Everyone Has a Past

Friday, May 11, 2018

While we all live moment-by-moment, we are also shaped by our past. This is especially true for adventurers. After all, very few elves at the ripe age of 14 think to themselves, "Hey, I think I'm going to become a barbarian." There is a path that leads the character to their class. It might synergize obviously with the class's discipline, or at first blush it might seem a non sequitur, but the path is there.

In the Pathfinder Playtest, your ancestry talks a bit about your past, but it also speaks to your present and the promise of the future, by virtue of the fact that you continue to gain ancestry feats through the course of your adventuring career. But to help you dig deeper into your past, you'll choose a background.

Generally, backgrounds allow you to select a bit of backstory that mechanically affects the current state of your character. The first thing it does is grants you a pair of ability boosts (with some limitations on one of those ability boosts), and then it grants a skill feat tied to the theme of your background and proficiency in a Lore skill that also ties into the background. For instance, here is an old chestnut:

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Blacksmith (Background)

You were a blacksmith or a blacksmith's apprentice, and during countless hours toiling at the forge, you learned how to smith armor and weapons. Perhaps you worked hard each day and dreamed of adventure each night, or perhaps the adventuring life was thrust upon you by a pivotal event.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Specialty Crafting skill feat for blacksmithing, and you're trained in the Smithing Lore skill.

Sure, it's a bit cliche, but it's a fun cliche. Before becoming a fighter, you were a blacksmith's apprentice. Maybe you crafted your sword or suit of armor and decided to protect home and hearth from monsters. But take a closer look at the background. It's more flexible than that. It's also an excellent background for an alchemist or another character who wants to specialize in crafting. Since you can boost Intelligence via this background, and Intelligence is the key ability score for both Crafting skill and the alchemist class, you can refocus this background into that of an intelligent tinkerer who uses innovation rather than toil to create metal objects. And who knows? Maybe later on in your career, you can fuse your background with other skill feats to invent a new form of alchemical armor or some kind of metal construct.

Not all backgrounds have to do with gainful employment; others deal with the circumstances of your upbringing that you can parlay into useful skills. Here is another example of a classic fantasy trope:

Street Urchin (Background)

You eked out a living by picking pockets on the streets of a major city, never knowing where you'd find your next meal. While some folk adventure for the glory, you adventure as a means of survival.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Pickpocket skill feat, and you're trained in the Underworld Lore skill.

While a classic rogue background, this background also has enough flexibility to serve as a perfectly fine background for a wizard or alchemist, and that's only if you dwell on the limited ability boost. Remember, one of the ability boosts if free, so you can play against type and still make a perfectly reasonable character. Imagine a paladin with this background, which isn't so hard if you know anything about a certain iconic paladin...

Not all backgrounds are so all-encompassing, though. After all, your background not only deals with activity but also your personal focus. You may have been an apprentice blacksmith, even for a long while, but retained none of its benefits because you were too busy dreaming about being a Pathfinder.

Pathfinder Hopeful (Background)

You've long wanted to join the adventurous Pathfinder Society, a world-spanning organization of relic hunters. This aspiration has led you to take up the dangerous life of an adventurer eager to make a name for yourself and gain the attention of the Pathfinder Society.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Additional Lore feat, and you're trained in the Pathfinder Society Lore skill.

While the boosts are similar to that of the blacksmith background, the skill selection is, of course, different. I can easily picture this background as that of a young dreamer, toiling away when she must but finding whatever time she can to read various Pathfinder Chronicles (both real and forged) and honing her body and mind for the chance to join the Pathfinder Society.

Incidentally, this is not a background you will find in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. While that weighty tome provides 19 backgrounds, you'll find six more backgrounds in the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. Those six are tailor-made for the adventure, granting the opportunity for small, sometimes incidental perks during play for those who take them and allowing you to tailor your character to the story. This is one of the chief benefits of the background system—it can be used to make very general backgrounds or to tailor specific backgrounds to an adventure or a campaign.

And so there you have it; that's the skinny on backgrounds. What kind of backgrounds can you imagine?

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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Never used Traits and am delighted to see the back of them, but the new method doesn't seem any better.

Players will either choose the most mechanically beneficial Background and promptly forget about it, or else face have to decide which of the game's Backgrounds is the closest fit to the Background they envision for their character.

Neither of these seems a desirable outcome and even if the system does work as intended the result is a world where everyone has the same 17 or so Backgrounds. I understand that Paizo needed another stage of Character Creation to get the math to work, but it still seems like a bad idea.


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Dragon78 wrote:
So is the skill from a background given free "ranks" or just made into a class skill?

The two are synonymous. Classes grant you a starting "rank" in some skills. Background gives you a starting "rank" in a specific lore skill.

Dragon78 wrote:
I would love backgrounds like scholar, doctor/nurse, firefighter, guard, jester, acrobat, juggler, cursed, raised by wolves, town drunk, artist, exotic dancer, fey foundling, treasure hunter, stone mason, etc.

Scholar and acrobat are backgrounds. Jester, juggler, and exotic dancer are probably covered by entertainer, and raised by wolves by animal whisperer. I suspect warrior stands in for most martial roles like guard for now. The others might be covered in the missing two backgrounds, or as later additions once there are better first-level skill feats to fit with them. Some of those don't really tie to a skill feat, so you might need your background to represent what you actually did. (Fey foundling might be entertainer if you had to perform for the fey who took you, or animal whisperer if you were left with some nature affinity. Town drunk and slacker don't really convey any sort of skill feat at all though; they're defined by a lack of skill.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So...question. I realized that while I've been assuming class skills are going away and we'll all just be proficient in skills, or not, and add our varied proficiency modifiers. But it seems clear now that some still think we'll have skill points to allocate.
Have they confirmed one way or another if we have skill points? Or, really, get to select skills at all? The cleric preview made it seem like your class decided what skills you were proficient in (with a few more from your Ancestry, Background, and in the cleric's case, Deity), with little to no flexibility there.


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I really hope the generic backgrounds are more... generic. I don't see why blacksmith has to be one, because then you need a background for any kind of craftsman background. A general one that let's you pick out different skill feats and trained skills would save a lot of space and not make anyone have to wait for a another book that has "stable-hand".

The stat boosts seem variable enough to not be a problem. If someone refuses to take blacksmith just because they really really don't want to take strength or intelligence despite the free boost then they can live with that.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:

So...question. I realized that while I've been assuming class skills are going away and we'll all just be proficient in skills, or not, and add our varied proficiency modifiers. But it seems clear now that some still think we'll have skill points to allocate.

Have they confirmed one way or another if we have skill points? Or, really, get to select skills at all? The cleric preview made it seem like your class decided what skills you were proficient in (with a few more from your Ancestry, Background, and in the cleric's case, Deity), with little to no flexibility there.

At every odd level, you get to improve your proficiencies in some unknown number of skills of your choice. We know that class provides you with some fixed starting trained skill proficiencies, and I suspect that your intelligence bonus will provide additional first-level skills.


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graystone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
The issue there is that if you actually took the flavor seriously, you NEEDED multiple traits that did the same thing, because someone might really want Knowledge (Local) but didn't specifically grow up in a tavern or whatever.
Acolyte of Razmir, Business Venturer, Black Sheep, Ancient Explorer, Affable, Civilized, Contemptuous, Conspiracy Hunter... I'll stop at C's. There are PLENTY of traits other than grow up in a tavern for Know Local: if you keep seeing JUST one, whoever is picking them didn't bother looking for more.

Right quick I've just gotta put forth a counterpoint here. Yeah Know (Local) is easy, but not all skills are so easy. Case in Point: Disable Device. I've done searches for DD several times before, and in all of PF1e (or at least all of it that's on the Archives) there are exactly 7 traits that give it. Of those 7, one is PFS Faction specific, two are Campaign Traits, one is a Religion trait for a not-exactly-big-name deity, and the other three pretty dang well define who your character is going to be. And spoiler, it's probably not a locksmith.

All that said, backstory has long been my weakness as a player. I'm good at char-gen, great at mechanics, even relatively decent at RP, but suck at backstories. As such, I gladly welcome the framework I can leech build off of, especially one that has so little direct interaction with mechanics.


I agree that the game should have easily accessible rules for making your own backgrounds. I like the background system in general quite a bit thoughz

QuidEst wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
So is the skill from a background given free "ranks" or just made into a class skill?

The two are synonymous. Classes grant you a starting "rank" in some skills. Background gives you a starting "rank" in a specific lore skill.

Dragon78 wrote:
I would love backgrounds like scholar, doctor/nurse, firefighter, guard, jester, acrobat, juggler, cursed, raised by wolves, town drunk, artist, exotic dancer, fey foundling, treasure hunter, stone mason, etc.
Scholar and acrobat are backgrounds. Jester, juggler, and exotic dancer are probably covered by entertainer, and raised by wolves by animal whisperer. I suspect warrior stands in for most martial roles like guard for now. The others might be covered in the missing two backgrounds, or as later additions once there are better first-level skill feats to fit with them. Some of those don't really tie to a skill feat, so you might need your background to represent what you actually did. (Fey foundling might be entertainer if you had to perform for the fey who took you, or animal whisperer if you were left with some nature affinity. Town drunk and slacker don't really convey any sort of skill feat at all though; they're defined by a lack of skill.)

Town drunk could get a feat related to poison/intoxicating resistance and have lore for alcohol.

Slacker could start with 4 mostly useless lore skill.


Shinigami02 wrote:
Disable Device

Voices of Solid Things is one of the easier to use: it just requires "traveled with the Witchmarket for a time". Vagabond Child is any urban. Nimble Fingers, Keen Mind doesn't seem onerous for a locksmith. Kobold's Neighbor just requires you grow up near kobolds. Criminal is a plain one social trait. Collector works if your a gnome or adopted by one. Wisdom in the Flesh allows it is you worship irori. So there is 7 non-PFS, non-campaign traits that give it.

Shinigami02 wrote:
spoiler, it's probably not a locksmith

Counterpoint. Do you think that changes in the new system? How long do you think it's be until the specific background you want your character to be is in a book? One for clockwork? One for barrister? One for carnie? One for a whaler? One for a [fill in blank]. 19 options means a LOT less chance you'll get the one you want and so does having only 1 vs 2 like traits had.

Shinigami02 wrote:
As such, I gladly welcome the framework I can leech build off of, especially one that has so little direct interaction with mechanics

THIS is why I suggested a single generic mechanics and use the saved space for the actual flavor parts so you could get several times the amount of them in the game.


wakedown wrote:

Like my "Pathfinder hopeful" characters I played in PFS needed neither an Int or Str boost, so I can see lots of table discussions where "oh when I was young I wanted to be a Pathfinder too" and a lot of "oh, but I'm not that Pathfinder hopeful, you see I was picked on a lot and needed to run away so I'm a Dex character, so I picked Street Urchin, although I never actually picked a pocket..."

If you wanted to have a Dex focused pathfinder hopeful, why did not pick Dex as the floating bonus and be done with it?

Shadow Lodge

Rysky wrote:

Ooooo, liking what I see so far.

Really hope there’s a Survivalist Background :3

If not this system looks like it would be SUPER easy to make one up in. Glad to see such flexibility in the game. This part at least.


I think you will be able to play almost any given class with any given background more than effectively. So long as you would have at some point put +2 into either of the background stats (even to just leave it a twelve) the background is usable for your character. So long as you can't put the floating bonus into the same stat as your set bonus that it.


graystone wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
Disable Device
Voices of Solid Things is one of the easier to use: it just requires "traveled with the Witchmarket for a time". Vagabond Child is any urban. Nimble Fingers, Keen Mind doesn't seem onerous for a locksmith. Kobold's Neighbor just requires you grow up near kobolds. Criminal is a plain one social trait. Collector works if your a gnome or adopted by one. Wisdom in the Flesh allows it is you worship irori. So there is 7 non-PFS, non-campaign traits that give it.

For starters I didn't even know what Witchmarket was until I was looking up the 7 I was talking about, and even now they still seem fairly disreputable. Nimble Fingers, Keen Mind now locks in your deity, which can be an issue in many cases. Neither Kobold's Neighbor nor Collector give Class Skill which IME is the true end-goal when traiting in a skill (and for that matter Adopted doesn't work for Collector anyways given it is explicitly a Basic (Social) trait rather than a Race trait. I'll give you Wisdom in the Flesh though, I had no idea that trait existed and it's kinda awesome... though it does still lock in deity. And as far as Criminal and Vagabond Child, again this is going back to the idea that you're not just ignoring flavor, which means it is still locking in who your character will be.

graystone wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
spoiler, it's probably not a locksmith
Counterpoint. Do you think that changes in the new system? How long do you think it's be until the specific background you want your character to be is in a book? One for clockwork? One for barrister? One for carnie? One for a whaler? One for a [fill in blank]. 19 options means a LOT less chance you'll get the one you want and so does having only 1 vs 2 like traits had.

Actually I think it does change in the new system, for one simple reason: Class Skills seem to be a thing of the past. In fact, we have confirmation elsewhere that Skills are one of the two things that can be advanced outside of class. Meaning if I need a specific skill for my concept I don't need to either hope the class fits it or go digging for traits that boost it, I can instead just take the skill. This means I can in turn take the background that best fits my character and not worry so much.

graystone wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
As such, I gladly welcome the framework I can build off of, especially one that has so little direct interaction with mechanics
THIS is why I suggested a single generic mechanics and use the saved space for the actual flavor parts so you could get several times the amount of them in the game.

But in the end I would still wind up wanting (sometimes borderline needing, backstory is not my strong suit) the pre-built options, if only to give me ideas.


Honestly, traits was the only thing I'd really call bloated. Trying to introduce new players to it was a nightmare. When I did, they would probably pick reactionary for that sweet, sweet initiative.

This takes one of the benefits of traits, which is giving appropriate skills to the character. This also plays a part in a much easy attribute generation.

As someone who teaches a lot of new players PF, I love these changes.


graystone wrote:


Shinigami02 wrote:
As such, I gladly welcome the framework I can leech build off of, especially one that has so little direct interaction with mechanics
THIS is why I suggested a single generic mechanics and use the saved space for the actual flavor parts so you could get several times the amount of them in the game.

If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.

On a very different note, what the heck's Additional Lore supposed to do? The other two examples given are pretty obvious, but that's a weird one. Trained in another type of Lore, perhaps?


I'm guessing Additional Lore might be something like getting more info off a successful knowledge or Lore or whatever check. Seems a lot more worthwhile as a feat than "have another topic to know things about."

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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I like this a good deal. If the examples serve as typical, what I like about these even more than Starfinder themes is that they seem even more modular for use with different classes. Some of the Starfinder themes felt really like they would only work with some races/classes and not well with others. While some backgrounds undoubtedly will be more useful for some classes than others, the choices and abilities offered I hope you can make fit will viably with a large number of builds.

Looking forward to seeing what more of the backgrounds will be.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Ooooo, liking what I see so far.

Really hope there’s a Survivalist Background :3

If not this system looks like it would be SUPER easy to make one up in. Glad to see such flexibility in the game. This part at least.

Oh Yeah, I’m gonna have fun with this system.


Shinigami02 wrote:
Actually I think it does change in the new system, for one simple reason: Class Skills seem to be a thing of the past.

It's more of a name changed: instead of class it's instead proficient. So the same basic thing in a different package/name.

Shinigami02 wrote:
But in the end I would still wind up wanting (sometimes borderline needing, backstory is not my strong suit) the pre-built options, if only to give me ideas.

That's fine but it has nothing to do with the actual mechanics. I single set of generic mechanics with an extended list of pre-built flavor would seem to suit you better than a MUCH shorter list of pre-built flavor + slightly altered mechanics.

PS: Sorry I messed up a few traits. doing more than one thing at a time while reading a small screen. ;)

Cyouni wrote:
If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.

*shrug* seems easier to make list of allowed feats and/or mark them with a subscript is that's the case. For instance adding a '5' subscript to allowed feats and adding a note at the bottom that says 'background feat options'. Even is feats are special, it seems needless to keep reprinting stats and skills.


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graystone wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.
*shrug* seems easier to make list of allowed feats and/or mark them with a subscript is that's the case. For instance adding a '5' subscript to allowed feats and adding a note at the bottom that says 'background feat options'. Even is feats are special, it seems needless to keep reprinting stats and skills.

Or just have a "Prerequisite: such and such Background" line. That would also allow different types of feat to be able to build off particular backgrounds.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Rysky wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Ooooo, liking what I see so far.

Really hope there’s a Survivalist Background :3

If not this system looks like it would be SUPER easy to make one up in. Glad to see such flexibility in the game. This part at least.
Oh Yeah, I’m gonna have fun with this system.

It's going to be great for homebrew and third party settings--backgrounds will be an easy way to work in other-world flavor.


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Shinigami02 wrote:
graystone wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.
*shrug* seems easier to make list of allowed feats and/or mark them with a subscript is that's the case. For instance adding a '5' subscript to allowed feats and adding a note at the bottom that says 'background feat options'. Even is feats are special, it seems needless to keep reprinting stats and skills.
Or just have a "Prerequisite: such and such Background" line. That would also allow different types of feat to be able to build off particular backgrounds.

My issue with that is backward compatibility: you can have a feat perfect for a background but because the background came out after the feat it's not listed under prerequisites.

Silver Crusade

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DeathQuaker wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Ooooo, liking what I see so far.

Really hope there’s a Survivalist Background :3

If not this system looks like it would be SUPER easy to make one up in. Glad to see such flexibility in the game. This part at least.
Oh Yeah, I’m gonna have fun with this system.
It's going to be great for homebrew and third party settings--backgrounds will be an easy way to work in other-world flavor.

*rubs hands together gleefully*


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graystone wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
graystone wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.
*shrug* seems easier to make list of allowed feats and/or mark them with a subscript is that's the case. For instance adding a '5' subscript to allowed feats and adding a note at the bottom that says 'background feat options'. Even is feats are special, it seems needless to keep reprinting stats and skills.
Or just have a "Prerequisite: such and such Background" line. That would also allow different types of feat to be able to build off particular backgrounds.
My issue with that is backward compatibility: you can have a feat perfect for a background but because the background came out after the feat it's not listed under prerequisites.

Could we future proof this with something like "Prerequisite: An appropriate background, such as foo, bar, baz"?


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MerlinCross wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Can you double up on boosts? So, with blacksmith, you give the required boost to STR and then use the free one on STR as well?
This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.

Umm, what?


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I've been traveling, so I get to dive in long after the post went up this time. XD Hm...

Just taken on its own, the stuff here is completely functional and completely expected. It's a little narrow and bland but it works.

I have mixed feelings about there not being some distinct ability for each background. But on balance, it's probably for the best. Otherwise, something really important to key builds would inevitably slip in there, and then such backgrounds would become disproportionately important and over-represented. It'd be nice if such abilities were all flavor, like hospitality and guild membership and whatnot, and if they could keep it to that it'd be wonderful... But I recognize they would slip up and start printing backgrounds with actual mechanical, less RP based benefits. And then everyone is screwed. So out of lack of faith in their ability to resist making non-RP abilities, it's best for those not to be tied to backgrounds.

I'm guessing there's actually 20, with the 20th being "themeless" like Starfinder. Looking at the examples provided, I am guessing it will be as follows: choose one skill feat, choose one Lore, choose one ability score boost. They'll make you give up the second ability boost in exchange for the flexibility of choosing the other stuff.

Would be nice for some backgrounds to have a little more or less money. It's completely trivial once you start adventuring, but it helps add some extra flavor richness right at the start.

-----

There is definitely an as yet undescribed 4th step to get a starting character to 18 in a stat like the playtest characters. Maybe it's as simple as "level 0" being treated the same as levels 5, 10, 15 and 20 as far as allocating ability increases, assuming they use the Starfinder system. Or the same thing but levels 1, 5, 9, 13, 17?

-----

I'm worried about skills. Judging from the Cleric, it looks like a character might only get the skill(s) directly granted by their class, the Lore from their background, and whatever bonus skills they get from Intelligence. I am REALLY HOPING that is bonus skills equal to half your Intelligence SCORE, rather than just your modifier, because it's looking really scant on skills otherwise.

I'd be happier if backgrounds (and classes) each gave one or two more skills. If there's only one extra skill, it should be floating - allowing the player to pick any skill and flavor how they picked it up over their history. If there are two extra skills, one is floating but the second should be a set REAL skill or a selection from two or three REAL skills, not a lore. For example, that Blacksmithing background should at least give the damn Craft or Profession skill.

I would be happy also if backgrounds were associated with any combination of two lores, two languages, or one lore and one language, as suits the background. There is often very little incentive for martial characters in particular to pick up knowledge and language, but a background would be a great way to make sure everyone has some facility with that.

-----

The flavor of the backgrounds is unfortunately constrained if there are only going to be 19 of them. I hear all the time about PFS and other GMs who won't let a player reflavor anything, even when it doesn't change the tone of the setting and doesn't change the mechanical side. So if the background says you're a blacksmith, you're darned well stuck as a blacksmith, even though really the basics of the thing should be able to apply to multiple different kinds of artisan.

This can be fixed in one of two ways. They're not mutually exclusive and ideally both would be used, but you could get away with just one of them. It wouldn't drive the point home as strongly, but hopefully most people aren't so dense as to miss the point with just one.

Option the first: Have an explanation or sidebar at the start of the Backgrounds chapter, where Paizo lays out that these backgrounds are starting points. Players are explicitly encouraged to reflavor them to something related but distinct, to give their characters more individuality. GMs are explicitly encouraged to endorse this.

Option two can stand on its own, but also works with option one, in which event it serves as examples. For each background, lay out several examples of alternates. For Blacksmith, you can lay out several different artisans... Or if there is an actual Artisan background I missed in those 19, make the alternates more focused and related to Blacksmithing: Goldsmith, Armorer, etc.

This would greatly improve the background setup to me. And it would make those initial 19 backgrounds go a lot farther.

-----

I've seen it suggested to also have a trait pick to marry to your background. I don't feel that's necessary. Anything that would be a trait can now be an ancestry feat or skill feat. If it's important enough to have mechanical benefits, you can pick it with one of your ancestry picks, or with a background pick if they do as I suggest and allow an open skill feat selection.

-----

I've seen the Adopted brought up again. I really don't want to see that taking up your actual background slot. As I have said elsewhere, for most adopted people, it's trivial to their life. It's not as important as what they trained in and learned and their other life experiences. Only Hollywood makes adoption such a huge deal.

Besides, it's constricting. I used this example in another thread, but why should being adopted by a parent of another race be the only way you get exposure to that culture? What if you just live on the border and there is free trade, what if your parents were traveling merchants or posted diplomats, what if both your people and another people were driven out as refugees in the face of an invading horde and found common community. All of those are things that speak more to a background than mere adoption, and are things that would justify learning stuff from another culture.

I think if you put the barest effort into a backstory, you should just be able to choose the ancestry you /are/ and the culture you /identify with/. The former gives you Heritage feats (which you should be able to pick after 1st level), and the second gives you Culture feats (which you should also be able to pick up over time). For that matter, if in-game you spend like a year of downtime in a given culture, the downtime system should accommodate you then being able to pick up culture feats from them too. You really shouldn't have to waste a background on this at all.


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willuwontu wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Can you double up on boosts? So, with blacksmith, you give the required boost to STR and then use the free one on STR as well?
This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.
Umm, what?

People don't read through hundreds of posts before they say stuff.

This is also why so many of our posts involve just regurgitating the same sound bites, because folks won't read a blog entry closely, or the thread attached to it, or remember stuff from a previous blog entry, etc.

Liberty's Edge

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Fuzzypaws wrote:
I'm guessing there's actually 20, with the 20th being "themeless" like Starfinder. Looking at the examples provided, I am guessing it will be as follows: choose one skill feat, choose one Lore, choose one ability score boost. They'll make you give up the second ability boost in exchange for the flexibility of choosing the other stuff.

I doubt that giving up a +2 to a secondary or tertiary ability score is even remotely balanced with being able to choose any skill feat and lore. I could see two ability score increases of your choice with no skill/lore feat though.


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Deighton Thrane wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
I'm guessing there's actually 20, with the 20th being "themeless" like Starfinder. Looking at the examples provided, I am guessing it will be as follows: choose one skill feat, choose one Lore, choose one ability score boost. They'll make you give up the second ability boost in exchange for the flexibility of choosing the other stuff.
I doubt that giving up a +2 to a secondary or tertiary ability score is even remotely balanced with being able to choose any skill feat and lore. I could see two ability score increases of your choice with no skill/lore feat though.

You're right, it's not balanced. And they'll do it anyway. Because Themeless in Starfinder was AWFUL. This is at least better than the SF version even if not as good as the defined backgrounds.


Fuzzypaws wrote:


I've seen the Adopted brought up again. I really don't want to see that taking up your actual background slot. As I have said elsewhere, for most adopted people, it's trivial to their life. It's not as important as what they trained in and learned and their other life experiences. Only Hollywood makes adoption such a huge deal.

Besides, it's constricting. I used this example in another thread, but why should being adopted by a parent of another race be the only way you get exposure to that culture? What if you just live on the border and there is free trade, what if your parents were traveling merchants or posted diplomats, what if both your people and another people were driven out as refugees in the face of an invading horde and found common community. All of those are things that speak more to a background than mere adoption, and are things that would justify learning stuff from another culture.

I think if you put the barest effort into a backstory, you should just be able to choose the ancestry you /are/ and the culture you /identify with/. The former gives you Heritage feats (which you should be able to pick after 1st level), and the second gives you Culture feats (which you should also be able to pick up over time). For that matter, if in-game you spend like a year of downtime in a given culture, the downtime system should accommodate you then being able to pick up culture feats from them too. You really shouldn't have to waste a background on this at all.

Maybe a Dual-Cultured background? Something along the lines of: While growing up you were exposed to a different culture than your Ancestry implies, and you can function in both equally. Not sure what feat would be appropriate, but you'd get Lore (other culture) and Language (other culture).


Captain Morgan wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Can you double up on boosts? So, with blacksmith, you give the required boost to STR and then use the free one on STR as well?
This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.
Umm, what?

People don't read through hundreds of posts before they say stuff.

This is also why so many of our posts involve just regurgitating the same sound bites, because folks won't read a blog entry closely, or the thread attached to it, or remember stuff from a previous blog entry, etc.

Cough.

MerlinCross wrote:

This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.

Was it asked before? Have to double check but wow that could be a nice spike for say 2 handed builds early.

Maybe, have to see the numbers. Still a good question

I hadn't gotten around to checking, the post was made shortly before going into work.

So let me transfer "Good question" to you then. Though I could be snippy here Captain Morgan, too sore for this. Heck I'll probably bow out.

There's just too little to backgrounds. Yay, no more min maxers taking stupid traits for builds but come off making no sense. Boo, the backgrounds are about as bog standard as you get from 5e.


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MerlinCross wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Can you double up on boosts? So, with blacksmith, you give the required boost to STR and then use the free one on STR as well?
This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.
Umm, what?

People don't read through hundreds of posts before they say stuff.

This is also why so many of our posts involve just regurgitating the same sound bites, because folks won't read a blog entry closely, or the thread attached to it, or remember stuff from a previous blog entry, etc.

Cough.

MerlinCross wrote:

This is actually a very good question and one I'm surprised wasn't asked sooner.

Was it asked before? Have to double check but wow that could be a nice spike for say 2 handed builds early.

Maybe, have to see the numbers. Still a good question

I hadn't gotten around to checking, the post was made shortly before going into work.

So let me transfer "Good question" to you then. Though I could be snippy here Captain Morgan, too sore for this. Heck I'll probably bow out.

There's just too little to backgrounds. Yay, no more min maxers taking stupid traits for builds but come off making no sense. Boo, the backgrounds are about as bog standard as you get from 5e.

That probably came off as snippier than I meant it to. I don't really know if "read through hundreds of posts of people saying similar things and arguing in circles" needs to be a prerequisite for posting in a thread. But it does mean there's a lot of repeating stuff, especially given how spread out all the info has been over different sources.


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Just going to say I feel uneasy at the Pathfinder Society inclusion.
IMHO that doesn't belong in Core game, PFS is distinct and shouldn't be here.
If it was generalized to grant "Lore in your choice of public organization" (which could allow PFS) then OK.
Having specific "PFS Lore" skill itself is dubious, although I can accept it if it is simply another
Organization Lore option amongst others listed in book, e.g. Hellknights, Worldwound Crusaders, Shackles Pirates, etc.
But baking in some exalted importance to PFS just doesn't sit well with me, leave that for Org Play.


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Quandary wrote:

Just going to say I feel uneasy at the Pathfinder Society inclusion.

IMHO that doesn't belong in Core game, PFS is distinct and shouldn't be here.
If it was generalized to grant "Lore in your choice of public organization" (which could allow PFS) then OK.
Having specific "PFS Lore" skill itself is dubious, although I can accept it if it is simply another
Organization Lore option amongst others listed in book, e.g. Hellknights, Worldwound Crusaders, Shackles Pirates, etc.
But baking in some exalted importance to PFS just doesn't sit well with me, leave that for Org Play.

It's not in the core game. It's in an AP.


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Quandary wrote:

Just going to say I feel uneasy at the Pathfinder Society inclusion.

IMHO that doesn't belong in Core game, PFS is distinct and shouldn't be here.
If it was generalized to grant "Lore in your choice of public organization" (which could allow PFS) then OK.
Having specific "PFS Lore" skill itself is dubious, although I can accept it if it is simply another
Organization Lore option amongst others listed in book, e.g. Hellknights, Worldwound Crusaders, Shackles Pirates, etc.
But baking in some exalted importance to PFS just doesn't sit well with me, leave that for Org Play.

Good news! It's not in the core game.

That one is a campaign background from the module.

"Incidentally, this is not a background you will find in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. While that weighty tome provides 19 backgrounds, you'll find six more backgrounds in the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. Those six are tailor-made for the adventure (…)"

Edit: Ninja'd.


Awesome (x3)


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Isn't the Pathfinder Society a thing in Golarion canon even if the PCs have nothing to do with it? Like there was a write up for it in the Adventurer's Guide and everything.


One tiny thing I find off-putting about Golarion is how Pathfinder Society is both an in-game organisation and out of the game event. It breaks the fourth wall too much for me.

(Just imagine playing Pathfinder Hopeful in Pathfinder during a Pathfinder Society event... yeah. I am aware it's very unlikely to be ever changed.)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Wild Spirit wrote:
One tiny thing I find off-putting about Golarion is how Pathfinder Society is both an in-game organisation and out of the game event. It breaks the fourth wall too much for me.

I promise I don't wake my players up at 3AM to play a scenario.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I promise I don't wake my players up at 3AM to play a scenario.

Tri, do you have something you want to get off your chest? That promise would be reassuring, but it came from nowhere and I have concerns.

Edit: Ah, I see now. It did not show the quote at first.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
graystone wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
graystone wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
If I'm right about you getting non-level 1 feats, then that's a pretty major reason about why they're specifically a limited set.
*shrug* seems easier to make list of allowed feats and/or mark them with a subscript is that's the case. For instance adding a '5' subscript to allowed feats and adding a note at the bottom that says 'background feat options'. Even is feats are special, it seems needless to keep reprinting stats and skills.
Or just have a "Prerequisite: such and such Background" line. That would also allow different types of feat to be able to build off particular backgrounds.
My issue with that is backward compatibility: you can have a feat perfect for a background but because the background came out after the feat it's not listed under prerequisites.
Could we future proof this with something like "Prerequisite: An appropriate background, such as foo, bar, baz"?

But that circles back to me subscript suggestion. It would do the same thing and take up less space.


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The problem I have with this is that at first, there will be a very limited number of backgrounds and there will be a lot of overlap in the backgrounds taken, especially among those characters of the same class.

The second challenge is that one background will always be better than the other backgrounds for a certain class. For example, almost every character is “reactive” and has that trait, even though it makes no sense for their character. And almost every Wizard have “magical lineage” and a “gifted adept”. And a lot of characters are “dangerously curious”.

The idea behind backgrounds means well, but I’d rather it just be part of the fluff behind the character and just make sure everyone gets the same thing.

For example in version 1, all characters get 2 class skills that have trait bonuses.

In version 2, gain any skill feat, a lore skill, and two ability boosts. Let players use their imaginations so we don’t need to see PCs with the same backgrounds, over and over again.

I'm not interesting in buying new books where a majority of the content is new backgrounds.


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Jason S wrote:
I'm not interesting in buying new books where a majority of the content is new backgrounds.

This is how I feel. With pathfinder classic, I really enjoyed seeing new traits and looking through them for anything interesting. I just don't have the same feel from backgrounds as they're IMO all the same mechanically.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jason S wrote:


I'm not interesting in buying new books where a majority of the content is new backgrounds.

I don't think we are going to get a hardcover "Ultimate Backgrounds" book. Rather, if relevant, I think we are just going to get a page or two here and there, with most of the new backgrounds coming out in CS and AP players guides.

I dunno, I think as originally designed, traits were just suppose to be free "lesser" traits to help tweak a character's background. That so many became mechanically important for certain builds was something that I think was never intended.

Personally I see the background deficit as somewhat of an issue with 2E, but it's a new system. The same complaints are going to apply to races, classes, and various other options that just won't be in the system for the first year, except as maybe 3rd party releases.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:


Town drunk could get a feat related to poison/intoxicating resistance and have lore for alcohol.
Slacker could start with 4 mostly useless lore skill.

I don't think any background should give a mechanical advantage in combat.

A Town Drunk could easily get an Alchemy skill feat (after all they should have experience getting rid of hangovers) and for lore a town drunk (does local drunk sound better? drunkard?) could have lore brewery or brews.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hopefully, this can be covered in the play test, but I also think that explicitly allowing the player to choose which focus they want for their character with certain backgrounds* is a better approach than specifying a focus in the Core Rulebook and relying on Rule 0 for groups to change it. It might make more sense to revise the current Blacksmith background to:

Quote:

Craft Apprentice (Background)

You were apprenticed in a particular craft (such as blacksmithing) and during countless hours of toil, you learned how to craft certain types of items (such as metal armor and weapons for blacksmithing). Perhaps you worked hard each day and dreamed of adventure each night, or perhaps the adventuring life was thrust upon you by a pivotal event.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Specialty Crafting skill feat for one type of craft, and you're trained in the Lore skill for that craft.

A similar approach could be taken for the Entertainer background (my guess on how it could end up):

Quote:

Entertainer (Background)

You either grew up among performers or decided you wanted to become an entertainer. Earning a living as an entertainer can be difficult, though. Adventuring can be way to earn fame and/or give you new material for your performances.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Specialty Performance** skill feat for one type of performance (such as acting, dancing, juggling, playing a musical instrument, or singing), and you're trained in the Lore skill for that performance type.

*- basically, the ones that provide the skill feat in something like Craft, Perform, and Profession

**- or whatever it is actually called


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It feels like a lot of the objections to this system seem to be based on literal interpretations of the backgrounds?

In most systems smithing is a broad enough skill to apply to leatherworking, tinkering, bowmaking, Fletching, etc. If your gm won't let you cross out the word "blacksmith" and write one of those other things, then I think any inflexibility is more in the gm than the system.

Additionally, I think any reasonable gm in a group where the expectation is that it's about story and roleplay will happily consider using the backgrounds as a guide to make ones specific to what a character needs - in 5e, the main utility of the backgrounds is to give examples for players who want to make their character quickly or need ideas, the players who want something more specific can just choose options that are appropriate instead of them dedicating 50 pages to fit every possible niche.

Anyway, I hope that just choosing a lore, skill and state are spelled out as an option for those who feel like they need written permission to do it, though for my group that won't be necessary as I'll just tell them they can either way.


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Tender Tendrils wrote:

It feels like a lot of the objections to this system seem to be based on literal interpretations of the backgrounds?

In most systems smithing is a broad enough skill to apply to leatherworking, tinkering, bowmaking, Fletching, etc. If your gm won't let you cross out the word "blacksmith" and write one of those other things, then I think any inflexibility is more in the gm than the system.

Additionally, I think any reasonable gm in a group where the expectation is that it's about story and roleplay will happily consider using the backgrounds as a guide to make ones specific to what a character needs - in 5e, the main utility of the backgrounds is to give examples for players who want to make their character quickly or need ideas, the players who want something more specific can just choose options that are appropriate instead of them dedicating 50 pages to fit every possible niche.

Really?

Cause I can tell you in 5e at least where I am I was told by the people running it "Sorry can't change backgrounds" at their Adventure League. I question what my local DMs will do for Society play.

"Sorry man it's not in the book or the one you want is from a book that's banned. So take X instead".

Why yes, this is a GM problem. But just saying "Get a better GM" shouldn't be a solution to everything.

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