As this Gassy Gnoll enters his mid-40s, he finds himself undergoing a curious transformation. Over the last 7 months he has engaged in *gasp* physical exercise and a change in diet and is probably in the best shape he’s been in since his late teens, if not the best shape he’s ever been in. And it’s only getting better.
But it’s made him wonder about our heroes in RPGs. Most of them tend to be young, don’t they? Fresh off the farm so to speak, they are ready to tackle quests in their late teens or early twenties and have the health and resiliency to bounce back from injuries quickly…
Depending on how you view age in traditional fantasy worlds, you might consider 30 to be old within that context. I know I did until recently. But why not have an older beginning character?
In the Zeitgeist 4e campaign I’m currently playing in, one of the characters – Gavin – is an old man, but started at the same level as the rest of us. Though he may be portrayed as a doddering old professor, he’s anything but. In fact, he’s a spry old fellow with a healthy Dex and multiple ex-wives to outrun. I don’t know what the 4e rules are for age (haven’t looked), but he seems to do just fine.
In a different campaign (Pathfinder), we had an old elven wizard (who I think was “old” and not “venerable” for the attribute bonuses/penalties based on looking at the “Aging Effects” table) who was never portrayed as aged in any way, but probably should have been. He was suffering some of the Str/Dex/Con penalties for sure but was never played that way.
But if 53 is considered old by Pathfinder standards, then 43 isn’t doing too bad. I disagree however with the -1 Str/Dex/Con modifiers. I’m stronger and more flexible now than I was in my 20s and am getting stronger workout by workout. Who knows where I’ll be in a year, let alone 10 years? Hopefully happily and healthily still chugging along.
So I’m considering an older character for the next campaign I play in. I think I can easily come up with a backstory about why a wizard, fighter, cleric, or thief is coming out of a more traditional life to go adventuring. There are plenty of characters
(Shepherd Book from Firefly immediately comes to mind) that I could use as examples. And why the heck not?
Ageism is a silly concept. Revere your elders, but don’t expect them to collect dust on a shelf. Or as I’ve heard many times – “I’m old, not dead!” :)
What do you think about older characters? Any examples in current or past campaigns you can share?