What Rough Beasts
Every hero comes from somewhere. Whether raised in the village or in the palace, in the mountains or on the shore, the surroundings of their early years will shape them. And no matter how far they rise, it will always have been a rise from somewhere.
At character creation, each player selects a background. This represents a set of special skills and areas of expertise from his or her upbringing. A character treats all background skills as class skills, and can select two to gain an inherent +3 bonus to. These selections cannot be changed after character creation, nor can the choice of background.
A character’s background must fit with their narrative background in some way, and the final okay is ultimately up to the DM.
Craftsmen are the skilled makers of the world—the stonemasons, the house-builders, the potters, and the smiths. Their skills make them invaluable members of their communities, and they often rise to positions of wealth and (occasionally) prominence.
Skills: Craft (any), Craft (any), Craft (any), Knowledge (architecture and engineering), and Profession (any)
For those brave enough to venture into the wild areas of the world, the woods can be a source of food, shelter, and wonder. For those untrained in their ways, however, they can just as often bring nothing but death.
Skills: Hide, Knowledge (nature), Move Silently, Survival, Spot
Merchants are the lifeblood of society, connecting otherwise isolated communities, passing along news, and allowing new ideas and technologies to spread.
Skills: Appraise, Bluff, Diplomacy, Decipher Script, Gather Information
Some men are just born to lead. They needn’t necessarily be from an actual noble family—military commanders, tribal chieftains, or descendants of proud ancient lineages, they all work people the way a smith works metal, turning formless ore into something elegantly useful. Or something deadly.
Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Sense Motive
Priests are responsible for carrying out the rites and rituals of the gods, but they also are some of the most educated people around, and act as record keepers, scholars, and—occasionally—royal advisors.
Skills: Decipher Script, Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (any), Speak Language
Some folk are just up to no good. Whether they learned their skullduggery through necessity, upbringing, or just a desire for quick gains combined with a weak moral compass, scoundrels are used to thinking on their feet, working against the odds, and running like hell when things go bad.
Skills: Bluff, Escape Artist, Hide, Move Silently, and Tumble
Many people have encountered spirits of some kind or other, for good or for ill. But those who seek them out and learn their ways earn the right to take on the title of shaman, medicine man/woman, healer, or other such honorifics. Their gifts are often prized by their respective communities, but they often set them apart, relegating them to solitary existences on the fringes of society.
Skills: Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (nature), Survival
The salt of the earth, shepherds are tough, hardy , and self-reliant folk, used to tending to animals and making do with what little they have.
Skills: Craft (any mundane), Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (nature), Survival
Most people are born, live, and die within the same 20 mile radius. A select few, however, are drawn to something over the horizon—most probably couldn’t tell you what it is, but it draws them eternally onward. Society disapproves of them, fears them, is fascinated by them, but they could care less. They need to travel…
Skills: Disguise, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (local), Ride, Survival
Those who dwell by the coast, whether they haul nets, dive for pearls, or just feel a connection to the salt spray, share a few key specialties.
Skills: Balance, Craft (any mundane), Profession (sailor), Swim, Use Rope