I have been thinking of running a game where players would all be from the same academy but I am not sure on how that would work with the lifepath system. Are there any official or widely recognized homebrew rules(Similar to Matt Mercers 5e homebrew classes) that can be used as a guideline for deciding which lifepaths to enforce? (Something akin to 'If players are meant to be a group of sailors then the gamemaster may require their final lifepath to be sailor or within seafaring career.')


1 Answer 1


Can the GM set up an initial scenario and expect players to make characters that fit in it?


Concepts should abide by two guidelines: They should be feasible for the genre/style of your group, and they should be tied into the situation at hand.

The situation is the conflict in progress. Your group should have an idea for the type of game they'd like to play -- and what is going to happen in that game. Tie your character concept into that idea.

If a player chooses a concept that has nothing to do with the game at hand, then he has already set himself up with a great hurdle. A wizard-killing Elf isn't the best choice if the party consists solely of sorcerers; a young headstrong wizard is problematic for games without magic; and a Dwarven adventurer might not fit in too well with an Orc clan.

As you read the above you might be saying "I can think of a dozen ways to tie those threads together!" And you're right. That's a little secret to developing a character concept -- the type of character you choose affects the situation. So choose a character concept with an eye toward owning a part of the situation.

-- Burning Wheel Gold pp. 81-82, "Character Burning"

There's some more advice on this in the Codex, but in essence, the situation's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, in that you can get to a game just as well from taking some coherent characters and figuring out what they're doing or taking a particular course of action and telling people to make characters that fit it.

In your case you've got a strong idea for a setting so you can present that and expect people to make characters that fit with it.

What You Present

As the GM you're in charge of setting a reasonable lifepath limit for starting characters - the book recommends 3 or 4 if you want people who'll grow a little in play, but given that there's an academy involved that implies a little veterancy, so I'd lean to 4 or even 5.

Aside from that, you don't have to specify that characters must start or end in a specific lifepath setting, but just go over a little outline of the story as you expect it to start.

This is a story of intrigue and danger at Cinnabar Academy, a center of learning in the prominent city of Whitebreach. As starting characters it's expected you'll have some relationship with the academy and an interest in its future - any human who ends in the City Dweller setting has an automatic excuse, though other settings and stocks will have to pitch it to me.

You could get more specific if you really wanted to:

You're currently studying at Cinnabar Academy and on a lifepath in the City Dweller setting, but it's not exactly a specialist institution - "medicine", "theology", and "the blade" are all equally viable options, and I'd be lying if I said "conning the faculty into letting you stick around to run your side hustle" is completely unheard of.


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