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Character backgrounds

by Jimmy Rowe

I thought it might be helpful to start a thread to share ideas on backgrounds for starting characters.

Here are some I've come up with for eight 1st level characters in a Karameikan campaign I'm starting to run next week using Cyclopaedia Rules.

Anya Petrov - Female Cleric Of Traladara.

Born to impoverished Traladaran homesteaders, at the age of four your family life was shattered when a small band of roaming brigands decided to pillage your small community. The few adult males were quickly put to the sword by the ruthless raiders and the womenfolk were brutally raped and murdered. You owe your life to the quick thinking of your older brother Boris, who managed to sneak both of you out of the mayhem and into the nearby forest. Your ten year old sibling struggled bravely to fend for you both. Fortunately within two days you were discovered by a group of Callarii Elves who took you both under their wing.

Assuming that you and your brother would be better off being brought up by fellow humans the elves escorted you both to the nearby village of Zannik, where you were taken under the protective wing of a kindly Traladaran priest named Ivan Kovic. Being brought up under the influence of religion had a great bearing on your philosophical outlook and you embraced the teachings of the Church Of Traladara. As you grew older you took it upon yourself to become a Novice of the church at the age of eighteen. After your brothers shearing ceremony he spent several years as a hired man-at-arms for travelling merchants. Later he returned to the remnants of your original homestead, reclaiming it as his own.

Recently you went in search of a missing elf who had been seen entering a supposedly haunted tower a few miles north of the village. Unfortunately the elf was dead but you did manage to rescue a grateful halfling named Halfric Broadbelt and also the former owner of the tower, an alchemist named Albertus, who had been trapped in a magic mirror for many years. These actions led Ivan Kovic to suggest you might serve the Church by taking care of the spiritual needs of any foolhardy adventurers of the faith, hopefully strengthening their religious bonds in the process. Thus you and Halfric decided to set off on the road to the northern town of Threshold, supposedly a haven for anybody in search of adventure.

Dmitri Dracov - Fighter.

Fathered by a major Traladaran clan leader and born to a mother whose father was the Thyatian seneschal of Baron Desmond Kelvin I, you have been brought up within an environment of privilege. Your father is Josef Dracov, one of the three major Traladaran clan leaders in the Kelvin region. On the establishment of the Grand Duchy your Traladaran grandfather decided it would be wiser to assimilate into the new Thyatian political order rather than oppose the new regime, a wise move. He persuaded your father to join the military ranks of Baron Kelvin's garrison and it was whilst working for the Baron that he met his future wife, Claudia Darakin. After fifteen years of loyal service the Baron granted your father a Court Lordship.

Your mother has great aspirations for you, especially seeing as both her now deceased father and her husband have both achieved Court Lordship. She is hoping you go a stage further and are granted your own fiefdom. With these hopes for your future prominent in her thoughts she was none too pleased when you announced you were ready to be 'sheared'. She was hoping you might ignore this traditional Traladaran rite of passage since you are half Thyatian. Your father however was relieved that he didn't have to approach you himself on the subject of your shearing ceremony. He hosted a great feast in your honour, to which many prominent personalities of Kelvin attended, including Baron Desmond II himself. After solemnly dressing you in basic travelling gear and shearing off the bottom of your cloak he proudly bade you farewell. You set off on your travels accompanied by your friend and drinking partner, the half elf Eltharion.

Eltharion - Half-Elf (Stats as an Elf)

Born to an elven mother and a human father, you are one of the few half-elves within the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Your mother had a passionate liaison with a Traladaran trader, a unison that eventually resulted in your birth. You never knew your father, who according to your mother deserted her for 'some sleazy harlot' before you were born. Whenever you broached the subject of your father she always refused to discuss him further so eventually you gave up asking.

Your mother runs a smart hostelry in Kelvin known as 'The Tree Of Life' in partnership with Sergei Lazarencov, current head of the wealthy Traladaran clan of the same name. The inn is frequented by the more affluent section of Kelvin society and also many elven visitors to the city seek out the place on arrival.

Your distinctive good looks have made you a magnet for the attentions of several young Traladaran barmaids in the past and over the years you have developed a flirtatious rapport with Traladaran women in general. Lately however a beautiful young lady named Katrina has had a major impact on your affections and you've developed strong emotional ties with her, as yet unconsummated. Unfortunately she is the daughter of your mother's business partner Sergei Lazarencov and he reacted furiously when he found out about your relationship, mainly because he intends she be married to someone of wealth and prestige, not some "mongrel half breed".

Insulted by Sergei's comments and astounded that your mother didn't rally to your side you have decided to leave Kelvin and embark on a life of travel and adventure. To this end you have decided to accompany your regular drinking companion Dmitri Dracov on his journey to Threshold.

The player does not know that Sergei Lazarencov is infact his half brother and Katrina his niece! Obviously his mother knows and that's why she is keen that his budding romance be 'nipped in the bud'. I've also given the character a special skill - 'flirt with Traladaran women'. If he succeeds in a roll vs charisma the female is forced to roll against her wisdom, if she fails she has fallen for his flattery in a similar way to charm person. Only one attempt can be made, if the attempt fails the woman will always be immune to further attempts.

Farolas and Borric Stonefist - Dwarves.

As identical twins are extreme rarities in dwarven society, your birth caused a bit of a sensation within the community of Highforge. Your proud father assumed your uniqueness somehow signified you are both destined for greatness and has geared your upbringing towards the life of an adventure ever since. This situation suits your older brother who is quite happy following in your father's footsteps as a master stonemason.

Your father paid for a weapons expert to train both of you in the art of wielding the war axe to good effect. He also had expensive weapons made, each of you being presented with your personalised dwarven war axe at your sixtieth birthday celebration a few months back.

Finally you have decided it is time to depart on your quest for fame and fortune. Bidding your family farewell you set off towards Threshold in search of adventure.

Both characters gain a +1 to hit bonus with their Dwarven waraxes.

Glynador - Elf

You hail from a small elven community in the Radlebb Woods, south east of Rifllian. Your mother died during childbirth when you were young. The child she bore died shortly afterwards, leaving your father to bring you up single-handedly.

You have never really been content with life in your community, the mundane routine being the source of your disillusionment. You have always aspired to a more exciting life style and a chance to adventure beyond the boundaries of the forest. Recently you were approached by the village elders who realised you weren't happy with your role in life. They announced that you could leave with their blessing and they provided you with a modest amount of gold to help you on your way. They are hoping you will one day return and take up a leading role in the community, using any knowledge gained in the outside world to promote the interests of Callarii Elves.

You arrived in Threshold several days ago. During a game of cards in a local hostelry you acquired a treasure map that was put up as a stake by a passing merchant. The map points to the location of a supposed cavern complex that was once the lair of a powerful mage. The dungeon is said to be named the Caverns of Quasqueton. You intend finding a group of trustworthy adventurers to help explore the dungeon.

Halfric Broadbelt - Halfling.

You hail from the village of Verge in Northern Karameikos, your family making a living from a small distillery. The spirit drink produced is known as 'Shire Fire', a potent alcohol content and fiery aftertaste making it a big hit with the locals. However, you and your older brother always yearned for excitement instead of the rather mundane routine offered by the family business.

Several weeks ago the two of you decided to act upon your adventurous spirit and embarked upon an exploration of a nearby tower, reputed to be haunted. Things turned out disastrously and your brother was killed when you stumbled into the lair of a dozen or so 'giant' spiders. You yourself were only saved from an agonising demise by a female novice of the Church Of Traladara named Anya Petrov.

You returned home with your brothers' body and your family was drowned in sorrow. Your father pleaded with you to give up your "suicidal dreams of glory" but you are determined to make a name for yourself, not least out of a belief that your deceased brother Toby would have wanted you to carry on the life of an adventurer. Thus you have decided to accompany your saviour Anya on her journey to Threshold.

Kaiser Sosi (Kaiser The Knife) - Thief.

Your original name is Victor Kursacovic and you were born into a family of impoverished Traladaran homesteaders. Your father was a brutish bully who constantly beat you from an early age, often with little or no provocation needed to invoke his wrath. Countless times you cowered in fear of another unwarranted assault from your supposed protector. Your mother and two younger siblings fared little better.

At the age of eight you decided to run away, heading to the city of Kelvin. With no means of support you had to resort to petty thievery to survive. One day you were caught red handed as you tried to pick the pocket of a man named Josef Sosi, who turned out to be the leader of a group of travelling acrobatic performers. When the kindly gentleman asked your name you lied, telling him your name was Kaiser. Instead of reporting you to the authorities he took you under his wing and you became an apprentice member of his troupe. He taught you how to throw knives with great accuracy and this became your profession within the group. You admired Josef and decided, with his blessing, to adopt his surname as your own. Thus the name Kaiser Sosi, or Kaiser The Knife as you are more readily known.

Around a year ago the troupe was disbanded when Josef passed away. You decided to stay in Kelvin and have been earning money putting on the occasional show. Recently you were approached by a well to do Thyatian woman who offered you 25 G.P per month if you would secretly help protect a young man named Dmitri Dracov, who has recently been 'sheared' by his family. Under no circumstances must he discover the details of this agreement, as it goes completely against the principles of the shearing ceremony. Dmitri would quite rightly feel ashamed and angry if he were ever to find out. As instructed you followed Dmitri and his half elf companion to Threshold. You are to report on his whereabouts and well being once a month, a message to be relayed via the landlord at the "Merchants Rest" hostelry in Threshold, who will then pass on your monthly payment. Upon completion of his shearing you have been promised a bonus of 500 G.P.

Kaiser has special knife throwing ability. In his first attack he can throw two daggers with a +3 to hit bonus.