Background for higher level characters

I've posted this in a few places - so I apologize if you've read it before.  Haven't gotten much traction though...

Awhile back I had a GM say "make a 4th level character". Well - I could do that with the numbers on the characters sheet but got to thinking: how did this guy get to 4th level? What happened at Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3?

So - inspired by Dungeon Crawl Classics zero-level funnel which gave you a background of why you were adventuring...I thought of a "chunnel" for higher level/rank characters. Basically - some random tables to help fill out what happened to you from level 0 until "now". This could also obviously be used as a list of suggestions for adventures to run at each level. So again - I thought of 10 or 20 random lists per level to give some backstory to the character - "remember when at level 3 you had this grand adventure which got you to level 4?" Well, now you do.

I'm finding I'm terrible at making tables however which is why I've been asking for help. I assume each list would have harder and harder things that were achieved.

Some not so great examples:

Level 1
1. clear the forest of bandits
2. etc

Level 2
1. retrieve the stolen amulet for a wealthy patron
2. etc


Level 10
1. defeat the ghoul army 
2. beat the Demon Prince in one-on-one combat
3. etc

I also thought of finding summaries of published modules for each level and using that as the basis for the lists.
Again the idea is you roll up a 4th level character (or whatever).  Your 4th level character walks into the town bar....what would the legends/rumors about your 4th level character be?    "There is Cedric the mighty who did.....X, Y, and Z last year".

I've gotten some feedback from fellow RPGers on this - everything from "this is a great idea" to "turn that into a mini-game where you can die as you roll" to "what the hell do you need that for?".

Anyway, obviously I like the idea but need greater minds than mine to achieve it.   Then again, maybe it's a dumb idea.


It's a great idea. I created a lifepath system for an ACKS Cyberpunk game I ran a couple years ago. It worked really well; but I was able to build it on the admirable Cyberpunk 2020 lifepath system that already existed to, uh, re-purpose.

The way my system worked is that you got a flat amount of XP each "year" of the lifepath, but the lifepath became increasingly dangerous each year. So it was fairly easy to get to level 3 or level 4, but it was quite risky to get to higher levels, as it took a long time (since incoming XP was flat while XP per level is exponential) and it got riskier and riskier each year.

I was thinking of including such a system in ACKS Heroic Companion. 

I made a lifepath system for Santicore 2013 that was inspired by Traveller:

That's really fantastic and flavorful. Did you tie it in to XP at all?

No, it had to be a system neutral way to equipt starting characters but I guess it would not be too difficult to add XP bonuses to the various terms and injuries!

Maybe I should make an ACKS version of it that also includes proficiencies...


I'm guessing this is a "dead topic".  

Again - just trying to add a background to a higher level NPC or a character that may start higher than level 1.    Was not intending this to be mini-game or a complete lifepath system.    Just a list of possible adventures you had prior to getting to the level you're at currently.

I haven't gamed enough to come up with a decent (or even indecent) list myself.


Hmm maybe pick a few general plots from here:

Or roll up a few adventures from there:

You then only need a location where all that happend.

I like those pages...however again, just looking for 10-20 adventures for each level.   Seems like someone, somewhere would have such a list.    If nothing else, they can be used by GM's for adventure ideas for each level.

10 to 20?! That is...a LOT. The word "Adventure" is a bit of nebulous term, and would mean very different things between a published module (which might be 1 per several levels), a homebrew scenario (which might be 1 or 2 per level), and a true sandbox (which might be a few to dozens of encounters per level). Regardless, generating such a list is a lot of effort for someone else to put in for you, as I'm not really sure why anyone would have this exact list kicking around. The closest I can think of is random adventure generation tables or utilities. There are some of these online, but none I can think of match your criteria, exactly. Have you looked around at online random generators for inspiration? Another alternative would be looking at modules by level-range and their plot synopses.

they're a bit silly, but "A Red And Pleasant Land" (technically a different OSR system but still great) has a series of instant adventure generators.  You roll for who's giving you the mission, where they're sending you, and what they want you to do, and the what has a series of mad libs blanks pointing you to other random tables.

Frog God Game's Tome of Adventure Design also has some pretty good tables for this sort of thing, but again, it's not specifically geared towards generating a series of level-appropriate adventures. The Donjon is a random generation website, and one of the generators there is a random adventure outline.

EDIT: Ultimate Toolbox is another book I have with some tables geared towards this, but I would say they aren't as good, particularly for what you're looking for.

Well, since people have been adventuring since 1974 (and earlier)....I had assumed that there were hundreds/thousands of different adventures at each level.   So, I didn't think I was being greedy by asking for a mere 20 examples for each level.

Ha! That's not quite what I mean...20 is a lot because it isn't usually 1 adventure per level. Look at the reports under Actual Play here on this site. Those will often have many sessions per level, but in terms of larger, noteworthy goals that you're looking for? That might be one per level or less.

Now, there may be hundreds of published examples, thousands upon thousands if you include homebrew, but who keeps a list of that, and why? The closest I've seen are compilations of modules for various reasons (e.g., turning unrelated adventures into adventure paths, collating all adventures in a particular setting, etc.), or lists of adventure seeds.

I've been playing (A)D&D since the beginning of the eighties, and I could probably dredge up a dozen or so memories for each level, but that's about the same amount of effort as it would take you to do the same from whole cloth with a little imagination. I'm being completely honest here: I have no present use for such a thing, so why would I expend the effort to do it for you? I would suggest you would have better luck creating it yourself, and if you need a little extra inspiration, try starting a Topic here asking people to post one-line or one-paragraph suggestions for a given level adventure seed or outline. I know I'd be willing to contribute to such a thing, particularly if I thought you were going to produce something useable by others.

I'm actually a "newish" player and don't have many sessions under my belt - I couldn't come up with 5 examples because I haven't had more than 5.

Again, I thought it be relatively easy for a seasoned GM or two to whip up some adventure ideas for each level, since over the course of time you must have done that even though you didn't document them specifically for such a list.

And  if nothing else, such a list may help new (and old) GM's come up with ideas for their own games.

Instead of GM's...maybe I should ask Players "what are some things you did you to get from level 1 to level 2"  or "what are some things you did you get from level 4 to level 5?"