Player Backgrounds

Thirteen Colonies A D&D 4E Campaign Setting Player Backgrounds

“The true epicure of the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteem most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods Essex County; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.”

Apprentice of the Illuminati I learned that trick from the very best: The Illuminati. To call your fellow conspirators a “cult” is to credit them with more fervor and less intelligence than they’ve earned. You are part of a secret group that wields power for a dark, mysterious purpose—and there might be secrets within the cabal that you don’t know about yet. How were you recruited into this cabal, and what is their professed aim? Do you have mentors, friends, or rivals in the cabal? Are you still an active member, or have you left the cabal temporarily or permanently? Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus whenever you use a knowledge skill to make a monster knowledge check (as described on page 180 of the Player’s Handbook).

Born Under a Strange Star (pick a star from the Revelations of Melech below) My mother told me that the caul was just superstition, and the howling wolves were just a coincidence. But I’ve seen enough to know that something . . . dark . . . is involved. Your entire childhood was one superstitious omen after another. Individually, they’re easy to ignore or explain away. But collectively, it’s clear that something sinister has designs on your soul. What phenomena did you experience as a child? Do you still see omens in your daily life? And do you have any clues about the specifics of your dark destiny? Benefit: Add your highest ability score to Constitution and divide by two to determine your initial hit points.

Revelations of Melech The scroll called Revelations of Melech is wound inside a narrow obsidian cylinder whose exterior is scribed with strange star constellations. The following names and associated qualities are scribed on the manuscript inside the cylinder. Acamar: Acamar is a corpse star whose motions and behemoth size send celestial objects that draw too close spiraling to their doom. Caiphon: This purple star is usually on the horizon. It has the guise of a helpful guide star, but sometimes betrays those who rely upon it. Delban: An ice-white star often visible only during winter, Delban might surprise the star-gazer with an impromptu flare during any season. Gibbeth: Better not to write or think overlong on this greenish point in the sky. Hadar: Hadar is the extinguished cinder of a star lurking within the cloaking nebula of Ihbar. Ihbar: A dark nebula between stars, Ihbar is slowly expanding and eating the light of neighboring constellations. Khirad: A piercing blue star, Khirad’s radiance sometimes reveals secrets and gruesome insights. Nihal: Nihal is a reddish star that writhes around the position it should hold in the heavens. Ulban: Ulban’s blue-white light disrupts cognition and the ability to recognize danger. Zhudun: Another corpse star, Zhudun is his¬torically described as shining a baleful light over the Ruined Realm of Cendriane in the Feywild before its fall.

Con Artist I’m not the guy you’re looking for. Seriously, I was in Dunwich last night. I wasn’t even here. You’ve long made a living on the backs of the greedy, the gullible, and the unobservant. What sort of confidence games did you favor—elaborate conspira¬cies, rigged games of chance, or ruses that facilitated traditional crimes like burglary, robbery, or kidnap¬ping? How did you learn your trade? How close have you come to being caught? And how many enemies are out there, looking for a chance to get even? Benefit: You add Bluff to your class skill list, you gain a +1 bonus to Bluff checks, and you can use Thievery to pick pockets or perform sleight of hand as a Move action.

Crusading Zealot I am but a humble instrument of the White. But I’m an instrument with sharp edges. Your calling is an intensely personal one. The voices of the gods themselves have sent you on your crusade, and they periodically guide you to this day. How do others react when you tell them what drives you forward? What was it like the first time you received divine inspiration? Do you ever doubt or question the voices from the gods? Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to saving throws until you fail a saving throw, and then the bonus is gone until you take a rest.

Cult Escapee The tattoo means I was a member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. You’ll notice I said “was” a member. At first the group in Innsmouth appeared to be on to something big, and you wanted to be part. But when you saw how dark their grand design was, you escaped. What drew you to the cult in the first place, and what caused you to spurn it? Who was in the cult: your friends, your family, your whole community? Are they hunting you still? Benefit: You add Arcana and Stealth to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Arcana and Stealth checks.

Explorer Guide I’m the only one who can get you from here to Kingsport in less than two weeks. And I’ll make sure you don’t wind up in a backwoods cannibal’s soup pot. Ever since you saw your first map, you wanted to know what the lands beyond the margin looked like. And as an inveterate traveler, you’ve started to find out. What places have you seen on your journeys? How do you make ends meet? What’s the greatest danger you’ve ever faced? Is there a mythical place you’re particularly keen to visit someday? Benefit: Learn an extra language of your choice and increase your number of healing surges by 1.

Forest Warden There are things from beyond the stars trying to destroy my world. I’m here to make sure that the bodies of those things burn and their presence no longer taints nature. You love the wilds. You hate the Great Old Ones whose madness and rage seek to undo all that is normal and right in the world. You learn about your world and how to survive there so you can stop the evil of your enemies. Why are you so much a part of nature—where you raised by wolves or found and trained by fey? How do you react when you’re taken far from the natural world, like the heart of a city or another plane of existence? Is there a particular enemy of the forest that you’re still striving against? Benefit: You add Dungeoneering and Nature to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Dungeoneering and Nature checks.

Haunted Veteran Yes, I marched west into the Ruined Realm of Cendriane with Captain York. Can we talk about something else? You saw things in the war that no one should have to see, and the horrors of war changed your personality. What were you like before you went to war? Under what circumstances will you share what you experi¬enced? How do you keep those memories at bay: By adventuring and other hardships, through prayer, or with a bottle? Benefit: Once per encounter, reroll a failed saving throw against a fear or illusion effect with a +1 bonus.

Last of the Barrier Knights The Barrier Knights kept ancient knowledge about the Great Old Ones and worked tirelessly to keep those eldritch horrors confined to ancient dead stars. Betrayed from within, the Barrier Knights fell to the Estoric Order of Dagon. Everyone says that the Barrier Knights are no more. That’s not true—not as long I draw breath, anyway. You were part of an elite order of roving guardians—but they’re all gone and only you remain. What caused the order to die out? How did you escape that fate? Will you try to rejuvenate the order, or are you resigned to it passing into history? Benefit: You gain a healing surge. It takes four failed death saves to kill you.

Miskatonic Student Who Saw Too Much I was one of the brightest students in the Eibon Tower at Miskatonic University. But I was curious. And after I saw the unnatural beings bound in the basement, I knew some of my instructors were even more curious—and less scrupulous—than I was. You’ve received extensive arcane training, but then you learned something sinister about your teachers. What did you learn? Did you confront them, or did you flee? Are they chasing you to try to win you back into the fold, or to make sure that you don’t reveal their secrets? Benefit: You receive a +1 bonus to saving throws to end effects that daze, stun, immobilize, or restrain you.

Noble Bred for War My father, the fourth Lord of Essex County, gave me that blade. More importantly, he taught me how to use it—and why. You’re part of a noble family with an ancestral mandate to safeguard the lands in your care. Often, that means marching off to war, and you learned the solemnity of that duty from an early age. What is your family protecting its lands against: monsters, barbaric hordes, bandits, or an invading army? Were there family members who spurned their duty? How does the adventurer’s life fulfill your noble duty? Benefit: You gain proficiency in a simple or military weapon of your choice, and you gain a +1 bonus to Diplomacy checks.

On the Run from Cthulhu I’m just a guy who’s looking for a little more time before the bill comes due. You’ve made an eldritch bargain, but you no longer like the terms. Accordingly, you’re trying to alter or escape the bargain any way you can. Who is the bargain with, and what element of it are you trying to break (the term that involves your death, the horrific imprisonment of your family, or the forfeiture of your soul)? What specific form is the enforcement taking? In other words, who’s chasing you? Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to your speed when you run, you add Perception to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Perception checks.

Officer Who Came Out of Retirement Well, we didn’t do it that way during the Wilderness War, I can tell you that. You gave up a life in the army or the city watch long ago, but somehow you wound up eating hardtack and sleeping on a bedroll amid well-meaning but green recruits half your age. Under what circumstances did you retire, and then what got you back out on the trail? What lessons are you trying to pass on? What quirks of your comrades drive you crazy? What is it going to take for you to retire once again? Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to initiative checks, you add History to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to History checks.

Prison Conversion The scars are just evidence of a wayward youth. I’m actually a testament to the power of prison ministry. You did something bad enough to result in your imprisonment, but while there, your life changed. Upon your release, you took up your new life with a crusader’s zeal. For what crime were you imprisoned? How did you attain your release? Do you have difficulty reconciling your old life with your new calling? How do you react when your old life re-emerges unexpectedly? Benefit: You add Religion and Thievery to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Religion and Thievery checks.

Recent Convert Look, I was once an ordinary fellow like you. But during the Dunwich Horror, I found a source of power I’d never imagined. Or perhaps it found me. You weren’t always the religious sort. But you recently had a supernatural experience that changed your outlook and showed you your true calling. What was that event? Are there unan¬swered questions in its wake? And how did you feel about religion (both your new one and religions in general) prior to your conversion? Benefit: Once per encounter, reroll a failed saving throw against a charm or sleep effect with a +1 bonus.

River Smuggler I’m either a simple boatman, or a not-so-simple boatman. Depends who’s askin’. You’ve plied the Miskatonic and Manuxet Rivers and the Devil’s Reef off Innsmouth, making a little money on official cargo and a lot of money on the crates hidden in the bow compartment. What did you smuggle, and why was it contraband? Who did you deal with on each end of your journey? Did you ever get caught? Or double-crossed? Benefit: You add Nature and Streetwise to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Nature and Streetwise checks.

Scorned Noble I am an exile of honor, set apart from my people. Yet in my heart, I remain as steadfast as ever to those I will never see again. You grew up as one of the best and brightest, but what happened to send you away from your life of privilege? Was it a legal matter, an affair of the heart, or the skullduggery of a rival noble family? Are mem¬bers of your noble family secretly supporting you or remaining sympathetic to your cause? Do you intend to go back, and if so, what needs to happen first? Benefit: You are used to going it alone. You gain a +2 bonus to saving throws whenever no allies are within 5 squares of you.

Trained from Birth for the Final Battle of Dagon The whippoorwills? They come and go as they please. By the White’s wisdom, the whippoorwills will watch over me until terrible Dagon fights his last battle for Innsmouth. The prophetic words were written in scripture long before you were born, and you’re part of a concentrated effort to fulfill, safeguard, or thwart that prophecy. What is the nature of the prophecy, and what’s your relationship to it? Do you question whether your fate is truly ordained? And who or what is standing in your way? Benefit: You gain proficiency in a simple or military weapon of your choice, and you gain a +1 bonus to initiative checks.

Wandering Mercenary We were encamped on the southern banks of the Miskatonic River when the jumpers (eladrin) came. They were like ghosts; unseen if you looked at ‘em straight on. My friends started spurting blood and dying and I couldn’t even see the jumpers until they leaped out all around me, their feyblades dripping with my buddys’ blood. Even so, if you’re fast and can get ‘em to hold still, the jumpers bleed too. The art of war is one you know well, and you’ve marched with armies both to victory and to defeat. What key battles did you take part in? What was your rank, and did you have any particular duties? Do you have old war comrades around, and how do they feel about you? Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to initiative checks and once per day, you can reroll an initiative check if you don’t like the result. You keep the second result whether it’s better, the same, or worse.

Player Backgrounds

D&D Thirteen Colonies Kruvil