Time for some more happy burbling about Atlantis: The Second Age. This post, its life path system. Life paths, for those who haven't encountered them, are a way of giving your character prior history - things they've done, connections they've made, skills they've learned along the way. Atlantis chargen gives you someone ready for adventure who's a young adult, competent at something, with a cultural context to draw on, but not yet experienced. You can, if you want, put your character through 1-5 rounds of adventuring as an adult.
I like this note in the gamebook: Note: The Game Master and players may have realized that this creates characters that are not balanced against one another, and that is fine. Characters of all ages and walks of life populate the world of ATLANTIS.
The first set of life path charts covers a character's growing up: their upbringing in civilized, rural, or savage circumstances, and a little detail; a memorable childhood event or encounter; and the status of their family. These are nicely loaded with fun examples, and I'm going to pick a few from each set of charts to illustrate.
I want to say some things about them overall, and those'll be in comments to the main post here.
* Child of a retired Hero. Gain +1 in any Skill
* Parents were artisans. Gain +1 Handicraft (player’s choice)
* Bastard child raised by tribe. Gain +1 Unarmed Fighting
* Met a great Hero in a market. She took a liking to you and gave you a small trinket and told you to hold it safe. You never saw her again.
* Met your lifelong rival.
* Hid in a dragon’s lair for 1D20 days and escaped to tell about it.
* Stood at the deathbed of a great Hero and watched a god take his soul to the afterworld. The Hero looked backed ant you and winked.
* Ran the Amazon mazes of Hesperia.
* Family is under a curse of some kind
* Family status is on the rise but tenuous
* Family is feared because of some advantage or great power
Then comes the section on previous adventures. Each of these adds some years to your character, from 1-7 based on your roll on a chart. You pick a general category: high adventure, or traveling with an experienced mage, priest, rogue, sailor, scholar, or warrior. The category gives your character a guaranteed skill boost - any skill of your choice for high adventure, any of the magic mode skills for mage, and so on.
There's also a great event within the course of the adventure, and you roll in two steps for it: first to see the overall kind of event it is, and then on a sub-chart for that kind to get details. The kinds include Battle, Enemy, Relationship, Great Fortune!, Tragedy!, Scholarly Pursuits, and special events specific to the type of adventure your character is on. So there's a special event chart for each adventure type, and the other options (battle, enemy, etc.) all share the same charts regardless of the type of adventure that got you there.
More examples ensue.
* Fought as a mercenary in the jungles of Awalawa, against the forces of the Back Circle. You were noticed by the great Nubian general Niankhe, taken under his wing, and taught how to command men during battle. +1 Influence Skill.
* Fought in the slave pits of Yallock and won your freedom after a year of slavery. Gain +1 Resolve.
* Battle at the Well of Madness. You stood at the lip of the well and fought the horrors that issued forth. The psyche and soul were blasted, and forever changed by the antediluvian horrors that you saw. +3 Resolve skill and now the pupils of your eyes are different colors.
Your enemy is:
* A God
* Another player’s Relationship Disadvantage
* A Son or Daughter that you never knew you had
They are your enemy because:
* You foiled their insidious plot and were hailed as a Hero.
* Was a romantic rival.
* Caused a physical disability.
What they plan to do about it:
* They want your life ruined.
* They want you dead.
* They will ruin the lives of those around you to make you suffer.
* Befriend a wild beast and it becomes your pet.
* You found the love of your life, but the lover is ill and will die soon if they do not get a unique medical treatment.
* You found the love of your life, but the lover has fallen into the arms of your enemy (if the Hero has no enemy, roll on enemy chart).
(It is possible to get relationships that are both happy and successful on these charts, I should note.)
* Stopped a war between two countries and was rewarded by both governments. +4 Renown, and a home in one of the rival cities.
* Encountered a group of Sea People who gave you a special map. All your travel times on the open sea are reduced by 20%.
* Befriended by a Veddan prince and given one of his fastest horses. (+4 to its SPD)
* Found a golden, mechanical bird that whistles bits of wisdom. He’s become your constant companion and grants you +4 to any ancient history lore roll when he is around.
* A fellow academic out-spoke and disgraced you at a symposium. The scandalous things she said besmirched your good name and even now the lies follow you. Lose 4 Renown.
* On a pilgrimage to Zin, you lost a trusted friend in a boating mishap. His ghost now haunts you until his body (lost in the sea) is laid to rest.
* You become sick with a rare and almost fatal illness. Lose 1 STR.
* Watched your family sacrificed in a horrible magical ritual. Their souls scream for a brief moment anytime a fire is lit and at noon each day the shadow you cast also includes them.
* Through a tragic mishap, you are responsible for the death of a Noble’s only son. Lose 4 Renown and gain the noble as a new enemy.
And a smattering of special events from the various adventure types:
* Called upon to settle a dispute between two kings. Roll 1D20: on a 1–10 you decided fairly and gain +2 Renown; on 11–20 you made the matters worse and lose 5 Renown. (High Adventure)
* Ventured to the top of a great bellowing volcano and watched two gods make love in the fiery tempest. The coupling blasted your mind, but gave you great insight into the universe. +1 Magic Rating (High Adventure)
* Listened to the whispered murmurs of the sleeping giant on Mount Meru. Gain +1 WIL. (Mage)
* Traveled to the Underworld, and begged the god of Death for the soul of a loved one. The dark god took pity on you and your gloomy story, and allowed you to leave with the loved one. Gain +10 Renown. (Priest)
* Stole a great artifact of significant Renown or power. Receive 10 Renown and then roll on the Enemy Chart to find out who you stole if from. They plan to kill you and reclaim their item. (Rogue)
* During your travels, you saved the life of a travelling poet and he has written a very popular song that regales your exploits. The song is overblown and most of the facts are untrue but it always gets you free drinks in any tavern you enter. Gain +5 Renown. (Sailor)
* You have discovered a little known fact during your academic studies. +5 in any Lore. (Scholar)
* You saved the life of young boy and he has pledged to follow you anywhere and repay his debt to you. He learns at your feet and respects you for your prowess. (Warrior)