EDIT: I created a new version of this that I am far happier with.
I really do not like the official Priors and Particulars charts; I'm not a huge fan of the ones below, but they're better. The initial Priors and Particulars charts really only allow there to be one kind of family... you were either raised by one or more parents, or... nothing. We have no idea what happens to those whose parents were unknown. There's no guidance of what happens to the orphaned or abandoned save that they have half the starting money. It also fairly narrowly defined half-orcs and sil-karg... all but 5% of half-orcs were the result of rapes, and those were the children of prostitutes; there was no chance that someone just found a half-orc baby and raised it, either not knowing they were half-orc (recall, many can pass as human), or dumping it on a temple. Sil-karg had a whopping 5% chance of being foundlings but, otherwise, it was rape and prostitution.
This reorganizes those tables for more nuanced options. There's a chance that an illegitimate child's parents simply never married. If someone is abandoned, there's more nuance and story in what their background was like. The original tables had the plurality of illegitimate children being abused.
Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of the tables below; I think it might be better to tear down the entire table and rebuild it from scratch. But this at least provides more possible outcomes, and allows the possibility that not every half-orc is the product of rape.
Circumstances of Birth: In most cultures there is a stigma attached to individuals born outside of wedlock. Illegitimate (bastard) children are often denied inheritance and the right to hold political office or even positions of power.
Dwarves and Elves are all considered legitimate. Given their low fecundity, children are treasured in these societies. In the rare case of an illegitimate birth or the untimely death of the parents, these children are readily adopted and considered the lawful or recognized children of their new parent without any stigma.
Gnomes, Half-Elves and Halflings have a 1 in 20 chance of being illegitimate. For Gnome Titans and Humans, the chance is 1 in 10. Half-Hobgoblins and half-orcs have a 19 in 20 chance of being illegitimate.
Roll (d100) Circumstance of Illegitimate Birth
≤01-20 Birth was the result of an adulterous affair. 75% chance father’s identity is known.
21-45 Parents never married. 50% chance the father’s identity is known.
46-55 Mother was a prostitute. Father unknown.
56-95 Birth was the result of rape. 75% chance father’s identity is known.
96+ Character was abandoned at birth. Parents unknown. Roll on “Orphans/Foundlings” table
Gnome Titans, Half-Elves, Gnome & Halflings roll at -60% on the table above. Humans roll standard. Half-Hobgoblins roll at +20 and Half-Orcs at +30%.
Why These Tweaks: The original table had no allowance for illegitimate births that were simply the result of two unmarried people having sex, then having a child but not marrying or otherwise committing, without there being prostitution or adultery involved. In the original version, all half-orcs were of illegitimate birth; this produces a 5% chance that they are legitimate. This represents not a 1st generation half-orc (the number of orcs settling down and marrying humans is statistically none), but a 2nd generation half-orc; the child of two half-orcs. The table itself was reorganized, with Unknown Parents being the top result; it didn’t seem likely that there would be no half-orcs and few half-hobgoblins who were raised as foundlings. Additionally, I added a distinct chance that the father’s identity was known in the case of rape, as that is more commonly the case.
Status of Parents: For those whose parents are known, roll d100 for each parent (mother and father). A roll of 10 or less on the first roll indicates your character was orphaned young, and rolls on the Orphans/Foundlings chart below. A 91 or above indicates that a parent is now deceased. If both parents are dead, the character is not considered an orphan; though their parents are dead, they were still a significant factor in the character’s upbringing. If only one parent is dead, roll d100 to see if the surviving parent remarried (50% chance).
Why These Tweaks: A rather substantial change in several ways. First, those who are orphaned by the first, initial, roll are sent to the Orphans/Foundlings chart. Those who were orphaned later (through two 90+ rolls) were raised by their parents, but their parents are simply now deceased. Lastly, dwarven and elven characters are still orphans, though their bonus the subsequent table means they are far more likely to have good outcomes.
Orphans/Foundlings: In some cases, characters grow up without their biological families being present; their parents may have died, or may simply be a question mark in the character’s background, unknown even to those who raised the character. If the player does not like the result of the table, they may spend 1 BP to roll again.
01-10 Feral: While perhaps not literally raised by wolves, the character is not far from it. In a rural or wilderness area, the character fended for themselves from the time they were able to do so. The character begins with a free mastery die in Animal Empathy, Animal Mimicry, Hiding, Hunting, Sneaking, and Survival. However, they have a penalty of 30 BPs, a penalty of 5 points of honor, have no native language (all language skills must be purchased) and suffer a -3 mastery die penalty to Literacy and all skills which require it as a prerequisite. If the BP penalty would take the character to negative remaining BPs, then Quirks and Flaws must be rolled or selected to bring them to zero or more BPs, or a BP must be spent to reroll. The character begins with only 20+1d6p silver pieces in money and equipment.
11-30 Street: Bounced from gang to protector to living on their own, the character was raised without any formal parent or singular mentor. As a result, the character has a free purchase in Urban Survival, but a two-point penalty in starting Honor and only half the usual starting money and equipment.
31-50 Orphanage: Raised in a group orphanage, the character had a rough life, but usually enough food and shelter, and the rudiments of education. Begin with one free purchase of the Religion skill, but a one-point penalty to Honor and half the usual starting money and equipment.
51-70 Monastery: Raised in a strict monastic order, the character was relatively well-cared for, but had a more narrow view of the world. Begins with one mastery die in Religion, Literacy (Native Language), and Musician. However, they suffer a penalty of 10 BP, and only half the usual starting money and equipment.
71-100 Extended Family: The character was adopted into a family, but never quite fully accepted. It may be that they were raised by an aunt and uncle with their own children, adopted to a farm family who wanted additional workers as much as more children, or or perhaps a person simply watched over them without providing much in the way of an education. The character begins with the Laborer proficiency, but a penalty of five BP, and only half the usual starting money and equipment.
101+ Family Friend: The character was adopted by a friend of one (or both) of their parents, and raised as their own. The character should roll on the standard “Quality of Upbringing” table. There is a 50% chance their adoptive parent was married; if they were, roll on the Quality of Upbringing table for that parent, as well.
Orphans receive a +10% bonus on this table; dwarves and elves who are orphans receive an additional +50%. Gnome, Gnome Titan, Half-elven and Halfling orphans receive a +10% bonus.
Why these tweaks: Regardless of your family situation, upbringing matters. This covers several of the more standard options in fantasy and history, weighted so the least desirable and most punitive options are lower on the table. Foundlings, half-orcs, and sil-karg do not have a penalty on this table, but the bonus for being an orphan (instead of a foundling) ensures that the worst results are limited to foundlings, and the higher chance for half-orcs and sil-karg to be foundlings means that they will be the majority of those.
Quality of Upbringing: How a character was reared and the quality of his upbringing can have a huge impact on how he turned out. A caring, attentive parent is going to better equip his child for adulthood than a parent who is unaffectionate, abusive, or not there at all.
Roll once on the following chart for each known parent and step-parent. Foundlings, and those orphaned early, do not roll on their chart unless indicated by the Orphans/Foundling chart. If the father was previously indicated as ‘unknown’, don’t roll for him and consider that parent to be dead to the character. If the character was an illegitimate birth, add +20% to the roll for the non-custodial parent. Likewise, when rolling for a step-parent, add +20% to the roll. If the player does not like any result on the table, they may spend 1 BP to roll again.
01-60 Loving parent. Character grew up well nurtured and properly cared for. Two (2) Building Point bonus
61-80 Ill-Equipped Parent. Parent was well intentioned but unskilled at raising children.
81-91 Indifferent Parent. Character was viewed as a burden. He or she grew up with feelings of inadequacy and felt unloved. Two (2) Building Point penalty
92+ Abusive Parent. Character was abused by parent. Roll an additional Quirk or Flaw for your character (see Chapter 8: Quirks and Flaws). You receive no Building Points for this quirk or flaw.
Why This Tweak: I felt a couple things need to be clarified; as the original table is written, it is more likely that orphans had bad parents, and even the mother of an illegitimate child was likely to be a bad parent; only a 25% chance that a child born out of wedlock had one good parent, but a 43% chance their parent was abusive. This modifies that chance to 40%/28%; still significant, but less bleak.