Every Story has a beginning. Your background reveals where you came from, how you became an adventurer, and your sense of your place in the world, drawn from experiences of your own and of those around you.
Choosing a background provides you with important story cues about your character’s identity. The most important question to ask about your background is Why Things Changed, though the question that most people will want to know if they are wise is What Changed?.
For all PCs in Wyrlde, they have two; one of their choice and one that is part of all of them.
The backgrounds available to the Characters are all of those listed in the chart from the PHB and the XGE, plus those described below, which are drawn from additional sourcebooks.
You have always been fascinated by other cultures, from the most ancient and primeval lost lands to the most modern civilizations. By studying other cultures’ customs, philosophies, laws, rituals, religious beliefs, languages, and art, you have learned how tribes, empires, and all forms of society in between craft their own destinies and doom. This knowledge came to you not only through books and scrolls, but also through first-hand observation—by visiting far-flung settlements and exploring local histories and customs.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Religion
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: A leather-bound diary, a bottle of ink, an ink pen, a set of traveler’s clothes, one trinket of special significance, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Before becoming an adventurer, you spent much of your adult life away from your homeland, living among people different from your kin. You came to understand these foreign cultures and the ways of their people, who eventually treated you as one of their own. One culture had more of an influence on you than any other, shaping your beliefs and customs. Choose a race whose culture you’ve adopted, or roll on the Adopted Culture table.
Feature: Adept Linguist
You can communicate with humanoids who don’t speak any language you know. You must observe the humanoids interacting with one another for at least 1 day, after which you learn a handful of important words, expressions, and gestures—enough to communicate on a rudimentary level.
Anthropologists leave behind the societies into which they were born to discover what life is like in other parts of the world. They seek to see how other races and civilizations survive — or why they did not. Some anthropologists are driven by intellectual curiosity, while others want the fame and recognition that comes with being the first to discover a new people, a lost tribe, or the truth about an ancient empire’s downfall.
|1||I prefer the company of those who aren’t like me, including people of other races.|
|2||I’m a stickler when it comes to observing proper etiquette and local customs.|
|3||I would rather observe than meddle.|
|4||By living among violent people, I have become desensitized to violence.|
|5||I would risk life and limb to discover a new culture or unravel the secrets of a dead one.|
|6||When I arrive at a new settlement for the first time, I must learn all its customs.|
|1||Discovery. I want to be the first person to discover a lost culture. (Any)|
|2||Distance. One must not interfere with the affairs of another culture—even one in need of aid. (Lawful)|
|3||Knowledge. By understanding other races and cultures, we learn to understand ourselves. (Any)|
|4||Power. Common people crave strong leadership, and I do my utmost to provide it. (Lawful)|
|5||Protection. I must do everything possible to save a society facing extinction. (Good)|
|6||Indifferent. Life is cruel. What’s the point in saving people if they’re going to die anyway? (Chaotic)|
|1||My mentor gave me a journal filled with lore and wisdom. Losing it would devastate me.|
|2||Having lived among the people of a primeval tribe or clan, I long to return and see how they are faring.|
|3||Years ago, tragedy struck the members of an isolated society I befriended, and I will honor them.|
|4||I want to learn more about a particular humanoid culture that fascinates me.|
|5||I seek to avenge a clan, tribe, kingdom, or empire that was wiped out.|
|6||I have a trinket that I believe is the key to finding a long-lost society.|
|1||Boats make me seasick.|
|2||I talk to myself, and I don’t make friends easily.|
|3||I believe that I’m intellectually superior to people from other cultures and have much to teach them.|
|4||I’ve picked up some unpleasant habits living among goblins, lizardfolk, or orcs.|
|5||I complain about everything.|
|6||I wear a tribal mask and never take it off.|
An archaeologist learns about the long-lost and fallen cultures of the past by studying their remains — their bones, their ruins, their surviving masterworks, and their tombs. Those who practice archaeology travel to the far corners of the world to root through crumbled cities and lost dungeons, digging in search of artifacts that might tell the stories of monarchs and high priests, wars and cataclysms.
Skill Proficiencies: History, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Cartographer’s tools or navigator’s tools
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: A wooden case containing a map to a ruin or dungeon, a bullseye lantern, a miner’s pick, a set of traveler’s clothes, a shovel, a two-person tent, a trinket recovered from a dig site, and a pouch containing 25 gp
Prior to becoming an adventurer, you spent most of your young life crawling around in the dust, pilfering relics of questionable value from crypts and ruins. Though you managed to sell a few of your discoveries and earn enough coin to buy proper adventuring gear, you have held onto an item that has great emotional value to you. Roll on the Signature Item table to see what you have, or choose an item from the table.
Feature: Historical Knowledge
When you enter a ruin or dungeon, you can correctly ascertain its original purpose and determine its builders, whether those were dwarves, elves, humans, yuan-ti, or some other known race. In addition, you can determine the monetary value of art objects more than a century old.
Few archaeologists can resist the lure of an unexplored ruin or dungeon, particularly if such a site is the source of legends or is rumored to contain the treasures and relics of wizards, warlords, or royalty. Some archaeologists plunder for wealth or fame, while others consider it their calling to illuminate the past or keep the world’s greatest treasures from falling into the wrong hands. Whatever their motivations, archaeologists combine the qualities of a scrappy historian with the self-made heroism of a treasure-hunting scoundrel.
|1||I love a good puzzle or mystery.|
|2||I’m a pack rat who never throws anything away.|
|3||Fame is more important to me than money.|
|4||I have no qualms about stealing from the dead.|
|5||I’m happier in a dusty old tomb than I am in the centers of civilization.|
|6||Traps don’t make me nervous. Idiots who trigger traps make me nervous.|
|7||I might fail, but I will never give up.|
|8||You might think I’m a scholar, but I love a good brawl. These fists were made for punching.|
|1||Preservation. That artifact belongs in a museum. (Good)|
|2||Greed. I won’t risk my life for nothing. I expect some kind of payment. (Any)|
|3||Death Wish. Nothing is more exhilarating than a narrow escape from the jaws of death. (Chaotic)|
|4||Dignity. The dead and their belongings deserve to be treated with respect. (Lawful)|
|5||Immortality. All my exploring is part of a plan to find the secret of everlasting life. (Any)|
|6||Danger. With every great discovery comes grave danger. The two walk hand in hand. (Any)|
|1||Ever since I was a child, I’ve heard stories about a lost city. I aim to find it, learn its secrets, and earn my place in the history books.|
|2||I want to find my mentor, who disappeared on an expedition some time ago.|
|3||I have a friendly rival. Only one of us can be the best, and I aim to prove it’s me.|
|4||I won’t sell an art object or other treasure that has historical significance or is one of a kind.|
|5||I’m secretly in love with the wealthy patron who sponsors my archaeological exploits.|
|6||I hope to bring prestige to a library, a museum, or a university.|
|1||I have a secret fear of some common wild animal—and in my work, I see them everywhere.|
|2||I can’t leave a room without searching it for secret doors.|
|3||When I’m not exploring dungeons or ruins, I get jittery and impatient.|
|4||I have no time for friends or family. I spend every waking moment thinking about and preparing for my next expedition.|
|5||When given the choice of going left or right, I always go left.|
|6||I can’t sleep except in total darkness.|
You have served the community where you grew up, standing as its first line of defense against crime. You aren’t a soldier, directing your gaze outward at possible enemies. Instead, your service to your hometown was to help police its populace, protecting the citizenry from lawbreakers and malefactors of every stripe.
You might have been part of the City Watch of Prussia, the baton-wielding police force of the City of Splendors, protecting the common folk from thieves and rowdy nobility alike.
Even if you’re not city-born or city-bred, this background can describe your early years as a member of law enforcement. Most settlements of any size have their own constables and police forces, and even smaller communities have sheriffs and bailiffs who stand ready to protect their community.
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Insight
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: A uniform in the style of your unit and indicative of your rank, a horn with which to summon help, a set of manacles, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Feature: Watcher’s Eye
Your experience in enforcing the law, and dealing with lawbreakers, gives you a feel for local laws and criminals. You can easily find the local outpost of the watch or a similar organization, and just as easily pick out the dens of criminal activity in a community, although you’re more likely to be welcome in the former locations rather than the latter.
Rarer than watch or patrol members are a community’s investigators, who are responsible for solving crimes after the fact. Though such folk are seldom found in rural areas, nearly every settlement of decent size has at least one or two watch members who have the skill to investigate crime scenes and track down criminals. If your prior experience is as an investigator, you have proficiency in Investigation rather than Athletics.
Use the tables for the soldier background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a member of the city watch.
Your bond is likely associated with your fellow watch members or the watch organization itself and almost certainly concerns your community. Your ideal probably involves the fostering of peace and safety. An investigator is likely to have an ideal connected to achieving justice by successfully solving crimes.
The Stout Folk are well known for their artisanship and the worth of their handiworks, and you have been trained in that ancient tradition. For years you labored under a dwarf master of the craft, enduring long hours and dismissive, sour-tempered treatment in order to gain the fine skills you possess today.
You are most likely a dwarf, but not necessarily — dwarf clans learned long ago that only proud fools who are more concerned for their egos than their craft turn away promising apprentices, even those of other races. If you aren’t a dwarf, however, you have taken a solemn oath never to take on an non-dwarf apprentice in the craft: it is not for non-dwarves to pass on these skills. You would have no difficulty, however, finding a dwarf master who was willing to receive potential apprentices who came with your recommendation.
Skill Proficiencies: History, Insight
Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools with which you are proficient, a maker’s mark chisel used to mark your handiwork with the symbol of the clan of crafters you learned your skill from, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a pouch containing 5 gp and a gem worth 10 gp
Feature: Respect of the Stout Folk
As well respected as clan crafters are among outsiders, no one esteems them quite so highly as dwarves do. You always have free room and board in any place where shield dwarves or gold dwarves dwell, and the individuals in such a settlement might vie among themselves to determine who can offer you (and possibly your compatriots) the finest accommodations and assistance.
Use the tables for the guild artisan background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a clan crafter. (For instance, consider the words “guild” and “clan” to be interchangeable.)
Your bond is almost certainly related to the master or the clan that taught you, or else to the work that you produce. Your ideal might have to do with maintaining the high quality of your work or preserving the dwarven traditions of craftsmanship.
As a child, you were inquisitive when your playmates were possessive or raucous. In your formative years, you found your way to one of Wyrlde’s great institutes of learning, where you were apprenticed and taught that knowledge is a more valuable treasure than gold or gems. Now you are ready to leave your home—not to abandon it, but to quest for new lore to add to its storehouse of knowledge.
The most well-known of Wyrlde’s fonts of knowledge is Candlekeep, in the great City of Shangrila. The great library is always in need of workers and attendants, some of whom rise through the ranks to assume roles of greater responsibility and prominence. You might be one of Candlekeep’s own, dedicated to the curatorship of what is likely the most complete body of lore and history in all the world.
Perhaps instead you were taken in by the scholars of some other great City, and now you have struck out to increase your knowledge and to make yourself available to help those in other places who seek your expertise. You might be one of the few who aid in helping to catalogue and maintain records of the information that arrives daily from across Wyrlde.
Skill Proficiencies: History, plus your choice of one from among Arcana, Nature, and Religion
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: The scholar’s robes of your cloister, a writing kit (small pouch with a quill, ink, folded parchment, and a small penknife), a borrowed book on the subject of your current study, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Feature: Library Access
Though others must often endure extensive interviews and significant fees to gain access to even the most common archives in your library, you have free and easy access to the majority of the library, though it might also have repositories of lore that are too valuable, magical, or secret to permit anyone immediate access.
You have a working knowledge of your cloister’s personnel and bureaucracy, and you know how to navigate those connections with some ease.
Additionally, you are likely to gain preferential treatment at other libraries across the Bright Realms, as professional courtesy shown to a fellow scholar.
Use the tables for the sage background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a cloistered scholar.
Your bond is almost certainly associated either with the place where you grew up or with the knowledge you hope to acquire through adventuring. Your ideal is no doubt related to how you view the quest for knowledge and truth—perhaps as a worthy goal in itself, or maybe as a means to a desirable end.
In your earlier days, you were a personage of some significance in a noble court or a bureaucratic organization. You might or might not come from an upper-class family; your talents, rather than the circumstances of your birth, could have secured you this position.
You might have been one of the many functionaries, attendants, and other hangers-on in the Court, or perhaps you traveled in baroque and sometimes cutthroat conglomeration of guilds, nobles, adventurers, and secret societies. You might have been one of the behind-the-scenes law-keepers or functionaries in some place, or you might have grown up in and around the castle.
Even if you are no longer a full-fledged member of the group that gave you your start in life, your relationships with your former fellows can be an advantage for you and your adventuring comrades. You might undertake missions with your new companions that further the interest of the organization that gave you your start in life. In any event, the abilities that you honed while serving as a courtier will stand you in good stead as an adventurer.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: A set of fine clothes and a pouch containing 5 gp
Feature: Court Functionary
Your knowledge of how bureaucracies function lets you gain access to the records and inner workings of any noble court or government you encounter. You know who the movers and shakers are, whom to go to for the favors you seek, and what the current intrigues of interest in the group are.
Use the tables for the guild artisan background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a courtier.
The noble court or bureaucratic organization where you got your start is directly or indirectly associated with your bond (which could pertain to certain individuals in the group, such as your sponsor or mentor). Your ideal might be concerned with the prevailing philosophy of your court or organization.
Many organizations active in and across the face of Wyrlde aren’t bound by strictures of geography. These factions pursue their agendas without regard for political boundaries, and their members operate anywhere the organization deems necessary. These groups employ listeners, rumormongers, smugglers, sellswords, cache-holders (people who guard caches of wealth or magic for use by the faction’s operatives), haven keepers, and message drop minders, to name a few. At the core of every faction are those who don’t merely fulfill a small function for that organization, but who serve as its hands, head, and heart.
As a prelude to your adventuring career (and in preparation for it), you served as an agent of a particular faction in Wyrlde. You might have operated openly or secretly, depending on the faction and its goals, as well as how those goals mesh with your own. Becoming an adventurer doesn’t necessarily require you to relinquish membership in your faction (though you can choose to do so), and it might enhance your status in the faction.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight and one Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma skill of your choice, as appropriate to your faction
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: Badge or emblem of your faction, a copy of a seminal faction text (or a code-book for a covert faction), a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15 gp
Feature: Safe Haven
As a faction agent, you have access to a secret network of supporters and operatives who can provide assistance on your adventures. You know a set of secret signs and passwords you can use to identify such operatives, who can provide you with access to a hidden safe house, free room and board, or assistance in finding information. These agents never risk their lives for you or risk revealing their true identities.
Use the tables for the acolyte background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a faction agent. (For instance, consider the words “faith” and “faction” to be interchangeable.)
Your bond might be associated with other members of your faction, or a location or an object that is important to your faction. The ideal you strive for is probably in keeping with the tenets and principles of your faction, but might be more personal in nature.
Almost all of the common people and other folk that one might encounter have one thing in common: they live out their lives without ever traveling more than a few miles from where they were born.
You aren’t one of those folk.
You are from a distant place, one so remote that few of the common folk realize that it exists, and chances are good that even if some people you meet have heard of your homeland, they know merely the name and perhaps a few outrageous stories. You have come to this part of Wyrlde for your own reasons, which you might or might not choose to share.
Although you will undoubtedly find some of this land’s ways to be strange and discomfiting, you can also be sure that some things its people take for granted will be to you new wonders that you’ve never laid eyes on before. By the same token, you’re a person of interest, for good or ill, to those around you almost anywhere you go.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: Any one musical instrument or gaming set of your choice, likely something native to your homeland
Languages: Any one of your choice
Equipment: One set of traveler’s clothes, any one musical instrument or gaming set you are proficient with, poorly wrought maps from your homeland that depict where you are in Wyrlde, a small piece of jewelry worth 10 gp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship, and a pouch containing 5 gp
Why Are You Here?
A far traveler might have set out on a journey for one of a number of reasons, and the departure from his or her homeland could have been voluntary or involuntary. To determine why you are so far from home, roll on the table below or choose from the options provided. The following section, discussing possible homelands, includes some suggested reasons that are appropriate for each location.
Where Are You From?
The most important decision in creating a far traveler background is determining your homeland.
Ancient Lands: You come from a tiny collection of people who never made the journey South and East after the destruction. You turned your backs on the gods and the people who left, and your people have been struggling to survive around the edges of the Bleak Land, developing a culture that is unique and unlike anything in these so-called “bright lands”. You made the perilous crossing and found yourself in Thule, Durango, or Dorado.
Islandia: You come from a remote part of Islandia, where your people subsist mostly on fish and what they can grow. You went out one day to fish, got caught too far offshore in your small boat, and were tossed in the sea of storms until you came upon land. You ended up in Thule, Durango, or Prussia.
Gilead: You were born to a slave, raised in a creche with others by slaves told they could benefit and prosper as long as they made you think you were not going to be food, and you were certain you would die as either a dinner treat, like your siblings, or a slave yourself. You escaped by unimaginable chance and through a daring and terrifying experience with a dozen others, only to find yourself in the Wylde, alone, without a clue what to do from there beyond climb the mountains you say ahead of you. You ended up in Dorado.
Hellania: You are a half-orc. You were born in violence, child of a slave slain for having you, and you were certain you would die as a slave yourself. You escaped by unimaginable chance and through a daring and terrifying experience you found yourself in the Wylde, alone, without a clue what to do from there beyond climb the mountains you say ahead of you. Odds are good you ended up around Prussia or Shangrila.
Hyboreal: You are a Halfling (only). You come from one of the many tribes of Halfings there.
Feature: All Eyes on You
Your accent, mannerisms, figures of speech, and perhaps even your appearance all mark you as foreign. Curious glances are directed your way wherever you go, which can be a nuisance, but you also gain the friendly interest of scholars and others intrigued by far-off lands, to say nothing of everyday folk who are eager to hear stories of your homeland.
You can parley this attention into access to people and places you might not otherwise have, for you and your traveling companions. Noble lords, scholars, and merchant princes, to name a few, might be interested in hearing about your distant homeland and people.
|1||I have different assumptions from those around me concerning personal space, blithely invading others’ space in innocence, or reacting to ignorant invasion of my own.|
|2||I have my own ideas about what is and is not food, and I find the eating habits of those around me fascinating, confusing, or revolting.|
|3||I have a strong code of honor or sense of propriety that others don’t comprehend.|
|4||I express affection or contempt in ways that are unfamiliar to others.|
|5||I honor my deities through practices that are foreign to this land.|
|6||I begin or end my day with small traditional rituals that are unfamiliar to those around me.|
|1||Open. I have much to learn from the kindly folk I meet along my way. (Good)|
|2||Reserved. As someone new to these strange lands, I am cautious and respectful in my dealings. (Lawful)|
|3||Adventure. I’m far from home, and everything is strange and wonderful! (Chaotic)|
|4||Cunning. Though I may not know their ways, neither do they know mine, which can be to my advantage. (Evil)|
|5||Inquisitive. Everything is new, but I have a thirst to learn. (Neutral)|
|6||Suspicious. I must be careful, for I have no way of telling friend from foe here. (Any)|
|1||So long as I have this token from my homeland, I can face any adversity in this strange land.|
|2||The gods of my people are a comfort to me so far from home.|
|3||I hold no greater cause than my service to my people.|
|4||My freedom is my most precious possession. I’ll never let anyone take it from me again.|
|5||I’m fascinated by the beauty and wonder of this new land.|
|6||Though I had no choice, I lament having to leave my loved one(s) behind. I hope to see them again one day.|
|1||I am secretly (or not so secretly) convinced of the superiority of my own culture over that of this foreign land.|
|2||I pretend not to understand the local language in order to avoid interactions I would rather not have.|
|3||I have a weakness for the new intoxicants and other pleasures of this land.|
|4||I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.|
|5||I consider the adherents of other gods to be deluded innocents at best, or ignorant fools at worst.|
|6||I have a weakness for the exotic beauty of the people of these lands.|
You are the heir to something of great value—not mere coin or wealth, but an object that has been entrusted to you and you alone. Your inheritance might have come directly to you from a member of your family, by right of birth, or it could have been left to you by a friend, a mentor, a teacher, or someone else important in your life. The revelation of your inheritance changed your life, and might have set you on the path to adventure, but it could also come with many dangers, including those who covet your gift and want to take it from you—by force, if need be.
Skill Proficiencies: Survival, plus one from among Arcana, History, and Religion
Tool Proficiencies: Your choice of a gaming set or a musical instrument
Languages: Any one of your choice
Equipment: Your inheritance, a set of traveler’s clothes, the tool you choose for this background’s tool proficiency, and a pouch containing 15 gp
Choose or randomly determine your inheritance from among the possibilities in the table below. Work with your Dungeon Master to come up with details: Why is your inheritance so important, and what is its full story? You might prefer for the DM to invent these details as part of the game, allowing you to learn more about your inheritance as your character does.
The Dungeon Master is free to use your inheritance as a story hook, sending you on quests to learn more about its history or true nature, or confronting you with foes who want to claim it for themselves or prevent you from learning what you seek. The DM also determines the properties of your inheritance and how they figure into the item’s history and importance. For instance, the object might be a minor magic item, or one that begins with a modest ability and increases in potency with the passage of time. Or, the true nature of your inheritance might not be apparent at first and is revealed only when certain conditions are met.
When you begin your adventuring career, you can decide whether to tell your companions about your inheritance right away. Rather than attracting attention to yourself, you might want to keep your inheritance a secret until you learn more about what it means to you and what it can do for you.
|d8||Object or Item|
|1||A document such as a map, a letter, or a journal|
|2–3||A trinket (see “Trinkets” in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook)|
|4||An article of clothing|
|5||A piece of jewelry|
|6||An arcane book or formulary|
|7||A written story, song, poem, or secret|
|8||A tattoo or other body marking|
Use the tables for the folk hero background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as an inheritor.
Your bond might be directly related to your inheritance, or to the person from whom you received it. Your ideal might be influenced by what you know about your inheritance, or by what you intend to do with your gift once you realize what it is capable of.
Knight of the Order
You belong to an order of knights who have sworn oaths to achieve a certain goal. The nature of this goal depends on the order you serve, but in your eyes it is without question a vital and honorable endeavor. Wyrlde has a wide variety of knightly orders, all of which have a similar outlook concerning their actions and responsibilities.
Though the term “knight” conjures ideas of mounted, heavily armored warriors of noble blood, most knightly orders in Wyrlde don’t restrict their membership to such individuals. The goals and philosophies of the order are more important than the gear and fighting style of its members, and so most of these orders aren’t limited to fighting types, but are open to all sorts of folk who are willing to battle and die for the order’s cause.
The “Knightly Orders of Wyrlde” sidebar details several of the orders that are active at present and is designed to help inform your decision about which group you owe allegiance to.
Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, plus one from among Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion, as appropriate for your order
Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set or musical instrument
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: One set of traveler’s clothes, a signet, banner or seal representing your place or rank in the order, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Feature: Knightly Regard
You receive shelter and succor from members of your knightly order and those who are sympathetic to its aims. If your order is a religious one, you can gain aid from temples and other religious communities of your deity. Knights of civic orders can get help from the community—whether a lone settlement or a great nation—that they serve, and knights of philosophical orders can find help from those they have aided in pursuit of their ideals, and those who share those ideals.
This help comes in the form of shelter and meals, and healing when appropriate, as well as occasionally risky assistance, such as a band of local citizens rallying to aid a sorely pressed knight in a fight, or those who support the order helping to smuggle a knight out of town when he or she is being hunted unjustly.
Use the tables for the soldier background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a knight of your order.
Your bond almost always involves the order to which you belong (or at least key members of it), and it is highly unusual for a knight’s ideal not to reflect the agenda, sentiment, or philosophy of one’s order.
KNIGHTLY ORDERS OF WYRLDE
Many who rightfully call themselves “knight” earn that title as part of a knightly order that serves a government, royal family, or are the elite military of a Prussian or Lemurian Town. Other knighthoods are secular and nongovernmental organizations of warriors who follow a particular philosophy, or consider themselves a kind of extended family, similar to an order of monks. Although there are organizations, such as the Knights of the Shield, that use the trappings of knighthood without necessarily being warriors, most folk of Wyrlde who hear the word “knight” think of a mounted warrior in armor beholden to a code. Below are a few knightly organizations.
Knights of the Unicorn. The Knights of the Unicorn began as a fad of romantically minded sons and daughters of noble families in Prussia. On a lark, they took the unicorn as their mascot and went on various adventures for fun. The reality of the dangers they faced eventually sank in. Over time the small group grew and spread, gaining a following in places as far as Durango. The Knights of the Unicorn are chivalric adventurers who follow romantic ideals: life is to be relished and lived with laughter, quests should be taken on a dare, impossible dreams should be pursued for the sheer wonder of their completion, and everyone should be praised for their strengths and comforted in their weaknesses.
Knights of White Rose. Long ago, the Knights of White Rose were a famous adventuring band, and Dove Falconhand, one of the famous Seven Sisters, was one of them. The band took its name to honor the legendary Ancient City, just as the new Knights of White Rose do today. With the city in ruins, Dove Falconhand decided to reform the group with the primary goal of building alliances and friendship between the civilized races of the world and goodly people in order to combat evil. Their members, each accepted by The White Rose herself, are above all valiant and honest.
Knights of the Silver Chalice. The Knights of the Silver Chalice was formed by edict of the demigod Siamorphe in Shangrila a century ago. Siamorphe’s ethos is the nobility’s right and responsibility to rule, and the demigod is incarnated as a different noble mortal in each generation. By the decree of the Siamorphe at that time, the Knights of the Silver Chalice took it upon themselves to put a proper heir on the Council and reestablish order in the region. Since then they have grown to be the most popular knighthood in Shangrila, a region that has hosted many knighthoods in fealty to the Council.
As a sell-sword who fought battles for coin, you’re well acquainted with risking life and limb for a chance at a share of treasure. Now, you look forward to fighting foes and reaping even greater rewards as an adventurer. Your experience makes you familiar with the ins and outs of mercenary life, and you likely have harrowing stories of events on the battlefield. You might have served with a large outfit or a smaller band of sell-swords, maybe even more than one.
Now you’re looking for something else, perhaps greater reward for the risks you take, or the freedom to choose your own activities. For whatever reason, you’re leaving behind the life of a soldier for hire, but your skills are undeniably suited for battle, so now you fight on in a different way.
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set, vehicles (land)
Equipment: A uniform of your company (traveler’s clothes in quality), an insignia of your rank, a gaming set of your choice, and a pouch containing the remainder of your last wages (10 gp)
Feature: Mercenary Life
You know the mercenary life as only someone who has experienced it can. You are able to identify mercenary companies by their emblems, and you know a little about any such company, including the names and reputations of its commanders and leaders, and who has hired them recently. You can find the taverns and festhalls where mercenaries abide in any area, as long as you speak the language. You can find mercenary work between adventures sufficient to maintain a comfortable lifestyle (see “Practicing a Profession” under “Downtime Activities” in chapter 8 of the Player’s Handbook).
Use the tables for the soldier background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a mercenary.
Your bond could be associated with the company you traveled with previously, or with some of the comrades you served with. The ideal you embrace largely depends on your worldview and your motivation for fighting.
Urban Bounty Hunter
Before you became an adventurer, your life was already full of conflict and excitement, because you made a living tracking down people for pay. Unlike some people who collect bounties, though, you aren’t a savage who follows quarry into or through the wilderness. You’re involved in a lucrative trade, in the place where you live, that routinely tests your skills and survival instincts. What’s more, you aren’t alone, as a bounty hunter in the wild would be: you routinely interact with both the criminal subculture and other bounty hunters, maintaining contacts in both areas to help you succeed.
You might be a cunning thief-catcher, prowling the rooftops to catch one of the myriad burglars of the city. Perhaps you are someone who has your ear to the street, aware of the doings of thieves’ guilds and street gangs. You might be a “velvet mask” bounty hunter, one who blends in with high society and noble circles in order to catch the criminals that prey on the rich, whether pickpockets or con artists. The community where you plied your trade might have been one of Wyrlde’s great metropolises, such as Shangrila or Prussia, or a less populous location, perhaps Luskan or Yartar—any place that’s large enough to have a steady supply of potential quarries.
As a member of an adventuring party, you might find it more difficult to pursue a personal agenda that doesn’t fit with the group’s objectives—but on the other hand, you can take down much more formidable targets with the help of your companions.
Skill Proficiencies: Choose two from among Deception, Insight, Persuasion, and Stealth
Tool Proficiencies: Choose two from among one type of gaming set, one musical instrument, and thieves’ tools
Equipment: A set of clothes appropriate to your duties and a pouch containing 20 gp
Feature: Ear to the Ground
You are in frequent contact with people in the segment of society that your chosen quarries move through. These people might be associated with the criminal underworld, the rough-and-tumble folk of the streets, or members of high society. This connection comes in the form of a contact in any city you visit, a person who provides information about the people and places of the local area.
Use the tables for the criminal background in the Player’s Handbook as the basis for your bounty hunter’s traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity as a bounty hunter.
For instance, your bond might involve other bounty hunters or the organizations or individuals that employ you. Your ideal could be associated with your determination always to catch your quarry or your desire to maintain your reputation for being dependable.