The background options below will help you integrate your character into the world of Etheria: each background option can apply to citizens of Et or denizens of The Expanse itself. Your customs and mannerisms may differ depending on your tribe, but the following background options are common to travel and commerce throughout The Expanse.
You have spent your life learning how to combine, treat, and prepare materials from The Expanse to be used by the people who struggle to live there. The tribes and civilizations of Etheria cannot survive without the bounties taken from The Expanse, and you are the avenue to turning natural resources into treasures for those less capable.
Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Nature
Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s supplies, Herbalism kit
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: Alchemists’ supplies, a notebook, writing implements, and a pouch containing 15gp.
Feature: Master Crafter
You are familiar with the materials of the natural world, and can use them to create potions and poultices in half the time normally required, and have the connections to keep your desired materials in stock. You start off with the knowledge to create potions of healing and antitoxins, and can learn to craft more if someone shows you how.
With most of the population of Etheria sequestered into nomadic tribes, most communities designate certain individuals to negotiate and communicate with foreign groups. You have served your community in this role, helping to bridge cultural gaps and facilitate trade. You are knowledgeable of the rites and traditions of a few tribes you have connections with, and can garner good will from those you’re less familiar with.
Skill Proficiencies: History, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: Calligrapher’s supplies, Forgery kit
Equipment: Calligrapher’s supplies, map of allied tribes’ locations in The Expanse, set of fine clothes, scroll tube with 5 blank scrolls, signet ring, and a pouch containing 15gp.
Feature: Position of Respect
Having received a formal designation from your tribe as an ambassador in Etheria, civilized tribes regard you with respect. You and your adventuring companions can expect to receive a meal and shelter for the evening from any tribe you do business with; this includes sharing their security if you camp with them in The Expanse.
You’ve been around adventurers heading into the unknown of The Expanse your whole life, and have a seasoned understanding of what goes into such endeavors. Planning excursions, finding those with the right skillsets, and organizing the resources for expeditions large and small are all skills you excel in. You’re the one people turn to when they have a mission, and somehow you’re always prepared.
Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Insight
Tool Proficiencies: Dice set, Vehicles (land)
Equipment: Cooking utensils, set of traveler's clothes, a dice set, riding horse, and a pouch containing 15gp.
Caravaneers are responsible for organization and resourcing for expeditions into the Expanse, and are largely considered the authority in most matters outside of law. Non-hostile humanoids are responsive to your direction, and as long as they feel they are not being hurt or taken advantage of, they will do what they can to accommodate your requests.
The Expanse dominates the world of Etheria, and cartographers are highly prized for their skill at illuminating more and more of its mystery. In a world full of unknowns, you pin down the truth of the world and record it. Maps are a tribe’s bulwark against the dangers of The Expanse, and you are the key to strengthening it. Whether adapting maps from other tribes or charting new territory, you have the even eyes and deftness required to build the maps that safeguard the communities of the world.
Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Cartographer’s tools, Navigator’s tools
Equipment: Cartographer’s tools, set of traveler’s clothes, scroll tube, sealing wax, spyglass, and a pouch containing 20gp.
Feature: Critical Eye
Your skill set is dedicated to the codifying and mapping of the natural world. As you travel, you can create accurate maps of any areas you’ve traveled through at a normal pace. These maps can be used to double your (or others’) proficiency modifier for using navigator’s tools in that area, or sold for profit (price varies depending on land area covered, materials used, and additional details beyond geography).
You have always had a thirst for adventure, and the world of Etheria is brimming with it. You are a rare breed, willing and eager to explore the unknown, battling dangers and discovering new cultures along the way. Some call you crazy, but The Expanse holds unlimited opportunity, and you’ll be damned if you’re not going out to pursue it.
Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: Navigator’s tools, Thieves’ tools
Equipment: Thieves' tools, climber’s kit, set of traveler’s clothes, spyglass, tent, and a pouch containing 10gp.
You have a keen memory for your surroundings and can always find your way back to an area you have traveled from. You can always tell how far you’ve traveled and what turns you’ve taken to get there.
Few know the dangers of The Expanse as well as you. You may have grown up in The Expanse itself, or simply ventured out into it enough that traversing it is now second nature. You’ve spent your life in service of the multitudinous expeditions that venture out for the riches of The Expanse, and have a wealth of ability and knowledge as a result.
Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Navigator’s tools
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: Navigator’s tools, set of traveler’s clothes, hooded lantern, tankard of liquor, and a pouch containing 20gp.
Feature: Safe Travel
You are well-versed with the challenges of traversing The Expanse. You and a number of friendly creatures equal to your level can take a short rest while traveling at a slow pace. You and the chosen creatures must complete the short rest without making any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution ability checks or lose the benefits of the rest. Hazards, traps, and enemy attacks can also interrupt your rest, just as a normal rest.
You are part of one of the founding families of the city of Et, by birth or affiliation. The High Families are accustomed to a life of privilege and power within the city walls, and are known even outside of the walls of Et. You have been brought up with schooling, apprenticeship, and high expectations, all to cultivate a sense of responsibility for the well-being of the city. Members of the High Families live lives of plenty, but are held to high standards to uphold justice and prosperity in the city, and are given severe repercussions for misbehavior.
Skill Proficiencies: History, Insight
Tool Proficiencies: Calligrapher’s tools
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: Calligrapher’s tools, set of fine clothes, signet ring, sealing wax, map of Et, and a pouch containing 25gp.
Feature: Friends in High Places
As a member of a High Family, you have connections with the city council, and by extension many citizens of the city of Et. As long as your actions do not harm citizens of Et, you can request special treatment from affiliates of your High Family. Such requests can reasonably include; food, lodging, nonmagical equipment, or access to restricted areas of the city.
Rather than specialize a dedicated skill set, you have taken odd jobs throughout your life, and have garnered a reputation for success, regardless of the work. Mercenaries round out caravan groups, sign on to protect wealthy clients, and fill in for groups when a specialist can’t be hired. You’re welcome amongst most crowds, as they know if they’re truly in need, it’s likely you they’ll be turning to.
Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Sleight of Hand
Tool Proficiencies: Dice set
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: Dice set, set of common clothes, one simple weapon, a hunting trap, and a pouch containing 20gp.
Feature: Burden of Necessity
People know you will rise to the occasion for your clients, and are aware they may well be one of them one day; they will afford you more leeway than most. Minor offenses such as minor property damage, drunk and disorderly, or skipping out on the bill are largely ignored by those around you, considered one of the costs of doing business with you.
You’re in the business of business, and have been for most of your life. Trade is necessary for larger tribes to survive in Etheria, but few have the know-how and skill to facilitate trade throughout The Expanse. You do, even when it requires bending the rules. You’re connected and recognized by friendly tribes, and can find ways to profit from a variety of sources.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, One of your choice
Tool Proficiencies: Forgery kit, Vehicles (land)
Equipment: Forgery kit, a notebook, a merchant’s scale, and a pouch containing 20gp.
You’re able to accurately estimate the value of natural and magical materials from The Expanse. Though the value of materials may vary somewhat between tribes, your experience lets you categorize the value of items into succinct ranges. The more information you have about an object (origin, magical effect, material components, etc), the narrower the range your GM will provide you for its value.
You have dedicated your life to the pursuit of knowledge. Much is unknown about The Expanse, and you are one of the avenues to unlocking its secrets. Your broad knowledge of the world gives you the perspective to make connections and inferences that few others can, and you are the first resource for many explorers who happen upon a discovery in The Expanse.
Skill Proficiencies: History, Religion
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: Notebook, a reference book, chalk, a writing implement, and a pouch containing 10gp.
Feature: Historical Perspective
You have studied the known tribes in The Expanse, and can identify their works. Without making a check, you can recognize the tribal origin of any structure, writing, or device, as long as you are aware of the tribe itself. If there is information about this work you do not know, you can contact a member of that tribe to obtain additional knowledge. If a member of your party is from that tribe, they can make a check to further understand the work, and they are considered proficient for that check, and add double their proficiency modifier to the check instead of the normal proficiency bonus.
You are a skilled professional, with a reputation for superior quality work. You’ve been practicing for years, are acknowledged for your skills, and have connections to others with comparable trades. You may have collaborated with other artisans or partnered with a merchant as part of your profession, and your connections will honor your past business with good will.
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: One set of artisan’s tools (any)
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: One set of artisan’s tools, set of common clothes, map of Et, and a pouch containing 15gp.
Your reputation precedes you when dealing with tribes friendly with Et, and they treat you with respect. When visiting any known settlement, you are given access to a workshop to practice your craft, and will be invited in as a guest of a local artisan or merchant. You can count on a place to work, a hot meal, and lodging for yourself for a night.
Whether by choice or by circumstance, you’ve lived outside of the bounds of any known settlement in The Expanse, a feat not just anyone could survive. During your travels, you’ve learned how to avoid the more dangerous inhabitants of The Expanse and what it takes to endure extended periods of time on your own or in small groups.
Skill Proficiencies: Survival, Stealth
Tool Proficiencies: Cook’s utensils, Climber’s kit
Equipment: Cook’s utensils, climber’s kit, a hunting trap, and a pouch containing 15gp.
Without the regular security of walls or guards, you’ve learned how to hide yourself for safety when you rest. Given an hour in any natural environment, you can make a campsite that is indistinguishable from its surroundings when viewed from the outside. Creatures outside of the campsite other than you cannot find it relying only on sight, though detection via other means is possible. The campsite lasts for up to 24 hours and can house you and a number of friendly creatures equal to your level.