Posts Tagged ‘military’

UPDATE: The partial backgrounds found in this article are a preview. They are fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 15 other ready to roll backgrounds.

I love it when a group ties together their own backgrounds without my prompting. Three years ago I started a fourth edition D&D Eberron game and the party decided they would all start as people working for the Church of the Silver Flame. This instantly gave me a focus for the campaign’s main arch (Bel Shalor attempting to recreate The Day of Mourning in Thrane in order to extinguish the Silver Flame and walk the world again) and tied together the party in a great way.

Now the only reason this group thought to come together under one banner at the start of the game was because they had played D&D for years and wanted to try something different. I know some other groups do this at the request of the DM, and the benefits for the folks running the game are clear. The characters begin with a familiarity with one another. I’ve already done one post on the benefits of tying backgrounds together, so I won’t repeat myself here. But what’s in it for the players?

Time to Tantalize

Experienced players, like the ones in my Eberron game above, know there are great story benefits from beginning with a background tied to another PC. To new players though, this might seem like an unnecessary complication – just one more thing to remember and keep track of. Since fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons is all about pleasing old players and bringing in the new, I thought I’d try my hand at creating group backgrounds for the game. These are meant to supplement individual backgrounds and inspire players new and old to tie their PCs together.

Take a look at this excerpt from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. Let me know what other backgrounds and benefits you’d like to see in the comments! Also, let me know if you think this is a good idea.

Group Backgrounds

Group backgrounds are an optional feature which can apply to your entire party at your DM’s discretion. If your DM allows you to choose a group background, decide which background you want with the rest of the players at the table. Your group’s background should be a choice you all make together as it applies to all the characters within your adventuring party.

Group backgrounds give you a background feature which the DM can deem is either in addition to or in place of your current background feature.

Military Unit

Your party is made up of characters who were all part of the same government military unit or mercenary army. Your camaraderie was built during training and your trust in one another was forged on the battlefield. Think about the kind of military you were in, why your unit left, and the battles you fought together. Are you the last surviving members of your unit? Are there others who were in your unit out there? Did you go rogue? These decisions are up to you and your party.

Religious Order

Your party is made up of characters who are all part of the same religious order be it a monastery, cult, or temple. You share devout beliefs in the same gods, studied religion together, and are friends who share common morality. Together you walk the world, doing deeds in the name of your religion. Think about why your group has chosen to adventure and how you might differ in the interpretation of your gods’ wills.

Secret Society

Your party is made up of characters who work for an organization with inner-workings which remain a secret to the public. Your society might be spies for a government, a cabal of assassins, a band of hidden protectors of nature, a team of vigilantes, a group trying to divine the secrets of the world, an organization bent on world domination, or something else. Whatever the case, you have a secret mission to carry out. This secret bonds you and your party together in trust.


Your party is made up of characters who are all part of the same family. Not everyone needs to be blood-related. Some might be related through marriage or adopted. Others might be servants or friends so close they might as well be family. Whatever the relation, you have spent a significant portion of your lives together and that time has created a familial bond. Remember that families have their own problems and rivalries and you shoul work those relationships out with your party.

More for Your Game

So these group backgrounds are going into the Free Game Resources section of this site, as well as the individual backgrounds I’ve created for Doctor, Tinkerer, Farmer, Harvester, and Demolitions Expert. All are available as free PDFs for your convenience! Keep on rocking.

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

I have yet to write a lot of material about Parian, the nation to Findalay’s West ruled by an emperor who considers himself a god. Check out the excerpt from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide below.

Map of Parian

Map of Parian

In Parian there is one man who holds all the power. He is not just a political leader, but the only true force in the world as far as his people are concerned. In their eyes he is God and to say anything else would be a heresy punishable by death.

How does one man get all this power? How do his people not riot in the streets? Emperor Quan has the strongest military in the world at his command and his command alone.

The Emperor’s Military

Don’t mess with Emperor Quan, dragon!

In Parian the armed forces as a whole are referred to as The Emperor’s Military. This simple and direct title is so all might know to whom the military belongs. There is no question Emperor Quan is the owner of all Parian.

Parian’s soldiers swear an oath to serve and protect the emperor with their lives and obey his every command. These oaths are reinforced by the attitudes of fellow soldiers and superior officers. Members of the military are constantly reminded of the importance of their job for they must protect and carry out the divine will of Emperor Quan. These reminders come written in handbooks and posters, verbally communicated by fellow soldiers, and from the emperor himself each day via a mass sending spell. It only takes a matter of days to brainwash any recruits who aren’t already 100% on board before signing up. Every member of the military is ready to give his or her life for Parian and Emperor Quan.

Another reason Parian’s soldiers love their country – they get the best treatment. Good meals, good pay, and they are well-respected by others for their position. Soldiers receive the choicest treatment at most businesses because the folk of Parian either love or fear them. Their undying loyalty to Emperor – gives them singular purpose and focus that makes them determined and terrifying.

Branches of Parian’s Military

  • The Emperor’s Army The largest branch of Parian’s military is definitely its standing army. The army breaks down into specialized units of foot soldiers, front-line pole-arm fighters, tiger-riding cavalry, siege weapon operators, grenadiers, riflemen, archer snipers and more. They train constantly, even when they sail to war in the cargo holds of massive, specialized galleys. Member of the army are tortured to death if they run from a battle or surrender so they fight until the bitter end.
  • The Emperor’s Navy While Marrial is known for its fast ships, Parian is known for battleships of enormous size. Huge battleships with rows upon rows of cannons spell certain destruction for enemy ships. The men and women of Parian’s navy are disciplined, clean, and trained in hand to hand combat. Unlike the specialization of The Emperor’s Army, The Emperor’s Navy expects its personnel to be well-rounded and capable of doing every job at sea.
  • The Silent Fury There is a smaller unit of specialized militants which answer directly to Emperor. These elite ornithopter pilots drop bombs atop strategic targets. The ornithopters can be carried and launched from large naval vessels or the land, making them versatile. The hot-shot ornithopter pilots are famously arrogant. They see themselves as superior to the other branches of the military because they are literally above it all.
  • The Emperor’s Hand There isn’t much known about this secret branch of the military and when asked about it Emperor denies its existence. However, Parian moles have been discovered throughout Findalay in some information-sensitive areas. These spies have been known to call themselves The Emperor’s Hand. How much they know and how many spies there are remain to be seen. Their exact purpose is unknown to any other than Emperor himself. In addition, it is whispered by the folk of Parian that The Emperor’s Hand has undercover agents watching for rebellious activity domestically.
  • The Emperor’s Armor Parian’s cream of the crop warriors are chosen for the highest of honors. Emperor Quan has 1,000 elite bodyguards who have risen through the ranks of The Emperor’s Military. They are his personal shadow and protectors. Their tongues have been removed so they may not speak of any strategy or secrets they witness during Quan’s meetings. They communicate to one another with a unique sign language and are required to pray to Emperor Quan eight times a day.

Joining The Military

They want YOU!

Joining The Emperor’s Military requires passing tests of physical fitness, mental acuity, and ethics. Ethics is the most important of these for bodies can be shaped and minds can be molded, but what is inside one’s heart cannot be changed. The members of Parian’s military want men and women to join who are undyingly faithful to their country, emperor, and fellow soldiers.

These feelings are commonplace in Parian, since everyday life is full of propaganda, patriotism, and displays of support for the emperor. The military also uses these tests as a screening process. Those who do not pass the ethics tests are not just barred from The Emperor’s Military, but depending on the severity of their failure they could be exiled, imprisoned, or put to death.

Heroic Examples

Why can’t everyone be more like Klaus?

Those soldiers who exemplify themselves in battle are held up throughout Parian as heroes and examples to its citizens. Soldiers can achieve instant fame through deeds in battle, though usually ones which involve personal sacrifice and help reinforce what makes a model citizen of Parian. Every hero raised up by legendary stories has a political motive behind the move.

Some of Parian’s most storied heroes killed traitorous friends or spouses, laid down their lives to personally save an emperor, lost limbs or organs taking on a horde of enemies, or somehow chose Parian and an emperor over other meaningful personal relationships. These stories are told to children from the time they are young as bedtime stories and nursery rhymes. Quan has a number of bards in his palace ready to be teleported across the country and sing the praises of heroes who are doing right by Parian.

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