Thursday, July 23, 2015

Backgrounds in Monvesia

After race and class, the other major aspect of character creation to explore is Background.  Here is a brief overview of how the backgrounds of the Player's Handbook might fit in the world of Monvesia--including some variant options.  The variant options are inspired by the character concepts of some of the players who first experienced the world.

Acolyte

Acolytes are commonly connected to the Philosophical Orders--while often clerics, paladins, or eldritch knights; they could also be laypersons who studies the orders ways early in life.  Rakasta shamans often have proteges; while dwarves of any caste are welcome to study with the Keeperate before choosing a profession.
James, a human cleric of St. Ignatius, replaced the incognito noble (see below) "Cain" after his death.  He was a devout servant of the Trickster's burning flame, having always lived a religious life.

Charlatan

The roads of the Divine Senarian Empire are filled with criminals and ne'er-do-wells looking for quick coin at the expense of others.  Others seek out this secretive life to hide their true selves.

Variant Charlatan:  Noble Incognito

While you are not who you claim to be, it is not for and underhanded or deceitful reason.  Instead, you have shaken of the shackles of privilege and retainers to walk among the lower classes.  You may do this to get to know the peasants, to escape persecution, or some other reason.  Your false identity is a secure as any charlatan's, but you do not necessarily employ schemes as they do.
Instead of tools for a con, your equipment package includes a signet ring proving your actual identity.
The human rogue called himself "Cain."  To his companions he was "Smelly"--a vagabond and a scalawag.  In truth, he was the last surviving heir of a displaced noble family that found itself on the wrong side of a civil war.  He would take this seret to his grave.

Criminal & Spy

The League of Ninety-Nine is one of many organized criminal organizations; though a criminal does not need to be a member of one of these groups.  Crime, unfortunately, is universal; as is espionage.  The national rivalries in the Honderreich, or even the Empire, are a ripe breeding ground for spies.

Entertainer & Gladiator

Entertainers can be found in public houses throughout Monvesia, or in dwarven arenas, or even in the "comfort houses" of the Zyrndy Federation--where all manner of otherwise sinful entertainment is legally sanctioned.

Variant Entertainer:  Courtesan

Just as combat can be entertaining, so can seduction.  While you might be well known for your talents, and could benefit from By Pupular Demand, you also have access to the variant feature Loosened Tongues.  If you would like, you may be proficient in a gaming set of your choice instead of a musical instrument.  Replace the musical instrument in your equipment packaged with the appropriate gaming set.

Variant Feature:  Loosened Tongues

Under the influence of a courtesan's entertainment, most people are off their guard.  Under these circumstances, a courtesan has advantage on Charisma checks to learn gossip.
November, a human fighter, was the daughter of a prostitute.  Raised in a whore-house, she was trained in her mother's profession.  While she regarded this skill set with disdain, that did not keep her from making use of it when it was necessary.

Folk Hero

Taint outbreaks give any farm- or stable-hand the opportunity to become a hero.  All manner of monsters and feral beasts continue to ravage small towns or elven conclaves; while mudslides and flooding are common disasters in the riverlands.

Guild Artisan & Guild Merchant

Guilds are an integral part of dwarven government, being the means by which the expert caste is regulated.  Similar models can be found in use by artisans, merchants, and other professionals throughout Monvesia.

Hermit

There are many reasons to seek out a solitary life.  For mages in the Empire, solitude means safety; for vitalists, it means a chance to avoid the formal structures of interaction that society engenders.

Variant Hermit:  Hedge Witch/Wizard

Not all who live a solitary life do so for spiritual reasons; some, like the hedge witch, do so as a result of their chosen profession.  The nature of your work may require privacy for safety's sake, or else your community may be afraid of what you do (or what they think you do).
Rather than proficiency in Religion, a hedge witch would have proficiency in Arcana.  One could even have proficiency in a Poisoner's kit instead of an Herbalism Kit (swapping out one kit for the other in one's starting equipment package as well).  Instead of a scroll case, a hedge witch typically has a pouch of semi-precious crystals, talismans, and other fetishes of minor value.
A late addition to the party was a "witch" whose name I cannot recall.  Her village was subject to a terrible disease, and she hoped to find a cure for it.  What she had stumbled upon in hear early research, however, was the fundamental nature of the Taint.

Noble & Knight

As with most traditional fantasy worlds, much of Monvesia is feudal.  Nobility and knighthood are essential parts of the world and its government.  High born paladins and eldritch knights are more likely to take advantage of this background than Adept.

Outlander

The Feywild is as much a state of mind as it is a transitive planar property.  Elves, druids, rangers, ans rakasta are adept at finding wilderness anywhere--even among the ever-expanding human nations.  Much of the Honderreich remains under-developed, even centuries after the Orc Wars.
Fangor, an elf ranger, was always on the move. He found himself in the Honderreich after his player's first character was accidentally (and epicly) crushed underfoot during combat with a dragon.  Fangor was supposed to be a guide ... but he was new to the area.

Variant Outlander:  Fugitive

The skills of the outlander also benefit someone on the run, forced into survival mode by necessity.  A fugitive is as likely  to be proficient in thieves' tools, vehicles, or even a gaming set as he or she s to be proficient in a musical instrument.
Tink, a halfling rogue, was on the run--but he didn't tell his companions from what until it was too late:  Just as they were entering the city where he was wanted for exaggerated crimes ...

Sage

The pursuit and sharing of knowledge is a religious ideal of the Idealist orders; while the uncovering of forbidden secrets is a goal of many Nihilists.

Variant Sage:  Tower Student

There are wizard towers throughout non-Imperial Cuorria and Honderreich--including the prestigious Vastfurt Tower in Kleimland--where not only wizards, but bards, sages, and even some hermits have studied.  The Towers are centers of knowledge, and a fraternal community has grown from each.  Tower Students should take the Alumni variant feature.

Variant Feature:  Alumni

Attending a Tower forms long-lasting bonds that spring a common experience; this bond is shared classmates and faculty from different generations. In any large population center, you will be able to find a fellow alumnus of your Tower who will be likely to grant you an audience, and are more susceptible to offering you aid (granting you advantage on Persuasion checks).  If the fellow alumnus is wealthy, they may even be happy to host you and your party for a few days--so long as you are willing to swap tales and gossip about the old Alma Matter.
You may occasionally be approached by fellow alumni who wish to ask you for favors. The more you help out your fellows, they more likely they will be to help you out.
This feature is adapted ("stolen") from Andor's Academy Gruaduate.  I felt this ability worked better as an alternate for the sage background in Monvesia instead of the basis for a new background.  Campaign worlds with a more prominent academic culture may benefit from Andor's full background, however.
"Mr. Green" was an enigmatic, human wizard beloning to an infrequent player.  It was easy to explain his absence by siting a need to visit his teacher's at a nearby wizards' tower.  As the campaign advanced, a side story involving the destrution and rebuilding of his tower kept the character's experiened enough to travel with the main party.  He was a tower student out of necessity. 

Sailor & Pirate

Sailors are most common in Notopoli, Voztok, and Inheritance, where it is actually possible to sail to open seas--and where there is sea trade, there is piracy.  There are large lakes in Galtain, connecting Galtain and the Honderreich, and connecting the Pridelands and Veldistan; while the vessels that sail these lakes are smaller, they still necessitate the presence of professional sailors.

Soldier

Feudal societies are incomplete without standing armies and sworn officers.  Nearly any class can be military in nature:  fighter infanty, paladin cavalry, rogue intelligence, wizard special forces, etc.

Variant Soldier:  Sellsword

Sellswords include mercenaries, bounty hunters, and any other professional soldier who operates outside of a formal military.  These soldiers may select the Contact feature (see "Criminal" background).  Your contact represents a network of agents with information on contracts and bounties.  If you take this feature, instead of having an insigia of rank, yo have a scroll case containing details about a few contracts and/or bounties.
One of the last additions to the party--whose name, race, and even exact class I cannot currently remember--was something of a big-game hunter.  He took contracts from nobles and wealthy merchants to procure exotic trophies.

Urchin

Anywhere there is urban sprawl there will be children surviving within it--from dwarven lower districts to the burgs of the Honderreich, and even to the great city-state of Dray; .  Abandoned, orphaned, or runaway, each has his or her own story.  
Cora, a rakasta ranger, was the one character to survive the entire campaign and whose player was present at nearly every gaming session.  From the beginning, she was an orphaned street rat.
Edited August 1, 2015.

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