D&D General Using Backgrounds instead of Classes

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So with the Backgrounds elimination thread, I got to thinking about using the Backgrounds to create NPC followers and similar Townsfolk. Backgrounds would provide a set of Skills, Tools, Languages and at least one ‘Talent’, plus some come with spells too.
Then I thought about using them for a game of low powered PCs, I’d let them have 1d6 Hit Dice, maybe even a bonus Feat at first level.

So what are your thoughts, while theyre not suppose to match the heroics of PC classes could you have fun playing a low tier Acolyte, Soldier, Charlatan, Archaeologist or Street Urchin?

While it wasnt DnD I have run games where PCs were all Circus crew, another where they were hired for an archaeology dig, and another where they were a Crew of Sewer Workers (one of the players was a real engineer so ne became the Crew Boss)
 

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cbwjm

Seb-wejem
Might be fun as a one off, sounds like the survivors in the ravenloft book, kind of normal people trying to survive in a hostile world of darkness.

I was also thinking about backgrounds the other day as a way to generate low-level NPCs. Normally I don't need stats for them, but was thinking that I could take the commoner and then add a background, and for each skill the background grants, grant a +2 stat bonus to the relevant ability tied to it. Instant variable NPC stats if it ever becomes relevant.
 

Or you could use "levels of background". You would spend "storytelling points" to unlock "skills slots". The classic leveling up would be the same, but the strorytelling points would be a different type of reward for a right roleplaying.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
So with the Backgrounds elimination thread, I got to thinking about using the Backgrounds to create NPC followers and similar Townsfolk. Backgrounds would provide a set of Skills, Tools, Languages and at least one ‘Talent’, plus some come with spells too.
Then I thought about using them for a game of low powered PCs, I’d let them have 1d6 Hit Dice, maybe even a bonus Feat at first level.

So what are your thoughts, while theyre not suppose to match the heroics of PC classes could you have fun playing a low tier Acolyte, Soldier, Charlatan, Archaeologist or Street Urchin?

While it wasnt DnD I have run games where PCs were all Circus crew, another where they were hired for an archaeology dig, and another where they were a Crew of Sewer Workers (one of the players was a real engineer so ne became the Crew Boss)

This what I use for level 0 characters.

HP could be based on Ancestry or Size (like monsters).

You could then add some class features as Feats or Feat Chains. Gain a Feat every level or every 2 levels.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Have you checked out hos Modern AGE does character creation? That might be a good place to mine for inspiration.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
So with the Backgrounds elimination thread, I got to thinking about using the Backgrounds to create NPC followers and similar Townsfolk. Backgrounds would provide a set of Skills, Tools, Languages and at least one ‘Talent’, plus some come with spells too.
Then I thought about using them for a game of low powered PCs, I’d let them have 1d6 Hit Dice, maybe even a bonus Feat at first level.

So what are your thoughts, while theyre not suppose to match the heroics of PC classes could you have fun playing a low tier Acolyte, Soldier, Charlatan, Archaeologist or Street Urchin?
I like it - sounds like it could give a Warhammer 1e feel in some ways. Would definitely be good for a game of more "survival horror" feel.

Need to add a Rat Catcher background for full Warhammer 1e effect though.
 

JAMUMU

actually dracula
I've noodled around with expanding Backgrounds and reducing classes down to Roles. So for example you're a Noble, but your Role is Fighter. The aim is to give a wider spread of skills and an element of choice when levelling. It also works as a semi-lifepath system, as older characters might start with two Backgrounds to reflect their age and experience. Like I say, it's a work in progress, but I do like the cut of the OP's jib.
 

aco175

Legend
It would be cool for NPC followers. Seems more than a commoner, but less than a sidekick, likely best for low-level or situations of low danger. Maybe you need to hire an escaped criminal to lead you back into the dungeon under the castle, or find the folk hero hiding in the forest among the peasants. Seems likely for a limited time and they have a skill you might need.

They could develop into something more and then give more levels in the background, which may be more work then needed and you could just start with sidekick levels.
 


dave2008

Legend
So with the Backgrounds elimination thread, I got to thinking about using the Backgrounds to create NPC followers and similar Townsfolk. Backgrounds would provide a set of Skills, Tools, Languages and at least one ‘Talent’, plus some come with spells too.
Then I thought about using them for a game of low powered PCs, I’d let them have 1d6 Hit Dice, maybe even a bonus Feat at first level.

So what are your thoughts, while theyre not suppose to match the heroics of PC classes could you have fun playing a low tier Acolyte, Soldier, Charlatan, Archaeologist or Street Urchin?

While it wasnt DnD I have run games where PCs were all Circus crew, another where they were hired for an archaeology dig, and another where they were a Crew of Sewer Workers (one of the players was a real engineer so ne became the Crew Boss)
Not exactly what your talking about, but we started the PCs at level 0 with only our backgrounds and no classes. It was fun, if a bit dicey at times!
 

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