carnage haunt his dreams. Being a grump at the surface, he has a heart of gold. His good nature often is a bit skewed though due to his very particular idea of “property”. Also, these conflicting parts often lead him to trouble and money shortage.

Can you spot the misfit?

One player-character of the three wasn’t created through random generation. Can you guess who that is? Let me know in the comments here or on my Facebook page.

See you next week, on the Forbidden Lands Friday!

2 thoughts on “Meet Your Humble Ravenland’s Graverobbers – I love random player-character generation!”

  1. Pingback: How to link player-character story to the main plot - Shadows in the Fog

  2. Pingback: Making sense of random rolls in sandbox RPG - Dramatist of Mind

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