Brave new world
Each character has one background, which represents both his origins and the reason that brought him to be an adventurer that ended up with the task of exploring and settling on the continent of Tyris. Every background gives access to a number of benefits, including background skills and contacts. Background skills function exactly like ordinary skills but are hardly rolled upon and instead usually represented to determine whether a character knows or can do something that isn’t handled by the standard skill system. Contacts are important NPCs that, whether they are present or work behind the scenes, are helpful towards the character. Some backgrounds also give access to Companions, which are helpful NPCs that follow the character around and even help out in combat.
After picking a background, every character also chooses two background skills in addition to those provided by any other source.
Benefit: You are a master artisan, you gain the Crafts background skill and you must choose one area of specialization to represent the kind of work you are capable of doing. As long as you have access to an appropriate workshop, you gain an additional +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Goods and can always spend them to acquire items appropriate to your crafting abilities (as you can create them yourself).
Benefit: You have chosen to dabble in the wonderful and dangerous world of alchemy, with its plethora of complicated formulas and the infinite possibilities of gene splicing without the boring constraints of morals and responsibility. You gain the Alchemy background skill and gain an additional +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Magic or Goods as long as you have access to an alchemist’s laboratory, you can also spend such resources to create potions and other alchemical items. If you have access to a gene machine, you can attempt to splice genes and transfer abilities and/or otherwise modify living creatures; you can also attempt to create new life in the form of a homunculus.
Benefit: You deal in spices and apples, you gain the Mercantile background skill and begin the game with a trade route. You gain an additional +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Goods from a trade route that you own. You can choose to be an independent merchant, answering only to yourself, or you can choose to be part of a guild: in the latter case you must pay taxes and maintenance on revenues from the trade routes you own and control, but you also can exchange Influence for Goods at a 2:1 ratio instead of 3:1.
Benefit: You are the darling of a court and have earned, blackmailed or cajoled your way into high society, or maybe you were just born there. You gain the Politics background skill and, as long as you can participate in some form to the meetings of high society, you are connected to its rumour mill and can (usually) receive forewarnings as to what sort of random event is going to come up each month, assuming it is not a natural disaster or other sort of happenings that a court can’t inform you beforehand of. You begin the game with one Contact in high society.
Benefit: You have been officially knighted and have sworn your life to protect the smiles and hearts of innocents, the ceremony has involved the noble who has granted you with such title and one cleric of Iria who has overseen your martial training and blessed your efforts for peace. You gain a +2 bonus to all Diplomacy, Intuition and Streetwise rolls to interact with commoners and can (most of the time) count on free room and board and favourable treatment, respect and being called “sir” a lot. You are expected, in turn, to help commoners with their problems, usually of the adventurous variety. You can count on the help of a squire, usually the son or daughter of a minor noble who is hoping to learn from your chivalrous virtue. When you spend time helping commoners with minor matters, you gain a +3 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Influence.
Benefit: You were born, have been adopted or have married into nobility. You can rule by birthright over the common folk and even if you currently do not have lands of your own, you can acquire them through marriage, influence and deeds, including the opportunity of impressing your King and being bestowed the title of Governor of the new colonies. You gain the Politics background skill and one Contact in the court of the king of Granado. You also start the game with a finely-decorated katana, symbol of noble station in Granado.
Requirements: Human, Magic User
Benefit: Unlike the vast majority of sensible, reasonable people, you are less scared of monsters and their violent tendencies than you are of civilization, or maybe you just like quiet, wild, untamed places, or maybe you have a monstergirl fetish. You gain the Forager background skill and a +2 bonus on Diplomacy, Bluff, Streetwise and Intuition checks when dealing with demihumans and intelligent monsters; such creatures also react more favourably to you if they are aware of your position. You begin with a Contact outside of civilization.
Requirements: Magic User
Benefit: Out of the three ways to learn magic, you took the relatively easiest option for those that didn’t have the luck to be born with the spark. You have made a pact with an entity from another world to learn to control the winds of magic and have succeeded in your task, though at an unknown price. Your powers come from your familiar, which is considered to be a Companion, and your energy in turn sustains its existence in this world: your Companion cannot be killed and will simply wink out of existence temporarily if it should be dead, if this happens you suffer a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, defences, skill checks and other d20 rolls until it comes back. Your familiar also has access to demonic powers of his own and useful skills, though demons aren’t known for being the most cooperative and respectful of authority types of being out there. You gain the Demonology background skill, but most people know very little about demons and are (rightfully) wary of them, which will easily, in turn, make them wary of you too.
Benefit: You are one of the very few people who are compatible with vampire blood and have been infected with it. Luckily, you fell victim to one of Those Who Remember rather than a feral vampire, meaning you are now (forcibly) part of a particular community centred around an ancient alien being, pre-dating even Iria’s presence in this world. As a vampire, you are mildly uncomfortable under direct sunlight, cannot get a tan no matter how hard you try, and occasionally need to supplement your diet with human blood, though you actually need negligible quantities. Still, people don’t appreciate being bitten: you can make a moderate Stealth or Streetwise check to keep your vampiric identity hidden at downtime, but if you fail you might have to face an angry mob or worse. If you get past that bad first impression or are more open about your nature, you still receive a -2 penalty to Diplomacy and Streetwise rolls in any community that is aware of your vampiric being and a -2 penalty on all Revenue rolls to generate Influence. You gain the Vampire Lore background skill, one Contact amongst vampires of your own clan and must choose one patron being which determines which clan you belong to.
Deep Isthvalmer, the Oracle of the Abyss
Your blood gives you the power to see the loom of fate, an infinitely-spanning expanse of bright threads that represent all possible futures. It is incredibly difficult to understand, but sometimes even you can tell which are the most likely outcomes: you always get an omen as to which the next random event is and sometimes can receive hints and other inklings that will give you an idea of what is going to happen. Minor happenings are usually beneath your attention or ability to foresee, but the more major and meaningful something is, the earlier you receive an omen and the clearer it is.
Cathot-hog, the Beastlord
Your blood gives you power over the realm of beasts. You gain a preternatural sense of smell and all your other senses become sharper, giving you a +2 bonus to all Perception rolls and the Hunting, Foraging and Anima Handling background skills. Wild animals won’t attack you if unprovoked and you start the game with an animal Companion.
Kongura of the Moon
Your blood gives you access to what is probably the most elusive of vampire clans, those descending from the only being that struck the moon instead of Gaia’s surface during the First Impact. You gain the Moonlight Step racial power and can sense and operate Moongates, getting an idea of their destination before entering them; when you are in a Moongate’s pocket dimension, you can instinctively sense how to leave it as well. You also know how to create Moongates as if you knew the appropriate Ritual, even if you do not have the Ritualist ability.
Augment 1, Racial
Move action, Personal
Effect: You can teleport within the same area.
Benefit: You have offered yourself up as part of the volunteer army for the expedition to the new continent. As an outstanding member amongst a sea of rabble, you gain one Contact which is the volunteer army captain and have the authority to command small forces for expeditions, exploration or even during combat. Whenever you spend time training or directing the volunteers towards minor matters, you gain a +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Labour.
Benefit: You are part of the settlers that will provide the groundwork to expand on the already existing (albeit still small) presence in the new world, founding colonies. You came alone or with a family, but in either case you have plenty of resources to put to use. You gain a +5 bonus to all checks necessary to prepare an area to be settled and you gain a +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate Labour. You can also choose to exchange Influence for Labour at a 2:1 ratio instead of 3:1.
New world’s den
Benefit: You have agreed to participate to the expedition to the new world because the old one was getting a bit too crowded for you, or maybe you just wanted to be the first to settle in these new lands. Regardless, you are proud to be one of the first demihumans of your kind to make a den in the supposedly untamed wilds of the new world. You gain a +5 bonus to all checks necessary to build facilities outside of a settlement and, when working on one or on the land’s natural reserves, you gain a +5 bonus to all Revenue rolls to generate the appropriate resource type.