Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

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!
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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.

Tis the season for witches, skeletons, jack-o’-lanterns, and things that go bump in the night. It’s a great time for gamers. Our active imaginations have us thinking of scary surprises for our gaming groups. I bet more than a few Dungeon Masters out there are designing a dastardly quests centered around a cemeteries, cabins in the woods, and haunted mansions. Wolves will howl, vampires will feast, and demiliches will devour souls.

But why should monsters get all the fun? Why does the Dungeon Master always get to control the baddest mofos in the land? To help players celebrate the season I developed some deliciously evil backgrounds for less-than-savory PCs. First up is the lycanthrope background which assumes a character was once afflicted with the disease and has since been cured. More of these player options to come as we approach the witching holiday!

Lycanthrope

You were afflicted with lycanthropy, a disease which caused you to become a shapeshifting monster such as a werewolf or wererat. The disease probably drove you to commit violent acts you may never have even contemplated in real life and though you are cured, you must still live with the consequences of those actions. Perhaps it is making up for those actions which causes you to adventure or a determination that what happened to you should never happen to anyone else ever again. Or perhaps your motivations are darker and you seek to again hold the power this supernatural disease brought to you.

Not all lycanthropes are inherently evil. There is a small chance you were one of the very rare werebears or weretigers. If you make this choice, your actions as a lycanthrope were probably not sadistic and murderous. Maybe some of the deeds you accomplished as a lycanthrope were heroically motivated. Still, your lycanthropy has been cured and you’ve begun a new life as an adventurer, perhaps because you feared you still might hurt those you love in your animal or hybrid form or because society wouldn’t accept you as a lycanthrope no matter how virtuous your actions.

You decide (or roll for) the type of lycanthropy with which you were afflicted, the length of time you had the disease, the acts you committed and the person who cured you of it. You can choose or roll on the table below to determine your type of lycanthropy. There are rarer types of lycanthropy in some worlds, such as weresharks and werespiders. If you’re interested in playing a character who was once such a lycanthrope, ask your DM if such options are available.

d20 Type of Lycanthrope
1 – 10 Werewolf
11 – 15 Wererat
16 – 18 Wereboar
19 Weretiger
20 Werebear

Skills: Intimidation, Survival

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: An iron pot, a set of common clothes, a small knife, a tooth, claw, or tusk from your old animal form, and belt pouch containing 10 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!