Ready-To-Use Backgrounds

I have a pretty simple post for today. This is a bunch of backgrounds that I’ve developed for my campaigns. You may find them useful for your own games, flavour permitting. They’re relatively setting-agnostic, but some may not be suitable for certain settings (such as Apprentice Golem Smith).

The backgrounds are, in alphabetical order:
– Archaeologist
– Apprentice Alchemist
– Apprentice Golem Smith
– Cook
– Divine Vessel
– Far Wanderer
– Spy
– Tundra Survivalist

Archaeologist

Skill Proficiencies: Perception, History
Tool Proficiencies: Cartographer’s tools
Equipment: 100 feet of hempen rope, a hooded lantern, a coloured gem from a statue’s eye, and a small pouch containing 15gp.

Feature: Experienced Delver
You cannot become lost while underground except by magical means. This ability does not extend to the Underdark, however while in the Underdark any Wisdom (Survival) checks made to avoid becoming lost are made with advantage.

Suggested Characteristics
Archaeologists are a peculiar balance of curious and cautious. Delving into ruins to unearth the secrets of the past comes with a number of unusual perils, meaning you’re always on the lookout for danger in even the most unexpected places. At the same time, some powerful urge keeps you seeking out new sites to delve no matter the risk to yourself, and this cognitive dissonance defines you more than anything else.

Apprentice Alchemist

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Medicine
Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s Kit
Equipment: A flask of Alchemist’s Fire, a vial of poison, a vial containing flakes of an unidentified metal, and a small pouch containing 15gp.

Feature: Master of Potions
You are familiar with all kinds of poisons, potions, tinctures and elixirs. Identifying mysterious brews is easy for you, and any properties that can’t be discerned with a basic inspection can soon be discovered through a more thorough examination during a short or long rest.

Suggested Characteristics
Alchemy is a strange blend of science, magic and art. As such, Apprentice Alchemists must be in equal measures studious and talented. You’re aware that there is no substitute for hard work, but there’s always a time and place for winging it and relying on your sheer aptitude, wits and panache.

Apprentice Golem Smith

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Athletics
Tool Proficiencies: Smith’s Tools.
Equipment: A hammer, 10 sheets of parchment, a scroll containing instructions for building a construct written in a language you do not know.

Feature: Master of Constructs
You have a wide knowledge of constructs and can identify most at a glance. With unfamiliar constructs, you can generally apply what you know to gain a rudimentary understanding of their capabilities.

Suggested Characteristics
Smithing a sword takes practice and no shortage of brawn. Smithing living constructs requires the additional skill of arcane knowledge and artistic flair. An Apprentice Golem Smith is likely as physically capable as they are studious and unscrupulous. Imbuing life, even by well-practiced arcane means, is no small matter. It is rare that a golem smith would be anything other than deadly serious in all matters of life and death.

Cook

Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Cook’s Utensils, Brewer’s Supplies
Equipment: An iron pot, a segmented pouch of seasonings, a bar of soap and a mess kit.

Feature: Hearty Meal
Your skill in the kitchen translates just fine to the wilds. No matter the environment, you’re able to cook meals that satisfy even with a limited supply of ingredients. You and your companions require half rations. Additionally, in civilized areas you can lend your skills to local kitchens, allowing you and your companions can eat for free at inns and taverns in exchange for your evening’s work.

Suggested Characteristics
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and that heart beats by the hand of a Cook. Cooks are sociable, generous, and driven by a love of food and sharing in a good meal. All their best stories will have happened around kitchens and cooking, and the best place to share them is around a table full of a feast. Among all this joviality, a Cook also has an unfailingly sharp eye for detail, for cooking is a finely-balanced art.

Divine Vessel

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Religion
Languages: Celestial and one of your choice.
Equipment: A musical instrument, a broken weapon with your deity’s holy symbol somewhere on it, two vials of holy water and a gem that shows the next day’s weather.

Feature: Instrument of the Gods
Acting as a deity’s chosen comes with its struggles, and having your actions land you in hot water is not uncommon. However, the Gods recognize the need to protect their champions, and as such are often willing to speak on their behalf when things turn sour. When things are at their most dire, you can always attempt to call upon your God to act or vouch for you.

Suggested Characteristics
Where a worshipper or clergyman carries out a deity’s will as pertaining to its followers, a Divine Vessel’s purpose is the more direct application of a deity’s will upon the world. Some are worshippers chosen for a greater purpose, grateful of their God’s blessing. Others are chosen unwillingly, growing to either love or hate their deity and the work they are made to do on their behalf. Some are even a direct manifestation of a God’s will itself, acting as a pure extension of the divine with no free thought or desire of its own.

Far Wanderer

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, History
Languages: One of your choice.
Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools.
Equipment: One instrument of your choice, a cloak suitable for all weather, a talisman from a distant foreign culture, and a small bag containing 10gp.

Feature: Worldly
Your travels have taken you to a number of exotic places, and your knowledge of the world reflects this. Even the most seasoned of adventurers may only have seen half the things you have. You know of more cultures, peoples and monsters than most even know exist, and you have no shortage of tales of these things.

Suggested Characteristics
A Far Wanderer has a perspective of things that most will never attain. The political struggles of one culture may seem frivolous compared to what you’ve seen, and to those embroiled in that political turmoil your view may seem condescending. Some Far Wanderers have more finesse than that, offering wisdom drawn from their vast experiences of the world. Indeed, your worldliness is exactly why you recognize that every culture’s struggle is important, no matter how big or small.

Spy

Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Insight
Languages: Two of your choice.
Equipment: A disguise kit, a set of common clothes, a set of court clothes, a falsified diplomatic writ from a far-away noble, and a small pouch containing 10gp.

Feature: Seamless Act
You have assumed so many false identities over the course of your career that pretending to be someone else is second-nature to you. You wear other identities like second skins, and your act is so natural that common folk, military personnel and noblemen alike are inclined to believe your deception.

Suggested Characteristics
Keeping track of the multiplicitous lives a Spy has lived can be a challenge, meaning their minds must be sharp as a tack to keep on top of their myriad little lies. Meeting someone new is an interesting experience for a Spy, as one can never be sure if a new acquaintance has heard of one of their past personas. Furthermore, there is always the question of who you will be to this person. Some Spies manage by enacting a simple but elegant solution: be someone new to everyone.

Tundra Survivalist

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Climber’s Kit
Equipment: A shovel, an odd stone that is warm to the touch, and a thick fur pelt that can be affixed to any cloak.

Feature: Snow-trench Shelter
You are able to spend 30 minutes making a shelter that will allow you and your allies to take long and short rests in arctic climates without suffering levels of exhaustion.

Suggested Characteristics
The tundra is a harsh, unforgiving place. It is this quality above all else that defines the struggle to survive in such a climate. Tundra Survivalists are serious, focused people that understand the difference between life and death can be one small mistake. You respect the inherent danger of any environment, but weathering life in such an inhospitable place also instills you with the confidence that you can survive any wilderness.

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