You have to be tough to get old…
Let’s face it: many adventuring parties are just self-aggrandizing murderhobos who’ve gotten a bit too big for their britches. They think the world revolves around them. But it doesn’t. Sure, they can shape it, break it, maybe even save it now and then, if we’re lucky. But they didn’t make it. They don’t keep it running. They’re not down in the grit and the grime and the grue day in and day out, struggling to keep economies running and societies flourishing while barely making ends meet for themselves. There’s no glory in peasant work, in being common. Yet being “common” is probably the toughest gig around.
“Common people” in RPGs — especially in medieval(ish) fantasy RPGs — face lethal danger and adversity every day of their lives, in the form of plagues, starvation, oppression by their masters, and a host of other forces conspiring to put them in unmarked premature graves. These are threats that cannot be quickly defeated by swords or spells, threats that linger after the high-faultin’ murderhobos leave town on their next epic tomb raid. “Common” people — that is to say, the peasantry — deserve much better treatment than they get in most OSR games, where they are usually an afterthought if they’re thought about at all.
Thus, let it be known that Commoners are tougher than they look. Any NPC (or PC) that has levels in ONLY the Commoner class gains a number of bonus hit points equal to his age (in years), regardless of level. While they may never have gained the experience necessary to learn how to deal huge amounts of damage, grizzled-old-veteran peasants, through their exposure to the sheer adversities of life, have at least learned how to take the beatings that life throws at them. Thus, a 50-year-old Elder PC who is a Commoner would start with 50 bonus hit points (but would also be subject to aging effects).
Any pussy-young adventurers trying to mess with Old Fred are sure to learn that he lived to be 80-years-old for a reason…he may not be able to dish out a beating, but he can take it better than they ever will, and take it in stride. And subsequently shame or embarrass the hipster with a sword just by leering and grumbling, when the little piss-ant clearly expected him to buckle.
Characters with levels in Commoner and some other class gain a similar benefit, commensurate with the amount of their career spent in the hard life of a Commoner. Thus a character with 1 level of Commoner and 1 level of Fighter would have a number of bonus hit points equal to 1/2 their age. With 1 level of Commoner and 2 levels of some other class, they would gain bonus hit points equal to only 1/3 their age. And so on.
Non-humans are almost never Commoners. Those that exist gain this benefit at a delayed rate, relative to their longevity. For races not listed below, use the advancement for the closest venerable age among the common races (round up).
|Races||Venerable Age||Bonus Commoner Hit Points|
|Human||70||+1 per year of life|
|Half-Elf||125||+1 per 2 years of life|
|Dwarf||250||+1 per 3 years of life|
|Elf||350||+1 per 5 years of life|
Peasants and Commoners who, for some bizarre reason, decide to strike out and try their hand as meters out, rather than simply receivers, of violence gain some additional benefits as they level up.
Commoner’s Toughness: At 1st level, a Commoner gains a number of bonus hit points equal to his age is years (as above). A commoner who multi-classes gains commensurately smaller benefit from this ability, depending on his number of non-commoner levels. This ability counts as the Toughness feat for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.
Larnin’ Sum Fightin’: At 2nd level, and every level thereafter, the Commoner may gain proficiency in one additional Simple weapon of his choice. If the Commoner already has proficiency in all Simple weapons, he may instead learn one Martial weapon proficiency per level. If he is proficient in all Simple and Martial weapons, he gains no further benefit.
Secondary Talents: Starting at 3rd level, a Commoner may choose to sacrifice the feats they would gain at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th levels in order to gain some class features of an adventuring class of their choice, as per the rules for Variant Multiclassing.
Mythic Potential: At 4th level, the Commoner becomes a Mythic Character. He acts as a Mythic Tier 1 character, gaining all associated Mythic abilities and may select any Mythic Path of his choice. At 8th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the Commoner’s Mythic Tier increases by 1, to a maximum of Mythic Tier 5 at 20th level.
Note: No other characters in Beyond the Shore have access to Mythic abilities. Once the Commoner starts gaining these Mythic abilities at 4th level, his overall capabilities as an adventurer should be roughly on parity with more traditionally-classed characters, though very different…