Friday, October 18, 2019

Reapproaching Priors and Particulars

A couple years ago, I wrote up "More Priors and Quite Particular", reorganizing how that section of the PH was rolled. I won't go into my full logic here; read the post, if you like. However, I also did not like that solution; it was better, but not great.

This iteration of the Priors and Particulars section hinges upon the Social Class rules in the GMG (p. 138-140, 144). Briefly, these are:

Table 7.3: Player Character Starting Social Class
d100 outcome
01-10 Slave Class*
11-25 Lower Lower Class
26-60 Middle Lower Class
61-00 Upper Lower Class
* For this result, roll a 1d20. 1-5 indicates character is a runaway slave. 06-15 indicates the character is an escaped criminal (GM to determine the crime – note that a character may have been wrongly convicted of said crime or the statute in question may be unjust) 16-20 indicates character was stripped of all rank and title by his native culture and banished.

The GMG also allows someone to purchase a talent, Parvenu, which allows them to start at Middle Class, or the lower echelon of the Upper Class.

 In considering these rules, it is important to note the definitions of the social class; by these rules, the vast majority of people are Lower Class; they live solely based on their own labor. Those who are Middle Class live on a mixture of their own labor and the labor of others; they still have day-to-day work that must be done, but as one climbs the social ladder increasing amounts are done by other people. This version also hinges less upon the precise nature of the character’s family, and more upon who their family was in society.


Agricultural (Slave, LLC, MLC): The family might not own the land they farmed, but they did farm. From an early age, the character learned to work the land, tend the animals, and pray for rain. Their Upper Lower Class and Middle Class counterparts are Farmers, who own the land. The character begins with one purchase in Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Weather Sense, and the Laborer proficiency.

Crafts (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): The family were crafts-folk; guilded or unguilded, they made things with their hands. While only an apprentice before leaving, the character does understand the basics of the art; they begin with one free purchase of Blacksmithing/Metalworking, Carpentry/Woodworking, Craft, Leatherworking, or Pottery, and an additional 15 silver pieces in starting money and equipment.

Exiled Noble (Slave): Your family was once rich and powerful; Lower or Middle Upper Class, perhaps even Upper Upper Class. But that was before. Sometime before the character became an adult, the character’s family had a political or military disaster which resulted in their being stripped of lands, titles, rank, and possibly even names. The character begins with one purchase of Diplomacy, History, Ancient (relating to their own family), Literacy (own language), and Oration. The stain on their family name, however, means that they begin with a 3 point penalty to Honor, and only 25+2d12 silver pieces.

Farmer (ULC, Middle Class): The character’s family owned the land they worked, and worked it well. Most often, these characters were expected to learn not just farming, but also how to administer the properties that they held; they may work harvest or planting, when every hand was needed, but their main responsibility was to see that everyone else did the work. As a result, they have one purchase of the Administration and Agriculture skills.

Feral (LLC): 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, Listening, Sneaking, and Survival. However, they have 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. The character begins with only 20+1d6 silver pieces in money and equipment.

Learned (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC, Middle Class): The character’s family was part of the learned class. They may have been tutors to powerful people, scribes, letter-writers, mages, clerics, or other such individuals. The character has learned their letters, receiving one purchase of Literacy, and one of History, Ancient.

Maritime (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): The character’s family made their living from the water; they may have been fisherfolk or sailors, or even pirates. The character begins with a purchase of Boating, Swimming, and Rope Use.

Martial (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC, Middle Class): Born, Raised, and Trained, the character grew up around the military, and received the rudiments of training. They begin with one purchase of Appraisal: Arms and Armor, and the Maintenance/Upkeep proficiency.

Merchant (MLC, ULC, Middle Class): A mercantile family, the character had begun to learn the value of items, but not yet the fine points of negotiation. They begin with two purchases of Appraisal (for the same or different commodities; their choice), and 10 additional silver.

Monastery (LLC, MLC): 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 have only 15+2d12 silver pieces in starting equipment.

Orphanage (LLC, MLC): 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, Musician, and a Craft skill, but only 30+2d12 silver pieces in starting money and equipment.

Pastoral (Slave, LLC, MLC): The pastoral family has enough of their herd animals to live, but seldom enough to really enrich themselves; some may also be animal handlers, drovers, or mule wranglers on merchant caravans, or stable keepers for inns. Their Upper Lower Class and Middle Class counterparts are Ranchers, who own the land and significant herds. The character begins with one purchase each of Animal Empathy, Animal Herding, Animal Husbandry, and Weather Sense.

Rancher (ULC, Middle Class): The character comes not from drovers, but from ranch owners. Their family owned a sizable herd (or several herds) of some beast, and made good money selling meat, hides, and animals. The character begins with one purchase of Administration, Animal Herding, and Animal Husbandry.

Service (Slave, LLC, MLC): The character’s family was involved in services; they didn’t serve nobles, and did not own the establishment, but they were waiters, inn staff, or sex workers. As younger helpers, the character received one purchase of Cooking/Baking, Fire Building, and two purchases of Language (either one or two different languages, neither in their native language).

Street (LLC): 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 Glean Information, Hiding, and Urban Survival, but a two-point penalty in starting Honor and only 30+2d12 silver pieces in starting money and equipment

Wilderness (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): Perhaps it was among the Dejy who travel from the Hadaf Highlands to the Padiras River Valley each year, among hunters in the woodlands of Kalamar, or even among the grel or the orcs, but the character grew up in the wilderness, only loosely connected to settled land. They receive one free purchase of Survival, as well as Weather Sense and a single Craft. However, they also only have 25+2d12p silver pieces with which to purchase equipment.

Quality of Upbringing
While one’s background can inform a lot about them, so, too, does how well they were raised. The circumstances of their raising may vary widely, even with the same general background; someone raised in an orphanage run by the Home Foundation is going to have a far different life than one raised in an orphanage run by the House of Vice or the House of Shackles.
Some of these results will grant, or take away, build points; if the player chooses, Build Points taken away due to background can be converted to a penalty to starting money at a rate of 5 silver per Build Point. Mandatory Quirks or Flaws MUST be taken, and may be cherry-picked, and BP may be spent to reroll them, but provide BPs as any other Quirks and Flaws; they simply are not optional for your character.

*01-37 4 bp: Through luck, good parenting, or a unique alignment of environment and temperament, the character thrived in their childhood. As a result, they have a bonus of 4 BPs to be spent at character creation

*38-53 2 bp: A few good mentors or lucky breaks can make all the difference; the character receives a bonus of 2 build points

*54-65 0 bp

*66-76 2 bp and Mandatory Quirk or Flaw: You win some and you lose some. While the character gained some advantage from their upbringing, they also had what might be called a "learning opportunity", acquiring a quirk or flaw, in addition to 2 bonus BP

*77-85 0 bp

*86-90 -2 BP: Something retarded this character's education; it may have been an abusive parent, an illness (since ended) that prevented them from learning some crucial skill, or being raised in enough isolation that they did not get the mentorship they needed. However, as a result, the character has 2 less build points than normal.

*91-95 Mandatory quirk or flaw: Some particular "learning experience" stays with the character to this day; a quirk or flaw that persists into adulthood, that may have built character, but also imposes its own unique difficulty on their current life.

*96-98 -4 BP: Circumstances did not favor this character. Some factor in their life; it may be an unhelpful master in their apprenticeship, a tragic loss in their family, or even something as severe as a war disrupting an entire region; devastated their early education. They have 4 BP less than normal, and nothing to show for it, save some really depressing stories.

*99 -2 BP and Mandatory Quirk or Flaw: Bad circumstances plagued this character's early life, and while they left their mark on the character, they also left them a little behind. In addition to a mandatory quirk or flaw, the character is short 2 BP.

*00 Two Mandatory Quirks or Flaws: Is it the accumulation of injuries, a variety of character flaws, or just an odd roll of the die from Draper? Regardless, the character has two mandatory Quirks or flaws.

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