Western Character Background Tables

Copyright Craig McElmurry © 2008

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

Let me preface these tables by explaining a little bit about why they exist. First off, I am a big fan of background tables. In a perfect world, players would take a variety of races and work on character development in depth. However, after my very first experience with MERP and a party consisting of a Dunadan Ranger, a Noldor Elf Wizard, a Halfing Thief, and a Dwarven Fighter, I came to the conclusion that perhaps most players need a nudge in a different direction. Hence the background tables. This even applies in a western setting, as I am sure that many of you with deadly gambling southern gunslingers dying of tuberculosis have found.

I compiled these tables using the U.S. Census database as well as some tribal information I culled from various places. The Tribe subtables are mostly a fiction of my own devising. There were no accurate census figures taken of tribes for obvious reasons. When I was developing this campaign I was working on different adolescent skill development and language tables to further flesh out player characters. These tables were designed to jar my players out of the rut caused by western movies. The sheer number of them was to allow for the remote possibility of rolling almost any background under the sun at the time. So the cold statistics had to be broken down to many different levels to achieve the ability for a player to roll a Japanese gunslinger.

The complete article is available as the Western Origins PDF.