Aging

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Class Dwarf Elf Gnome Half-elf Halfling Half-orc Human
Starting Age for Character Classes by Race
Assassin 27+1d4 14+2d4 20+1d4 16+2d4 na 37+1d6 20+1d4
Bard na na na 33+1d4 na na 25+1d4
Cleric 57+2d4 38+1d8 48+1d10 28+1d6 na 30+1d6 20+1d4
Druid na na na 30+1d6 36+1d8 na 22+1d4
Fighter 16+1d4 15+1d4 15+1d4 18+1d4 17+1d4 25+1d6 14+1d4
Illusionist na na 21+2d6 na na na 29+2d8
Mage na 22+2d4 na 23+2d6 na na 24+2d8
Monk na na na na na na 23+1d4
Paladin na na na na na na 19+1d4
Ranger na 18+1d4 na 21+1d4 na na 17+1d4
Thief 25+1d4 12+2d4 18+1d4 14+2d4 29+1d6 35+1d6 18+1d4

When player characters are generated, it is necessary to establish the character's age. I usually do this with my character background generator, but in case I have to do it manually, and so that players understand the formulas for calculating age, I include the table shown on the right. Where "na" appears, it is because that class is "not available" to that character race.

My game doesn't recognize the extended lifespans given to non-human characters in AD&D, so my character races are adjusted to fit the traditional human lifespan. This translates to some characters being unusually old (dwarf and gnome clerics) or atypically young (elven assassins and thieves). My feeling is the disparity reflects some races resistance against training individuals until they've reached a certain age — or that youth indicates how much faster some races master a character class compared to others.

Multi-classed characters begin with the highest base number of all classes possessed; the total modifiers for all classes is added. For example, a half-elven fighter/mage would have a base age of "23," adding "2d6 + 1d4" to that base. This makes the multi-classed half-elven's age an average of 32-33.

Non-player characters of a character class will generally be older; we assume they have been out and about in the world for sometime, while the numbers shown indicate the player character at approximately the moment they have been released from their training. A general guideline of 1d4 years can be added per level of the NPC to indicate the amount of time spent in gaining levels, so that a 5th level NPC human mage would ordinarily be 24+2d8, +4d4 (four levels gained past 1st), for an average age of 43 years. As a guideline this can be ignored in special cases, because it can certainly take less than four years to gain four levels if the NPC has spent that time adventuring, while at the same time there's nothing to say that a 5th level mage cannot be 70+ years old.

Age Adjustments to Ability Stats

Age Category Range in Years New Character Grown Older
Age Adjustment
young adult 13 to 20 -1 wis, +1 con -1 wis, +1 con
mature 21 to 40 +1 str, +1 con +1 str, +1 wis
middle aged 41 to 60 +1 int, +1 wis -1 str, +1 int, +1 wis, -1 con
old 61 to 90 -1 str, +1 int, +2 wis, -1 con, -1 dex -1 str, +1 wis, -1 con, -1 dex
venerable 91+ -2 str, +2 int, +3 wis, -2 con, -2 dex -1 str, +1 int, +1 wis, -1 con, -1 dex

Depending on the age category into which a character's age falls, the character's ability stats are adjusted to reflect the character's generation. These categories are shown on the Age Adjustment table. When the character is first created, the player makes adjustments according to the "New Character" column. When a character ages during the game, moving from one age category to the next, the player makes adjustments according to the "Grown Older" column.

For example, the player rolls up a 1st level dwarven fighter that is 20 years old. This makes the character a "young adult." Using the New Character column, the fighter's wisdom is reduced by 1 point, while the fighter's constitution is increased by 1. As the campaign continues, the dwarven fighter advances to age 21, or "mature." Using the Grown Older column, the point of wisdom is restored and the character gains 1 point of strength. Once the character aged to being 41, the adjustments made for being middle aged would be applied to the character's stats.

Death Due to Age

Progressive Roll
(months)
Average Age
of next roll
Time Until Fate Check
5-60 (5d12) 64
5-50 (5d10) 66
4-48 (4d12) 68
5-40 (5d8) 70
4-40 (4d10) 72
3-36 (3d12) 74
4-32 (4d8) 75
5-30 (5d6) 76
3-40 (3d10) 78
4-24 (4d6) 79
3-24 (3d8) 80
2-24 (2d12) 81
5-20 (5d4) 82
2-20 (2d10 83
3-18 (3d6) 84
4-16 (4d4) 85
2-16 (2d8) 86
3-12 (3d4) 86
2-12 (2d6) 87
1-12 (1d12) 87
1-10 (1d10) 88
2-8 (2d4) 88
1-8 (1d8) 89
1-6 (1d6) 89
1-4 (1d4) 89
Aging.jpg

As player characters are presumed to be exceptional, for game purposes a PC cannot die from natural causes (except by a contracted disease) until they reach the age of 61. Once a character reaches that age, a roll is made to determine how long it will be before a "Fate Check" needs to be made, starting with the top line of the chart shown. A note is made that this roll of 5d12, or 5-60, has been made. This will indicate the number of months that will pass, added to the character’s 61st birthday. Once the month of the check is calculated, a d30 is added to that date for the specific day; on that day, the DM can either decide on a random hour for rolling the required fate check, or a roll to see if the character passes away in his or her sleep.

For example, a character, John, turns 61 years old on March 11th, 1651. He rolls 5d12, gaining a result of 28. Adding this number of months, the calculation gives us "July 11th, 1653." Rolling a d30 produces a result of 14, which is added to 11, giving us "25." Therefore, on July 25th, 1653, John will make his fate check to see if he was fated to die of old age on that day. A note is then made when John has to make his 1st fate check and the first line is scratched out.

When the day arrives, the success of the fate check is calculated by adding the character’s present constitution to 80. This produces a two-digit number that is the percentage that must be rolled by John in order to survive.

If John’s constitution is 14, then his fate survival chance is 94%. If John rolls above that, then John is dead of old age.

Success is followed by recalculating the next fate check, from July 25th. Because the first line is scratched out, 5d10 is rolled (5-50). Again the number of months is added, plus 1d30 days, determining the next fate check to be made. The second line is then scratched out. This process continues until the character dies.

A character that has died of old age may be restored by raise dead — however, a note should be made that the next progressive check is skipped, and the one below that is used.

In the example given above, if John dies on the 25th of July, 1653, and is raised, his next roll would not be 5d10, but 4d12, the 3rd line shown on the chart. Each time a character dies of old age and is either raised or resurrected, a line on the Fate Check Table is skipped.

If the character should survive until they have reached the line on the chart that indicates 1d4 months (plus 1d30 days), will pass before their next fate check, then from that time forward this line on the chart will be used until the character passes away.


See The Adventure