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Lifepath Backgrounds: Discover your unique and dramatic past!

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It's Eberron's Anniversary, so this digital title has been marked down by 20%. For more celebratory savings visit the Eberron Anniversary sale page.

Get More Fun and Adventure with Lifepath Backgrounds!

Are you tired of choosing the same old background for your characters, only for it to never really matter during play?

Does your character's past feel disconnected from their present?

Do you love creating characters, but wish the process was more exciting and engaging?

What if you could create a character with a past as rich and complex as their future adventures?

** Experience dynamic character creation that brings your character to life! **

With Lifepath Backgrounds, you'll enjoy exploring your character's unique history and make meaningful choices that have a lasting impact on their story. Each decision and event from your past creates an emergent story that evolves uniquely every time. Whether you're making life-or-death decisions, forging alliances, facing off against rivals, or unravelling hidden secrets, the story created will give you a solid framework to build your character's personality on. Each decision might be a turning point - perhaps closing one door, while opening another you didn't expect!

** Spice your character up with exciting new role-playing opportunities! **

Your character's past will come to life as you navigate interesting situations, confront challenging decisions, and uncover unexpected story arcs. In addition to a detailed background with many hooks to connect your past and present - your character might also gain a web of contacts, allies, enemies, and rivals! These relationships expand your narrative play space in new ways:

→ Up the intrigue and drama! Your relationships have their own agendas and motivations, which could complicate (or assist!) your adventure and lead to unexpected story twists.

→ Give consequences to actions. The events of your adventure can impact those you care for - and those who oppose you!

→ Many more role-playing opportunities. You may have to confront your past as it pushes in to your adventure, or navigate complex social situations to put your plans into action. Will you encounter friends, lovers, and allies that become essential parts of your journey? Or confront bitter enemies seeking revenge?

→ Build connections within your party. Your relationships are not all just connected to you. Some people in your past connect to other party members, creating a web of contacts shared across the group. That means more opportunities for teamwork, interpersonal drama, and more hooks for role-playing!

→ More fun - for players and DMs! As a player, having a web of relationship connections can improve your experience by giving you a connection to the world. As a DM, players with past relationships provide a deep well of story hooks. Give your adventure personal stakes for the players, bring in a rival to spice things up in a meaningful way, give weight to secrets from the past, or even introduce romantic entanglements! The possibilities are endless!

** Your background is reflected in you character's abilities! **

The choices you make and events you experience alters your character mechanically - especially your abilities and skills. Maybe spending your childhood on a farm has made you stronger, thus increasing your Strength. Or the time you spent working for a local thieves’ guild taught you the skill of Deception.

** It's fantastic as a single-player mini-game! **

While Lifepath Backgrounds does not replicate the experience of playing a full game with a DM, it is an entertaining and creative experience! Do you want to spend more time interacting with the worlds of D&D, and unleash your creative spirit? Lifepath Backgrounds is enjoyable to play on its own, while you build detailed stories for the characters you create. Explore the world as it revolves around your character's unique story. Plus you end up with a extraordinary character ready to play in your next session!

** What makes a Lifepath Background great? **

  • You want a far more detailed background than simply picking one from a list.
  • You want your character’s past to be unique and significant - both before and during play.
  • You're bored of having your background just be a set of proficiencies.
  • You want character creation to be compelling and dramatic!

This is more than just a character creation tool - it can also unlock a world of drama, excitement, and adventure. The unique events and relationships that shape your character's past also serve as the foundation for exciting, dynamic gameplay, full of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat.

-- Add a new level of fun and excitement to your history and game - get Lifepath Backrounds! --

The Lifepath Backgrounds PDF is fully bookmarked, including clickable links within the text. Easy step-by-step guides are also included for each phase of creation, along with a full-system flowchart that walks you through the entire process!

Inside you'll find a beautiful full-color PDF, a greyscale PDF (including a layer to hide images) for easier printing, and a lightweight mobile PDF for quick reference. Embark on your adventure with a Lifepath Background and discover your unique and dramatic past!

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Reviews (2)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Craig E August 14, 2023 3:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Under "duplicate class proficiencies" on page 66, it says you might gain armor proficiency from a life path, despite there being no entries on any of the tables which grant any type of armor or shield proficiency. You might want to add such entries to the improvement tables for the collegiate path (martial academy), law enforcement path (city watch) and warrior path (all types) that grant armor proficiencies as options. Alternatively, or in addition, you could add them to entry 9 (battle) on the life events table.
Customer avatar
Craig E April 02, 2023 5:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
On page 10, you might want to mention that your "constrained ability generation" table on page 10 yields ability scores that average *AT LEAST* a quarter-point lower than *ANY* of the normal methods, and a full point lower than 4d6-drop-lowest, despite how you tout that it doesn't have to deal with scores below 7.

And in fact, on the same page, you tell people to not add racial stat points? Try thinking through this idea. What reason do people have to play human characters if they're reduced to nothing more than a skill and a bonus feat? Yes, I know feats are essentially universal, and everyone loves starting with one, especially if their build requires a few specific feats and doesn't require something another race gets. (Elven accuracy, I'm looking at you!) But what reason is there to take a variant human, when you compare it to the stuff a dwarf, elf, halfling, or ANY other race gets? Humans become that much more vanilla if you reduce them to just one feature... especially if it might...See more
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Customer avatar
Tim C April 10, 2023 10:29 pm UTC
CREATOR
Unfortunately, I believe your calculations of the Constrained Ability Generation are incorrect. As the book states, this method does in fact have a distribution very close to the “4d6 drop the lowest” method. Here is a breakdown of the percentages:

Range ____ 4d6k1 ___ CAB ___ Diff _____ Ability Modifier
__________________________________________________________
3 - 9 ____ 17.51% __ 17% __ (-0.51%) __ -1 or less
10 - 11 __ 20.83% __ 22% __ (+1.17%) __ 0
12 - 13 __ 26.16% __ 26% __ (-0.16%) __ +1
14 - 15 __ 22.46% __ 23% __ (+0.54%) __ +2
16 - 17 __ 11.42% __ 11% __ (-0.42%) __ +3
18 _____ 1.62% ___ 1% ___ (-0.62%) __ +4

4d6k1 = 4d6 Drop Lowest.
CAB = Constrained Ability Generation.
Diff = Difference between 4d6k1 and CAB.

The 4d6k1 values come from anydice.com, a great tool to learn more about dice percentages. For the CAB system:
* You're half a percent less likely to generate an ability score modifier of -1...See more
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Customer avatar
Craig E April 11, 2023 6:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You're making a grievous error in your calculations. Based on what you posted, you're treating every result below 10 on 4d6-L as though it were, in fact, the same as a roll of 9, which isn't even the first level of your "constrained ability generation" table. You're also ignoring the fractional percentages involved, grouping them with the next-lower number (or category, in the case of 3-9) which I think changes the result far more than you realize.

The average of 4d6-L is reached by adding together all the results of all possible outcomes, then dividing by the number of outcomes.
(3x1) + (4x4) + (5x10) + (6x21) + (7x38) + (8x62) + (9x91) + (10x122) + (11x148) + (12x167) + (13x172) + (14x160) + (15x131) + (16x94) + (17x54) + (18x21) = 15,869.

Thus, we get 15,869/1,296 points per roll of 4d6-L, which is roughly 12.2446 stat points per roll.

Your table, on the other hand, despite starting at 7 instead of 3, yields a total of 1,125 stat points across 100 rolls,...See more
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Customer avatar
Tim C April 11, 2023 8:16 pm UTC
CREATOR
First, the calculations are correct. The above chart groups some very small numbers, but if you'd like more detail, here is a larger chart, with comparison of individual results:

Score __ 4d6k1 __ CAB
3 _____ 0.08% ___ -
4 _____ 0.31% ___ -
5 _____ 0.77% ___ -
6 _____ 1.62% ___ -
7 _____ 2.93% ___ 5%
8 _____ 4.78% ___ 5%
9 _____ 7.02% ___ 7%
10 ____ 9.41% ___ 10%
11 ____ 11.42% __ 12%
12 ____ 12.89% __ 13%
13 ____ 13.27% __ 13%
14 ____ 12.35% __ 13%
15 ____ 10.11% __ 10%
16 ____ 7.25% ___ 7%
17 ____ 4.17% ___ 4%
18 ____ 1.62% ___ 1%

As you can see, 4d6k1 lands around 13. It's actually between 12 and 13, but you can't roll a 12.2446, so some rounding is fine. You can also see that the CAB system also peaks around the same spot.

Second, 100 is far too low of a set to draw any meaningful conclusion from. What's more, I think you already know that, and you're intentionally presenting...See more
Customer avatar
Tim C March 31, 2023 5:45 pm UTC
CREATOR
Version 1.2 has been released! The highlights are:

* Clarifies that the modifier for the Self-Improvement tables is your full Season count.
* Adds the missing DC (DC 10) for the first entry in the Prisoner Misadventures table.
* Refines the language around the "previous vocation" penalty to Qualification Tests. This includes the general text summary, and the bullet point in each Path Entrance Test section.

Thanks to Craig E for helping locate these little bugs, and to everyone for continuing to make Lifepath Backgrounds a big success!
-Tim C
Customer avatar
Craig E March 24, 2023 2:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
A few observations.

Page 22, "qualification tests": should 'open' vocations (those in commoner or sojourner paths) really count against you for purposes of entering a vocation? It's bad enough you didn't get into your preferred vocation the first time around and are forced to take an 'open' vocation instead, but to make it even harder to get in during all following seasons just because you failed the first time around is like throwing salt in your wounds.

Same page, right column, "path improvement tables": This says to add half your seasons as a modifier to the 1d6 roll. Should this be only half, or the full season?

Page 62, entry 1: This needs a check DC.
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Customer avatar
Tim C March 24, 2023 10:24 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thank you for your feedback!

For the Qualification Tests, let me first give you my thoughts while wearing my game-designer's-hat. From a game design point of view, this is a mechanic designed to slow down vocation-jumping. It's pretty easy to jump from job to job, but that's not something that happens often in the real world. It would be rare to find someone in a totally new career path every 3 years or so. It adds a very small amount of resistance, which helps to put you-the-player in a similar mindset as you-the-character.

As for excluding Open vocations, adding exceptions to rules makes them more complicated. If that added complexity isn't bringing something great to the game, it's best to avoid it. Keep in mind a few things: First, the DCs for entry to most Vocations are pretty low. There's lots of 8s and 10s, and even a few 6s. Plus you add your ability modifier, and often even more bonuses to your roll. If you're attempting to switch Vocations into one you're actually suited for,...See more
Customer avatar
Craig E March 17, 2023 3:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Starting stats: STR 13, DEX 15, CON 14, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 10
Race: Elf (Wood Elf Subrace)
Lifestyle: Aristocratic (roll an 18... the best result I got out of this mess)
Social Rank: 10 (+3 modifier)
Place of Origin: Rural (country estate?)
Childhood Rlationships: None (1d3-1, roll 1)
Youth & Adolescence Self Improvement: +1 Dexterity
Youth & Adolescence Event: Attended the festival. +1 Wisdom, proficiency in insight
Season 1: Failed the collegiate entrance exam. Rolled a nat 1. 'Nuff said.
Season 1: Aristocratic Path, Noble Vocation. (It's the only one that make sense... and that I can reliably get into. And even that is only because I automatically qualify!)
Season 1: Noble Improvement: proficiency in persuasion
Season 1: Self Improvement: No improvement (roll 6, +1 for Season)
Season 1: Misadventure Check (Intelligence, DC 6): Passed (roll 7, -1 for INT)
Season 1: Aristocratic Event: Misadventure! (Roll 2)
Season 1:...See more
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Customer avatar
Tim C March 17, 2023 9:23 pm UTC
CREATOR
Wow, that was a wild ride, and such an amazing character! Let's examine one possible story for your character. You didn't provide a name, so I'll use "you" as the word to reference the character going forward.

Born into Elven nobility, you always had everything you needed, and almost anything you wanted. You frequently attended any festival or gathering that toured nearby, and one day an unusual carnival arrived, and you jumped at the chance to attend. While there, you met a man who introduced himself as Finnan Stoneheart - and he promised that he could acquire rare items of magical power if you were willing to part with the coin. You immediately knew Finnan had nefarious intentions, and while you were wise enough not to fall for his schemes, you feared others might. Using your position, you summoned the authorities who quickly took him into custody. With your testimony and the obvious evidence at hand, Finnan was convicted and sent to prison. While difficult, you felt like you did the right...See more
Customer avatar
Craig E March 16, 2023 7:49 am UTC
PURCHASER
Vocational paths, phase 3:
Step 3: Roll to see if you have a misadventure. If so, go to the misadventure table and skip the rest of this season.
Step 4: Now that you've proven you DIDN'T have a misadventure, roll for an event.

Now, here's the kicker: If you roll a 2 for the event (regardless of which vocational path you're on), you have a misadventure! THERE IS A WASTED STEP HERE! Seriously, by what stretch of the imagination and/or faulty logic is this warranted? I get that it can be tough filling a bunch of tables with unique options, but if you're absolutely out of ideas, just move the results of 3-6 down one spot and stretch the Life Events option from just a 7 to a 6-7! There's even a similar problem in the prisoner's path tables! Sure, there's no Life Events entry on the prisoner's path events table, so stretch the 7 to 6-7, or split the subtable for the result of 7 into two different subtables.
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Customer avatar
Tim C March 16, 2023 4:00 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hello Craig E, and thanks for your feedback!

You are correct, it is possible (although very rare!) that you can pass the Misadventure check and still end up on the Misadventure table. Think of it this way: sometimes you find trouble, sometimes trouble finds you! The system is attempting to model the random twists of fate that can occur in any life. With apologies for switching genres, as the great Captain Jean Luc Picard said, "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life."

Drama doesn't exist where there is no conflict. Part of creating a great dramatic and interesting backstory for your character *is* that Misadventure can (rarely) happen, at any time. It's those challenges that your character has encountered, learned from, and then risen above that makes their eventual success so impactful!

I would also note that this structure is a classic of the Lifepath-style system, going back decades. My implementation here...See more
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Customer avatar
Craig E March 17, 2023 12:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
It happened to me THREE TIMES when making a SINGLE CHARACTER! I can conclusively say that nothing in your system feels worse than eking out a difficult misadventure check based on your weakest stat, only to find yourself suffering a disastrous loss or an injury that drops one OR MORE of your stats by multiple points, regardless of the fact that you SUPPOSEDLY avoided such misfortune! The only thing I've gotten from your product is a dangerous spike in my blood pressure during an activity which I use specifically to destress!

Maybe you should try testing your product a few times to see if there are any glaring flaws in it, LIKE THIS ONE, before putting it out there for the whole world to see.
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Customer avatar
Tim C March 17, 2023 4:21 am UTC
CREATOR
I'm sorry your experience hasn't been ideal, and I appreciate your concerns. The intention behind the Lifepath system is to create characters with a rich backstory and depth, rather than focusing on mechanically-optimized characters. I understand, however, that this may not be to everyone's taste. The events you've described are certainly exceedingly rare, with the odds being 1 in 46,656 - which immediately sparks my interest! The rare events are the most fascinating, after all.

As for any injuries your character may suffer, first that's a great way to give your character a entertaining story about a meaningful event from their past. Imagine your character telling the tale of how they got that jagged scar down their left leg (costing them a point of Dexterity) around the campfire while on the road with their companions! Second, as you may know, you can almost always recover lost ability points via the Magical Healing rules on page 68, if you really don't want to sacrifice an ability point. Sure it's...See more
Customer avatar
Nick C March 03, 2023 4:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have enjoyed it so far the only thing I wasn't sure about is there were a few instances it said roll a d3 was that supposed to be a d4?
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Customer avatar
Tim C March 03, 2023 5:11 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hello! I am glad you are having fun! For a d3 result, that would typically be accomplished by rolling a d6. The 1 and 2 faces are a result of 1, the 3 and 4 faces are a result of 2, and the 5 and 6 faces are a result of 3.
Customer avatar
Tim C January 17, 2023 5:33 pm UTC
CREATOR
Version 1.1 has been released! This is mostly a few minor grammar fixes for the book PDFs. The big update is the addition of a graphics-free printable Flowchart PDF, which includes the Core Flowchart, and all the step-by-step guides in once place!

I'd like to thank everyone for their support, it couldn't be done without you!
Customer avatar
Diane R January 17, 2023 9:25 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello! I am a publisher who received a copy of the product for free.

First off, as a graphic designer myself, the first thing I noticed (and continued to notice throughout the entire work) was how well everything was laid out and how readable it was. The style was very consistent throughout, and the artwork that was included didn't distract from the writing, but added to it. Plenty of breathing room around text, too. When you get this product, there is a black and white "fewer graphics" version that works great for printing it out without worrying about all 80 pages sucking your printer dry. Really nice consideration to include.

For the work itself: when I was first looking at this I thought it would be something I can personally use to help myself (or new players) figure out how to create a decent backstory, to prevent those awkward moments in-game when the DM inevitably asks, for instance, "So, where would your character have learned this skill/spell/language?" And...See more
Customer avatar
Peter M January 04, 2023 3:10 am UTC
PURCHASER
Two disclaimers: I am a publisher myself, and I received a copy of this product for free.

This is a genuinely interesting and surprisingly engrossing way to generate a first-level PC. By the time you've finished a pass through this generator, you will have what feels like a fully-fleshed person and you will be deeply invested in the continuation of their story, both areas where the core rules are a bit anemic. Going through this process is an enjoyable activity unto itself, albeit a quite a bit more time-consuming than just picking a background. Still, if you are willing to put in the effort (and I believe you should be), it will probably be hard to envision doing backgrounds the old way ever again.

Excellent concept, expertly realized.
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Product Information
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Pages
82
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File Last Updated:
March 31, 2023
This title was added to our catalog on January 03, 2023.