|This woman is adventuring in search of an even bigger hat. Her impossible search continues...|
Anyone who's actually reading this will probably have already noticed that fast character generation is a bit of a priority for me. Five-minutes-and-done fast. At the same time, though, I don't want characters to feel like interchangeable tokens, the way they do in some dungeon-crawl games where fast chargen is at a premium because the PCs die like flies. I was chargen to be fast because I want to get on with the actual *game*, and that game is about a bunch of adventurous oddballs who can't be relied upon to always do the right thing, or even the smart thing, but who can be relied upon to always do the interesting thing.
You know what generates interesting actions? Interesting motivations.
Anyone who's decided to become an adventurer is already not quite normal. This is not a sane or healthy lifestyle choice. They're probably either a bit mad, or a bit desperate, or a little of both. Maybe you already have an idea for why your PC isn't doing the sensible thing and staying home to look after the family farm; but if not, an answer is only a d20 roll away!
So Why Did Your Character Become an Adventurer, Anyway? (Roll 1d20)
- One of your loved ones (roll 1d4: 1 = spouse or lover, 2 = parent, 3 = sibling, 4 = best friend) is being held captive by a greedy tyrant who refuses to release them unless you pay an extortionate ransom, so now you roam the world looking for wealth with which to buy their freedom.
- You have fallen hopelessly in love with someone totally unobtainable (roll 1d4: 1 = wealthy heir(ess), 2 = haughty aristocrat, 3 = famous courtesan, 4 = ultraviolent Murder Harlot), and now roam the world trying to accumulate so much wealth, fame, and status that they'll have to take you seriously as a suitor.
- Your family used to be rich and influential, but they lost it all. (Roll 1d4 to find out how: 1 = political intrigues, 2 = civil war, 3 = legal chicanery, 4 = gross financial incompetence) Now you roam the world trying to accumulate enough money to buy back your family estates, or enough power to take them by force.
- You want to become famous. Really, really famous. So famous that songs are written about you and people name their children after you and poets write epics about you hundreds of years after your death. Now you roam the world looking for Great Deeds to do.
- You want to be rich. Really, really rich. So rich that you can eat a different exotic banquet every evening and fill your palace with giant golden statues of yourself and own a different embroidered silk dressing gown for every night of the year. Now you roam the world looking for things that you might be able to sell for huge sums of money.
- You want to compose a great work of art (roll 1d4: 1 = novel, 2 = poem, 3 = play, 4 = symphony), but you're convinced that real art needs to come from real experience and you haven't really experienced anything yet. Now you roam the world looking for inspiration, life experience, and anything that looks like it might be a good source of material.
- You want to see things that no-one has ever seen! Do things that no-one has ever done! Boldly go where no-one has ever gone before!
- You're bored. Really, really bored. No ordinary form of activity or entertainment interests you any more, so now you roam the world, looking for excitement. Going on dangerous adventures might be fatal, but at least it won't be boring...
- You long to recover the lost magical knowledge of the ancient world. (Roll 1d4 to find out why: 1 = to understand the secrets of the cosmos, 2 = to rule the land as a mighty sorcerer, 3 = to lift the ancient curse that afflicts your people, 4 = to teach them to others and usher in a new age of magic.) You roam the world seeking for lost wisdom, ancient artefacts, mystic tomes, and anything else that might help you in this quest.
- You want to make the world a better place. (Roll 1d4 to find out why: 1 = to make sure that no-one ever has to suffer as you have suffered, 2 = to fulfil the teachings of your culture or religion, 3 = to stockpile good karma for your next incarnation, 4 = out of genuine disinterested altruism.) There's a lot of evil, injustice, and suffering out there: so now you roam the world, seeking to destroy evil in all its forms.
- You're a collector. (Roll 1d4 to find out what you collect: 1 = hunting trophies, 2 = rare books, 3 = ancient artefacts, 4 = works of art.) Most people would say your collection is pretty good already, but what do they know? There's so much more out there, waiting to be found or bought or stolen so that you can bring it home, and catalogue it, and slot it into place alongside all the rest...
- You have been completely disgraced in the eyes of your community by committing some terrible crime. (Roll 1d4: 1 = kinslaying, 2 = blasphemy, 3 = treason, 4 = it was actually all a horrible misunderstanding.) Cast out of your home, you now wander the world, seeking to perform some act of heroism so great that it might allow you to regain your lost honour.
- You are determined to prove your worth. (Roll 1d4 to find out who you're trying to prove it to: 1 = your parents, 2 = your king, 3 = your church or cult, 4 = your old teacher.) They don't believe you're truly capable of greatness, but you're going to prove them wrong or die trying!
- One night, you had this really vivid dream in which one of the gods (pick one or roll randomly - I'd be adding a random god table at some point) appeared to you and told you that you had been chosen as their instrument in the world. You woke up the next morning completely convinced of the reality of this celestial mission: so now you roam the world, seeking to bring glory to your god, strengthen their cult, and destroy all who would blaspheme against them.
- You are a total hedonist, but not the indiscriminate kind who just wants to party all night and drink until they throw up. Instead, it is your ambition to seek out the most strange, intense, and refined pleasures that the world has to offer, and then experience them to their fullest. You have a special interest in one kind of pleasure (roll 1d4: 1 = food, 2 = drink, 3 = drugs, 4 = sex), but really you want to experience it all: so now you roam the world, looking for exotic delights to indulge in and funds to cover the often-considerable cost of doing so...
- You have a thirst for knowledge. You are full of insatiable curiosity: what's over those mountains? How do those machines work? Who built all these old ruined buildings, and what happened to them? Now you roam the world, filling in the blank spaces on the map and seeking to learn as much as possible along the way.
- Before you die, you want to see the wonders of the earth. You want to watch the sun rise from the tops of the world's highest mountains; you want to see the masterpieces painted by the world's greatest artists; you want to visit the world's biggest cities and grandest palaces and most awe-inspiring ruins. So now you roam the world, travelling from wonder to wonder. After all, there's so much to see, and so little time...
- You don't really want to be an adventurer at all, but you've secretly fallen hopelessly in love with one of the other PCs. (Pick or roll randomly: if none of the other PCs are of your character's preferred gender, you may reroll this motivation.) You tell people that you're doing this for wealth or glory, but actually it's just to give you a chance to stay close to the one you love, and hopefully impress them so much that they won't rebuff you when you finally confess your feelings to them...
- You're trying to track down all the members of your long-lost family, who have been scattered across the world. (Roll 1d4 to discover by what: 1 = war, 2 = natural disaster, 3 = religious persecution, 4 = some kind of complicated conspiracy.) Once you've finally found and reunited them all, they're going to need somewhere to live, so you're also trying to accumulate wealth while you're at it...
- Roll again, except that whatever you roll is actually just your cover story. Your real motivation is that you're an agent of some kind of secret society (roll 1d4: 1 = political, 2 = religious, 3 = economic, 4 = scholarly), and your life as an adventurer provides you with a convenient excuse to move from place to place, passing on messages from one isolated safe-house to the next. You may sometimes be required to perform other tasks for them, as well...