Homebrew Character Backgrounds

I just added this to the Eden Player’s Guide, it’s the character backgrounds I’ve been promising for a while. They’re NOT like normal 4e backgrounds. They aren’t just an additional skill in your list or a small bonus. They’re (mostly) out-of-combat benefits usually pertaining to skills, items or rituals. From here on, all new edits will happen on the Eden PG page linked above.

A better explanation is in the Player’s Guide version of this post, but suffice it to say, the Class field is not a restriction, it is a suggestion. The star means that the ability is unorthodox and DMs can use the alternative or ignore the whole background. I would advise that PCs don’t all decide to take the same background, both on conceptual and balance basis. I’m a strong believer in that no two PCs should be the same in areas like these.

If I come up with more backgrounds, I’ll add them to the list. So if you have any ideas on any that I’ve missed that might be important or ubiquitous archetypes, do let me know!

Character Backgrounds

Blacksmith
You were raised around a forge, learning how to work metal.
Class: Any
Benefit: You can, given a proper place to work and materials, create a mundane weapon or suit of armor in a day’s time. You can create magic Shields, Helms, Weapons and Heavy Armor following the rules of the Enchant Magic Item ritual. You can use this ability once per day and one additional time each milestone.

Craftsman
All your life you’ve worked with thread and seen thread worked.
Class: Any
Benefit: You can, given materials and tools, create clothing and linens in a few hour’s time. You can create magical Light Armor, Cloaks, Mantles, Gloves, Boots and Belts following the rules of the Enchant Magic Item ritual. You can use this ability once per day and one additional time each milestone.

Scholar
You are a lover of knowledge and have a formal education in academic subjects.
Class: Any
Benefit: You gain the Ritual Caster feat. If you already had the feat or the Ritual Caster class feature, you gain an additional non-Creation ritual of your level or less instead. Once per day, you can reroll the result of an Arcana or History check you are not satisfied with. You use the highest result.

Cook
Ingredients and utensils are like extensions of yourself, and food is your art.
Class: Any
Benefit: Once per day during a short rest, you utilize ingredients you’ve found on your journey to create a fantastic meal. The first time each ally spends a healing surge during this short rest, he or she regains extra hit points equal to 3 + your highest ability score modifier and has a +1 bonus to skill checks during the next encounter.

Hunter
You know to trap and kill wild beasts for the products drawn from them.
Class: Any martial
Benefit: You can set rudimentary traps around your campsite or in the wilderness. You can set up to 4 of these traps during your extended rest; or a single one with an hour of preparation. You must have adequate materials to prepare one.
A trap attacks with a grab or daze against a single creature that springs it. It has an attack bonus equal to your level + 3 and targets the Fortitude defense. The grab lasts until escape (using your Fortitude defense) and the daze lasts 1 round (until the end of the target’s next turn). Once triggered, the trap cannot attack again.
If one of your traps is sprung while you are within 10 squares of it, you are alerted to this fact. Creatures Huge or larger have a +4 bonus to defenses against the attacks of your traps.

Merchant
Buying, selling and trading are natural skills to you.
Class: Any
Benefit: Once per adventure or quest*, you can sell a magic item at full price if you could normally sell it at 1/5th of its price and if the buyer can afford the full price. You may have to roll a check to get this benefit.
Alternatively: Once per day, you can reroll a failed Diplomacy or Bluff check made in trade or commerce with a +3 bonus.

Brewer
Liquids of all sorts are your forte, and you know them by taste or smell.
Class: Any
Benefit: You have a +2 bonus to checks made to identify liquids. You can spend a healing surge after an extended rest to concoct a small healing potion. This potion can be imbibed as a minor action by a character and that character regains hit points equal to your healing surge value. You can brew potions of up to your level + 3 following the rules of the Brew Potion ritual.

Noble
You have led a pampered life and have some access to greater resources.
Class: Any
Benefit: Once per adventure or quest*, you can attempt to call in a favor. This can be an item of up to your level, shelter for a week, or some other favor. You may have to succeed on a check or promise to repay in some way to gain these favors.
Alternatively: At character generation, you begin play with 150 more gold (at level 1) or with an extra non-Enhancing (items that offer enhancement bonuses) magic item of your level -1 (if higher than 1st level). Once per day, you can gain a +3 bonus to a Charisma or Intelligence-based skill or ability check before you know whether it is successful or not.

Sailor
Attuned to the seas, you became swift, strong and tough.
Class: Any martial
Benefit: You can hold your breath for up to 10 minutes underwater, even in combat, and have a +5 bonus to Athletics and Endurance checks made underwater. Once per day, you can gain a +5 bonus to a Strength-based ability or skill check.

Vagabond
A lucky wanderer with no home but a variety of acquired skills.
Class: Fighter, Rogue, Ranger, Warlock
Benefit: You gain the Jack Of All Trades feat as a bonus feat. You can use the Trained Only uses of all skills even if not trained in them. Once per day, you can reroll a skill check and use the highest result.

Soldier
A member of the military that received certain training.
Class: Any
Benefit: Select one of the following skills you are trained in: Athletics, Endurance, History; or instead, Strength ability checks. Once per day and one more time after each milestone, you can reroll a check with the chosen skill that you are not satisfied with. You can utilize either result.

Mercenary
An assassin or mercenary with a knack for certain skills.
Class: Any
Benefit: Select one of the following skills you are trained in: Acrobatics, Stealth, Thievery, Streetwise. Once per day and one more time after each milestone,, you can reroll a check with the chosen skill that you are not satisfied with. You can utilize either result.

Servant
A courtier, adviser or other under the employ of someone of higher standing.
Class: Any
Benefit: Select one of the following skills you are trained in: Diplomacy, Intimidate, Bluff, Nature, Religion, Streetwise. Once per day and one more time after each milestone, you can reroll a check with the chosen skill that you are not satisfied with. You can utilize either result.

Ritualist
You can read the recipes for certain magicks and perform them to the letter.
Class: Any
Benefit: You gain the Ritual Caster feat and a single non-Creation ritual of your level or lower of your choice. If you already had the Ritual caster feat or class feature, you only gain the additional ritual. Once per day, you can cast a non-Creation ritual in half the needed time, or with 1/3 less component costs.

Peasant
The poor ones, farming, laboring, or in the city, hustling and struggling.
Class: Fighter, Rogue, Ranger, Warlock
Benefit: You gain training in Nature (if you are from a rural area) or Streetwise (if you are from an urban area). Once per day, you can add +3 feat bonus to a d20 roll before you know whether or not it is successful.

Clergy
Pious and raised to understand all about the Spirits.
Class: Cleric, Paladin
Benefit: Once per day, you can gain an action point. This action point’s extra action can only be spent to make a skill or ability check. You can also spend that action point to reroll a d20 roll before you know whether it is successful or not. The action point is gone at the end of an encounter or after 5 minutes, if unused.

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Categories: Campaigns, D&D 4e, Fluff/Inspiration, RPG | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Homebrew Character Backgrounds

  1. Like these a lot. Glad to see an expansion beyond skills . . .

  2. Nice! hm… It’d be cool use these if you had companion characters or hireling type of characters in the game. I like this idea a lot!

  3. Nice. I am in the middle of researching this stuff for my game. I wanted to build a random table to help the players create a history for their PCs. People keep saying they feel detached from their characters in 4e. They don’t know why we adventure and to what end? I thought building a character history might help.

  4. Please post that table if you ever complete it. I love random backstory tables.

  5. trolltastictalk

    Actually, I like these Backgrounds more than the official ones from for example Forgotten Realms or Scales of War. Should I run a 4E game in the near future, consider these ones stolen. Of course, I will guide my players to your site in return ;)

  6. I’m glad you like them, enjoy :)

  7. Pingback: Customizing the DDI Character Builder « Thieves’ Cant

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