Life Path (5e Variant Rule)

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This is an outlet for a more fleshed out back story. It will work with any background.


This is a 5e version of the 3.5 Life Path found in the Variant Rules of the 3.5 section.

Lifepath Instructions[edit]

Simply roll the associated die for each table, following your character's Lifepath. There will be times when you skip tables, or roll on additional tables as the text describes when appropriate. You are welcome to simply look at the tables and pick whatever you think is most appropriate for the character you intend to make, however, some very interesting stories seem to grow from random roles.

Birth & Childhood[edit]

Place of Birth[edit]

d12 Birth Location Sub-Tables
1 Out in the wilderness You were born outside the confines of civilization
2 A Rural Hamlet/Village A few houses, isolated from any one kingdom. Not on the map
3 Slave Pit You were born amongst slaves
4 Town Medium size town, part of a kingdom and usually on a map
5 Religious or Scholarly Institution You were born in a monastery or university or similar setting
6 Fortress A structure built for military use
7 Palace Place of residence of the royal family
8 Major metropolis, Capital City A sprawling conglomeration of residences and businesses, always on the map
9 Caravan or other mobile You were born on the move, by nomads or on a ship, maybe the circus.
10 Alien racial environment Raised in the forest by an elven family, or in a cave by wolves, etc.
11 Alien racial city Raised by another race or species in a conglomeration of said species.
12 Extraplanar Raised in a plane other than the prime material

Childhood Environment[edit]

d12 Childhood Environment Description
1 No Adult Supervision No one was around a majority of the time, or at all, to supervise. No real structure.
2 Abusive Caretakers provided significant physical and/or mental abuse
3 - 4 Sheltered Constant supervision by adults or others, kept you confined to "safe" areas.
5 - 8 Supportive You were provided guidance and care and allowed room to grow and explore
9 Gang You were raised by a gang, band or other group
10 Strict Most of your care was left up to monks, military schools or other strict institutions
11 Owned Put to work from early or outright owned, very little care given
12 Apprenticed Given over to a Master to be apprenticed from an early age

Family History[edit]

Caretaker's Origin[edit]

d12 Caretakers Description
1-4 Original Parents Raised by the ones that gave birth to you
5-7 Close Family Raised by family members, not your parents (aunt/uncle, grandfather/mother, etc)
8 Adopted Never knew original parents. Raised by a couple not related to you.
9 Institution Raised at an institution, be it an orphanage, monastery or other. Skip to Significant Times in Your Life
10 Master Sold or given or kidnapped at an early age and raised as property. Skip to Significant Times in Your Life
11-12 On Your Own Have had to rely on yourself for as long as you can remember. Skip to Significant Times in Your Life

Caretaker's Background[edit]

d12 Family Background Description
1 Homeless Pan handling in the streets
2 Entertainers Bards,Minstrels, Poets, Actors
3 Serfs/Servants In service to a feudal lord
4 Free Laborers Self sufficient farmers, fishermen or other subsistence trade
5 Monks or Scholars Parents were immersed in a higher calling
6 Military Career soldiers or mercenaries
7 Tradesman Practiced a minor trade
8 Guild Practiced a popular trade as members of a broad guild
9 Merchant From peddlers to gypsies, trade in everything and anything
10 Minor Noble Part of a knight's, minor liege lord or other minor household
11 Major Noble Member of a recognized noble family with ties to dukes and barons
12 Royalty In the same bloodline as the ruling family

Caretaker's Status[edit]

d12 Status Description
1-6 Alive and well Your parents or guardians are both doing well
7-10 Misfortune On an even roll, only one is affected. On an odd, both. Roll on the Misfortune Table
11-12 Death On an even roll, only one is affected. On an odd, both. Roll on the The Death Table


d12 Misfortune Description
1-2 Cult Became involved with a religious cult
3-4 Addiction Be it drugs, alcohol or gambling
5-6 Crippled Accident, random encounter or worse causing a partial or complete incapacitation
7 Cursed Lycanthropy, vampirism or other such
8 Taken Be it by roaming barbarians, organized crime or slavers
9 Indentured Servant Bad deals or bad luck left a large debt to be paid off by labor, or outright slavery
10 Bankruptcy Responsible, directly or indirectly, for the loss of all gold and lands
11 Crazy Some lamentable situation caused complete mental breakdown
12 Prison Situations led to long term incarceration

The Death Table[edit]

d12 Death Description
1-2 Warfare An event ranging from a raid to a siege caused death
3-5 Disease Anything from a simple cold to a Pox caused death
6-7 Accident Any number of random events, from a mule kicking at the wrong time to a fire
8-9 Murdered From the random pick pocket to a planned assasination. Roll 1d12 - on a 10+, you know who did it
10-11 Unknown Found dead under mysterious circumstances
12 Murdered by You You did the killing


Roll 1d6 to determine if you have siblings, a 6 means you are an only child

If siblings are present, Roll 1d12 for Number of Siblings.

Roll 1d12 for Each Sibling.

1-6 indicates a younger sibling. 7-12 indicates an older sibling. Odd indicates a boy, even a girl.

Roll on the Fate of Your Sibling Table for each sibling.

Fate of Your Siblings[edit]

d12 Fate of Sibling Description
1-2 Lost Touch It is unknown to you what became of this sibling.
3-4 Lives with Parents This sibling is home with your parents.
5-6 Misfortune This sibling has had bad luck in life. Roll under the Misfortune Table.
7-8 Keeps in Touch This sibling is enjoying his or her own life, apart, but keeps in touch.
9-10 They Hate You This sibling despises you for some past transgression.
11-12 Dead This sibling has died. Roll on the Death Table.

Significant Times in Your Life[edit]

Fate Table[edit]

Roll 1d4+Starting Level Number of eventful years in your life thus far. Roll that many times on the Fate Table. You may treat each successive roll as being in chronological order, or you may decide order afterwards. If the DM wishes, they may roll once and all players roll the resulting number of Fates (they may also increase the die rolled if generous).

In addition, you gain (Starting Level+2)d12 months of downtime to spend as you see fit. You may not save this for later.

d12 Fate Description
1-2 Tragedy* Fate has not been kind
3-4 Windfall Lady luck smiles on you
5-6 Made a Friend Someone enters your life in a beneficial way
7-8 Made an Enemy You rubbed someone wrong
9-10 Cupid Strikes A relationship develops
11-12 Personal Improvement* Events unfold that help you grow as a person
  • If you feel it truly does not work for your character concept, you may reroll results on most tables or simply pick one you feel works better (ex. Your pious LG paladin probably wouldn't be the kind of person to cheat on a significant other, or maybe they would. It's your character). If your DM feels a result does not work with their setting, they may ask you to take a different result. The only results you are not allowed to reroll or alter are the Tragedy and Personal Improvement tables unless your DM is willing to give you a full mulligan and let you start over from the beginning.
d12 Tragedy Description
1-2 Crippling Event You suffer major harm that has permanent effect. Roll on the Disability Table.
3-4 Financial blow You manage to lose all your gold/possessions. You start with reduced equipment and gold.
5-6 Debt Financial or otherwise, you make yourself indebted to someone or some group. Roll on the enemy and heft tables to determine what kind and how powerful they are.
7-8 Infamy You are known, and reviled, in connection with some sort of disastrous event. You may, or may not, be innocent, but most anyone who knows of the event will treat you with disdain at best. You have disadvantage on all social rolls involving such people, if they don't try and attack you first.
9-10 Crisis You suffer a personal crisis (injury, addiction, arrest, etc.) that effectively incapacitates you for 1d12 months. Lose that much starting downtime.
11-12 Lose a Loved One Someone very close to you 1-2 Dies, 3-4 leaves, 5-6 is taken.

If your DM is merciful, they may permit you to take an extra Feat or raise an ability score by 2 (or at least gain a new Skill) to partially counteract the new disadvantage.

d12 Tragedy Description
1 Strength Disability Reduce your STR by 2. Your STR may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base STR is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
2 Dexterity Disability Reduce your DEX by 2. Your DEX may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base DEX is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
3 Constitution Disability Reduce your CON by 2. Your CON may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base CON is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
4 Intelligence Disability Reduce your INT by 2. Your INT may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base INT is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
5 Wisdom Disability Reduce your WIS by 2. Your WIS may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base WIS is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
6 Charisma Disability Reduce your CHA by 2. Your CHA may not exceed 14 for any reason, including magic. (If for some reason your base CHA is still over 14, redistribute Ability Score points until it equals 14)
7 Crippling Phobia You have a terrible Phobia of something. You have disadvantage on all rolls and may not use your proficiency bonus if your Phobia is present and known to you. This is not a magical effect and is exempt from abilities that counteract magical fear. A successful WIS save may negate the effects for one round.
8 Sensory Loss You have lost the ability to use one of your senses (Roll 1d4 1=Sight, 2=Hearing, 3=Smell, 4=Touch). You automatically fail all rolls involving the lost sense and gain disadvantage on actions that would benefit from its presence (ex. If you lose your sense of touch, you roll Perception at a disadvantage to realize you've been stabbed in the back).
9 Massive Scar You have a massive and ugly scar that covers a good portion of your face. You make Intimidation rolls at advantage, but all other social interaction rolls are made at disadvantage unless the people know you very well.
10 Lost Limb You lost a limb. Roll a d4 to determine which one (1=Off Arm, 2=Left Leg, 3=Right Leg, 4=Dominant Arm) and a d3 to determine how much of the limb you lost (1=Whole Limb, 2=Just below Knee/Elbow, 3=Foot/Hand only).
11 Debilitating Disease You suffer from a debilitating illness, thankfully not contagious, but that persists despite all attempts to remove it (including magical). Discuss with your DM the particular disease and its effects on you as well as what steps, if any, can be taken to mitigate the symptoms.
12 Persistent Curse You suffer from a very nasty curse, thankfully limited to you, but that persists despite all attempts to remove it (including magical). Discuss with your DM the particular curse and its effects on you as well as what steps, if any, can be taken to mitigate the symptoms.
d12 Windfall Description
1-2 Financial Boon You nearly double your worth in lands and possessions
3-4 Someone Owes You You managed to be at the right place and at the right time and someone owes you
5-6 Fame Through your deeds you manage to make a name for yourself locally
7-8 Long Lost Someone You find a sibling you never knew you had. Roll once on the sibling tables
9-10 Title You gain a title and lands.
11-12 Travel The opportunity arises to travel to far distant lands for 1d12 months. Add that much to your starting downtime.

Made a Friend[edit]

d12 Made a Friend Description
1 Like a Big Brother or Sister to You Someone that is older and looks after you, fussing over you at times
2 Like a Kid Brother or Sister to You Someone you look after as well as tease
3 Teacher or Mentor A sage becomes a friend that instructs you in matters
4 Partner or Co-worker Someone you work with often becomes a close friend
5 An Old Lover You said - I just want to be friends - and meant it
6 An Old Enemy Bygones become bygones and old rivalries become funny stories
7 Like a Foster Parent to You This friend regails you with advice as well as cares for you
8 Old Childhood Friend You bump into someone you had not seen in years
9 Relative A relative becomes a friend as well as a relation
10 Gang or Tribe Somehow you earn the friendship of a gang or tribe of people
11 Creature with Animal Intelligence You befriend a badger or horse, or even a random Displacer Beast you can no longer find
12 Intelligent Creature Maybe you ran into a Sphinx or a Wemic and managed to take the proverbial thorn out of the proverbial paw

Roll on the Heft Table to see how much help your friend can be.

Heft Table[edit]
d12 Heft Description
1 Peon This person has no real pull, only has himself
2 Clan Close family ties translates into an extended family all willing to lay their lives for this individual
3 Gang A small (1d12x5) group of like minded individuals
4 Tribe A large group of individuals tied by culture
5 Minor Figure A local hero or minor noble that can pull on the resources of a single town
6 Major Figure A famous hero or major noble that can pull resources over an entire province
7 Military Connections Someone that is part of a mercenary outfit or part of the guard
8 Black Market/Underground Powerful connections with the black market and the criminal world
9 Powerful Individual Someone who is a power unto himself, like a mage or a powerful priest
10 Connected to the Light Angelic forces or extra planar due gooders with wide ranging reach
11 Connected to the Dark Demonic forces, or connections with Abyssal entities or other such nasties
12 Royalty A member of the ruling family with pull anywhere within the kingdom, some beyond

Made an Enemy[edit]

d12 Made an Enemy Description
1 Ex-Friend You use to have lunch together and the like, but things went sour
2 Ex-Lover All that love turned to hate
3 Relative Family bonds cut by strife
4 Childhood Enemy An old face you hoped you would never see again
5 Person You Worked For One overtime too many
6 Person That Worked for You You should have paid for that overtime
7 Ex-Partner A working or adventuring relationship turns to arguments
8 Gang or Tribe You managed to step on the really wrong foot
9 Authorities There are those amongst the law that dislike you
10 Dark Powers Somehow you've come to the attention of dark forces, and they know your name
11 Creature with Animal Intelligence You kicked that mule one time too many, and now it hates you to the bone
12 Intelligent Creature You have some creature like a beholder or dragon angry with you

Roll on the Heft Table to see how much trouble you are in. Roll on the Animosity Table to see how this enemy and you are connected.

Animosity Table[edit]

What caused the animosity? Then roll on the Intensity Table to see how bad it is between you. After that roll to see Who Hates Whom? , to establish how things stand.

d12 Animosity Description
1 Humiliation Caused the loss of face or status publicly
2 Rift Caused the loss of a friend or lover
3 Busted Truly or falsely brought criminal charges against the person
4 Betrayed Left the other out to dry or outright backstabbing
5 Cold Shoulder Turned down for a job or turned down romantic advances
6 Rival Had been competing for a job or romantically and won over the other
7 Foiled Caused the failure of some plot, quest or undertaking
8 Sore loser Defeated this person in combat or game/gamble
9 Bigotry From race to religious beliefs, the hatred stems from stereotype
10 Murdered Convinced this person killed a friend/relative/lover
11 Jealousy This person's looks/life/luck/wealth bother you
12 Took Advantage Took economic advantage by scam, or physical advantage through force
Intensity Table[edit]

How intense are the bad feelings?

d12 Intensity Description
1-3 Annoyed It rubs you wrong to be around this person, but you can control it
4-7 Angry Proximity to this individual leads to arguments, shouting, yelling
8-9 Violent A fight will erupt when you are around this person, if you have to start it yourself
10 Hot Murder All bets are off and so are the gloves - if the two of you are in the same room, Thunderdome rules apply
11 Cold Murder If you catch sight of this person, your head starts drawing up schemes for death
12 Ruination Whatever you have to do to bring this person down, her personal life, her job, family, etc
Who Hates Whom?[edit]

Where is the bad blood coming fom?

d12 Who Hates Whom? Description
1-4 You towards the other person The animosity is from you for them
5-8 The other person towards you The other person has the strong feelings, not you
9-12 Mutual You both feel strongly about each other

Cupid Strikes[edit]

d12 Cupid Strikes Description
1-4 A Good Thing A serious relationship has lasted into this year. Roll 1d12 - On a 1-5 it ends, on a 6-11 it continues through the year, on a 12 you marry
5-6 Unrequitted One of you fell in love, the other... didn't. Roll 1d12 - Odd you fell for them, even they fell for you. The higher the number the more intensely they pursued the other. (1-2 The attracted party accepted that they would never be more than 'just friends' through 11-12 where the unattracted party is likely creeped out by how much the other person is stalking them.)
7-9 Heartbreak While dating someone seriously, one of you cheats on the other. Roll 1d12. 1-6 you cheated on them, 7-12 they cheated on you. Even, the cheated party finds out, odd the cheating party dumps the other without them ever knowing why.
10-11 Tragic Someone whom you'd been dating for over a year dies
12 Even More Tragic Pregnancy. Roll 1d12; 1-3 You leave, 4-6 He/she Leaves You, 7-8 You Marry, 9-12 Crossbow Point Wedding

Personal Improvement[edit]

Note: Instead of a d12, your DM may only allow a d10, a d8, or ask you to roll only on the training table.

d12 Personal Improvement Description
1-6 Training You train hard and improve.
7-8 Background Feature Gain an addition Feature from any allowed background.
9-10 Mystic Ability Through some method, you have gained a mystical ability. If you have already gotten this result, roll again.
11-12 New Feat You acquire new power. If you have already gotten this result, roll again.
d12 Training Description
1-6 Proficiency Training You gain an additional Proficiency.
7-9 Attribute Increase One of your Attributes increases.
10-12 Skill Learning You learn a new Skill.
Proficiency Training[edit]
d12 Proficiency Training Description
1-3 Linguistics You learn a new language. Roll a d8. On a 1-7 it's a common language. On an 8 it's an exotic language.
4-5 Tool Use (DM's Choice) You get coerced into an activity that forces you to learn how to properly use a new set of tools. Your DM tells you what your new Tool Proficiency is.
6-9 Tool Use (Your Choice) You get the opportunity to learn how to use a new set of tools that you think might be useful. Gain a new Tool Proficiency of your choice.
10-12 Combat Training You train in the ways of combat. Gain a new Weapon or Armor Proficiency of your choice.
Attribute Increase[edit]
d12 Attribute Increase Description
1-2 Strength Heavy labor and little rest develop your muscles
3-4 Dexterity Running with a band of rogues or maybe at the circuit with the jugglers sharpen your reflexes
5-6 Constitution Training under a veteran or ex-mercenary, or time spent in harsh terrains, toughens you
7-8 Intelligence Time spent at an university or with a scholar teaches valuable skills and how to apply rational thinking
9-10 Wisdom A sage or priest schools you in the benefits of faith and strength of mind
11-12 Charisma You meet a very charismatic leader or powerful entertainer who teaches you the strength of assertiveness and charm
Skill Learning[edit]
d12 Skill Learning Description
1-3 New Skill (DM's Choice) You weren't particularly enthusiastic about learning this, but for some reason you went along with it for 1d12 months anyway and got kind of good at it.
4-11 New Skill (Your Choice) After 1d12 months, you successfully master the use of a new skill.
12 Existing Skill Improves Through lots of practice, you've become an expert at one of your skills. Double your proficiency modifier to rolls involving an existing skill of your choice.
Mystic Ability[edit]

Aka: Look at me, I'm an X-Man!

d12 Mystic Ability Description
1-5 Cantrip You possess a cantrip from a particular magic school. Roll a d8 to determine which one. (1=Abjuration, 2=Conjuration, 3=Divination, 4=Enchantment, 5=Evocation, 6=Illusion, 7=Necromancy, 8=Tranmutation)
6 Psionic Power You possess a Psionic Power costing no more than one Psy point per use. If your DM does not allow Psionics, instead gain a cantrip as above.
7 1st-Level Spell You possess a 1st-Level spell from a particular magic school. Roll a d8 to determine which one. (1=Abjuration, 2=Conjuration, 3=Divination, 4=Enchantment, 5=Evocation, 6=Illusion, 7=Necromancy, 8=Tranmutation)
8 Cursed You possess the ability to inflict one specific curse (which effect is always the same and may not be changed later) as detailed under the effects of Bestow Curse.
9-10 Class Ability* You somehow possess the power of a 1st-Level class ability from any allowed base class you do not have levels in. You may not gain Spellcasting or any Archetype ability this way and your ability is only usable as if you were first level.
11-12 Racial Ability* You somehow possess the power of a racial ability that is not typical of your race. Roll a d8. On a 1-5, the ability is from a related subrace of your main race. On a 6-7, it's from a compatible half-race template. On an 8 it could be from any race. DM must approve the new ability.

Once you know what kind of mystic power you now have, roll its source and then usability. Mystic abilities gained in this manner do not use spell slots.

  • If an ongoing ability does not specify a duration, the DM is encouraged to make an appropriate one such as 1 or 10 minutes. Or up to an hour if they feel generous.
d12 Source Description
1-3 Unknown The source of your new power, and its intentions, are completely unknown to you. The DM may, at their discretion, make a secret roll on this table (rerolling this result) and then secretly roll for you on the usability table using the new result before telling you the latter.
4-5 Malicious The source of your new power is actively malicious towards you. Roll on the usability table using 1d6. The ability may be removed as if it were a curse.
6-7 Whimsical The source of your new power is a creature of whimsy, likely a trickster of some sort, who found the idea amusing. Roll on the usability table using 1d8+1.
8-9 Neutral The source of your power is neutral towards you. However, you may owe the source payment of some sort, knowingly or not.
10-11 Heritage The source of your power is tied to your lineage. If you can find a relative skilled in its use, you may train to increase usability by one step with the same mechanics as learning a new proficiency.
12 Benevolent The source of your power has your best interests in mind. Roll on the usability table using 1d6+6.
d12 Source Description
1-2 Completely out of Control* You have no control over your mystic power whatsoever. After each long rest, the DM rolls a d4 and may activate your mystic power that many times until your next long rest, choosing the time and target. The only save you may make is a DEX save at disadvantage to redirect harmful effects away from their target.**
3-5 Barely Suppressed* You can't control your mystic power, but you have learned to try and suppress it. After each long rest, the DM rolls a d4 and may attempt to activate your mystic power that many times until your next long rest. When the DM attempts to activate your power, you may make a WIS save to suppress it completely. If you fail, you may also attempt a DEX save to redirect harmful effects away from their target.**
6-7 Loose Cannon* Roll a d4 after each long rest. You may attempt to use your mystic power that many times until your next long rest. When you make the attempt, you must roll an INT save to successfully use the ability. Success means you use the ability as normal and may not make another attempt until after your next long rest. Failure means the ability fails to activate, and on a natural 1 or 2 the DM chooses how to manifest the effects of your ability and chooses their target if applicable.**
8-11 Under Control You may use your ability normally once per long rest.**
12 Expert You may use your ability normally once per short rest.**
  • The DM is encouraged to invent appropriate downsides for abilities that do not normally have one, such as sensory abilities imposing disadvantage on applicable rolls due to the PC being unable to properly parse the input. ex. If Low Light vision activates, then suddenly the environment may seem blinding imposing disadvantage on any roll requiring sight.
    • If the power is a cantrip, then use 3d4 for Out of Control and 2d4 for Barely Suppressed or Loose Cannon. For Under Control or Expert, then treat it as if the player knows the cantrip.
New Feat[edit]
d12 Attribute Description
1-3 Skill Feat Through practice and dedication, you learned to improve your skills outside of direct combat or spellcasting.
4-6 Combat Feat Through harsh training and skill you have improved your abilities in combat using weapons or armor.
7-9 Magical Feat Through study and talent you have gained access to innate magic within yourself.
10-12 Feat of Choice By cultivating your innate potential you have come one step closer to the person you wish to be.

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