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D&D 5E Drudge, a magical laborer background - advice sought

Do you think a magical laborer should be proficient in an artisan's tool?

  • Limited options to those that are considered "laborous"

    Votes: 4 40.0%
  • Any tool

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • One game of chance/skill

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • None

    Votes: 3 30.0%

  • Total voters
    10
I'm working through a series of about 40 Backgrounds that I'm creating for 5e. One that is perplexing me is the Drudge, a name I've assigned to the magical laborer who augments their hard work with utility cantrips like Mage Hand. Where I'm hung up is not on the cost of cantrips (they will pick 1 or 2 from a specific list), nor on their core skill (Athletics), nor on their feature, nor on all the personality suggestions.

I'm hung up on whether they should have a tool or not.
 

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aco175

Legend
I voted none. Giving a few cantrips should cost something, even it you get mage hand and prestidigitation to start with. I would maybe give a language to start over a tool.

When I think about a magical laborer I tend to think about a failed apprentice to a mage or school. Not sure what you were intending.
 

I'm working through a series of about 40 Backgrounds that I'm creating for 5e. One that is perplexing me is the Drudge, a name I've assigned to the magical laborer who augments their hard work with utility cantrips like Mage Hand. Where I'm hung up is not on the cost of cantrips (they will pick 1 or 2 from a specific list), nor on their core skill (Athletics), nor on their feature, nor on all the personality suggestions.

I'm hung up on whether they should have a tool or not.
Serious question, how is that different from a magewright?
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When I think about a magical laborer I tend to think about a failed apprentice to a mage or school. Not sure what you were intending.
My intent is to fit that within the scope. Also the inborn ability to use Shape Earth to help with digging a ditch.

Related to your other point. I'm probably leaning at 1 skill, 0-1 tools, 1-2 cantrips
 
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About as different as the Background of Soldier is different from the various NPCs that are Warrior, etc.
Ok... can you elaborate on that, I asked because your description does not seem to convey any tangible differences between magewrights & your "drudge" concept beyond a different name
 

Ok... can you elaborate on that, I asked because your description does not seem to convey any tangible differences between magewrights & your "drudge" concept beyond a different name
You're asking about the difference between an NPC that characters would meet/interact with and a Background that a PC starts with?
I may have made the false assumption that those differences were clear in 5th edition.
 

You're asking about the difference between an NPC that characters would meet/interact with and a Background that a PC starts with?
I may have made the false assumption that those differences were clear in 5th edition.
So you aren't willing to shed light on how your idea differs from a well fleshed out idea in multiple published 5e books because I didn't track down a background version of the concept?... Sorry I'm not sure how to help you.
 

So you aren't willing to shed light on how your idea differs from a well fleshed out idea in multiple published 5e books because I didn't track down a background version of the concept?... Sorry I'm not sure how to help you.
I own Ravnica, and I'm unaware of my concept duplicating a Background within that book. I'll re-read.

The Background will be a player facing choice with a skill, maybe tool, equipment, traits, ideals, bonds, flaws.

There are additional differences in that the magewright has access to spells with levels, the Drudge does not. Also, the Drudge is being created wrapped around the idea of using magic to supplement "unskilled" labor.
 

I own Ravnica, and I'm unaware of my concept duplicating a Background within that book. I'll re-read.

The Background will be a player facing choice with a skill, maybe tool, equipment, traits, ideals, bonds, flaws.

There are additional differences in that the magewright has access to spells with levels, the Drudge does not. Also, the Drudge is being created wrapped around the idea of using magic to supplement "unskilled" labor.
magewrights are & eberron thing not ravinica & more like saying tradesman. not all can cast spells & he spells are limited to expensive ritual version of ones inked to their trade. Other sources have included chef launderer & mason (maybe even a reference to a farmer a one point too), it's hardly a bachelor's degree. I'd give them a tool related to whatever trade they are in & require the cantrip cast like artificer spells depending on what the list looks like
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Magewright is a specific Eberron concept, designed for specific NPCs. This is a background of a magically enhanced laborer specifically for PCs, designed for a general D&D audience. I love Eberron as much as anyone, but you can't assume that its assumptions are shared by a broader D&D playing audience. The existence of Magewright NPCs does not render the Drudge background in anyway redundant, even if this product used in Eberron.

To answer the OP's question, I voted "laborious tools" only. I wasn't sure if a skilled craftsman using mason's tools or woodworker's tools and mending fit into the Drudge concept.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
If I'm understanding correctly, this background will have Athletics and 1 or 2 cantrips, correct?

If so, I'd say that a skill and one cantrip leaves room for three tools/languages, but a skill and two cantrips leaves room for none.
 

Faolyn

Hero
You're asking about the difference between an NPC that characters would meet/interact with and a Background that a PC starts with?
I may have made the false assumption that those differences were clear in 5th edition.
Backgrounds are things that PCs get that provide skills, proficiencies, languages, and a mostly non-mechanical RP bonus. They don't get bonuses to any abilities, nor do they get spells. The primary exception is the Urchin, who can move around a city faster.

NPC classes--the Warrior, Expert, and Spellcaster (or whatever it was called)--are designed to be used with NPC followers and allies. They are not called Backgrounds.

A Drudge background shouldn't provide spells.
 

A Drudge background shouldn't provide spells.
I have a theory that Backgrounds can provide utility cantrips. Their basic value can be established through Feats (in many ways a non-combat Feat's power level is the same as a Background).

My general formula will be to have the cost be 1 skill and 1 tool/language, although certain Backgrounds may vary.

Those Fantastic Backgrounds I'm working on are;
Firefighter
Drudge
Prankster
Fireworker
Midwife (I'm still searching for a gender neutral name on this one)
Hedge Wizard

They may not necessarily fit all campaigns, which is perfectly fine. My homeworld, where these designs originate is low magic, and yet these do fit there.
 

jgsugden

Legend
While some cantrips might be appropriate as a background perk, I would avoid any cantrips that deal damage or are commonly selected, like mage hand prestidigitation, guidance, thaumaturgy, minor illusion, mending, spare the dying, gust, light, dancing lights, etc...

As for whether they get a tool or not - I'd say yes based upon the theme.
 


I own Ravnica, and I'm unaware of my concept duplicating a Background within that book. I'll re-read.

The Background will be a player facing choice with a skill, maybe tool, equipment, traits, ideals, bonds, flaws.

There are additional differences in that the magewright has access to spells with levels, the Drudge does not. Also, the Drudge is being created wrapped around the idea of using magic to supplement "unskilled" labor.
OK. So what is the correct background for a nonmagical unskilled labourer?
 



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