D&D Next: Dark Sun Backgrounds

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Here are my homebrew Dark Sun backgrounds. Let me know what you think and any suggested changes.


Blue Robed Templar


Prerequisites: Human, Divine Casting Class


You were born into a noble house where you were raised until the age of sixteen. Upon reaching sixteen years of age a Red Robed Templar met with the leaders of your house, at which time you were brought forward and informed that you were to be joining the Templarate. You had to work hard to survive the training but five years of hard service you were finally handed the blue robes of a Templar where you have served ever since. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Read Sirihish (Common tongue)

  • Read and Write Tatlum (secret language known only to Templars)

  • Intimidate +3


You also gain the background feature called Immediate Obedience:


When within lands that recognises you as a member of the military, you are able to call upon the service of commoners to assist you in minor tasks such as fetching you an item, delivering a message or watching over a corpse.


--
In the above there are 3 levels in the Templarate, Blue Robes, Red Robes and Black Robes. There are only 5 Black Robes and no-one except Red Robes have ever seen them. It has a pre-requisite (which none of the core rules do) due to the fact that only humans can be nobles and they are granted their divine spells from the Sorcerer-Kings directly. Being a templar is a big deal and comes with many benefits besides those detailed above!


Scribe


You were either born into slavery or captured at a very young age. Luckily for you, your fate wasn’t to end up in the obsidian mines but instead to live a life of relative luxury. You could be owned by a merchant house, the templarate or a noble house. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Read and Write either Sirihish, Tatlum or Cavilish (merchant’s tongue).

  • Insight +3

  • Nobility Lore +3

  • Folklore +3


You also gain the background feature called Lost in a Crowd:


As a slave you are easily overlooked. You are able to slip into crowds quite easily where you easily go without notice unless you draw attention to yourself. You’re also able to hide yourself in large groups of slaves with the masters being unaware or the other slaves ratting you out.


Gladiator


You were either born into slavery or more likely captured at a very young age. You were sold into the Arena where you’ve learned your whole life how to fight. You have been trained to go up against large dangerous beasts from the wilds as well as other slaves or even criminals. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Intimidate +3

  • Bluff +3

  • Perception +3

  • Insight +3


You also gain the background feature called Fighting Prowess:


When in a settlement you are able to earn a small amount of coin using your fighting skills. You are either able to fight other creatures for sport or train others in how to fight. You gain enough coin to feed you and put you up somewhere somewhat comfortable to sleep during the night. Additionally soldiers and mercenaries might be willing to share information with you.


Untrained Slave


You were either a worker in the slave pits, worked in the fields or another labour intensive job. Your life has been hard and unforgiving with those all around you succumbing to disease and weakness while you struggled to survive. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Athletics +3

  • Climb +3

  • Heal +3


You also gain the background feature called Endurance.


Urikite Militia


You applied to join the militia and was accepted. You underwent the basic training and have been stationed in Urik ever since. You walk a beat and have quickly learned a few of the local undesirables, the smart ones give you regular payouts to look the other way while you get to shake those who aren’t smart enough down for any contraband they might have. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Bluff +3

  • Intimidate +3

  • Perception +3


You also gain the background feature Known Fencers


You know the underground pretty well and have often had to frequent fencers in order to transform the stolen goods you receive into cold hard coin. In cities or large towns you are quickly able to find a fencer and sell and buy goods that would otherwise be illegal. Such fencers may also be able to put you into contact with shady types for a price.


Bard


You ply the trade of a performer, knowing many tales and songs to entertain people with. However along the way you’ve picked up quite a bit of information on a number of topics and can also talk your way out of trouble. You have training in the skills listed below, and you gain the listed bonus on any check involving that skill.



  • Diplomacy +3

  • Forbidden Lore +3

  • Natural Lore +3

  • Historical Lore +3


You also gain the background feature called Researcher:


When you attempt to learn or recall a piece of lore, if you do not know that information, you can spend 1d6 hours when within a large city to find someone who does have that infomraiton.

These are great!  Thanks for sharing!  

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these are great 
Thanks guys.

Here's a couple more backgrounds for you guys.


Caravan guide


Skills: Animal Handling, Societal Lore, Speak either Allundean, Bendune or Kentu.


Caravan Guides are skilled in desert travel and know where safe places to rest are. When travelling along a trade route you can find a cave, crevasse or otherwise sheltered area to rest within a day’s travel.


Con Artist


Skills: Bluff, Insight, Sleight of Hand


Con artists are good at taking advantage of people. When within a settlement you can find suitable lodging for you and your friends, often thanks to preying on a lonely person.


--


Allundean = Elvish, Bendune = Language spoken by nomadic humans, Kentu = Halfling.

I have a bone to pick with the blue robed templar background...

If you want to remain true to the setting, the following needs to be true of templars of Urik (note - all info is taken from 2e Dark Sun products):

>At all levels of the templarate a yellow cassock is worn, with colored thread (and even metal) woven into the sleeves to denote station. The robes are made of silk.

>Only templars can wear a cloak (which are bleached pure white).

>Medallions of baked ceramic are worn as well (some medallions are made instead of gold, steel, or bronze - Javed’s = steel). The face of these medallions have bas relief portraits of the Lion King in full stride. On the back, the individuals name is written and the rank shown, according to bureau. Medalions are hung on a chord of inix leater.

>Messanger rank templars have no sleeves (acquired threads make the sleaves?)

>Under-rank templars have only a few threads of orange or crimson - never gold like the civil bureau - and wear baked ceramic medallions. They are clean shaven as well.

>Most higher ranking templars wear their hair as they choose.

>A procurer has metallic thread woven into the left sleeve.

>War bureau = hand span worth of dark thread on right sleeve and bronze medalion. note - militant templars are called pursuivants

>Armor worn by the templarate is constructed of leather armor, laced with bone or chitin – weapons are obsidian (mined from the Smoking Crowns)

>An executor, the highest templar rank in the civil burear, has his right sleeve laced with precious metal the entire length of the sleeve.

>Necromancers wear a mostly black robe, and most wear masks. (also called dead heart sorcerers)

>At posts within the palace, guards have threads of copper and gold woven into their sleeves (progressively more threads as one moves deeper into the palace).

>High templars (only 50) normally have gold-cast medallions, which are defaced by the claw of Hamanu (the claw mark signifies the advancement, however, so other medallion materials are possible).

>Hamanu’s Champion - each time this title is received, the medallion of the recipient is embedded with a ruby.

>Hero of Urik - the recipient of this title gets a diamond embedded into his medallion.
I have a bone to pick with the blue robed templar background...

If you want to remain true to the setting, the following needs to be true of templars of Urik (note - all info is taken from 2e Dark Sun products):

Some of that is actually pretty neat I've used Urik so heavily because I was under the impression it had received almost no attention in the 2nd ed days so I could make up whatever I want about it. I've removed the mention of Urik from the background for now. Are there any city-states that you feel a Blue Robed Templar would be appropriate for?
Do with this what you will. All information is taken from 2e Dark Sun products (with the exception of the info on Eldaarich, which is taken from official 3.5 Dark Sun products available on athas.org - namely Faces of the Forgotten North, and Wisdom of the Drylanders):

Templar dress for:
Balic
Balican templars wear a cream-colored toga.
Templars assigned to the king’s fleet often use glass dust-shields, to protect their eyes, and silk scarves, to safeguard their airway.

Draj
Templars of Tectuktitlay, called “Moon Priests”, wear bluish robes embroidered with a bright yellow moon, on front and back.
Other items worn by the templarate, such as armor or other accessories, are often decorated with the moon motif, as well, with backgrounds of blue (sometimes closer to black).
Headdresses are worn but never incorporate feathers or lirr tails – so as not to be mistaken for a commoner.
Precious jewels or gold is often inlaid into a Moon Priest’s headdress.

Eldaarich
Eldaarish templars belong to one of seven orders: Takrits (Daskinor’s Handmaidens and Palace Guards), Neshtap (Red Guards), Savak (Secret Police), Kulag (the Silt Fleet), Haleban (Management of Knowledge, Facts, and Public Works), Shtas (Infantry), and Cheka (Truth Extraction).
Eldaarish templars serving the Neshtap, in the Red Guard, wear red leather armor and cone-shaped hoods.
Many Savak agents serve to infiltrate other groups, and so take on the dress that most helps that cause, often times employing gloves (or even amputating fingers) to hide the Eldaarish finger-brands.
The King’s Handmaidens are garbed in white.
Templars of the Haleban wear blue robes and carry walking canes instead of weapons.
Agents of the Shtas are also known as Browncloaks.

Gulg
Templars of Gulg use tightly bound necklaces to display rank.
Necklaces are made of small tubular beads and bits of human bone, teeth, and hair.
The necklaces are accumulated as a templar gains rank and resemble a high, tight fitting collar, on higher ranking officials.
Low ranking templars wear one necklace, while the highest ranking official in the Oba’s court is said to wear at least ten.
Champion templars wear heavy armor into combat and weild heavy weapons.
Judaga priests usually wear light leather armor and carry thrusting weapons.

Kurn
Many Kurnan templars are tasked to infiltrate the templarate of other city-states and, therefore, take on the garb of those targeted.

Nibenay
The Templar Wives of Nibenay dress in black and carry barbed agafari-wood spears.
Armor worn by the templarate is usually constructed of black carapace and often decorated with spines or other deadly implements.
Low level templars wear full saramis.
Mid-level templars wear only skirts and sandals.
High level templars, or members of the templarate that are close to the king, wear no clothing at all.
In times of battle, protective gear and tabards are worn.

Raam
Templars of Abalach-Re dress in white robes.
Armor is often worn over their robes and are adorned with the image of the Grand Vizier’s false god, Badna (four-armed man in a long loincloth).
The vizier caste, including templars and mansabdars, also wear rich clothing, made of dyed silk from Draj.

Tyr
Black cassocks are worn by all the templars in Tyr.
Gilded robes are worn by high templars.
High ranking templars often adorn themselves with metal jewelry (such as metal pendants).

Urik
See above post
Tribal Chieftain
By blood or strength you rule a tribe in the desert waste.  Perhaps you are the blood of a betrayed chieftain, perhaps you have left to rally the rest of your people, or seek vengeance for your tribe's destruction.
Trait - Ancestral People: Whatever the manner of your departure, somewhere in the Tablelands there are people who pray for your safe homecoming as much as rain. Whether you were nomadic or settled, amongst your own people who can find food, shelther, and refuge from the Sorcerer Kings.
Skills: Geographical Lore, Insight, Intimidate

Templar
You are the agent of a Sorcerer King's will.  Though the traditions vary from city to city, all Templars constitute a powerful, wealthy class within their city.
Trait - Word of a King: Athas has few absolute laws.  Hospitality in the desert, a respect for performing artists, and honors for a visiting Templar.  When you travel openly as a royal emissary a city state is obligated to provide you and your entourage with some manner of water, shelter, and safety.  This varies greatly from city to city.  In Raam, a visiting Templar may be taken in by a Nawab who will beg incessently for foreign aid.  In Draj, a visiting Templar may expect accomodations no better than a field slave for the Father of Life purports to be above tradition.  In Urik, the Code of Hamanu dictates that a diplomat must bear a royal decree, be escorted directly to see to his business, and then sent on his way.  Be warned however, a visiting templar is closely watched and the moment their actions extend beyond official duties their protection is forfeit.
Skills:  Diplomacy, Bluff, Local Lore – Your City


Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

Veiled Alliance Initiate
You are a Veiled Alliance operative. Though there are sectarian differences amongst different Veiled Alliance factions, you are initiated into the preserver tradition and actively work to oppose defilers, especially the Sorcerer Kings and their servants, the Templars.

Trained Skills: Read one language. Choose one of the following options.
Acolyte - Bluff, Arcane Lore, Natural Lore 
Infiltator - Bluff, Stealth, Streetwise
Organizer - Bluff, Local Lore (your polis), Societal Lore
Negotiator - Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight


Trait - Preserver Underground: You know 2 non-damaging cantrips from the wizard spell-list and may use them normally. Choose either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. Your choice determines which ability your Spell Save DC is keyed to. Additionally, you can recognize the common signs and secret markings used by the Veiled Alliance. When you are in an area of civilization, you can make contact with members of the local Veiled Alliance faction (if any) and ask for assistance, information, or missions. Veiled Alliance factions may also offer safe-houses, access to underground contacts or vendors, and basic or mission-specific supplies. 

Thoughts? 

Trait - Arcane Underground: You know 2 non-damaging cantrips from the wizard spell-list and may use them normally. Choose either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. Your choice determines which ability your Spell Save DC is keyed to. Additionally, you can recognize the common signs and secret markings used by the Veiled Alliance. When you are in an area of civilization, you can make contact with members of the local Veiled Alliance faction (if any) and ask for assistance, information, or missions. Veiled Alliance factions may also offer safe-houses, underground contacts or vendors, and basic or mission-specific supplies. 


Thoughts? 




I really like the part about getting cantrips because, in the Dark Sun lore, performing a spell without defiling is often a requirement of finding the alliance.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

i agree great idea ... you know its coming so we might as well start coming up with specializations as they are calling them. backgrounds any thoughts yet ?
The way they've positioned Specialties they're all pretty combat oriented so far.  These would be a good place for most of the 4E themes such as Gladiator and Wilder.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

for sure they would fit the gladiator as far as wilder i did not care for most of 4th edition not that it wasn't great to see our beloved dark sun alive i enjoyed the fluff some mechanics not many and i do not even want to mention the defiling mechanic. iam sure most of you have the newest test packet as they stated very early on it seems all caster well most any well will have a diffrent mechanic. i dont know about all of you but i know it will be a looong way off before we get an update. so lets brain storm and come up with specialties ( lets face it there almost like a chain of feats) that we can use now based on the current rules. and i say lets start with the one we never agree on, the defiler back ground its benefits as far as skill bounus and the mechanic itself. as i said before the specialties are combat oriented as i knew they would be but i do not want a fighter if there is one in my group duplicating the moves of a gladiator. As far as racial benfits go we have plenty to draw from with what they released now the tri-kreen should not be hard to do at all as many of the monsters listed have multiple attacks. as far as the cleric is conserned i still and always will use the elemnetal aspect of there powers. The SKS iam sorry i know iam in the minority here but there are not now nor will there ever be warlocks /pacts ect.. used in my campaign its the templars as always that have the pact with the SK and always will be. there powers at least for me are granted from them and some spells are unique as should be but also they are variations of the clerics spells. I did not mention the sorcerous  becuase again i do not allow them in my campaign. 
I play a Druid in Ashes of Athas and I have shopped around the idea of taking certain powers (especially an e7) that I could shoot my friends with, in order to really damage our enemies.  I have generally been panned.  (Even though it's a really Dark-Sun-feel kind of idea.)  Based on that, I do not see an effective way to get a PC Defiler.  The point of the flavor text is that defiling magic, although powerful, sucks the life out of everything nearby - friend, foe, unaligned, or just unlucky enough to be in your vicinity.  This definitely includes PCs.  Also as a consequence, a known Defiler will be attacked by mobs whenever he is found - get him before he can get you - unless he has the protection of a Sorcerer-King or somebody else the members of the mob cannot hope to beat in a fight.

The point of Dark Sun, when first created, was to provide a world where you would not automatically want to play the Wizard (and couldn't play the Cleric); so the Fighter / Ranger / Rogue / &c looked like viable choices.

Unfortunate corrolary: there is no way to create PC-usable Defiling rules.
Fortunate corrolary #1: a Defiler NPC makes a great villian, one-shot or long term.
Fortunate corrolary #2: PCs have built-in motive to drop what they are doing and deal with any Defilers they meet.

Best complements I have yet received

Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.

 

{BRJN} If Bhaal approves of The Joker, does he approve of Jack Nicholson's portrayal or Heath Ledger's protrayal more?

{Stigger} That question is utterly classic, and completely on target.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the 4e thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (now lost in that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.

 

(News bulletin: Updated thread to be posted after I review the 5e DMG)

 

My 5e characters

Active:

none yet - gotta find a group !

Character Ready-to-go:

Erevyn Meliamne, Wood elf Monk1, inspired by "Radar O'Reilley" from M*A*S*H

Concepts I'm kicking around:

Barbarian w/Tough feat, to be nearly indestructible

"Truenamer" cleric - all spells are Verbal

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC / BBEG version is going to become a beetle version of a Worm That Walks.  (See the 4e Lamia.)  Because lichdom is so cliche.

Whenever I've let someone use a PC defiler, I tend to have them come up with something in their back-story that makes them NOT want to draw attention (beyond the basic social taboo). For instance, my friend created a character for this extensive campaign we've been designing who is a defiling summoner Wizard/binder Warlock. He's Chaotic Neutral but we had plans to eventually make him into one of the primary antagonists later on (as he is corrupted by a far realm/abyssal artifact). Because of his initial exposure to this artifact, he forsook his pact with Nibenay and fled to Tyr in a caravan. Because of the political climate in Tyr, his relative isolation (due to his ex-patriation), and the various other activites he doesn't want attention drawn to (his status as a noble from Nibenay, his addiction to melange, his covert support of Tithian's faction during the first quest of this campaign into Kalak's temple), he has a lot of in-character reasons for NOT defiling wantonly. I made this very clear from the outset, so that, when the player does choose to defile with him, it will likely be a question of means and ends or of lesser evils.

EX: the party is mostly through Kalak's ziggurat (Etemenanki) but quite haggard, when suddently, the NPC psionicist in their party (Dyan Murter) reveals his allegience to the True and begins sabotaging them. In order to survive, Samael (the defiler) calls on his defiling magic, which ends up saving the party. One member, a Veiled Alliance operative, is repelled by this, but recognizes that, to get out alive, they need to stick together...  Samael is also very good at lying (high Cha) so he feigns that he panicked and, in a moment of weakness, called on the power of defiling magic. I could see this being used now and again, or perhaps, just when Samael is out of sight from the other players as a plausible way to do PC defilers.
 
Dyan Murter, the bizarro-world version of Murter Dyan.

I like the use of Dyan as an NPC in the various campaigns I've seen. Whether as a fat-jowled coward (as portrayed in Denning) or the crafty leader of the True or a hapless scapegoat, it seems like everyone has a take on him. 
Dyan Murter, the bizarro-world version of Murter Dyan.

I like the use of Dyan as an NPC in the various campaigns I've seen. Whether as a fat-jowled coward (as portrayed in Denning) or the crafty leader of the True or a hapless scapegoat, it seems like everyone has a take on him. 

Yea, I can't decide if I want him to stick around in a similar style to Maetan Lubar working for Hamanu in the Crimson Legion novel, and help Kalak (who himself is set up to be a paragon-tier antagonist (that is, when the party runs back into him, after his ziggurat levitates out of Tyr with him s locked in a gestation chamber and floats southward into the dead-lands, all whilst ejecting the PC's)... or if I just want him to go all willing martyr for Kalak so he can make the aforementioned dramatic escape into the Deadlands... 

I plan on using Lubar as well so, two mindbenders who act as recurring characters might be a little much...

Maybe I'll just bring him back all Hojo style when Kalak pops up again as a weird-mutant-undead-robot-bonus-boss-fight.  Or just change the mind-bender thing a bit. IDK.
In my current campaign, Dyan was publicly executed (for being a founder of the True) by King Tithian a few months ago and his estate seized for redistribution to the workers.

However, my players are unsure if he was guilty or if the True even exists at all; though several attacks have been attributed to it in the past year, there has been no real evidence that the organization exists, and because all of the imprisoned or executed "members of the True" were former enemies of Tithian as a templar, they wondered if Tithian was just trying to use the idea to get revenge on his enemies now that he's in power.

I won't say what the real answer is yet in case my players are reading.

www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-los...
In my current campaign, Dyan was publicly executed (for being a founder of the True) by King Tithian a few months ago and his estate seized for redistribution to the workers.

However, my players are unsure if he was guilty or if the True even exists at all; though several attacks have been attributed to it in the past year, there has been no real evidence that the organization exists, and because all of the imprisoned or executed "members of the True" were former enemies of Tithian as a templar, they wondered if Tithian was just trying to use the idea to get revenge on his enemies now that he's in power.

I won't say what the real answer is yet in case my players are reading.

www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-los...

I had a similar idea actually. I was setting up Tyr in my campaign as an amalgam of revolutionary Russia and Civil-war era Spain. I would like for there to actually be loyalists to Kalak (white-guards) but I'd primarily like The True to act clandestinely, whilst being scape-goated by the other two main factions in my version of Tyr, those being the Crimson Legion (Tithian's faction, and an analogue of the red-guards/state communists), and the Blackguard, (which is Rikus, Neeva, Sadira, and Agis' faction and represents most of the freed slaves, peasants and a few nobles and merchants as a fairly direct analogue of the Ukrainian Mahknovist Blackguards/International Brigades). The Veiled Alliance will place some sort of vanguardist role as well, possibly waging a shadow war against the True and being similarly scapegoated to a certain extent, though their role is less concrete atm.

 
Very cool idea. While I've made some different choices, I think I'm taking a similar tack as you (basing it on historical revolutionary governments). In our campaign, King Tithian has cultivated the support of the common people and has been stripping lands from nobles and the like to redistribute to the common folk. Rikus, Sadira, Neeva, etc. are part of Tithian's faction because he has so much support from the freed slaves/common folk. The nobles, merchants, etc. are feeling kind of abused at this point, though Agis keeps the nobles in line because of his long history with Tithian.

The PCs are a bit caught in the middle; on the one hand, they align themselves with the commoners. However, that means that they have to tolerate a lot of anti-Veiled Alliance rhetoric (as the people do not trust the Alliance) and also find themselves constantly siding with Tithian (who is loved by the people and sides with them) even though they suspect that he is a little shady somehow.

A third major faction in my game is the dray; I don't have them as servants of Dregoth, but rather as the Dragon's created race and diplomatic representatives:

www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/the-lost...

The dray fled the city when Kalak was killed, but returned a year later and were invited back into the government by King Tithian--elevating Tyr back to the status of the other city-states (but at what cost?). But the players HATE the dray (who are defilers and sneaky) and suspect they were behind an assassination attempt on Rikus (which everyone blamed on the True) and wonder why Tithian and the Council has accepted them back.
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