D&D 5E Pointcrawl Backgrounds

BookTenTiger

He / Him
So a exploration mediated lifepath system? Sounds like a fun way to build a character, though I‘d maybe be a bit more random on boons (roll d4) and have players create NPC and PC-to-PC interavtions in to it too.
I definitely agree that this could be modified with some random elements. I've been having fun doing totally random collections of skills and boons and then coming up with communities or locations to match!
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
I came up with an example pointcrawl to create backgrounds. I wound up randomly assigning skills, proficiencies, and boons to each location.

Sovereign.jpg


Sovereign

It has been a generation since the royal family was seen, and since the reigning city of Sovereign closed its gates. The threats of the world are taking notice. Warlords close in, marking their territories through blade and blood. Monsters stalk the roads. Bandits take tolls on merchants and refugees fleeing the shadows of elder things newly awakened. The realm needs heroes.

You have five seasons to reach Hearthheart, a town on the frontier of the realm. Choose a Haven to start at, then travel to four more locations on your way towards Hearthheart. In your starting Haven, as well as each location, choose a Proficiency or Boon. By the time you reach Hearthheart, choose:
  • Two Skills.
  • Two proficiencies in Tool Sets, Languages, Instruments, or Gaming Sets.
  • One Boon.

Havens

Raven’s Arch
A city of dark stone towers, where criminal gangs compete with powerful merchant’s guilds.
Proficiencies:
  • If you survived in the shadows of the towers, working for a criminal gang, gain proficiency in Stealth.
  • If you worked for a powerful merchant’s guild, carefully navigating the worlds of commerce and politics, gain proficiency in Insight.
  • If you worked as a merchant, either paying into a merchant’s guild or paying for the protection of a criminal gang, gain proficiency in a Tool Set.
Boons:
  • If you own a business or a criminal hideout, gain the Property feature.
  • If you were trained by a powerful merchant guild, or by a band of thieves, gain the Reliable Work feature.

Vaulten Hall
An ancient, fortified town where scholars and priests are trained in competing colleges.
Proficiencies:
  • If you studied the history of the realm, the bloodlines of nobility, or the great game of politics in a College of Sages, gain proficiency in History.
  • If you studied cosmology, or joined the ranks of priests in a College of Faith, gain proficiency in Religion.
  • If you earned a living entertaining the restless students at the many taverns, bars, and gaming halls of Vaulten Hall, gain proficiency in an Instrument or Gaming Set.
Boons:
  • If you received an education at Vaulten Hall in order to better serve your royal family, or to escape from a politically embarrassing mistake, gain the Title feature.
  • If you joined the ranks of a priesthood or gained position in an academy, gain the Member of an Order feature.

Mysterium
A city at the edge of the realm ruled by sorcerer-philosophers, where visitors from other lands and other realms gather to trade goods and secrets.
Proficiencies:
  • If you listened to the oration of the sorcerer-philosophers, and gained an understanding of the strange workings of magic, gain proficiency in Arcana.
  • If you worked as a guard or enforcer for a sorcerer-philosopher, keeping away the spies and assassins of rivals, gain proficiency in Intimidation.
  • If you lived among visitors from far-away places, or came to Mysterium from a distant realm yourself, gain proficiency in a Language.
Boons:
  • If you gained a lifelong friend from a foreign land or realm, or enacted a ritual to gain a supernatural servant, gain the Companion feature.
  • If you performed a service for a sorcerer-philosopher and were given a great reward, gain the Rings of Telesthesia. This set of two rings allows the wearers to communicate telepathically when within a mile of each other.

Bastion
Knights of many orders gather to train at this fortress town guarding the royal city of Sovereign. Great competitions are held for positions on the Valor Council, a gathering of warriors whose alliances or arguments can decide the fates of conflicts across the realm.
Proficiencies:
  • If you served as a healer or surgeon behind the walls of Bastion or on the battlefield, gain proficiency in Medicine.
  • If you served as a guard on the walls of Bastion, or a low-level recruit in an order of knights, gain proficiency in Perception.
  • If you made a living smithing armor and weapons for the Valor Knights, or plying a trade valuable in a fortress town, gain proficiency in a Tool Set.
Boons:
  • If you served as a scout for an order of knights, or came to compete in the Valor Games from a far-off town, gain the Sojourner feature.
  • If you overheard powerful knights discussing a secret alliance, or discovered the shocking, true identity of a legendary hero, gain the Uncovered Secret feature.

Wonders

Wyrm King’s Caves
For ages past, the Crimson Wyrm slept within the labyrinth of his caves. Now he has awakened. Travelers on the Royal River see flashes of red scales, and smell sulfur on the water. It is said the Wyrm King does not only covet gold and silver, like other dragons. His caves are filled not just with treasure, but with secrets.
Proficiencies:
  • If you dared to explore the Wyrm King’s Caves, and snatched some treasure before the serpent could find you, gain proficiency in Sleight of Hand.
  • If your boat was seized by the Cult of the Wyrm King, and you were able to negotiate safe passage, gain proficiency in Persuasion.
  • If you were inspired by legends of the Wyrm King, and followed your inspiration to craft songs or poems, or to build your own hoard of treasures, gain proficiency in an Instrument or Gaming Set.
Boons:
  • If you came face-to-face with the Crimson Wyrm, and lived to tell the tale (and boast scars to prove it), gain the Reputation feature.
  • If you ventured into the Wyrm King’s Caves, and came upon a prisoner, tome of knowledge, or restless spirit who revealed a truth about the realm’s history or a hidden treasure, gain the Uncovered Secret feature.

Council of Trees
At the heart of the Tanglewood is the Council of Trees, a circle of giant trees that seem to bend and whisper to each other. Here dwell formidable fey: ancient dryads, mischievous pixies, and hags who claim to know the desires of the verdant giants. The Council has acted as a source of ancient wisdom in the past; recently, though, the trees seem to whisper for power, and the Tanglewood grows.
Proficiencies:
  • If you won the favor of a satyr or nymph through a feat of music or poetry, gain proficiency in Performance.
  • If you spent time with the druids who worship the Council of Trees, gain proficiency in Nature.
  • If you made an offering to the Council of Trees, and were welcomed by the fey, elves, or other beings of the Tanglewood, gain proficiency in a Language.
Boons:
  • If you joined a druidic circle that worships or draws power from the Council of Trees, gain the Member of an Order feature.
  • If you won a game of chance against a satyr, or came upon a wanderer torn to pieces by a beast of the Tanglewood, and were rewarded with an item of value, gain the Sentry Fang. When planted in the ground at night, it grows into the skeleton of a dragonborn who will stand guard. It has 1 Hit Point, 13 AC, 18 Passive Perception, and Darkvision 60 ft. When the skeleton dies, or is exposed to sunlight, it turns back into the Sentry Fang.

Thunderbog
A large stretch of putrid swamp is haunted by greedy giants; they craft giant pots from the mud, which they fill with stolen treasures. It is said there are whole ancient towns swallowed up by the bog, and entire caravans that have been stolen by the giants.
Proficiency:
  • If you won your freedom from a greedy giant through lies or trickery, gain proficiency in Deception.
  • If you ventured through the Thunderbog as a caravan guide, poacher, or treasure hunter, gain proficiency in Survival.
  • If you spent time in a bog town, and learned to speak the strange mixed-up languages of the part-fey, part-giant, part-humanoid folk who live there, gain proficiency in a Language.
Boons:
  • If you served as a guide, helping wealthy merchants and fearless knights make their way safely through the Thunderbog, gain the Reputation feature.
  • If you ventured into the Thunderbog to reclaim a royal family heirloom which was taken by a giant a generation ago, gain the Title feature.

Threats

Bloodriders

The Warlord Mannovar has raised an army of warriors riding the backs of giant wolves, boars, and other animals. They have laid claim to all the lands east of Lake Nobility, and venture ever outwards, conquering defenseless towns and outposts.
Proficiencies:
  • If you were captured by the Bloodriders, but proved your worth by balancing atop the back of a moving beast or scrabbling easily up the Dawnshadow Cliffs to hunt for game, gain proficiency in Acrobatics.
  • If you barely escaped the Bloodriders by pushing your mount to its limit, outriding the warriors’ beasts, gain proficiency in Animal Handling.
  • If you learned the wild warsongs of the Bloodriders, or spent time in the gambling huts or fighting pits of their camps, gain proficiency in an Instrument or Gaming Set.
Boons
  • If you worked as a mercenary guard, fighting against Bloodriders, or worked in a town conquered by the Bloodriders, gain the Reliable Work feature.
  • If you were once a Bloodrider, or claimed the wilderness conquered by the Bloodriders as your own home, gain the Sojourner feature.

The Gray Scourge
Deep in the Old Man’s Mountains, an ancient evil has risen again. Legends say a terrible lich was slain in these mountains, and buried beneath a rockfall. Now folks fear the lich has returned. His shadow crosses the hearts of mortals and warps them towards evil, eventually transforming them into horrid undead. The Gray Scourge sweeps over the land, and few survive its touch with their souls still intact.
Proficiencies:
  • If you took shelter in a town, only to realize its leaders had been turned evil by the Gray Scourge, gain proficiency in Investigation.
  • If you protected a group of travelers from bandits transformed into undead by the Gray Scourge, gain proficiency in Athletics.
  • If you have researched ancient tomes or the wisdom of other planes to discover the source or cure for the Gray Scourge, gain proficiency in a Language.
Boons:
  • If you helped a settlement overcome a powerful figure transformed by the Gray Scourge, and were rewarded with a business or house, gain the Property feature.
  • If you encountered a family fallen victim to undead, and adopted one of the young survivors as your page or student, gain the Companion feature.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Here are two examples of how characters could generate a background in Sovereign.

Morovahn is a dragonborn paladin.
0. He starts in Bastion, and worked as a smithy for the Valor Knights, gaining proficiency in Smith's Tools.
1. He then travels across the Royal River to face off against the Bloodriders. He uses his skills in mounted combat to face the warriors, and gains proficiency in Animal Handling.
2. Next, gets hired by a weapon merchant in Raven's Arch. As a guard, he gains proficiency in Insight.
3. While guarding a shipment being delivered, the caravan is attacked by undead from the Gray Scourge! Many of Morovahn's companions are killed, but he takes on a young squire who survived, gaining the Companion feature.
4. Morovahn takes his young squire to Vaulten Hall to be educated, and winds up frequenting the taverns himself. He winds up taking up proficiency in the Lute.
5. Finally, Morovahn and his squire make their way down to Hearthheart.

Morovahn names his background Steel Warden, as he is trained in manipulating steel, riding steeds, and reading the hearts of mortals. He gains the following benefits:
  • Animal Handling
  • Insight
  • Smith's Tools
  • Lute
  • Companion Feature
Typha is a human druid
0. She starts in Mysterium, after having traveled from strange lands far overseas. She gains proficiency in the Draconic language.
1. Typha is drawn to the Council of Trees, where she joins a druid circle, gaining the Member in an Order feature.
2. Typha stays in the Council of Trees, working with the druids to study and worship the forest, and gains proficiency in Nature.
3. Typha, drawn to strange places of wilderness, travels to the Thunderbog. There, she works as a caravan guard, and gains proficiency in Survival.
4. Typha winds up collecting odd herbs and molds and brewing them into potions to sell in Raven's Arch. She gains proficiency in Herbalist's Kit.
5. Finally, Typha makes her way to Hearthheart to begin her true adventures.

Typha names her background Wilder, as she feels more at home in the wild than in a town. She gains the following benefits:
  • Nature
  • Survival
  • Draconic Language
  • Herbalist's Kit
  • Member of an Order (Tanglewood Circle of Druids)
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
  1. So Young Tippit starts life as a street urchin and petty thief in Ravens Arch reliant on Stealth
  2. After a run in with the law Tippit does a runner and unfortunately finds herself in Thunderbog but survives crossing as a poacher (Survival)
  3. Reaching Bastion Young Tippet reinvents herself and joins the knights (as a scout) gaining proficiency with Cartography tools *
  4. The knights ride out against the Bloodriders, which though hard is reliable work
  5. Taking leave of the knights, Tippit follows the river south where the smell of sulphur and a flash of red scales tells her that she is near the Wyrm Kings Cave. Randomly she finds some dragon dice (Gaming Set)

So Young Tippit the Scout
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Cartography Tools*
  • Gaming Tools (Dice)**
  • Reliable Work (presumably as a scout)
* in Bastion I really wanted Perception but already had Stealth and Survival so went for the map tools instead (they pair well with survival for a scout so works out)
** no interest in the Priestcraft of Vaulten I opted for the river route passing Wyrm Kings Cave. The tool proficiencies here are a bit random though, but oh well dice to pass the time
 
Last edited:

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
  1. So Young Tippit starts life as a street urchin and petty thief in Ravens Arch reliant on Stealth
  2. After a run in with the law Tippit does a runner and unfortunately finds herself in Thunderbog but survives crossing as a poacher (Survival)
  3. Reaching Bastion Young Tippet reinvents herself and joins the knights (as a scout) gaining proficiency with Cartography tools *
  4. The knights ride out against the Bloodriders, which though hard is reliable work
  5. Taking leave of the knights, Tippit follows the river south where the smell of sulphur and a flash of red scales tells her that she is near the Wyrm Kings Cave. Randomly she finds some dragon dice (Gaming Set)

So Young Tippit the Scout
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Cartography Tools*
  • Gaming Tools (Dice)**
  • Reliable Work (presumably as a scout)
* in Bastion I really wanted Perception but already had Stealth and Survival so went for the map tools instead (they pair well with survival for a scout so works out)
** no interest in the Priestcraft of Vaulten I opted for the river route passing Worm Kings Cave. The tool proficiencies here are a bit random though, but oh well dice to pass the time

actually looking at @BookTenTiger’s example I see that Morovahn was also a Knight in Bastion who rode out against the Bloodriders - maybe Tippit was a scout in the same company and befriended Morovahn there (PC relationship bonus!)
I like it when these kinds of background building tools help generate PC relationships as part of the worldbuilding
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
  1. So Young Tippit starts life as a street urchin and petty thief in Ravens Arch reliant on Stealth
  2. After a run in with the law Tippit does a runner and unfortunately finds herself in Thunderbog but survives crossing as a poacher (Survival)
  3. Reaching Bastion Young Tippet reinvents herself and joins the knights (as a scout) gaining proficiency with Cartography tools *
  4. The knights ride out against the Bloodriders, which though hard is reliable work
  5. Taking leave of the knights, Tippit follows the river south where the smell of sulphur and a flash of red scales tells her that she is near the Wyrm Kings Cave. Randomly she finds some dragon dice (Gaming Set)

So Young Tippit the Scout
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Cartography Tools*
  • Gaming Tools (Dice)**
  • Reliable Work (presumably as a scout)
* in Bastion I really wanted Perception but already had Stealth and Survival so went for the map tools instead (they pair well with survival for a scout so works out)
** no interest in the Priestcraft of Vaulten I opted for the river route passing Worm Kings Cave. The tool proficiencies here are a bit random though, but oh well dice to pass the time
This is awesome!

I agree the gaming set for the Wyrm King's Cave is an odd fit, I'd definitely work with players to come up with a better connection or just change the proficiency.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
actually looking at @BookTenTiger’s example I see that Morovahn was also a Knight in Bastion who rode out against the Bloodriders - maybe Tippit was a scout in the same company and befriended Morovahn there (PC relationship bonus!)
That's one of the things I think would work very well with this kind of background creation, the characters would have a lot of settings, organizations, and enemies in common.
 

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