Dark secrets, Characters with an edge

I have been kicking an idea around inside my head for some time now, it came to me while watching a tv series. Often it is commented in a fiction movie, book or tv series that “good guys also got secrets” or “a bad guy can turn a new leaf”. This got me thinking how I often myself prefer my characters to have a dark edge in some form or other.

Sometimes bad things happen and they happen because people act with good intentions, but despite good intentions some bad things happens as a consequence. People can be led down on dark paths by good intentions but they can also be “saved” and walk a better path.

So what I’m kicking around now is how to go about this, at moment I’m looking at using 3 random tables.

Let’s give it a go, I make myself a Gunslinger named Jayk, 28 years old.

So to create some dark edge to his background I’d first need some kind of dire circumstance that he could react to:

Table 1

I roll on my table and get “You got in over your head with debt and was given an ultimatum” Aha! Fits fairly well to a gunslinger I think. It is still open to interpretation so I can make it fit my character, which is also the point of this tool.

Table 2

So what did my character do to fix the circumstance he found himself in?
“Protecting yourself, you killed someone close to an important member of the community”

Oh dear, my gunslinger committed murder to get out of sticky situation. It almost sound cliché but still it’s open to my own tweaks. I could still either on my own or in cooperation with my GM decide if the murder was unsolved or I fled judgement.

Table 3

So did my Gunslinger become corrupted and a turn into a vigilante cleaning up the city in a tzunami of blood?
lets see:
“A close and dear relative died as a result of your history and you have sworn on their immortal soul that you will never be responsible for something like that again.”

oh darn… did my character kill his own relative when he tried to get out of his ultimatum? or was his relative killed because of his actions as retaliation? is that why he now tries to live his life better?

ok, so maybe I end up with more questions than answers, but I now got some nuggets to mine for gold to my story. I could flesh out the following:

Gunslinger Jayk, an avid gambler wound up in debt in his hometown when he was abit younger. Unable to pay his debt he began working it off as a gunman, but there was no end in sight nomatter how much work he did. He decided to quit, but the local crimegang did not agree with his decision. He was chased all over the city and in a final confrontation Jayk accidentally killed an innocent bystander, the daughter of a prominent merchant. Ridden with guilt he ran, he managed to escape the city and fled to an uncle in a big city. It was almost 1½ year later when his past caught up with him, the gang had put a price on his head and a hitman was coming to collect it. This particular hitman was a ruffian, a brute and it cost Jayk’s uncle his life but Jayk managed to kill the hitman. He knew it would only be a matter of time before another one would find him or maybe the authorities or the father of the daughter he killed would find him first.

And all with 3 easy dice rolls!

I could also choose to talk with my GM and let him flesh out some stuff instead, maybe he wants to mesh my background with his campaign plots.

This could also have been the story of an NPC of mine that I wanted the players to meet, maybe help or even capture!

So I’d like to hear your thoughts, is this at all useful?
Should results be more narrow and specific?
Would you use it as a player or as a GM?

Don’t hold back, I wanna make the best tool I can 🙂

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