Posts Tagged ‘Backgrounds’

Friends, it is time to show off another fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons background I created. This one has been rolling around in my head for awhile, and I thought it was time to share it with the rest of you.

You may know my cursed background (available in the Pay What You Want PDF 15 New Backgrounds on the DMs Guild #ShamelessPlug). In this background, the character suffered a horrible magic curse that haunted them throughout their pre-campaign life. Now I’m happy to show off the blessed background, in which the character has the expectation of greatness thrust upon its shoulders due to some prophetic happening. This background lives in this post and is available as a PDF in the link below and on the Free Game Resources section of this site.

PDF: Blessed

Blessed

Some sign or prophecy has foretold your greatness. The excitement surrounding your soon-to-be-legendary story has spread throughout your home, but you have yet to actually prove you are worthy of your reputation. There are those who accept your prophesied fate as future fact. Others are skeptics, anxious to see you fail as proof that most mystical readings are mumbo jumbo. Some folks might be jealous of you while other desperate people pressure you to be the chosen one they need. You can determine how you became blessed by using the Prophetic Signs table.

Prophetic Signs

d6

Prophetic Sign

1

You were born during a rare astrological or lunar event.

2

Your mother was blessed by an important priest or mage while pregnant with you.

3

A specific birthmark on your skin is a sign of your greatness to come.

4

An ancient scroll, tablet, or other writing foretold your greatness.

5

As a child you miraculously defeated an ancient evil and people took this as a sign of greatness to come.

6

An important person in the community claims to have a dream that showed you are destined for greatness.

Skill Proficiencies: History and Intimidation or Persuasion

Languages: One exotic language and one other language of your choice

Starting Equipment: A set of common clothes, a piece of parchment with the prophecy that pertains to you, a signal whistle, a journal, pen, bottle of ink, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

Feature: Blessed Guidance

When you are truly stumped and in need of guidance, there is a voice, wind, light, or other force that occasionally guides you. You can ask for this force to aid you when you are at a loss for what to do next and the DM decides if and how this force aids you. It often works in a vague, mysterious way (e.g. speaking in riddles, rustling a key chain on a guard’s belt, etc.) and does not perform any actions for you, but rather provides a hint about some course of action you could take.

Suggested Characteristics

You have an enormous burden of expectation to shoulder. Do you believe in your own greatness or are you worried that the truth is you are just another nobody? In either case, you might strive to prove your doubters (and possibly yourself) wrong by achieving every heroic deed possible. Of course you might be terrified of your fate, running with all haste from what you fear could be true, and simply living your adventuring life as a mercenary who cares only for friends and money.

d8 Personality Traits
1 When others boast, I must top them with my own achievements.
2 This chosen one speaks in the third person.
3 I don’t want to be recognized, so I use a myriad of fake names.
4 I feel out of place and figdety when others don’t fawn all over me.
5 I can’t help but take on a challenge.
6 I don’t take “no” for an answer.
7 I have a personal mantra that I repeat in stressful situations.
8 Nothing I achieve is ever good enough for me.

 

d6 Ideals
1 Strength. Everything accomplishment must be more impressive than my last. (Neutral)
2 Protection. My greatness will be used to protect the defenseless. (Good)
3 Order. I am meant to bring law to the lawless. (Lawful)
4 Tyranny. Only those destined to rule, like me, should have power. (Evil)
5 Freedom. Everyone should be free to live their life. (Chaotic)
6 Community. I do everything I can for the people that believe in me. (Neutral)

 

d6 Bonds
1 I cannot shake the memory of the first time someone called me a fraud.
2 My destiny is intertwined with that of a prophesied evil-doer.
3 I am meant for greatness, but I am prophesied to kill a loved one in order to achieve it.
4 My hometown is the place where I am most revered and most jeered.
5 I have a mentor who always challenged me to rely on myself and not a prophecy to be great.
6 A trinket from home reminds me where I came from and who I am fighting for.

 

d6 Flaws
1 I was born to be better than everyone else and I am.
2 I’ll take money over trust any day.
3 Praise me and I’ll do anything for you.
4 I brag about my greatness just to take others to bed.
5 I do not ask others about themselves or make newcomers feel welcome.
6 I treat my opinions as fact.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Hey all! So I know it’s been a long delay for the Thursday update, but things were nuts here in the DC area and apparently it takes a long time to format PDFs.

By far some of the most popular posts on this blog have been the new backgrounds I presented. Well I edited, formatted, and arted a new PDF that’s posted on the DMs Guild. You can now grab every World Builder Blog background, plus my group backgrounds, plus some new explosives, plus some new artisan’s tools in a pretty pay what you want PDF. Please take a moment to check it out and let me know what you think. I put a lot of work into that 19-pager.

Here’s to more adventures! Next week, we’re diving deep into Canus.

15NewBackgrounds_Introcaso_20160122_Cover

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my products on the DMs Guild and podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

Romulus is the founder of The Rome… he was also raised by wolves. Mowgli is the hero of often film-adapted The Jungle Book and he too was raised by animals. Mila is the main character of Karen Hesse’s The Music of Dolphins and the book’s titular animal raised her.

Loads of fictional characters were brought up by big cats, chimps, bears, and more. Why not PCs? It is with that in mind that I present the raised by animals background below! I’m just on a background kick.

Raised by Animals

When you were a child you were raised by beasts in the elements. The exact type of beast is up to you, but most often characters with this background were raised by large mammals like wolves, big cats, bears, and dolphins. Instead of ignoring or devouring you, these beasts took you in as one of their own and protected you. They taught you to hunt and thrive in the uncivilized world. Even with your beast family looking out for you, survival was still a daily struggle.

How did you come to live with these animals? Were you abandoned by your parents in nature to be claimed by your new kin? Did you wander off and get lost one day? Did your caravan or vessel have an accident which left you stranded and alone? The choice is yours, but somehow you left the civilized world as a child and came to live with your new family.

At some point you were brought back into civilization either by choice or by force. You’re learning what it means to be part of civilization and to have easy access to the things you fought for each day like food, water, and shelter. How has that changed your world completely?

Skills: Animal Handling and Survival

Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism kit and either wood carver’s tools or mason’s tools

Equipment: A piece of fur, tooth, or other memento from one of your beast parents, a set of common clothes, a small knife, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

So last month I published a quartet of spooky Halloween-themed backgrounds. I know the season is over and we’ve moved onto to turkeys, pies, and gluttony here in America, but I have one more background I thought of that fits this mould. So it is with a wicked grin I turn the quartet of possessed, lycanthrope, dead, and cursed into a quintet by adding the polymorphed background.

Polymorphed

You were transformed into an animal or monster and lived that way for years. You most-likely entered this form unwillingly. How you came down with this affliction is up to you. A caster with an ax to grind may have cast true polymorph for some petty offense committed by you or a loved one. Maybe you unwittingly donned a cursed magic item. Perhaps you activated some arcane trap when you accidentally stumbled into an ancient ruin. You could have made the choice willingly to infiltrate some group of monsters or hide as a beast from someone hunting you. You also should decided who or what changed you back into your true form.

Whatever the case you were in your alternate form for years. How was living in that form different from the way you lived your life before? In what ways were you more powerful? Less powerful? Do you miss the strength of your old form or are you glad to be back in your own flesh?

Skills: Survival and Animal Handling or Deception

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A bag of caltrops, a realistic ink drawing of your polymorphed form, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

So this month I’ve created some Halloween themed backgrounds for PCs. I’ve already revealed the possessed, lycanthrope, and dead  backgrounds. Now it’s time for me to show off the cursed background.

Cursed

You lived with some sort of curse for years. How you got the curse and what the curse was are up to you. You can create the details with your DM or you may roll or choose them from the table below.

As a cursed person you once suffered from a magic problem so rare it’s almost unique. This curse could have been placed on you by a spellcaster or magic monster like a genie or hag. Or maybe you caught the curse while trespassing in an ancient tomb or vault or because you accidentally killed a sacred animal or offended the servant of a god in some way. How you caught your curse and how you or someone else cured it, are up to you and the DM.

d20 While cursed…
1 …you spoke only in questions.
2 …you spoke only lies.
3 …you saw all humanoids as terrible monsters.
4 …you had horrible nightmares whenever you closed your eyes.
5 …everything you touched turned to mud.
6 …all living things were harmed by your touch.
7 …you heard the surface thoughts of every humanoid within 50 feet.
8 …anything you ate tasted like sand in your mouth.
9 …others saw and heard you as if you were an undead zombie.
10 …you grew donkey ears and a donkey tail and couldn’t speak, only bray.
11 …you hungered for the flesh of other humanoids and thirsted for their blood.
12 …any offspring you had were goats instead of humanoids.
13 …any person for whom you had affection scorned you with unbridled hate.
14 …any person who tried to address you by your name or a nickname would instead vomit spiders.
15 …you lived the same day over and over again.
16 …you could not read or understand any language.
17 …all animals would attack you on sight.
18 …each day you would wake up in a new body with a random age, gender, and humanoid race.
19 …people who knew you before the curse forgot everything they knew about you and who you were during the curse.
20 …whenever you tried to speak, your mouth filled with corrosive acid.

Skills: Intimidation and Arcana or Religion

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A set of common clothes, a small knife, two random trinkets from the trinket table in the Player’s Handbook, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

It’s time for another Halloweeny background! Last week saw the lycanthrope background for PCs who were once afflicted with the curse but have had it cured. Next up – dead! As in your PC was once no longer with us, but is back!

I’ve written a couple of posts on this blog about the way death is handled in Dungeons and Dragons. I presented a few rules modules to make PC death more of a consequence than a few thousand gold pieces and I also presented some ideas about how spells like raise dead and resurrection might affect the world of your game. Now it’s time for me to present it as a background for PCs. And why not? Having been dead can make a truly compelling story. Just ask Wesley in The Princess Bride.

Though he was only mostly dead.

What’s even more interesting is that spells like true resurrection can turn your PC into a time traveler. Some PCs could have been dead for a century or longer only to be brought back by powerful magic. Imagine how the world will have changed in that time! Friends of long-lived races might remember the PC, but shorter-lived ones have passed on. Kings may have been overthrown, entire cities built or leveled by dragons, new technologies, new magic – the list keeps going. How would all these revelations affect a character?

Then of course there’s the question of how the time while dead was spent. In a pleasant heavenly plane the PC is upset to have left behind a la Buffy? With the terrible fires or the Nine Hells or the demons of the Abyss torturing the PC? Maybe that time was spent as an undead like a ghost or vampire before the PC was raised. Surely the time spent as an undead being would have some sort of impact on the PC’s second (or third or fourth or ninth) life.

Of course there’s always the possibility that the PC could not remember anything from the period of death. Just absolute nothingness like a deep, dreamless sleep. That affect a PC’s faith in the gods or enhance the PC’s fear of the inevitable.

With these thoughts and questions in mind I present to you the dead background for fifth edition dungeons and dragons.

Dead

You have died and come back. This experience has changed you and helps define who you are today. The specifics of your death are up to you, but the following questions and suggestions will help you determine those.

How did you die? It probably wasn’t of old age. Spells like raise dead can bring back those who die before old age takes them, but after old age there is almost no magic which can bring a person back from the dead. Was it combat? An accident? A disease?

How long were you dead? Spells like true resurrection allow a PC to return from death after 200 years. How has the world changed politically, technologically, and culturally since your death? What remains of your family, friends, and personal life?

What was your period of death like? Did you spend time in the glory of eternal battle is Ysgard? Were you enjoying the heavenly paradise of Elysium? Were you being tortured in the Nine Hells or Abyss? Do you simply remember nothing from that time?

Maybe you didn’t completely pass on, but lived life as an undead, wayward soul such as a ghost or vampire. Why did you become such a being? What acts did you commit that you now regret? Who will think of you as a monster because of the time you spent as an undead?

Finally someone brought you back. Who was it? Why? Maybe it was to face an old enemy who has now returned. Maybe it was a loved one who searched for a long time and spent all their resources to bring you back. Maybe you were called back for some valuable piece of information only you knew. How did this person bring you back? Maybe with one of the spells that first spring to mind, but what about a spell like reincarnate, which could bring your spirit back in the body of another humanoid race? Or maybe it was some other magic which has a more sinister secret.

Skills: History, Intimidation

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: 50 feet of rope, a bit of dirt from your grave kept in a sacred vial, a set of common clothes, two rare coins with which you were buried, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

It’s the Halloween season. There’s something about this holiday which delights the imagination of tabletop role players everywhere. It’s probably our active imaginations that make us think about the things that could go bump in the night and terrorize us. This season appeals to me for that reason. Ever since I was a kid I loved reading scary stories, even though they terrified the pants off of me. In honor of the season I’ve decided to write up a blog post about something scary.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers these.

On a related note people really seemed to enjoy the backgrounds I’ve been posting lately. The Parent and Retired Adventurer backgrounds are among some of my most popular posts ever. To that end I wanted to give you something you’d love that went with the frightful holiday season. So I got to thinking and decided I wanted a background for someone who’s lived for years under the direct control of a ghost, fiend, vampire, mind flayer, aboleth, or some other horrific creature. The thrall is now broken, but that PC’s adventuring career is forged by the trials and cruelties suffered as a slave. With that in mind I present to you, the possessed background.

Possessed

You have spent a significant amount of time under the thrall of some malicious entity which controlled your every action. It could be that the mind controlling dominance of an aberration or vampire brought about your slavery or you may have been possessed by some undead spirit or fiend. Under the thrall of this being you might have been forced into heavy labor, gladiatorial combat, or some more unpleasant machinations that were part of the villain’s greater scheme. The being might have been practical and controlled you in a pragmatic way, or it could have been a right villain which delighted in cruelty and made you hurt the people who loved you. It is up to you whether you remember all the details and your actions during the possession or if you only have fragments of memory to piece together.

What was the end result of your possession? Did someone drive the evil presence out of you? Did the being leave of its own accord? Was it destroyed or it did it promise to return to take you again some day? How has the possession left you feeling? Sad and broken? Ready to take on the world again? Terrified it may happen again?

Skills: Deception, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools, gaming set, or musical instrument which reflects the hobbies and taste of the being who possessed you.

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A set of common clothes, a small knife, a wearable trinket like a ring or bracelet given to you by the being who possessed you which cannot be thrown away or destroyed, and belt pouch containing 15 gp

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

You have to start over. You’re past your prime. Years of retirement have made you soft.  You’re a has-been. These words sound harsh but they’re the theme of many Hollywood blockbusters. A former badass rediscovers an adventurous trade long-forgotten. The old boxer trains for one last fight against a young buck. The former special ops father suits up to save his kidnapped daughter. Stella gets her groove back. This is a familiar trope and now it’s coming to your D&D game.

I know it might seem strange to play a former adventurer who has come out of retirement, but why not? Yes, this background works for characters starting at levels higher than 1st, but I contend that it works for 1st level characters as well. Age, a cushy lifestyle, an accident, or something supernatural (like the breaking of a pact between warlock and patron) could take many of the skills of a retired adventurer. Something, be it boredom, bankruptcy, revenge, or a noble quest, pushes these adventurers back out the door and on the road.

To that end I’ve created the Retired Adventurer background for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. Take a look below and let me know what you think in the comments. Scroll down to grab the PDF of this background.

Retired Adventurer

You have lived a life of adventure already and retired to something quieter. You thought you were done and to that end may have given away all your old gear and spent all your treasure. Little did you know something would pull you back into your old career. If you choose this background you have some exciting questions to answer.

Since you had an adventuring career for a significant time, you should determine what that part of your past looked like. What adventures have you already had? How much time did you spend adventuring before retirement? Who was your most-hated enemy? Who did you adventure with? Why did you hang it up?

Something happened that made you lose your edge and finally honed adventuring skills. Has age or luxurious retirement made you soft? Did a physical or magical accident take some abilities from you? Did a supernatural force steal your mojo?

You have decided to walk the road of adventure once again. Why? Was it because you ran out of gold and want to earn some more the only way you know how? Did you become restless in retirement and are now seeking the thrill of battle? Are you out to prove you can still live up to your legend? Are you out for vengeance? A noble quest? To tie up one final lose end you didn’t realize until now was undone? Whatever the reason, you’re back on the road and ready to dive into another dungeon.

Skills: History, Insight

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: An old map to a secret dungeon you never got around to visiting, a set of common clothes, a set of bone dice or a deck of cards, and a purse containing 25 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

When I start a campaign I know the story I want to tell. I generally know how I’d like to see things begin, how they might end, and a few good plot twists in between. It takes a lot of hard work to craft my tale and come up with something that isn’t too cliché or totally and completely stolen from somewhere else. Then my players come along with six separate, bizarre, interesting back stories full of NPCs, plot hooks, and villains THEY created and they want me to work them into MY story?!? What’s a DM to do so he doesn’t end his game with more hanging plot threads than a Game of Thrones season finale?

Give Them An End Point

As I’m working out the main arch of a campaign before it begins, my players are building their characters and backstories. In general I don’t usually have time to weave the backstories into our first session, especially when I’m being emailed the information 15 minutes after the game is already underway. Those players who do give me ample time with a backstory are the same players who give me 30 pages to read. Because I may not have time to read a lengthy backstory and can’t read one I’m handed right before the game starts, I always give my characters an end point for their backstory. In other words I tell them, “Hey make sure your character winds up in Oliath, capital of Aeranore.” Doing this and having the characters tie their backgrounds together makes for a very smooth first session. The PCs already know one another and I don’t have to spend half the first session convincing the paladin and the rogue to play nice with one another to move the story along. As a bonus if you tie PC backgrounds together some backstory stuff comes out in that first session as the players interact with one another and I don’t have to prepare for any of it.

Tracking the Stories

Once the campaign is underway, I sit down and read the PC backstories. As I read, I have a Google Doc open upon which I bullet point all threads the PCs leave dangling for me. Some are intentional (e.g. A PC never saw the gnolls that destroyed my village again) and others are details I could use to create a thread. (e.g. A PC receives a locket from a former lover… and unbeknownst to player and PC alike the former lover can track the PC’s every move through the locket.)

I keep them simple and quick. After all these bullet points are only for me. My Google Doc of PC backstory hooks looks like this. This example is taken from a fourth edition D&D game I ran about six years ago.

Fizzlebottom Cloisternook, gnome warlock

  • His immediate family was mysteriously murdered the same night he made his warlock star pact. He has no memory of what happened that night.
  • His daughter, Stella Cloisternook, was her father’s favorite and thought the world of him. Unbeknownst to Fizzlebottom, she walks the world as a revenant, searching for her family’s killer.
  • A mysterious star appeared burning red in the sky the same night he made his pact and has remained since.
  • In his early days of adventuring, Fizzlebottom learned how to survive in the wilderness from a tutor named Douvan Stahl. Douvan has gone missing.

Once I’ve made my list of threads, I go back to each thread and add a few details about how these hanging threads might get resolved. Sometimes a PC will have only two or three threads and sometimes a PC will have ten. See which threads are related and if you can tie the resolution into all of these threads together, the backstory of the PC will feel cohesive. If many threads are related, the player will have more of a mystery to unravel about the character’s past. There may be a thread or two which can’t be tied to others which is fine. I add these resolutions as sub-bullet points beneath each thread point. Here’s the same example, now with the thread resolutions.

Fizzlebottom Cloisternook, gnome warlock

  • His immediate family was mysteriously murdered the same night he made his warlock star pact. He has no memory of what happened that night.
    • Vecna, god of secrets, has granted Fizzlebottom his warlock powers. The making of the pact drove Fizzlebottom mad and he murdered his family. Fizzlebottom can uncover this mystery by destroying one of Vecna’s elite undead secret holders.
  • His daughter, StellaCloisternook, was her father’s favorite and thought the world of him. Unbeknownst toFizzlebottom, she walks the world as arevenant, searching for her family’s killer.
    • Stella seeks the death of her father. Upon meeting him she will reveal he killed his family, but Fizzlebottom will not know why until he kills the secret holder.
  • A mysterious star appeared burning red in the sky the same night he made hispact and has remained since.
    • This star appears in the sky once a millennia when Vecna chooses an unwilling champion. It unknown to many what this star means, but Vecna’s cult leaders know the secret. These leaders will seek out Fizzlebottom. Some will try to worship him and bring him sacrifices, others will try to murder him out of jealousy.
  • In his early days of adventuring,Fizzlebottom learned how to survive in the wilderness from a ranger and scholar namedDouvan Stahl.Douvan has gone missing.
    • Douvan has been captured by servants of Orcus because they wish to obtain some of his scholarly secrets about the demon lord.

As threads are resolved I’ll make them red or strike them out to indicate they’ve been taken care of. If new complications or ideas arise (e.g. Fizzlebottom’s daughter fought him to a stalemate, revealed herself, and ran away), I simply add to the bullet points.

Random Encounters, Interludes, and Partnerships

How do I actually use this information? Well one thing I do is incorporate backstories into my random encounter charts. Rather than having all encounters be run-ins with roving beasts and bandits, plug-in at least one option per PC which could help resolve a backstory thread on your random tables. In the example above Fizzlebottom could have a random encounter with a cultist of Vecna trying to kill or worship him, his revenant daughter, or a passerby who has word of Douvan. I aim for at least one of these encounters to happen during an extended journey (even if I’m using a random table and I don’t roll for a backstory thread encounter, I’ll throw one in).

Interludes occur when the PCs take a break from the main story to pursue a backstory thread. This often happens organically, after the PCs have had enough random encounters with a thread they want chase down its conclusion. If the PCs don’t decide to go after a thread, but you feel it’s time for an interlude because you want to change-up the monsters they’ve been fighting, need to give your villain some time to plot and recover from a defeat, or just want a change of pace, go ahead and drop a smoking gun into the PCs’ laps. In the example above, Fizzlebottom and his party might decide to seek out an elite undead secret holder of Vecna after meeting some cultists and his daughter. Alternatively they might seek out the secret holder because Fizzlebottom receives a magic dream from an enemy of Vecna telling the gnome that he can find the identity of his family’s killer if he kills the elite undead holed up in some underground cave.

The final way to work backgrounds into your story is with what I call partnerships. Partnerships are when your main campaign story overlaps directly with a PC’sbackstory. Theevil necromancer the PCs have been fighting turns out to be the fighter’s long-lost father. The mysterious paladin who saved the rogue’s town from marauding orcs is also the party’s patron. This can make your life easier and is a great reveal for the players but use partnerships sparingly and varyingly, otherwise the PCs will suspect that every masked villain is a lost relative. Partnerships make one PC the star of the show, so be sure to give everyone a turn in the backstory spotlight! In the example above, Douvan Stahl was not just Fizzlebottom’s old mentor, but actually everyone in the party’s mentor. Their first task was teaming up to find him, which is the suggested hook of the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure we were playing.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Perfect gift for a naughty PC.

First things first. Here’s my gift to all of you. The Legendary Lineage background and the Cook background. Check them out below. These will always live in the Free Game Resources section of the site. Thanks for the feedback on these!

Legendary Lineage Background

Cook Background

But Wait, There’s More!

My players are awesome. You’ve probably heard a lot of them on The Round Table podcast I host so you know that it’s a group of kind, hilarious, amazing people I am privileged to call my friends. I wanted to send them a little holiday gift so here’s an email I sent to them. This idea is taken from the The Geeky Hostess who was a recent guest on the Dungeons and Dragons podcast where she talked about giving D&D themed gifts. These cost nothing but a little of your time and are usually quite fun for your players. It was a genius idea so I stole it!

Hey People of D&D,

First of all you rock. Thanks for taking time to roll some bones with me once a week or so. I love the stories we tell together. The highlight of my week is sitting down and relaxing with all of you to play some D&D.
I wanted to give you all a little gift this holiday season to show you my appreciation. So, below are a few bullet points that you can each invoke one time during any fifth edition D&D game I DM in the future.
  • Gain advantage on any d20 roll before rolling.
  • Turn any roll of a natural 1 on a d20 into a natural 20.
  • Gain 5 temporary HP.
  • Add one potion of the DM’s choice to any treasure hoard.
  • Automatically stabilize after failing a death saving throw.
Hope you enjoy! Looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Love,
James

The gifts you give your players are FREE and very easy to scale up or down based on what you want to give your players. Maybe instead of all the idea above you grant them each an uncommon wondrous item. The options are endless and awesome. Let me know what you might give your players in the comments below! My players really loved this gift and have already used some of the benefits bestowed upon them. Just in time for all the D&D you’ll be playing over the holidays! Happy holidays everyone!

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