Several members of my regular gaming group (myself included) have expressed that they really like the character creation system from the RPG (the so called “Character Burner”). This system allows the player to lay out his character’s history in stages, tracking his life in terms of where he was born, what jobs he has held, and how his station has changed over time. The end results of this “Character Burning” informs the character’s age, stats, and skills.
After looking over these rules multiple times, I have realized that the Character Burner could be used to generate characters for a standard D&D or Pathfinder RPG game with very little conversion. Below are my ideas for this conversion, with the intent of being able to use the Character Burner with as little change as possible.
1. Lifepaths and Age
When using the Character Burner, each part of the character’s former life is represented by a “Lifepath”. Certain races (Elves, Dwarves, Orcs) have unique lifepaths available to them, representing the traditional roles of these races in the fantasy genre. When converting to most D&D, the player and DM should consult on what group of lifepaths (Human, Elf, Dwarf, or Orc) are appropriate to the character’s race (i.e. Halfling society is very similar to Humans, Goblins are similar to Orcs, while half-orcs may be allowed to freely choose between both Human and Orc lifepaths).
Each Lifepath takes a certain amount of time (anywhere from 1 to 15 years for human lifepaths). In a D&D game, this determines the character’s starting age (rather than the random roll typically used). All normal modifiers for advanced age should be applied to the character (in addition to the possible change in the number of ability dice they are rolling).
2. Mental and Physical Stats
In the RPG, there are 6 base statistics (the same number as in D&D). These abilities are represented by a number of six-sided dice (typically from 3 to 6). The Character Burner gives the player a “pool” of dice that can be assigned to these stats based on his age and past profession(s). These stats are broken down into two categories: Mental, which contains 2 stats, and Physical, which has the other four.
When converting to D&D rules the number of dice assigned to a stat is the number the character rolls to determine the corresponding ability score. The Mental stat pool is used to assign dice to the character’s Intelligence and Wisdom scores, and the Physical pool is used to assign dice to the character’s Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. The player can assign a minimum of 2 dice to a given physical Stat and a minimum of 3 dice to a given Mental Stat. If more than 3 dice are assigned to a stat, he rolls all the dice and takes the 3 highest dice for that ability. Note that taking only 2 dice in a stat results in a range of 2-12, meaning that the character is at best average in that area, and likely very weak.
For example, a 24-year old character with the lifepaths of Born Peasant, Sailor, Purser, and Ship’s Steward would have 8 mental points and 17 physical points. The player wants to build a “ship’s mage” type character, and so assigns the dice as 5d6 for Intelligence, 3d6 for Wisdom, 5d6 for Dexterity, 5d6 for Charisma, 4d6 for Constitution, and 3d6 for Strength.
In the game, each lifepath provides the character with a number of points that can be assigned to skills (typically from 1 to 12). This area may require the most change from traditional D&D character generation.
In D&D, starting characters gain a static number of skill points based on the Class and Intelligence. Using the character burner, the character starts with a number of skill points based on his Lifepaths (for example our Sailor from #2 would start with 14 skill points). The number of skill points gained by this method can tend to get very high and thus are only appropriate when using the 3.5-edition skill rules, as under the Pathfinder even a rogue with maximum intelligence would only start with 12 skill points.
In D&D the skills available to a starting character are based on his Class. Using the Character Burner, the class skills for the starting character are determined by his Lifepath(s). The DM and player should choose the D&D skills most closely matching those listed for the Lifepath(s) in the (see Skill Conversion). Skill points listed as “General” may be spent on any skill (treating the skills for the character’s class plus those for his Lifepath(s) as class skills). Skill points not listed as General must be spent on the skills identified for his Lifepath(s).
For example, our Sailor is listed as being able to assign skills points to Accounting, Ship Management, Tabulation, Rigging, Knots, Brawl, Sing, Sea-wise, and Gambling. The DM may decide that these equate to Profession (Accountant), Climbing, Rope Use, Perform (singing), Knowledge (nature), Acrobatics, and Gaming. He gains 3 General skill points, which he spends on Spellcraft (to better serve as a ship’s mage) and must spend the other 11 on the skills listed above.
If using the Pathfinder rules for skills, the number of non-General skill points granted by a Lifepath should be divided by 4 (round fractions up). Per the example above, the Sailor would gain 3 General skill points, and 3 skill points which must be spent on the specified skills (1 each from Sailor, Purser, and Steward).
In the game, each lifepath provides the character with a number of traits that he can select (anywhere from 0 to 2 per lifepath). As a general rule starting characters will have no more than 2 or 3 such traits (unless they are of exceptional age).
In Pathfinder, all characters start with 2 traits, so this conversion is quite simple. Using the , Pathfinder characters start with a number of traits appropriate to their Lifepath(s). As usual, the character may not select more than one trait from each category.
In addition, the lifepaths often give a number of bonus traits (i.e. Farmers gain the “hoarding” trait and Fishermen gain the “superstitious” trait). Any bonus traits of this sort represent personality traits which the player may wish to emphasize. They have no mechanical benefit (in either game system).
As an optional rule, the DM may allow the character a +1 bonus on die rolls in situations where the particular personality trait would be emphasized, such as the superstitious fisherman rolling a saving throw against an obviously supernatural attack. It is encouraged that this bonus only be granted in cases where the player role-plays out the trait in question, such as the fisherman rubbing a lucky charm or reciting a saying to avert the evil eye in the above example.
Characters in gain a number of “Resource Points”, based on their chosen lifepaths, with which to purchase their starting equipment, lands, and/or contacts. A given lifepath can grant anywhere from 0 to 50 resource points (with 10-12 being average). Given that most characters have 3-5 lifepaths, the character’s resources average about 40 resource points.
When using this system with D&D characters, the character gains an amount of starting gold equal to 5 times their resource points. In the case of our sample Sailor, he would gain 0 resource points from the Born Peasant path, 4 from Sailor, 5 from Purser, and 15 from Steward, giving him a total of 24 resource points, which equates to 120 gold pieces with which to buy starting equipment.
Note that this system can result in characters with Noble backgrounds easily having 500gp or more to buy starting equipment. For characters of exceptional age or high station, it is encouraged that the DM use the standard rules from for purchasing lands, contacts, and servants using resource points, with any additional resource points left over being converted to cash, as above.