Social Background

Backgrounds were designed to help players and Game Masters flesh out the backgrounds of beginning fantasy characters, providing them with a skill set that will follow them throughout their entire adventuring career. Backgrounds are not strictly required, but may act as a starting point, combined with your character’s Social Station, to help determine not only appropriate Aspects, but options for your character’s starting skill. The below lists of skills are merely examples of those learned in typical occupational backgrounds. These lists give no bonuses, but merely suggestive ideas.

Backgrounds use occupations to reflect a player character’s former livelihood, taking “occupation” in its loosest sense: how did a player character occupy his time prior to adventuring? Each occupation entry offers a brief description and some skill suggestions. Each player character should choose only one occupation, and this occupation is chosen as part of the character creation, and fleshed out during the Backstory Phases.

An occupation reflects the player character’s prior life, which normally occurs during adolescence. As such, the fantasy occupations presented here were constructed as adolescent occupations. A beginning warrior character might have been a squire, but he probably would not have been a knight. A beginning initiate might have spent time in temple learning the basics and performing duties, but was probably not ordained, given the rite of initiation, as a priest or cleric before play begins.

Once play begins, a player character may or may not continue in his previous occupation. The skills reflect his proficiency in what he learned, regardless of whether he still follows his old calling. Should the character choose a new occupation, he will choose skills (and stunts) that he acquires normally as he progresses in his career.

Some occupations are more broadly defined than others, due to the same skill set being more broadly applicable. A player character that takes the fisherman occupation was probably a fisherman, getting into a boat and casting nets on a daily basis. A player character with the apprentice occupation, by contrast, could be a butcher or a blacksmith. As a result, player characters that choose a broadly defined occupation should keep their narrow focus in mind when selecting class skills.

Backgrounds

Human characters have the following backgrounds to choose from. If you wish to play a non-human character, you must consult with the DM prior to play to discuss your character background and class options.

Background Description
1
Tribal
“Tribal” is a bit of a misnomer; charcters from this background belong to uncivilized hunter-gatherer societies. They need not be aggressive, although all human barbarians and brute-kin hail from this background.
2
Marine
A character with a marine background has spent most of his time in the water, on rivers, lakes or in the open sea.
3
Wandering
Some occupations require a lot of movement. Entertainers may have to go from castle to castle or village to village, while nomads are constantly moving from place to place. This background is also appropriate for unsavory occupations like bandits or thieves.
4
Rural
A character with a rural background comes from the countryside. This includes the forest as well as the territory of a feudal noble.
5
Village
Villagers are an intermediary step between rural backgrounds and urban backgrounds. They are a small community that can afford specialists, though not to the degree of a big city.
6
Urban
Urban occupations are those frequently encountered in a large town or city. Specialists thrive in this environment.
7
Castle
Castle backgrounds are occupations, both common and aristocratic, commonly found within the walls of a castle or palace.
8
Outlaw
The outlaw background is an example of a “utility” background. Some players know they want a criminal occupation, but would like some ideas regarding the specific occupation.

Tribal Occupations Marine Occupations Wandering Occupations Village Occupations
Apprentice
Arcane Student
Bandit
Guide
Healer
Hermit
Nomad
Primitive
Slave
Adventurer
Apprentice
Arcane Merchant
Diplomat
Fisherman
Guide
Merchant
Pirate
Seaman
Acolyte
Adventurer
Arcane Merchant
Bandit
Con Artist
Courier
Diplomat
Entertainer
Gladiator
Guide
Healer
Hermit
Hunter
Investigator
Merchant
Noble Warrior
Nomad
Slave
Soldier
Squire
Thief
Woodsman
Acolyte
Apprentice
Arcane Merchant
Arcane Student
Entertainer
Guardian
Guide
Healer
Merchant
Scribe
Stablehand
Tavern Server
Rural Occupations Urban Occupations Castle Occupations Outlaw Occupations
Acolyte
Apprentice
Farmer
Guardian
Healer
Hermit
Hunter
Laborer
Miner
Serf
Soldier
Woodsman
Acolyte
Adventurer
Animal Catcher
Apprentice
Arcane Merchant
Arcane Student
Athlete
Beggar
Con Artist
Courtesan
Courier
Entertainer
Gladiator
Guardian
Guide
Healer
Investigator
Laborer
Merchant
Scholar
Scribe
Servant
Slave
Soldier
Stablehand
Tavern Server
Thief
Apprentice
Courtesan
Courier
Courtier
Diplomat
Entertainer
Guardian
Noble Warrior
Servant
Soldier
Squire
Stablehand
Adventurer
Bandit
Con Artist
Nomad
Pirate
Seaman
Acolyte
Thief


Background Occupation Descriptions

Acolyte

AcolyteF.jpgDescription: Acolytes are neophytes of a particular temple. In civilized lands, they live in dormitories and spend their days performing various mundane duties for their superiors. In more primitive or rural societies, they may be a single student of a mid or high level cleric.
Skills: Empathy, Healing, Lore (Philosophy), Lore (Religious Lore), Lore (Planar Lore), Languages, Professions, Rapport



Animal Catcher

Animal_CatcherF.jpgDescription: Animal catchers are employed to rid a city of certain animals, usually vermin. It is an unsavory occupation, but a necessary one.
Skills: Athletics, Husbandry, Notice, Professions, Stealth, Survival



Apprentice

ApprenticeF.jpgDescription: Apprentices are those learning a trade. This category is broadly defined, including blacksmiths, butchers, chandlers, leather workers, and even street prostitutes.
Skills: Crafts, Deceive, Empathy, Rapport, Larceny, Lore, Professions.



Arcane Merchant

Arcane_MerchantF.jpgDescription: Arcane merchants deal in magical items (a variant, the divine merchant, peddles holy items). Such items might be trinkets or charms. Some of these merchants actually sell genuine magical items, but most peddle hype and false promises, but it is very difficult for the common man to determine true magic from the sham.
Skills: Crafts, Empathy, Lore (Culture), Languages, Lore (Magical Lore), Lore (Trade Lore), Lore (Religious Lore), Professions, Rapport

Background List


Arcane student

Arcane_StudentF.jpgDescription: The arcane student studies magic in the hopes of one day becoming a wizard. An arcane student may be enrolled in a magical academy or privately tutored by a more powerful tower wizard. The next logical step in the arcane student’s training is formal apprenticeship.
Skills: Languages, Lore (Magical Lore), Lore (Planar Lore)



Athlete

AthleteF.jpgDescription: Advanced societies can afford to sponsor athletic competitors for the benefit of the masses. Athletes are not gladiators; they compete in track and field games, wrestling matches and so on.
Skills: Athletics, Husbandry, Physique, Professions.



Bandit

BanditF.jpgDescription: Bandits are robbers that steal from their prey through intimidation. They are adept at surprising their opponents and catching them off-guard. While the rural highwayman is the traditional bandit archetype, this occupation also includes urban muggers.
Skills: Athletics, Deceive, Empathy, Husbandry, Lore (Trade Lore), Lore (Streetwise), Notice, Provoke, Stealth.



Beggar

BeggarF.jpgDescription: Beggars are common in any urban environment. Some of them are shunned due to their status or their health. Others are merely down on their luck. While beggars can be found in any age category, as a fantasy occupation it is assumed that the player character had to beg to survive in childhood.
Skills: Empathy, Lore (Streetwise), Notice, Provoke, Rapport, Stealth, Survival.

Background List


Con Artist

Con_ArtistF.jpgDescription: Con artists are criminals that steal from others using their social skills. They might run a rigged game or gain a person’s confidence just to steal from him when his back is turned.
Skills: Empathy, Deceive, Provoke, Rapport, Notice, Larceny, Lore (Streetwise).Bonus Feat: Choose either Deceitful or Persuasive



Courtesan

CourtesanF.jpgDescription: Courtesans are a higher class of prostitute. They are escorts or concubines of those that can afford their services. Courtesans are usually found as escorts of aristocrats or employees of a city brothel.
Skills: Contacts, Deceive, Empathy, Notice, Professions, Rapport.



Courier

CourierF.jpgDescription: Couriers are messengers, often selected for their quick feet. Couriers are found in castles and cities. A variant of the courier is the town crier, who travels from place to place to publicly deliver news.
Skills: Husbandry, Languages, Lore (Geography), Lore (Natural Lore), Lore (Culture), Professions, Rapport, Survival.



Courtier

CourtierF.jpgDescription: The courtier is an attendant of the ruling authority. They are nobles that spend most of their time in the castle or palace of the ruler, where he can keep an eye on them and influence their families.
Skills: Contacts, Empathy, Languages, Lore (Political Lore), Lore (Heraldry) Notice, Provoke, Rapport,



Background List


Diplomat

DiplomatF.jpgDescription: The diplomat is a noble that specializes in negotiation.
Skills: Contacts, Deceive, Empathy, Languages, Leadership, Lore (Heraldry), Lore (Military Lore), Lore (Political Lore), Professions, Rapport.



Entertainer

EntertainerF.jpgDescription: Court jesters, tavern singers, circus jugglers, and stage actors have one thing in common; they want to entertain their audience.
Skills: Athletics, Husbandry, Larceny, Professions.




Farmer

FarmerF.jpgDescription: The farmer works his land to grow crops. Unlike a serf, farmers are landowners, giving them a certain level of status and protection in society. Ranchers and shepherds are also covered under this occupation as most farmers also keep animals. Farmers live away from urban areas and enjoy the freedom and solitude.
Skills: Husbandry, Lore (Geography), Lore (Plants and Herbs), Lore (Natural Lore), Notice, Professions.


Fisherman

FishermanF.jpgDescription: The fisherman is a key food supplier in coastal, lake and river areas. In addition to knowing how to fish, fishermen are also used to interacting with merchants and foreigners.
Skills: Athletics, Empathy, Notice, Lore (Natural Lore), Professions.



Background List


Gladiator

GladiatorF.jpgDescription: The gladiator represents any occupation that involves fighting as a spectator sport. While gladiators can be arena fighters, they are also bare knuckle fighters and duelists.
Skills: Athletics, Deceive, Empathy, Husbandry, Notice, Professions, Provoke,



Guardian

GuardianF.jpgDescription: Guardians are protectors of castles, cities, and villages.
Skills: Empathy, Lore (Streetwise), Notice, Provoke, Professions, Rapport,




Guide

GuideF.jpgDescription: A guide specializes in helping others get to a particular location. They may be wilderness guides, taking customers through rough terrain, or they may be coachmen, driving a team of horses between towns.
Skills: Husbandry, Lore (Geography), Lore (Natural Lore) Professions, Survival.



Healer

HealerF.jpgDescription: The healer is proficient in herbal remedies and medical procedures. Healers are most commonly found in rural areas, where clerics and temples are sparse. Many monks learn the ways of Healing. Healers blessed by the gods become clerics or druids.
Alignment: Non-evil
Skills: Crafts (Alchemist), Crafts (Herbalist), Empathy, Healing, Husbandry, Investigation, Lore (Geography), Lore (Plants and Herbs), Lore (Natural Lore), Notice, Survival.

Background List


Hermit

HermitF.jpgDescription: The hermit lives apart from society. Unlike a nomad, the hermit has a place to call home, but it is often isolated. Adolescent hermits are either fugitives, runaways, or children of established hermits. Students of druids or other reclusive and forbidden spell casters are considered hermits.
Skills: Athletics, Deceive, Healing, Husbandry, Stealth, Survival.


Hunter

HunterF.jpgDescription: Hunters primarily earn a living by hunting game animals. Unscrupulous hunters, known as poachers, hunt game on land owned by another.
Skills: Athletics, Husbandry, Larceny, Lore (Culture), Lore (Natural Lore), Notice, Stealth, Survival.



Investigator

InvestigatorF.jpgDescription: Despite the name, the investigator occupation includes magistrates, chancellors, and barristers as well as law enforcement investigators. Many feudal lords are also judges, and they may rely on subordinates to do the actual investigating for them. It is important to note that many “investigators” are more interested in extracting confessions rather than actually search for the truth.
Skills: Deceive, Empathy, Larceny, Lore (Culture), Notice, Professions, Provoke, Rapport.

Laborer

LaborerF.jpgDescription: Laborers are the builders and movers of society. They work the docks, raise castle walls, and load and unload carts.
Skills: Athletics, Crafts, Larceny, Lore (Mechanics and Engineering), Professions, Survival.



Background List


Merchant

MerchantF.jpgDescription: The merchant is a buyer and seller of goods.
Skills: Empathy, Languages, Notice, Professions, Provoke, Rapport.




Miner

MinerF.jpgDescription: Miners spend most of their life beneath the earth, extracting valuable minerals.
Skills: Athletics, Physique, Professions, Survival.




Noble Warrior

Noble_WarriorF.jpgDescription: The noble warrior is born of privilege. He is usually a low-ranking noble (knighthoods aren’t often acquired until after a player character has begun his career) and pledges his sword to his liege.
Skills: Empathy, Husbandry, Languages, Lore (Culture), Lore (History), Lore (Religious Lore) Provoke, Rapport.



Nomad

NomadF.jpgDescription: The nomad is a wanderer, never staying in the same place for too long. He might be following a herd or simply hawking his talents or wares from village to village. The nomad only owns as much as he can carry.
Skills: Athletics, Deceive, Empathy, Husbandry, Lore (Geography), Lore (Natural Lore), Notice, Survival.



Background List


Pirate

PirateF.jpgDescription: Pirates are the bandits of the seas.
Skills: Athletics, Lore (Geography), Professions, Provoke, Survival.




Primitive

PrimitiveF.jpgDescription: The primitive comes from a tribal society that is often well behind its more advanced neighbors. A primitive is first and foremost a survivalist; his society has not advanced enough to allow for specialization.
Skills: Athletics, Empathy, Healing, Husbandry, Notice, Stealth, Survival.



Scholar

ScholarF.jpgDescription: Scholars are researchers. They generally specialize in a particular field.
Skills: Investigate, Languages, Lore (any), Notice, Professions.




Scribe

ScribeF.jpgDescription: In preliterate societies, scribes were highly prized for keeping records and writing messages. In a literate society, the scribe is both librarian and copyist.
Skills: Crafts, Languages, Notice, Professions, Rapport.




Background List


Seaman

SailorF.jpgDescription: The seaman might not have been born on the sea, lake or river, but he’s lived almost his entire life upon it. The seaman is essential for crewing merchant vessels and naval ships. Some seamen are former outlaws, pressed into service for their crimes.
Skills: Athletics, Lore (Geography), Physique, Professions, Survival.



Serf

SerfF.jpgDescription: Serfs are tied to the land of a local lord. They are not slaves, but they are restricted from moving off the lord’s land. Most serfs are farmers, working the land for their master.
Skills: Husbandry, Lore (Culture), Lore (Folklore), Professions, Survival



Servant

ServantF.jpgDescription: The servant’s job is to see to the needs of his master or patron.
Skills: Deceive, Empathy, Languages, Lore (Culture), Notice, Professions.




Soldier

SoldiersF.jpgDescription: The soldier is trained to fight and protect his homeland. He may be serf, peasant or petty noble. His military assignment is based on his Social Station. Most adults are required to own light armor and attend regular military practice.
Skills: Athletics, Husbandry, Lore (Military Lore), Physique, Provoke.


Background List


Squire

SquireF.pngDescription: The squire is a noble warrior in training. He is assigned to a noble warrior and holds his extra weapons and shields. In return, the squire receives the training he needs to be a noble warrior one day.
Skills: Empathy, Husbandry, Lore (Military Lore), Provoke, Rapport



Stablehand

StablehandF.jpgDescription: The stablehand grooms and takes care of horses for a lord or inn. Due to the comings and goings of horsemen, the stablehand learns a lot of information
Skills: Husbandry, Lore (Culture), Lore (Nature), Notice, Professions.



Tavern Server

Tavern_ServerF.jpgDescription: The tavern server is the bartender or serving wench that provides food and drink to customers while sharing information.
Skills: Athletics, Empathy, Professions, Lore (Culture), Lore (Streetwise), Notice, Rapport.



Thief

ThiefF.jpgDescription: The thief spent his youth on the street, picking pockets and burgling homes. Even at this young age, he is a criminal.
Skills: Athletics, Deceive, Larceny, Stealth, Professions.




Background List


Woodsman

WoodsmanF.jpgDescription: The woodsman is a forester that is generally engaged in providing lumber or firewood.
Skills: Husbandry, Lore (Geography), Lore (Natural Lore), Notice, Professions, Survival.



Return to Hero Creation
Return to Character Concept

Thanks to Adamant Entertainment: The Tome of Secrets for this information on Occupations.

Social Background

Shimmering Kingdoms FATE PhoenixMark