• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

Starting PC age? [poll]

Have you played new PCs at an older age? (in human terms)

  • Almost never. My PCs are almost always young adult (17-20ish)

    Votes: 21 31.8%
  • Once or twice, at middle age

    Votes: 10 15.2%
  • Once or twice, at older age (50+)

    Votes: 8 12.1%
  • Fairly often, at middle age

    Votes: 17 25.8%
  • Fairly often, at older age (50+)

    Votes: 3 4.5%
  • Special lemonade, I'll explain

    Votes: 7 10.6%

  • Total voters
    66

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
Nearly all of these characters had adventures before they join the story. None of them are level 1 at the time the story begins.
.
That's not true at all. It doesn't really say in the books, but there is nothing that assumes most of the dwarves in the hobbit had any combat experience before the story. Maybe only one or two. Fflewddr certainly didn't have grand adventures before joining the story.

Secondly, my overall point wasn't just that why aren't there older level 1 PCs, but that there are also no older high level PCs either. As I said, you can get to high level after only a year of adventuring. If most PCs start at 18 years old-ish, then they'd be level 20 at age 20ish. Hardly anyone plays an older PC (non wizard at any rate), and yet, there are a plethora of older (middle age+) of active heroes in literature and lore
 

Gradine

Archivist
I played a fussy old man cleric once. It's also not a poll option, but I also played an eight-year-old once in 3.5. He was a Psion (a Telepath specifically) and nobody really regarded him as much of a threat. It was a fun character to play.
 

Nebulous

Explorer
Generally young to middle age, although in the level system of such games, age and experience are not synonymous or even logical. A 700 year old elf has no more experience than a 70 year old human, which doesn't make any sense.
 

Seramus

Explorer
All over the place. Though the most memorable was a 68 year old human Fighter/Rogue. Just because it’s rare as hell for an old character to also be the physical character, and I wanted to explore that idea.

Like an older [FONT=&quot]Barristan Selmy.[/FONT]
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
Almost always young adults.

But not always 17-20-ish.

It all depends on the race.

Dwarf: 40+ 5d6
Elf: 100+ 5d6
Gnome: 60+ 3d12
Half-Elf: 15+ 1d6
Halfling: 20+ 3d4
Human: 15+ 1d4

So the age can be anywhere between 16 and 130 years.
 

Jer

Explorer
With D&D? Always a young-un. I don't think I've had a D&D character who started the game over the age of 25 (or equivalent for elf/dwarf). Because if you're a 50 year old 1st level adventurer in D&D what the heck are you doing with your life? Yeesh. (If we can start at 10th level or so then fine - I'd be happy to play the veteran fighter or elder wizard who is coming out of retirement for one last big adventure. Never had a DM who wanted to do that though - it's always "but we have to start a new campaign at level 1! That's how you play D&D!".)

In other games? All of the time (when I get to play instead of DM). I've always liked playing characters who were at least a little older than me. I had a wizard in an Ars Magica game in college who was in his 60s when the game started, and some of the other characters I played in that game were also older (in the sense that they were in their 30s and 40s - it was set in the 12th century after all). I played a skeptical tabloid journalist nearing his retirement age in a WoD Hunter game in another game. At cons I'll pick the Jay Garrick or Alan Scott character over the Barry Allen or Hal Jordan every time.
 

the Jester

Legend
Well, it depends.

As a player, I usually start first level pcs at a fairly young age, but not always. Clerics, wizards, and some grizzled veteran fighters I've played have started off in the mid-30s, 40s, or even 50s or 60s. I don't know how common I'd say that is for me in the last few editions, though- I have dmed far more often than I've played since about 2e.

One thing to take note of regarding my experience- I probably played as many pcs in 1e as I have in every edition since combined. And 1e had random starting ages for certain class/race combinations that pretty much always put you in "middle aged" or older. Dwarf clerics, I'm lookin' at you.
 

Adamant

Explorer
For me its almost always young adult, but very few of my human characters are actually under 20. I do have a bladesinger who's 249, which is still young but old enough to learn something that complicated, and a 35 year old human fighter, who has traveled a lot before joining the order of the gauntlet and becoming an adventurer in earnest. However, I tend to write my backstories for when the character gains a few levels, and just ignore the fact that I don't have certain subclasses at level 1. The bladesinger, for example, started as a fighter for mechanical reasons, namely two weapon fighting. My sun soul monk is another example.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Need a poll option "all over the board". I've played teens and younger, young adults, adults, middle aged, old, and ancient characters. I don't have a "type" that I play to, I'm all over the map - usually depending on the personality I want and also sometimes reflecting ability scores.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
The older I get the older my characters get, though I tend to start them around 5 years younger than my actual age (currently 35).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Almost always young adults.

But not always 17-20-ish.

It all depends on the race.

Dwarf: 40+ 5d6
Elf: 100+ 5d6
Gnome: 60+ 3d12
Half-Elf: 15+ 1d6
Halfling: 20+ 3d4
Human: 15+ 1d4

So the age can be anywhere between 16 and 130 years.
We use a similar random roll, though the range is (much!) greater:

Dwarf: 38 + 2d50
Elf: 140 + 4d100 (slight variances for different Elf types)
Gnome: 60 + 2d100
Part-Elf: somewhere between Human and Elf, depending how Elvish you are (1/8 to 7/8)
Part-Orc: somewhat lower than Human depending how Orcish you are (again 1/8 to 7/8)
Hobbit: 25 + 2d20
Human: 15 + 2d8

Then on top of that you add a number of years based on your class(es) to account for the time you spent learning the skills; this ranges from 0 (Fighter) to 10 years (Bard), meaning a Human Bard who rolls high on the 2d8 can start out in its 40s. These numbers are trivial to most but noticeable for Humans and even more so for Part Orcs.

Your Halflings (Hobbits) are all young 'uns: the highest your table allows for them is 32 yet Hobbits "come of age" at 33 much like a Human (in some cultures/countries) does at 21.
 

Haffrung

Explorer
I typically create PCs in the prime of life: 25-40.

If we're looking at spellcasters, they take many years to learn their crafts. I'd assume many didn't start studying until age 14 to 19, so 25 seems a reasonable time for a novice wizard or newly minted cleric to venture into the world.

Then there are PCs who take to the life of adventuring after a dramatic life reversal or tragedy (ie town overrun by orcs.). Druid sets off on the road at age 42 after family slain by werewolves seems a perfectly appropriate history.

As for what a 30 or 40 year old adventurer was doing in the world before adventuring, are we forgetting about backgrounds? Or do people assume their PC with the town guard or blacksmith background only worked for a few years as a teenager before setting off to raid tombs and smite evil?
 
Last edited:

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
It's kinda funny how we have most of our PCs at younger ages (even at higher levels) when we have many examples of older fantasy heroes, and not just wizards

Gandalf
Most of the dwarves were middle aged or older in the Hobbit, including Gimli (139 with a lifespan of 200 years for dwarves)
Boramir (41)
The Hound (GoT) 42 (and several other GoT characters)
Remus Lupin (38)
Adoulla Mahkslood (60)
Fflewddr fflam (50s?)
Conan the Barbarian
Thom Merrilin (50s-60s)
Harry Dresden (39 and still active)
Barak (middle aged at least)
And I'm sure many more I'm not remembering off the top of my head
In fairness for Harry Dresden each book is set roughly one year apart, with a few notable exceptions, so when Harry started he was in his late 20s. In D&D parlance he's definitely not a first level character any more.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
In fairness for Harry Dresden each book is set roughly one year apart, with a few notable exceptions, so when Harry started he was in his late 20s. In D&D parlance he's definitely not a first level character any more.
True, but I'm not just talking about starting age. As mentioned upthread, it doesn't take much in game time to get to high level. So in D&D, even high level adventurers are still in their early 20s. How many level 10+ PCs are middled aged or older? Probably not much different of a ratio than 1st level PCs. However, we have lots of middle aged active adventurers in fantasy media.
 

MarkB

Adventurer
In fairness for Harry Dresden each book is set roughly one year apart, with a few notable exceptions, so when Harry started he was in his late 20s. In D&D parlance he's definitely not a first level character any more.
Also, wizards in the Dresdenverse are naturally long-lived (barring misadventure), so growing old is not a concern Harry's going to be facing anytime soon.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I wouldn't consider 25-35 middle aged, and my frequency is definitely between once and fairly often, so...special lemonade it is.

Anyway, my current gnome rogue is 36, which is young in terms of total lifespan, but he's been an adult for almost 20 years at this point. That's the thing about longer lived races. Just because they live to 500 years old doesn't mean 100 years is "young" in the same way that 20 is young for humans. A 100 year old elf may be considered barely an adult in some elf societies, but they've been physically and mentally a grown adult for 80 years or so.

A 20 year old gnome is an adult, and has the full rights of an adult, they just aren't socially expected to settle down and raise a family and focus on a career until they're around 40.

That rant aside, I also have a Goliath Fighter who is a guard in waterdeep who is in his 40's. On the other end of the spectrum I have a human 14 year old street kid in a Star Wars campaign, and a Feywild based 4e campaign we had I played a late teens female satyr bard.

I don't consider middle aged folks to need some special reason to go adventuring, though, and I don't assume that most adventurers are "college aged". It's a wild world, with plenty of calls to adventure. I've played middle aged characters who send money back home to their family and spend downtime with them whenever possible, and I've had concepts I haven't gotten to play where my middle aged character was adventuring with his spouse or one of his kids.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
True, but I'm not just talking about starting age. As mentioned upthread, it doesn't take much in game time to get to high level. So in D&D, even high level adventurers are still in their early 20s. How many level 10+ PCs are middled aged or older? Probably not much different of a ratio than 1st level PCs. However, we have lots of middle aged active adventurers in fantasy media.
True.

I like that in Adventures in MIddle-earth it's assumed that there is significant downtime between Adventures. The Mirkwood campaign spans 30+ years. Enough that Human character could long have since retired before reaching the end. Also Enough that I can really justify 19 level increases.
 

Advertisement

Top