Help with Background balance

Dannorn

Explorer
So I'm putting together a campaign for my group where Elves have taken over and use the other races as slaves/beasts; think Planet of the Apes with Elves.

Since the existing backgrounds don't really fit in that kind of a setting I'm coming up with my own and just looking to get some additional eyes on it.

Guard
Skills: Athletics and Intimidation or Perception
Equipment: Club, common clothes
Feature:

Pet
Skills: Performance, Insight
Tools: Musical Instrument
Equipment: Musical Instrument, fancy clothes
Feature: Where I Belong - You know how to act like you're supposed to be in normally restricted areas; once per long rest gain advantage to a Persuasion check to convince people you're where you should be.

Worker
Skills: Survival, Animal Handling
Tools: One artisan's tools or Vehicles (land)
Equipment: A tool related to your job, common clothes
Feature: Life of Toil - You're used to long days of hard labour; once per long rest you can ignore the effects of exhaustion for 1 hour

So that's what I've come up with so far. I'm not sure what to give for a feature to the Guard and since it's the only one that'll be starting with an actual weapon I feel like I should make it weaker than the other two but not sure how much.

Any input is appreciated, I'm open to any suggestions.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
Scrutiny OR Vigilance - Once per long rest you may reroll a Perception or Insight check that has failed. You keep the second roll even if it is worse.
 

Dannorn

Explorer
Yes sorry meant to mention all backgrounds get proficiency in Elvish, again unsure what to give the Guard in this area, another language or tool proficiency.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yes sorry meant to mention all backgrounds get proficiency in Elvish, again unsure what to give the Guard in this area, another language or tool proficiency.
If Elvish is the new Common, I wouldn't count it as part of the backgrounds, just grant it. Unless slaver Elves in general don't speak Common.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I'm assuming that the PCs are playing non-elves?

The worker tag encompasses about everything. You can break this up a bit. Backgrounds such as cook or scribe has different skills and such. You can also expand pet to include house pet and gladiator pet.
 

Dannorn

Explorer
If Elvish is the new Common, I wouldn't count it as part of the backgrounds, just grant it. Unless slaver Elves in general don't speak Common.
Yes. Common and the other languages still exist Elves just don't make the effort to learn them, with a few exceptions.

I'm assuming that the PCs are playing non-elves?

The worker tag encompasses about everything. You can break this up a bit. Backgrounds such as cook or scribe has different skills and such. You can also expand pet to include house pet and gladiator pet.
They've expressed interest in playing this as Non-Elves so I'm at least getting started on this, but I am giving them the option of either playing the Elf or Non-Elf side of the campaign. If they choose to play Elves the existing backgrounds and class load outs work fine; might search for or make a slaver background, but other than that everything's fine.

If they choose non-elves things change. They basically get no starting equipment, no money (not that there are going to be many places they can spend it), the world is going to be a lot harder to navigate through, etc.

As for splitting up the Backgrounds I might but for right now I'm trying to keep them broad since I'm struggling with balancing 3 and haven't even started trying to write the Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws.

Generally background features don't grant direct mechanical benefits like advantage on specific checks.
Yes, they are supposed to give story benefits, not mechanical ones.
Fair point, however given these characters would have no rights, freedoms, or autonomy within society I was having a hard time working out a way to give them appropriate story benefits. I am however open to suggestions if you or anyone else have some.
 

GlassJaw

Adventurer
When creating a setting that has some big changes compared to the implied D&D setting, I would focus on describing the new backgrounds and how they fit into the setting rather than the mechanics.

Let the players use the PHB rules for creating custom backgrounds. Then use the existing background features as a starting point and tweak them to fit into the setting.

For example, for your "Worker" background (I like Laborer better), I would use a variation of Folk Hero. For Guard, use Soldier or even Acolyte, depending on the nature of their employment.

Most of the backgrounds basically determine which social class or "etiquette" you have: underworld, artisan/mechant, nobility, temple/religious, commonfolk, etc.
 
Just a sketch, but like this:

Worker

Who really runs things?
: You know the ways that Workers move goods around without the Elves noticing, and how to get ahold of the black market.

Guard

Thin Blue Line
: Guards look out for each other. You can get out of minor infractions, and have a chance of getting a by on even major ones. Just don't get noticed by the elves themselves.

Pet

Ways of the Masters
: You understand elvish taste and what passes for elvish ethics better than most.

Scavenger

Bys and Ways
: You know the routes that aren't guarded, and when you don't know you know how to find them.
 

Advertisement

Top