Quality and Lifepaths

I am reading through the character creation now and I wanted to check my understading between the starting lifepaths and quality. On my first read, I had thought that I might choose to play any lifepath that said ‘none’ under the listed requirements. However, I am now considering how (randomly determined) quality would impact my choice. It seems like several of the the lifepaths without requirements are linked to a particular quality.

I attempted to list all the viable starting lifepath options based on quality. I’m curious to hear whether these are accurate and where I am off.

Margineaux:
Americain(e), Filou, Gamine, Philosopher, Occultist, Soldier, Sailor

Peasant:
Americain(e), Factotum, Philosopher, Occultist, Soldier, Sailor

Commoner -
Americain(e), Clerk, Factotum, Jesuit, Passeur, Philosopher, Occultist, Soldier, Sailor

Trades:
Americain(e), Clerk, Factotum, Jesuit, Philosopher, Occultist

Bourgeois:
Americain(e), Clerk, Factotum, Jesuit, Philosopher, Occultist

Noblesse de Robe:
Americain(e), Clerk, Jesuit, Philosopher, Occultist, Petty Noble, Musketeer

Noblesse D’epee - without title:
Americain(e), Clerk, Jesuit, Philosopher, Occultist, Petty Noble, Musketeer

Noblesse D’epee - with title:
Americain(e), Clerk, Jesuit, Philosopher, Occultist, Petty Noble, Musketeer

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Personally I don’t think that certain lifepaths are linked to certain qobs. In my opinion it’s your job as a player to make sense of what the dice gave you. Some connections may be more on the nose than others, but in the end your qob doesn’t say anything about your actual wealth, what your life was before or your reputation. I would cansider all of that before I decide on a lifepaths.

In my opinion it’s your job as a player to make sense of what the dice gave you.

I absolutely agree. What I’m looking for is some guidance on how quality of birth can inform player choice of lifepath. My perspective is that of a soon-to-be player, asking how quality of birth might reasonably inform my choice of starting lifepaths. I’m not just asking for what’s allowed, but what choices are most plausible.

You point out something else: that current wealth might help inform choice of lifepath as much as quality of birth (or even more). Though that is linked to quality of birth, you’re right that there is still a considerable range. For example, the best possible result for someone born Margineaux is to be well-off and rent. They cannot begin the game rich or owning property.

Here are the mechanical restrictions on starting lifepaths as I understand them:

Lifepaths that require a specific Quality of Birth:

  • Petty Noble (Noble)
  • Musketeer (Noble)
  • Factotum (Non-noble)

Lifepaths that require Latin:

  • Jesuit
  • Philosopher
  • Occultist

Lifepaths that require Catholic:

  • Jesuit

Here are other considerations that might inform my choice of starting life path:

Lifepaths that are listed in the Quality of Birth table:

  • Filou (listed as an example of a Margineaux)
  • Soldier (listed as an example of a Margineaux)
  • Sailor (listed as an example of a Margineaux)
  • Passeur (listed as an example of a Commoner)

Lifepaths that imply (but do not require) low wealth ratings (poverty or lower):

  • Filou
  • Gamine

There are other lifepaths that I am really unsure about. How plausible is it for someone born Margineux and currently destitute to be a clerk? A factotum? A jesuit?

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You make some good points, but consider this: You are not alone at the table and the burden of historical research lies with the DM. So, if there are any questions about what a probable lifepaths for your character could be, discuss it and look at the historical data.
Also, a game with a historical setting is always at odds with written history. So, from the get-go you have quite some liberty when you interpret history and play it out. Don’t try too hard to reproduce things accurately, since you are restricted in your options to do so by the system itself and by our knowledge about what the past was like.

That said, the quality of birth is only a starting point. A person who was born as a child of a high ranking official can fall to the bottom of the social ladder and start the campaign as a simple clerk or as a filou. History is full of aristocrats who died poor and broken.

The same goes for extraordinary quality of birth and lifepath combinations. A marginaux jesuit could be an orphan that has been raised by priests and so on. We can assume that such a combination comes with a special biography. A filou could also be very good at what they are doing and accumulate quite some wealth with that.

If you really think a certain combination doesn’t feel right then you shouldn’t play that character, but I am convinced that nearly every combination can be justified one or another way.

Hope that helps you a bit!

For one thing, I think I was misunderstanding the Quality of Birth table on page 119: it’s not that a Marginaux is likely to be a filou or sailor, but that a Marginaux was likely raised among filous or sailors.

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Other randomly determined factors that might influence one’s choice of lifepath:

  • Illiteracy makes one an unlikely clerk.
  • Having children, a spouse, and/or in-laws makes one an unlikely Gamine.
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Technically, the Clerk learns what he needs through the Lifepath. As a Clerk you can advance Latin and your Native Language. But yes, an Int 3 character would be a rather bad Clerk. But we all know of those who suck at their profession.

The Gamine is another case. Many of the char-gen rules don’t apply to the Gamine. I would say that the dependents mechanic falls into this category, too. But it’s totally possible to have a child even if you are a child yourself. But that would be a pretty dark character background.

I hadn’t thought about the spouse result for the gamine. You should change it to shop girl/boy whom you will marry one day.

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