log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E Backgrounds

Staffan

Adventurer
In the AMA, Mearls hinted pretty heavily that we'd see some sort of branching out to different settings over the course of 2018. This gave me an idea for a thing I'd very much like to see in a setting-focused book, assuming there's enough space: new backgrounds.

The backgrounds in the PHB are, by necessity, fairly generic. But take a setting like Eberron for example - there are many cultures there that would like some kind of in-game treatment. You have the Argonessen dragon-worshiping barbarians, the Ghaashk'kala tribes who guard the Labyrinth surrounding the Demon Wastes, the Valenar elves, dragon-marked houses (either as a single background or specific ones - or maybe do it like the Far Traveler in Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, and have one background with a few variants), and so on. This would add a lot of flavor without too much in the way of mechanical weight.

Sure, you could handle a lot of them via the Outlander background, but I'd rather have different backgrounds for different places.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
In the AMA, Mearls hinted pretty heavily that we'd see some sort of branching out to different settings over the course of 2018. This gave me an idea for a thing I'd very much like to see in a setting-focused book, assuming there's enough space: new backgrounds.

The backgrounds in the PHB are, by necessity, fairly generic. But take a setting like Eberron for example - there are many cultures there that would like some kind of in-game treatment. You have the Argonessen dragon-worshiping barbarians, the Ghaashk'kala tribes who guard the Labyrinth surrounding the Demon Wastes, the Valenar elves, dragon-marked houses (either as a single background or specific ones - or maybe do it like the Far Traveler in Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, and have one background with a few variants), and so on. This would add a lot of flavor without too much in the way of mechanical weight.

Sure, you could handle a lot of them via the Outlander background, but I'd rather have different backgrounds for different places.

What I really like about the SCAG was that it took the PHB backgrounds and expanded upon them. Soldier also got Mercenary Veteran, Knight of the order, City watch and maybe other's I'm forgetting, Acolyte got a version in Faction Agent that was faithful to a group of people or a cause rather than a God or a Religion.

I would love to see a more of these. Variations on what we have with features tweaked to a setting.
 



5ekyu

Adventurer
I agree but imo there should be more emphasis on customizing backgrounds.

Just as an example, this would imo be presented more with presenring new bacgrounds as in "modify the soldier background to get..." Just a nod to acknowledge how it is expected to be customizing backgrounds, not just picking from the lust.

So, for instance, an organization background or geographical one coukd be lusted as choose from these (six backgrounds in phb listed) and replace their feature with abc" kind of things.



Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
 

cbwjm

Hero
I'm sure that new settings will bring in new backgrounds specific to that setting, or at least I hope they will. Customising a background is all well and good but I find that having a list of backgrounds can be helpful as a way to cement your characters location in the world. For instance, with SCAG, you could play a character with the outlander background, or you could be a member of the Uthgardt tribes, an altered version of the outlander background. That background also provides notes on other barbarian tribes for which it could be used which I think is useful in a setting book.
 

Ganymede81

First Post
Yeah, backgrounds are already fully able to be customized. Proficiencies, language, traits, and even your feature can be changed to suit your PC's needs.

To me, extra backgrounds just seems like unnecessary bloat (aside from the cool new suggestions for personality traits, anyways).
 

I've not found that Eberron really needs anything additional in terms of backgrounds beyond what the PHB already suggests. Swapping Arcana or Religion into your character's background to represent an Argonessen coast dweller or demon waste tribe for example.

Skills and character traits can be swapped around fairly freely, so it is really only the background Feature that is a unique mechanic.
What new Features do you think are necessary?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Yeah, backgrounds are already fully able to be customized. Proficiencies, language, traits, and even your feature can be changed to suit your PC's needs.

To me, extra backgrounds just seems like unnecessary bloat (aside from the cool new suggestions for personality traits, anyways).
I would not say bloat. I would say simple page filler like a list of names. Talk with your dms. A background is 2 skills, 1 or more languages, a set of tools which apply to background, and up to 25 gp.
 

Azzy

Newtype
What I really like about the SCAG was that it took the PHB backgrounds and expanded upon them. Soldier also got Mercenary Veteran, Knight of the order, City watch and maybe other's I'm forgetting, Acolyte got a version in Faction Agent that was faithful to a group of people or a cause rather than a God or a Religion.

I would love to see a more of these. Variations on what we have with features tweaked to a setting.

Agreed. Campaign-specific backgrounds help showcase aspects of the setting that may otherwise get glossed over, and help new players connect to the setting.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Agreed. Campaign-specific backgrounds help showcase aspects of the setting that may otherwise get glossed over, and help new players connect to the setting.

I find it fitting that my very favorite Background was adventure specific: The Haunted One from Curse of Strahd.
 


Staffan

Adventurer
I've not found that Eberron really needs anything additional in terms of backgrounds beyond what the PHB already suggests. Swapping Arcana or Religion into your character's background to represent an Argonessen coast dweller or demon waste tribe for example.

Skills and character traits can be swapped around fairly freely, so it is really only the background Feature that is a unique mechanic.
What new Features do you think are necessary?
Well, I'm not the designer here. But the way I see it, if you're making a background that's similar to another, you can do that in two ways.

One is the method used in the PHB, where you for example have the Gladiator in a sidebar which says "Use the Entertainer background, but change X for Y." The other is the method used in the SCAG, which writes them from more-or-less scratch but sometimes have some references to the "base" background. I prefer the latter, because there's a big psychological difference between saying "I'm a Faction Agent, which means __________" and saying "I'm a Pirate, which is kind of like a Sailor except ___________". Sure, my preferred method takes up more pages, but setting books are not meant to just be collections of facts. They are meant to inspire, and seeing "Dragonmarked Scion" or "Korranberg Chronicler" as fully fleshed-out backgrounds would certainly do that.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Well, I'm not the designer here. But the way I see it, if you're making a background that's similar to another, you can do that in two ways.

One is the method used in the PHB, where you for example have the Gladiator in a sidebar which says "Use the Entertainer background, but change X for Y." The other is the method used in the SCAG, which writes them from more-or-less scratch but sometimes have some references to the "base" background. I prefer the latter, because there's a big psychological difference between saying "I'm a Faction Agent, which means __________" and saying "I'm a Pirate, which is kind of like a Sailor except ___________". Sure, my preferred method takes up more pages, but setting books are not meant to just be collections of facts. They are meant to inspire, and seeing "Dragonmarked Scion" or "Korranberg Chronicler" as fully fleshed-out backgrounds would certainly do that.

While i agree on the gaol stated at the end, we differ on the preferred approach.

i would be fine with and prefer if they said things like "unlike normal sialors a pirate's life focuses more on abc than def and so they get the following changes to the usual sailor..." and the same for say a formal "navy" vs the common merchant sailor.

i think this can be just as inspiring and relating the difference in background to the differences between areas or professions in a more explicit way.

Seeing each write-up as its own individual animal with its own separate list of bullet point features leads me to see them as a list of disconnected options on a menu and does not evoke in me the same degree of "what this means or where comes from" as would taking a baseline background and altering it, highlighting the differences both in terms of the bullet points and the lifestyle as linked elements.

"Soldiers in the ranks of the Ninth Order are often sent around to resolve lesser disputes over custom and law in outlying areas and so they gain proficiency in Insight and History as opposed to Intimidation and Athletics as they spend a lot of time adjudicating disputes and hearing pleas and cases."
 


Satyrn

First Post
I agree. I think a slew of backgrounds would be an excellent way to present setting information to the players - something they have an incentive to read through, something that can directly impact them.

And I'm talking about even expanding on what's in the players handbook. Like, for example, the criminal background with its underworld contact feature. The setting book can list some criminal organizations and a few crooks, fences or the like, and maybe say "select one of these as your contact" or something like that.

Meanwhile, the ship's passage feature could mention the 3 great trading companies of the setting and require you choose one.

A great deal of varied info can be presented through the backgrounds in themed, consumable chunks.
 



Staffan

Adventurer
That's silly. Why would halflings be cooking halflings? Are they cannibals or something?

Cannibals? Don't be absurd. That would be horrible. A halfling would never think of eating another halfling. A human who wandered into the Forest Ridge, now that's a different story...
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Cannibals? Don't be absurd. That would be horrible. A halfling would never think of eating another halfling. A human who wandered into the Forest Ridge, now that's a different story...

If the Athasian halfling says he’s hungry... RUN.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top