Witcher Dev Note #6: Life Path
As part of Witcher character creation we included the Life Path system that makes appearance in most of our games, (such as Cyberpunk 2020 and Mekton Zeta), a series of rolls or choices that help you flesh out your character before you play them. For Witcher, we decided to expand the Life Path to give a more detailed description of your character's background and how it affects you.
The first several rolls establish what your character's family and early life were like. All of these can be chosen instead of rolled though I've always liked to roll them. You first choose whether you are a Nordling or a Nilfgaardian. Then you make your rolls. Then you make the following rolls:
Where you were born:
This section tells you in which country you were born. It tells you a bit about what the people of your country are like and how the culture and environment affect them. This should tell you what you are probably like at a very basic level. From your place of birth you get a bonus to a skill based on what your country deems important.
What your family status was:
This will tell you what your parents did for a living. Your family's standing will tell you a lot about how you grew up. From this you gain a useful tool or object that you would have growing up in that family.
Whether your parents are alive and well:
If your parents are alive and well, you move on to family but if something happened to them you roll on this table. This is everything from fatal monster attacks to dreadful curses to assassinations. These events are assumed to have happened very early in your character's life and they give you a goal. Each event has a sub-quest. When your character completes this quest they receive a reward.
Whether your family is safe and sound:
Just like the state of your parent, you can have had a perfectly safe and happy family. But there's also a chance that your family had something wrong with it. This can be anything from crippling debt to long term familial rivalries and, just like with your parents, each one comes with a sub-quest that rewards you for solving it.
Who the most influential person in your life was:
This establishes the most influential person in your life and what they taught you. This is the person or group of people who contributed most to who you are today and who you remember the most fondly. These can be simple townsfolk or relatives all the way up to powerful mages or social outcasts and each one leaves you an object to remember them by. This is not necessarily a tremendously useful object but something of sentimental value to your character, that reminds them of better times.
How many siblings you have:
Lastly you roll how many siblings you have. This not only tells you how big the family you grew up in was but also allows you to play a brother or sister of your character if your character dies in the course of the adventure.
Once you know these basic things about your character you roll your life events. For every year after 16 you roll 1d10 and see what happened in that year of your life. This section of Life Path has remained the same as Cyberpunk 2020 but with changes to make sure that your characters life reflects the world of the witcher.