Saturday, December 5, 2015

[D&D:ATFF] Character Backgrounds

The last bit of prep I needed to do before my gaming group gets together to make characters for our new campaign was come up with some choices for character backgrounds. Not every published background would suit my campaign, and I had a few ideas for some backgrounds of my own that would help flesh out some parts of the setting. Below are the backgrounds I created or selected for this campaign.

Ancestral Home Lost
The Kints place a very high value on the lands and houses of their ancestors. Sadly, in the resolution of the Unity War some concessions had to be made on both sides. Perhaps one of those concessions was the forfeiture of your clan’s land to the people of another tribe. Or, maybe your family’s ancestral home along the coast was pillaged and razed by a band of Nold marauders. In any case, you’ve had to make a life for yourself among other people. Do you hope to one day reclaim your ancestor’s lands, or rebuild their fallen home? Or, have you accepted that those things are lost and seized on the opportunity to carve out your own place in the world?
Associated Skills: History, Perception

Bearer of the Heirloom
You have inherited a martial heirloom that has been passed through the generations. It might be a weapon, a shield, a helmet, a scabbard, a quiver, or any other piece of equipment. You and your family cherish the heirloom for its connection to your heritage. Perhaps the item played a pivotal role in a historic battle or was a beloved possession of a famous ancestor. The heirloom might also be the subject of a legend. Regardless of the item’s history, you have acquired it through merit, necessity, or perhaps greed. How does your ownership of the item affect your decisions? How do you feel about being its owner? Do you shrink under the mantle of obligation and responsibility, or do you rise up to earn stewardship of the item?
Associated Skills: History, Intimidate

Believer in the Old Ways
Despite the fact that the Church of Pelor is the state religion, and worship of the Three Good Siblings is forbidden, you cling to the Old Ways. Perhaps you are a member of the Tulag or the Grinsfolk, tribes that live on the fringes of Albirion society and offer mostly lip service to the King of Albirion. Maybe you grew up in a Briant village, but worship the Three in secret. In any case, you’ve likely learned to perpetuate some of the old practices, and to keep your head down.
Associated Skills: Religion, Stealth

Borderland Nobility
Your father or mother is a ruler of an obscure fiefdom along the frontier. The territory is small and out of the way. Nevertheless, your parents are nobility, and that status awards them and their family privileges. As the youngest of many children, you might have no chance of inheriting the realm, but your heritage has afforded you other opportunities, such as attending the best schools, receiving the best martial training, and meeting people of renown. You’ll never inherit your family’s estate, yet you can travel the world and do as you please, carousing, adventuring, and being a layabout. With the military talents your upbringing has provided you, you can succeed in whatever endeavors you undertake.
Associated Skills: Diplomacy, History

Brash Duelist
You are from a well-born family in Leonis and have always lived in comfort. However, your temper has often got the better of you, and you were encouraged at an early age to take up a martial art to channel your inner fire. While you absorbed your training with gusto, it only fueled your haughtiness. When you killed a prominent citizen in a duel that escalated from a minor quibble, you knew that your darker moods had become a major liability. Your family ostracized you for your uncouth behavior, and now the only trade you seem to be suited for is that of a freebooting scoundrel.
Associated Skills: Bluff, Intimidate

Broken Pact
The elemental creatures called djinni form pacts with some Saralyn, granting power in exchange for some manner of service. You made such a pact, but then failed to live up to your end of the bargain. Now your eldritch powers have either vanished or become unreliable. And what’s more, the djinn you betrayed haunts your every move, eager to exact his vengeance upon you. Have you come to Albirion to escape him? Have you come seeking some means, foreign to your people, of defeating the elemental creature? Or, have you come seeking another source of power, one with fewer strings attached?
Associated Skills: Arcana, Bluff

Buried Alive
The Tulag have a tradition: criminals and traitors within their tribes are sent into the deepest, darkest caves of the Grimpeaks and sealed inside. For a serious crime, real or imagined, you received this sentence. You wasted away in the darkness for what seemed like days before a mysterious entity offered you salvation for a price. Upon emerging from the darkness, you knew that you could not rejoin your tribe, so you headed south for lands that were unfamiliar to you. Do you hold a grudge against your former tribe? Do you hope to one day avenge yourself? Or, do you hope to be vindicated, and your name cleared? What promises did you make to the obscene forms in the shadows to secure your freedom?
Associated Skills: Dungeoneering, Endurance

City Grinsfolk
Although most of the Grinsfolk make their homes in the wild places of Albirion, since the Unity War, a few families have moved into Kint and Briant towns when food became scarce or when winters were especially harsh. Some stuck around and wound up raising their children there. You are one of the Grinsfolk tribe, but you grew up in a town or city. Are you comfortable in this environment, or do you long to see the wild places your parents tell you tales of? Do you follow the Old Ways in secret, or have you adopted the faith of the Church like the people you live among? Do you feel accepted by your neighbors, or do they still view you and your family as primitive or backwards?
Associated Skills: History, Streetwise

Cruel Stepmother
Perhaps you never begrudged your father’s decision to remarry after your mother passed away. You couldn’t deny the exceptional beauty and charm of his new bride. But you never could get close to the woman. When she looked at you her gaze was always cold. She was never more than superficially kind to you while your father was alive, and she quickly turned cruel after he had died under mysterious circumstances. Before long you were reduced to little more than a servant in the house that was once home to your deceased parents. You got by putting up with her cruelties and keeping out of sight as much as possible. You always assumed you were just the victim of terribly bad fortune, but since you left home and moved on with your life, you’ve met a surprising number of other young adults with similar stories of wicked stepmothers. It is enough to make one wonder.
Associated Skills: Endurance, Stealth

Dedicated to an Ancestor
You were born on the same day of the year as one of your clan’s ancestral heroes, and your parents dedicated you to that hero, whose name you share. What was that hero known for? Do you feel called to emulate your namesake’s great deeds, or are you driven to make a name for yourself in a different way? Do you ever dream of your ancestor, or have feelings of déjà vu, as if you’re walking in that hero’s footsteps?
Associated Skills: Diplomacy, History

Disgraced Noble
You grew up in the courts of Albirion or Leonis, the son or daughter of a noble house. However, you have fallen out of favor with your peers. Perhaps you failed in some duty, or were guilty of a serious breach of chivalry. Maybe you are innocent of any offense, but are tainted by association with an offending family member. Disgraced nobles don’t spend as much time cavorting with society’s elite as their more esteemed peers, but they still remember the rules of diplomacy. They are sometimes also practiced liars.
Associated Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy

Divine Calling
Each faithful member of the Church serves the Lord of Light every day by demonstrating goodness and showing kindness to others, but you feel called to serve Pelor in some more significant way. Perhaps you witnessed a display of divine favor on the battlefield. Maybe you were the beneficiary of Pelor’s healing. One of Pelor’s exarches may have appeared to you in a vision, commissioning you to carry out some holy quest. Perhaps you know the exact nature of your calling, or perhaps it is merely a vague notion that you are destined to accomplish some fantastic deed to the credit of Pelor and for the good of the upright.
Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Religion

There was a tradition among the Old Ways, that when an unmarried girl was suddenly with child, and no man would take credit as the father, she was declared an elf-wife and her child elf-blooded. Obviously, an elf had entered the village unseen and made the girl his wife. She would remain unmarried the rest of her life, but she and her child would not be ill-treated; because everyone knows you don’t cross an elf. Since the Church of Pelor has become the state religion of Albirion, such ideas have been declared heathen superstition, and unwed mothers are scorned and excommunicated for their sinful indiscretion. However, in remote parts of the kingdom, where many still follow the Old Ways, young women who are especially well-liked or the daughters of local nobility, might still receive the benefit of this practice. While most of the elf-blooded are simply illegitimate children with irresponsible fathers, a few do exhibit just a touch of mystery that makes some wonder if there may yet be truth to the old superstition.
Associated Skills: Arcana, Religion

Fey Ally
Because the Grinsfolk live in the same deep forests and remote areas of the wilderness where the fey are most often encountered, it is no surprise that they have closer ties with the fey than anybody else. While many in Albirion disregard tales of fairies and other strange creatures as mere folklore, you grew up knowing for a fact that the fey are real. From an early age, you learned how to follow elf paths, how to tell a pixie apart from a sprite, and why you should never enter a fairy ring unprepared. You may have never interacted with a fey creature directly, but you’ve seen evidence of their comings and goings – the small traces of magic where their world bleeds over into ours.
Associated Skills: Arcana, Perception

You have had an earlier encounter with the strange and magical, in some form or another. Perhaps you once got lost in a dark forest, but followed a trail of willow wisps to safety. Maybe you were cursed as a child by an elf or a witch. Perhaps you received a blessing from a kindly fairy. Whatever the exact nature of your brush with the fey, there is no question that it has permanently entwined your destiny with the arcane. Some fey-touched embrace this fate, seeking out the mysterious and the magical wherever they can. Others struggle against it, fiercely denying that they are any different from everybody else.
Associated Skills: Arcana, Bluff

Foreign Trader
Most Albirion commoners never leave their own town or village. Many have never met anyone much different from themselves. You are either an ambitious Albirion, willing to travel even to distant lands for the sake of adventure and fortune, or you are someone from one of those distant lands visiting Albirion with the same purpose. You may be a merchant who does business in nearby Leonis, or a trade ambassador to the island of Norbelkyn or the distant Saralyn Caliphate. Alternatively, you may be a Leonine, Nold, or Saralyn trader looking to do business in Albirion. Whatever the case, you are unusual in Albirion in that you’ve been exposed to a wide range of places, peoples, languages, and cultures.
Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Endurance, or speak one additional language.

Gifted Dancer
The Nibenese, a Saralyn tribe, see dance as their gift to the world. The dramatic liaka-ih style features whirling dancers in veils, scarves, and ribbons. The comedic and bell-wearing priytu-ih dancers perform for celebrations and joyful events. Militant, weapon-wielding wriquo-ih dancers honor warriors and their battles. You have studied the three forms, learning their techniques. Which form do you prefer?
Associated Skills: Acrobatics, Insight

Hedge Knight
A hedge knight is a capable warrior that is not bound to any lord. It may be that his lord perished without an heir, or it may be that the lord who knighted him asked for no pledge of fealty. This typically happens when the warrior receives his knighthood in reward for some daring deed or victory in a tournament. It may also happen if the lord granting the title cannot afford to pay the knight a stipend. In any case, a hedge knight has the benefit of his title, but no land or regular income. Other knights and nobles sometimes look down on hedge knights, calling them beggar knights. Many are, at best, glorified mercenaries; though some take their title very seriously, and cleave tightly to the codes of chivalry.
Associated Skills: Endurance, Intimidate

In the Shadow of Giants
It is said that in the northern highlands of Albirion, giants roam. Some believe such stories are just exaggerated accounts of the Tulag, with their mighty stature, but you know better. Your family taught you to hide effectively in any terrain, and more than once you’ve cowered behind rocks or beneath brush as an enormous giant lumbered by, not daring to emerge until the ground had quit rumbling with his heavy footsteps.
Associated Skills: Nature, Stealth

Knight of the Scepter
You are a member of the Order of the Scepter. The Bishop of Brenton has declared it a holy mission for the knights of your order to find the lost scepter of Erathis and bring it to the King of Albirion. Possession of this holy relic is believed to confer divine right of rulership, and the bishop believes that this holy symbol will solidify the rulership of King Aldric II and win him even stronger recognition among the rest of the Faithful world. Do you take on this mission in true faith, believing that the scepter conveys actual divine power? Or, do you view this as a political mission, one that will strengthen the sovereignty of your liege?
Associated Skills: History, Religion

Local Hero
You never trained in a military academy or participated in a military company. You weren’t an apprentice to a master thief or a squire to a noble knight. No famous hero took you under his or her wing. Everything you know, you learned on your own. You dueled your friends for practice, and you watched soldiers from afar, so when the brigands swarmed your hamlet, you were ready. You rallied other young men and women behind you and rounded up weapons to mount a defense. You repelled the villains, and your efforts attracted the attention of a local lord. The lord offered you the opportunity to receive proper martial training, and you accepted, beginning your life as a warrior.
Associated Skills: Athletics, Diplomacy

The Maelstrom is a never-ending whirlpool of the sea, shrouded in constant storms, spewing thunder and mist as it inundates the surrounding lands with rain. Overlooking the spinning vortex is a great rocky shore, a nesting place for birds and tortoises. The stony beaches are home to scuttling crabs and scavenging gulls. To those living in its shadow, the Maelstrom is the birthplace of all living things. To outsiders, it is an insatiable vortex that swallows all things. The people who dwell in the shadow of the Maelstrom venture into the stormy waters on its verge to fish or to salvage wrecked vessels. You were forged in the storm and quenched by the sea.
Associated Skills: Athletics, Intimidate

Market Thief
From your early childhood, you mastered the arts of chicanery, deceit, and petty theft. You roamed the streets and alleyways of the Brenton marketplace, or the market of some other city. Were you a pickpocket or burglar, preying on the dull-witted locals? Were you an entertainer who distracted the crowds so that other kids could steal from them? Do you still steal your daily bread, or have you moved on to a more respectable occupation?
Associated Skills: Streetwise, Thievery

With a battlecry on your lips and battleaxe in hand, you live for the thrill of conquest. As a Nold you hold the sea in your heart and thirst for plunder in your veins. Feared up and down the western coast, you are renowned for your ferocious spirit and triumphant roar. With the tenuous peace that now exists between your people and the kingdom of Albirion, you are uneasy and anxious, looking for another pursuit to apply your battle skills towards.
Associated Skills: Endurance, Intimidate

Recent Convert
You were not raised in the Church. Perhaps you are of the Grinsfolk or the Tulag tribes, who never really accepted the conversion forced on the rest of Albirion. You could even be a Nold or Saralyn traveler who has settled in Albirion, bringing with you your own customs. In any case, you grew up with your own beliefs but recently put your faith in the Lord of Light. What convinced you to change your beliefs? Was it listening to the persuasive rhetoric of a priest of Pelor? Did you witness a miracle? What path does your newfound faith motivate you to follow?
Associated Skills: Insight, Religion

Scion of a Legend
You have spent your life in the shadow of your mother’s or father’s martial reputation. You might be the latest descendant in a long line of legendary warriors, or you could be the offspring of a hero who rose to fame through recent deeds. Your parent might be proud or humble, but regardless, he or she has always been the subject of envy and praise. Your sense of who you are is defined your parent’s reputation and by the expectation that everyone holds for you. Do you work twice as hard to prove yourself worthy of your family’s reputation? Do you spurn your martial heritage to seek recognition of your own unique talents? Or do you hope to emerge from the shadow of your predecessor, ascending higher than he or she could ever imagine?
Associated Skills: History, Intimidate

You studied under a famous knight, serving the warrior until you mastered the talents she taught. What kind of person was this knight? What was the most important lesson you learned? Is your mentor still alive? How long was it since you last saw the knight? Did your association end on good terms?
Associated Skills: Athletics, Nature

The Nolds worship the storm god Kord as the embodiment of victory and glory. You had a brush with a storm; perhaps you were born during an especially bad thunderstorm, or maybe you were struck by lightning as a young adult. Now Kord’s touch is on you, and it is evident in the exceptional prowess you display in battle. But to what ends will you apply this gift, and with what price will it come?
Associated Skills: Nature, Religion

Tamwar Dervish
You come from the Tamwar, Saralyn nomads who live on the edge of the Endless Sand Dunes. As a youth you were chosen to learn the ways of the elemental spirits and become a holy warrior of your people. Perhaps you left your tribe to seek your fortune in the wider world, hoping to earn great wealth in the civilized lands. Or maybe you are the last of your family, the sole survivor of a dark tragedy. Are you a mercenary or a scout for hire, ready to trade your desert knowledge for a few coins at a time? What do you think of the city dwellers you meet?
Associated Skills: Athletics, Nature

The patriarch or each Kint clan holds the title of thane. When the High Thane Maclaird pledged allegiance to King Aldric I at the height of the Unity War, Aldric declared Maclaird the Duke of Highlia, and each thane the baron of his respective shire. However, among the Kint, they still use their old title of thane. You are the son or daughter of a thane. Maybe you are the next in line to inherit your father’s title, or perhaps you are a younger child who is still proud of your heritage. You may be the scion of one of the forgotten thanes, a handful of clan chieftains who refused to follow Maclaird’s lead and bow to the Briant king. In this case you’ve grown up an outcast and a refugee. Most of your own people look at you askance, because your forefather failed to stand united with the rest of his people. Others who resent having to bow to the king of the Briants may offer you their sympathy and aid.
Associated Skills: History, Intimidate

Tree Talker
Your parents swear you could climb trees before you learned how to walk. You spent your childhood high in the branches, and for as long as you can remember, the trees whispered to you whenever the breeze moved through their leaves. Sometimes they would warn you of looming danger—a poisonous snake or a mountain cat. At other times, they shared secrets with you, such as who met secretly beneath the poplar the previous night.
Associated Skills: Athletics, Nature

Ward of the Church
There are no orphanages in Albirion, but the Church of Pelor never turns away a child in need. For this reason, many orphans grow up as wards of the Church. These children are treated well, for the most part, but they are expected to work hard at maintaining church grounds, behave according to the tenants of Pelor, and participate in church services. You may have grown up very devout, eager to reflect the kindness that was shown you in the name of Pelor. Or, perhaps you were ill-behaved and frequently chastised, eager to get out from under the shadow of the church and make your own way in the world.
Associated Skills: Heal, Religion

Ward of the Court
You were orphaned at a young age and have inherited a noble title and position from your father. However, you were deemed too young to handle that position, so the king appointed another trustworthy noble to care for your responsibilities until you are of age. Seeing as it is important that you be brought up correctly so that you can one day accept your inherited position, and lacking any living relatives that could do so, you became a ward of the royal court. You grew up among princes and princesses, although your own station was somewhat lower. Did the royal children accept you as a peer, or did they sneer at your lower status? Do you eagerly await the day that you take on the responsibilities that come with your father’s former position? Or, would you prefer to extend your carefree days as long as possible?
Associated Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy

You were once caught in a blizzard and nearly froze to death. In those moments that you were closest to death your body slowed and you could barely keep your eyes open. However, you have the vaguest memory of opening your eyes once and seeing a raven perched nearby, its solid black shape a sharp contrast with the wall of driving snow behind it. Or, perhaps you saw the indistinct shape of a woman, wrapped in a cloak of raven feathers, with an iron crown set above her pale face and black tresses. You have no idea if your vision was real or merely the delusion of a person near to death, but since that day you’ve never felt the warmth of the sun or the hearth in quite the same way. And you have the nagging sense that something just beyond your vision is watching; and waiting.
Associated Skills: Endurance, Perception

Winter’s Voice
One child in each generation of a Tulag tribe is selected after rigorous testing to travel north, beyond the Grimpeaks, into the frozen Everwinter Wastes. You were that child for your tribe and your generation. You trekked through an endless wasteland, braved many dangers, and finally you saw it, in the distance. Across a frozen sea, towards a grim castle atop a jagged peak, marched an endless procession. It was the dead on their way to the Raven Queen’s citadel. You knew better than to go any further, but that’s all the further you needed to go. When you returned to your tribe you were changed. You were the winter’s voice – gifted with the insight to advise your people on the course that they should take. But now you have left your people, following an insight that tells you that your destiny lies elsewhere. Perhaps you must leave your people to save them.
Associated Skills: Endurance, Religion

Witch Hunter
Your faith moves you to enforce the king’s decree abolishing the Old Ways in favor of the faith of the Church of Pelor. You seek out those who still observe the rituals and ceremonies associated with the Three Good Siblings and bring them to justice for their pagan ways. You show no mercy to those who actually practice the arcane arts. Is your hunt sanctioned by the church or the crown? Or, are you simply a lone zealot fueled by righteous indignation?
Associated Skills: Arcana, Religion

Common Occupation
You were a member of one of these common occupations.
Artisan; Associated Skills: Insight, Streetwise
Barrister; Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Intimidate
Beggar; Associated Skills: Insight, Streetwise
Entertainer; Associated Skills: Bluff, History
Farmer; Associated Skills: Endurance, Nature
Guide; Associated Skills: Nature, Perception
Herbalist; Associated Skills: Heal, Nature
Herder; Associated Skills: Insight, Endurance
Hunter; Associated Skills: Nature, Perception, Stealth
Priest; Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Religion
Mariner; Associated Skills: Acrobatics, Perception
Merchant; Associated Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy
Scholar; Associated Skills: Arcana, History, Religion
Soldier; Associated Skills: Athletics, Endurance
Storyteller; Associated Skills: History, Religion

1 comment:

  1. Very good, many choices. A few of them intrigue me - see you Sunday!