(English Article) Using the tables from the Legends & Adventurers booklet, I wrote this script that rolls a fully grown character for the Forbidden Lands roleplaying game in a second. Yay!
In case you wanna skip the ramblings, go straight to the Forbidden Lands random player character generator thingy.
A little background
In my efforts to run a little solo game of Forbidden Lands, after an early and unfortunate total party kill I faced the problem of rolling up all my characters again. That gets old quickly when you don’t own only one character (and in the difficulty level I like to play).
The Legends & Adventurers booklet has these magic tables that allow you to randomly make a character, complete with a fleshed out background and even plot hooks and equipment picked. I love this character creation method. It’s very well written, and while the characters might not be super optimized, they feel very realistic.
This method does however span over at least 20 pages. The process is easy to use, but time consuming, particularly if you want to copy all the stories. The first time I did it by pencil on my notebook. Look at this mess:
So I game a bit with these two characters, run a little mission here, defeat some bandits there, things look good, now we go down a dungeon and bam, they’re both dead. Time to roll up new ones. This time I’ll go with three! So exciting.
But then I realized that, being new to the system, I spent nearly as much time rolling up a party of characters as I did running a few sessions, even with the random tables from Legends & Adventurers at hand.
“I wish I had a random Forbidden Lands player character generator”
Twice I coded my own character generating apps for Épico RPG and Barbarian Prince, but even for a superhero like me, those could take weeks. Then Fabiano Neme (of Old Dragon fame) told me about taking random tables online with tools like Chartopia. Huh.
Well, I’m on lockdown because of the virus outside. So I went a bit deeper and, long story short, I wrote my own random character generator script, the “simple” way: not coding a full-fledged app, but with an online table generator.
How does the generator work?
It’ll automagically roll up a random character, complete with the tale of its life, attributes, skills, talents, equipment and more.
In the background all it does is to roll through all tables from pages 3-23 of the Legens & Adventurers booklet, and through typical nicknames, Pride, Dark Secret, Silver and Resource Dice from pages 23-30 of the Player’s Handbook. On d66 tables, the intended odds were preserved (so you have 4 chances out of 36 to become a druid for example). Childhood and formative events are of course tied to their respective kin and professions.
After that is done, it prints the results in prose so you can do what you will with the character. Yeah, the results could be presented neatly in tables or on a sheet of sorts, but I figured this form makes more sense as much of the content (and much of the fun in this booklet) is in prose anyway. Also, whatever the presentation, you’d still need to copy this to the actual character sheet you use in your games. (And if you really need that, this guy did it).
You might want to note that I use content from the 2nd printing version of the booklet. I am told the first run didn’t include a table for place of birth, but I cannot check it myself. This generator does.
As it is, the generator only creates adult characters, not young or old as covered in the Issues section. For now, if you want to use this script to create a young character you should merely ignore the paragraph that says that “Some years pass,…”, and you must ignore the prompt to add Reputation 1 and to remove 1 point from an attribute of your choice. If you want an old character, you’ll need the booklet to roll a third formative event for your character, and you must also have Reputation 2 and remove an additional 1 point from an attribute of your choice. Sorry about that.
This is important.
I’m fully aware that I don’t own any of the content in the generator, most of it comes from the Legends & Adventurers booklet, along with bits from the Player’s Handbook, both of which I got in PDF from DrivethruRPG. You can buy them here if you want, they both come with the Forbidden Lands Core Game. All textual content in this script is copyright 2020 Fria Ligan AB. The little picture shown in the table is from the cover of the booklet and I assume is by Nils Gulliksson, as is most the art in these books, but also should be copyright 2020 Fria Ligan AB.
So, I figured I’d make this generator for my own personal use, but then the community might have a use for it too, for free. I see other free generators out there, so I assume Free League is okay with community tweaked tools using their property as of now. I don’t want to aggravate them, I do respect the authors and I work here as a fan of the game. If this is not okay, just let me know and I’ll put the script down.
The script itself is open source, no need to contact me or ask for permission, you can do whatever with it if you must. But I do ask that you only use it responsibly and note that, again, none of the textual content or that little art is mine or yours (unless you’re from Fria Ligan AB anyway).
Yeah, yeah, just take me to the script already
Right away, Your Highness!
The tool is hosted by the RandomGen website, in the DASHNET.ORG domain.
Off you go.
Or you can bookmark https://rafael.lv/forbidden-lands-random-character-generator which does also take you there (note that it redirects to DASHNET.ORG, home of the RandomGen site).
As I said before, because the script rolls the character all in one swipe like these random generators usually do, you can’t pick any options. That leaves us a problem, because obviously for this to work as intended in page 2 of Legends & Adventurers, you should pick either the age of young, adult or old. Because I only wanted adult characters for now, I went with that.
Yes, I intend to make a script that rolls up young and old too, I just didn’t yet. Because of the sheer amount of content used in this and the long time I have to spend formatting the script to work (it is a 10 thousand words document after all), I’ll allow more time to see if any problems come up before I commit to making young and old generators. Hell, I could even make one big generator that links the three and makes age random too.
Frequently asked questions
What kind of characters does this script make?
Player characters as intended in the Legends & Adventurers booklet, with the adult age option, for use in the Forbidden Lands roleplaying game. No young or old age options for now as covered in the Issues section, sorry about that. I’ll make that available in the future, or you could do small tweaks in the generation (see below).
How long does it take?
A second, maybe less.
Are these characters balanced/legal for the Forbidden Lands campaigns?
Yes, if your GM allows the use of the optional rules for rolling up characters in pages 2-23 of the Legends & Adventurers booklet.
In terms of attributes, skills, talents and spells it follows the Player’s Handbook specifications to the letter, if randomly. The gear varies, though it won’t sway much from your usual low powered shortbow or staff. Here and there comes a sorcerer enlisted with studded leather and helmet, or some tapestry that’s worth a few dozen Silver. If you want strict PHB balance in gear, remove all mention of items and equipment from the character write-up and use gear from the PHB instead.
Because the characters are completely randomized, some results might be suboptimal depending on play style. The GM could allow changing a few stats to improve on that.
How can I make a young character?
For a young character you should merely ignore the paragraph that says that “Some years pass,…”, and you must ignore the prompt to add Reputation 1 and to remove 1 point from an attribute of your choice.
How can I make an old character?
If you want an old character, you’ll need the booklet to roll a third formative event for your character, and you must also have Reputation 2 and remove an additional 1 point from an attribute of your choice.
Will you make young and old characters available in the future?
I intend to, after some time using this and making sure it’s working perfectly. Hell, I could even make one big generator that links the three and makes age random too.
Because of the nature of the script and the fact that races and professions each have different odds to come up, usually minor changes must be applied to dozens of lines. So if I do young and old now and I need to change anything later, I might need to change it in hundreds of lines, and I want to avoid that.
Why aren’t the sorcerer and druid spells already here?
That idea came to me a bit late (I mean 5 in the morning, so technically early in the day, but late in the process of writing the script).
The focus of the script is in the information from Legends & Adventurers, which doesn’t include spells because spells aren’t randomly picked. Anyway, because this is not a full character sheet, the spell list is kind of superfluous, along with kin talent and even the fixed Resource Dice. You’ll still need to copy that information to a full-fledged character sheet, so you might as well do it from the Player’s Handbook.
But sure, I might add those to the script in the future.
Why didn’t you arrange results in a table or character sheet?
The first reason is because I like the prose better, and that fits my use of this generator perfectly. Whatever the presentation, I’d still need to copy and paste the results to my actual game sheet anyway. Making a full character sheet goes way beyond the scope of this generator.
Furthermore, the script is very basic in that it doesn’t do any math, it only picks random results. So for example if you get 1 point in Survival as a child and then another 1 point when you enter your Hunter career, to the best of my knowledge, RandomGen won’t let me present the sum of both variables. It might be possible, but I’m no expert, I did this in my spare time and it already took several hours.
Finally, if you want to present the results in this script as tables or even a full character sheet and you think it’s possible, anyone can do it following the instructions here.
If you really need the results presented in tables, try this tool.
Can you add more features to the generator?
Within the scope of what RandomGen allows me to do, and if there’s an elegant, quick way to do it, I might, in the future. Leave suggestions in the comments.
I noticed a bug, will you fix it?
Yes. Please let me know in the comments if you see any bugs to this generator. Save a print screen too. You won’t be able to send it over the comments I think, but if needed I’ll contact you and we figure out how I can grab it.
Will you make more quick generators like this?
This takes a long time to make, but sure I might in the future. It’s coming in handy for my solo games and I still want prose-style castle, dungeons and legends generators.
Some random generators for Forbidden Lands already exist in Chartopia, see here. And there’s this character generator that actually does the same I do but you pick your options instead of rolling everything randomly.
By the way, anyone can make a generator like this, it doesn’t take any programming. You can learn how to make one here. I learned it in under an hour. Obviously scripting this took many many hours because of the sheer amount of content and formatting needed.
Why didn’t you use Chartopia?
RandomGen seemed easier. Frankly, as I was reading the instructions I was already starting to make the whole script. Feel free to port this to Chartopia if you’d like, just remember I don’t own any of the textual content, which is owned by Fria Ligan AB.
Support development if you want
I like to code useful stuff share it for free. For Forbidden Lands, I decided to start writing the content in english, so more people can use it. I still intend to make improvements to this generator and maybe develop others. Also I am writing a full article on how to run Forbidden Lands solo by yourself, this was one of the tools used in that project.
If you feel like supporting my work, you can purchase any product for yourself using the following affiliate links in DrivethruRPG or Amazon. They link to Forbidden Lands products but after entering each link I think anything you purchase will direct me a small fee. Thanks for considering it and have fun.