Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Wiki

Other Characteristics

After you have selected a race, you may want to fill in the details of your character. You are not required to do so, but there are many situations in which this information is vital or useful to role-playing.

The sex and name of your character are up to you. Your character can be of the same sex as yourself or of the opposite sex.

Some people feel it is important to know whether their character is right- or left-handed. Actually, this has no bearing on the play of the game, since all characters are assumed to be reasonably competent with either hand (that doesn't mean everyone is trained to fight with two weapons). It is easiest to say that your character has the same handedness as you. This will result in the normal ratio of right- to left-handed people.

On occasion it may be useful to know your character's height and weight. The best way to determine height and weight is to choose the appropriate numbers, subject to your DM's approval. If you want a short, pudgy human fighter, you can select an appropriate height and weight. Otherwise, heights and weights can be generated randomly using Table 10. Take the appropriate base score and add the dire roll modifier. As with all tables, this can create some ridiculous results (one of the problems with randomness) and, at the same time, cannot account for the full variety of mankind (or demihumankind). The table only reproduces a fairly average range for each race. Heights and weights for demihuman races not listed on the table must be decided by your DM.

The tallest man on record stood 8 feet 11.1 inches, while the tallest woman was 8 feet 1.25 inches. The shortest man was only 26.5 inches tall and the shortest woman bettered this at only 24 inches in height. While the lightest humans are also among the shortest, the heaviest man weighed an estimated 1,400 pounds and stood only 6 feet 1 inch. The heaviest woman is thought to have weighed 880 pounds. Obviously, these figures indicate that there is a great deal of variety possible for player characters.

Players may also want to know their characters' starting ages. Human characters can start at any age that is agreeable to both the player and the DM. However, all beginning adventurers are assumed to be at least 16 years old, since they must grow physically, emotionally, and in practical experience before they are ready to undertake the rigours of an adventuring life. Table 11 can be used to give a starting age (add the variable die roll to the base starting age to get the character's starting age) and the possible life span of a character, assuming a quiet and peaceful life. Humans are also included on this list in case you want to determine their ages randomly. The maximum age for a character should be secretly determined and recorded by the DM. Player characters may have an idea of how long they expect to live, but do not know their true allotted life span.

As a character ages, his ability scores are affected. Upon reaching one-half of his base maximum age (45 for a human), the character loses 1 point of Strength (or half of his exceptional Strength rating) and 1 point of Constitution, but gains 1 point each of Intelligence and Wisdom. At two-thirds of his base maximum age (60 for a human), the character loses 2 more points of Strength (or all his exceptional Strength and 1 point more), 2 points of Dexterity, and 1 more point of Constitution, but he gains 1 point of Wisdom. Upon reaching the base maximum age, the character loses 1 more point from each of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, while gaining 1 more point in both Intelligence and Wisdom. All ageing adjustments are cumulative. See Table 12 for a summary of these effects.

Although many people have claimed to live to great ages, the oldest human of verifiable age was 113 years old in 1988 and is still alive!

There may be times when a magical device or spell adds years to or subtracts years from a player character's life. This magical ageing can have two different effects. Some magical ageing physically affects the character. For example, a haste spell ages those it affects by one year. This ageing is added directly to the player character's current age. He physically acquires the appearance of himself one year older (a few more wrinkles, etc.). Characters who increase in age from magical effects do not gain the benefits of increased Wisdom and Intelligence--these are a function of the passage of game time--but the character does suffer the physical losses to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution associated with ageing. These are breakdowns of the body's systems. Physical age can also be removed in the same manner. Some potions give years back to the character. In this case, the physical appearance of the character is restored. The character can regain lost vigour (Str, Dex, and Con) as his body is renewed but he does not lose any of the benefits of ageing (Wis and Int).

Magical ageing can also work to increase or decrease the life span of the character. In such a case, the actual age of the character is unaffected. All adjustments are made by the DM to the character's maximum age (which only the DM knows). For example, a human finds a magical fountain that bestows great longevity (10 to 60 years more). The DM has already determined the human will naturally live to 103 years (base 90 + 2d20, in this case 13). The water of the fountain bestows 40 more years so that, unless the character meets a violent end, he will live to 143 years. He still suffers the effects of ageing at the usual ages (45, 60, and 90 years, respectively), but the period in which he would be considered a venerable elder of his people is extended for 40 years.

There are a number of other personal characteristics your character has--hair and eye color, body shape, voice, noticeable features, and general personality. There are no tables for these things, nor should there be. Your job, as a player, is to add these details, thereby creating the type of character you want. You probably know some from the start (do you want to play a towering, robust warrior, or a slim, unassuming swordsman?); others, especially your character's personality, will grow and take form as you play. Remember, you are an actor and your character is your role!