A simple sort of question with a sometimes simple, sometimes very complicated answer:
Why has an adventurer started adventuring in the first place?
So here are a few ideas, for those times when a quick jumpstart is appreciated:
01. Want to leave your old life behind for Reasons, and what better way than to take up a new name and wander around the world and beyond turning over rocks that shouldn’t be turned over? 02. Gained scars and accolades in equal measure defending family and friends from a monstrous incursion; now want to be proactive in rooting out dangers. 03. It’s said that Before, when the sun shone silvery, there were very different peoples and structures and magics — and you want to find proof. 04. Made the mistake of insulting an itinerant minstrel — who promptly laughingly cursed you to do deeds worthy of songs, both grand and gutless. 05. You want to meet with the last crystal dragon. Or greywalk hind. Or bone voyageur. Or bloodsphinx. Or … 06. They stripped you of everything, from family to future, belongings to blessing, and cast you out. But you’ll show them all. Oh yes, yes you will. 07. It turns out one of your ancestors — maybe a very recent one, maybe not — was very much not mortal, and you have Questions that only they can answer. Or answer for, as the case may be. 08. To fulfill a dying request from a kind stranger who gifted you all they had with their last breaths. Which may have included much of your initial kit. 09. There’s this map, you see, and it’s absolutely nonsensical, and it has overlapping parts like the cartographer thinks there’s other worlds overlapping this one, and the key says whole kingdoms swap around, and what even is this, you need to know — 10. You want to find a way to travel to the moon. Because there’s flowing rivers of shimmering silver on the moon, you know there are, and … 11. Actually you come from a long line of successful adventuring types, and you’re quite eager to take up your family’s unspoken banner and add to the homestead’s eclectic collections. 12. Because the king must die, and who knows what means you might unearth to bring that about.
Outside of the sometimes omnipresent street urchins (whether NPCs or player characters) and the occasional sprog in need of rescue, maybe a creepy zombie or glowing-eyed waif, there’s not always that much reference to children of any stripe in rpgs.
To be honest, I’m quite happy with that fact and maaaaybe there’s some selection bias going on because of that.
But hey, sometimes you need to at least acknowledge that youngsters exist, so here’s a few pre-adventuring professions, almost-organizations, unusual origins and similar such sundries that do exactly that acknowledging. Not for playing as children, but acknowledging nonetheless. Not just human youngsters either, because where’s the fun in that?
01. Spore Collector
You gather up the clinging dust from tiny mushrooms and towering ferns, distributing it to new growth-beds and nurturing it to life.
hard-sided, partitioned leather satchel; dozen or more stoppered bottles; dusting brush; wooden funnel
02. Keeper Of The Rolls
You took up the census for your community, recording births and milestones in life. Use your knowledge wisely, now.
ink-kit; bundle of quills or pens; illicit copy of the Rolls; personal genealogy project
03. Former Youth-Cursed
You were, for some reason — fae “gift”? cursed enchantment? an act of or descent from the divine? — a child for an unnaturally long time, perhaps decades or centuries. Now you’re finally aging. Now what?
several antiquated toys or games; clothing you’ve grown out of but are attached to; many helpful “aunts” and “uncles”
There’s midwives, and then there’s you. You’ll see a birth through to its conclusion safely, right enough, but they have to trust you, not the healer nor the gods.
protection-woad; wooden charms; white sheepskin; curved flint knife
05. Creche Singer
Raising children together builds bonds and keeps them safe in one place. You were dedicated to teaching the creche’s inhabitants, using catchy songs and memorable rhyming rhythms to impress wisdom on your young charges.
memory aids, drawn or written or patterned; musical instrument; small shoulderbag of odds and ends, carvings and props
06. Guardian of the Light
They came to you in the darkness, luminescent saviours. They promised you salvation and healed you. They pressed a gleaming precious thing into your hands. You must keep it safe until its gestation ends.
fur-lined carrying pouch or grass basket; dream-journal; smooth, glassy, luminous “egg” the size of two fists together
07. Devoted Shepherd
You spent most of your life protecting the lambs from the wolves. When the reavers came, you did the same for the village nearby. The children trusted you. You will value that always.
reinforced crook; heavy fur mantle; broad sickle or knife; wolfsteeth necklace; toy gifted from village child
Someone has to soothe the little ones who no longer see the light of day; that someone is you.
blessed milk, several children’s shawls, oil lamp, brazier, effigies of toys and treats
Some months back I had the notion to write up some random tables for generating quick character details, basically inspired by the tables in Knave. And then, of course, everything in the last year kept on happening *vague wave* and I poked around the idea in my head some but didn’t actually get things written down.
But now I have! *doot doot*
Hilariously, one of the things that I dithered on was how long to make the tables; too long and I felt like things could turn into more like variations (some physical descriptors are/were especially annoying for this), too short and there wouldn’t be enough options. Eventually I settled on d12 tables as a decent middle-of-the-road.
You don’t have to use the Favour Owed and To Whom tables in tandem, if you’d rather not deal with starting favours/debt/etc. The To Whom table would probably work nicely on its own as a “starting acquaintance or contact” table.
09. Shaved Patterns
you know your own character’s complexion; I’m not making that random.
Odd Trait I
Odd Trait II
01. Scarred Face
01. Glyph-shaped Birthmark
01. Pawlike Feet
02. Webbed Digits
03. Heterochromatic Eyes
03. Nictitating Membranes
04. Odd-coloured Blood
05. Pictorial Tattoo(s)
05. Metallic or Jewel-like Markings
06. Calligraphic Tattoo(s)
06. Clawlike Nails
06. Crystal Teeth
07. Beaded Hair
07. Pointed/Elongated Ears
07. Leafy/Flowery Hair
08. Fungal Growths
09. Metallic Skin
10. Missing Digit(s)
10. Gold-limned Shadow
11. Unusual Height
11. Scale or Fur Flourishes
11. Mirrored Eyes
12. Lock of Miscoloured Hair
12. Gill Slits
12. Chitinous Parts
distinguishing marks are mundane things, whether from birth or acquired before adventuring. “odd traits” are … more out there, ha. you don’t *need* to roll on any of these, of course.
a few important caveats: 1) these are just notable features, not necessarily your character’s only ones, 2) please don’t feel forced to use a feature that makes you uncomfortable, 3) don’t insist on using one that makes your fellow players uncomfortable either.
01. Ghost Hunter
01. Unexpected Conjuring
02. Cloistered Scribe
02. Ancient Sleeper
03. Sheepbird Herder
03. Soldier of Fortune
04. Ruin Mapper
04. Magewar Casualty
05. Maverick Priest
05. Minstrel With A Secret
06. Backalley Ruffian
07. Wandering Sage
07. Cultist of Some Obscurity
08. Exiled Noble
08. Former Ghoul
09. Snowgourd Farmer
09. Seasonal Fisherfolk
10. Uncursed Wretch
10. Foraging Chef
11. World-lost Foreigner
11. Transformed Beast
12. Artisan Looking For Inspiration
12. Would-be Lordling
some of these are more exotic than others; some are origins, some professions. you could always roll more than once if you wanted to, but more than twice would probably start getting complicated fast.
What Do You Owe?
01. Debt of Coin
01. Antlered hedge-mage who lives outside your home village
02. Bone-dragon that spared your precious one’s life
03. Oath of Loyalty
03. Wandering bard that appeared at just the right time with an answer
04. Recovering a Bauble
04. Your extended family has certain Expectations of which this is one
05. Carrying a Message
05. Witchwolf that gave you shelter
06. Delivering a Package
06. Whispering voice that comes on the wind at night; you don’t recall why
07. Season’s Labour
07. Demesne-lord who’s pledge you’ve severed; this is your last tithe
08. Your First Claim To Fame
08. Eternal One whose blood you drank
09. Part of Your Soul
09. Townsfolk who helped you prepare for your travels
10. All of Your Soul
10. Patron of the ancient shrine you stumbled across
11. Treasured Secret
11. Seediest guild in the city’s underbelly
12. Recovered Knowledge
12. Shadowy spellcaster who draws up contracts and breaks curses
the details of each favour are left deliberately vague, because power levels and such vary from game to game