Help With My PCs' Backgrounds


Strange Aeons

Silver Crusade

Hello, I'm a GM running Strange Aeons and need some help with a few things. The first book doesn't seem to say what the PCs were before meeting Lowls (which is good) but doesn't say what they did when they worked for Lowls either (which is bad).

I'm also putting together the secret backgrounds for each of the PCs who lost their memories. I have a few plot points that I can use as I wish since my players asked/bought/took things but didn't specify them on purpose.

I'm hoping to hear what their jobs were with Lowls (or at least the page number in which book) and to brainstorm possibilities for these characters, ignoring the mechanics of how to do or did things since I use plenty of alternate rule sets and all sorts of things, including third party content. Most of what I'm going to list is just to sum up what they are essentially playing.

The Party:
CG Half-Trox (think just a Medium sized Trox) Kineticist with magma and only magma. She has the holy symbol of a deity engraved into her forehead. The set of lower vestigial arm (think four arms coming out of the lower rib cage and stomach) are missing.

CG Kitsune Kitsune Sorceress illusionist with some telekinesis. Has absolutely no gear except for her haramaki armor.

NG artificially-made Android alchemy Wizard with plenty of healing and buffing. Could be self-inflicted, could be on purpose.

CG Arshea devout Fighter who is a Psychopomp version of a tiefling or aasimar. Has a big spear, big shield, big armor, white horse, and a signet ring. Also has a strange draw to a mask.

Dark Archive

The PCs don't get their full memories back until much later, but the content of those memories is actually pretty open. To my recollection the only specified plot points are outlined in the second book of the AP. Well the 3rd book does specifically cover how they lost their memories as well.

Silver Crusade

Davor Firetusk wrote:
The PCs don't get their full memories back until much later, but the content of those memories is actually pretty open. To my recollection the only specified plot points are outlined in the second book of the AP. Well the 3rd book does specifically cover how they lost their memories as well.

Yes, but I'm trying to drop hints at who they were. These Good people might have been Evil.

Dark Archive

I understand, my suggestion was to read the next 2 parts of the AP and see what your limitations are in terms of story (there aren't many) and then you have a great deal of freedom to make up additional details.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There's never anything explicit said about exactly what the group did (I gather it's intentionally left vague, so you and the players still have some agency).

The majority of the details on what the group did previously are scattered throughout the Thrushmoor Terror. It's not really written in one place, as far as I can recall (hard to know where I read things now, been cramming it for ages).

Some more details:
Although it is never explicitly said what the group did for Lowls, it would appear that at least one of them was some sort of hired muscle/enforcer, based on the interaction with Klyn Murik. The rest of the hints also strongly imply that the group as a whole was mostly neutral at best, evil at worst, based on how the townspeople recall and react to them.

Grand Lodge Contributor

I think it's suggested somewhere (maybe in one of the intro sections, sorry don't have my books with me) that you can use the Campaign Traits each PC has to shape some of what they've been doing for Lowls. I don't think I imagined it...

Silver Crusade

If there's nothing explicitly stated, then that's good and I'm free to input whatever I like for them. I'm thinking of having these characters be absolutely evil, even before Lowls, like the Half-Trox originally being an Infernal Cleric of Asmodeus who enjoyed torturing and forcing others to submit their wills to her.

The Campaign Traits only give an idea of how your current character feels about a past they don't remember, but nothing about what they did at the time.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That's certainly a posibility. Did your players pick up their gear? Is it actually all theirs? Was there an Asmodean holy symbol there? If not, you might have to consider why not? (Although, honestly, I still don't quite see why their gear is in the place it is at the start, other than game system convenience - it may not even have been their gear to start with!)

Again, without going into a lot of details here...the player characters will not have done very much, or made any decisions, between the point of losing their memories, and starting the AP.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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zanbato13 wrote:


The Campaign Traits only give an idea of how your current character feels about a past they don't remember, but nothing about what they did at the time.

You're right. I misremembered the Secondary Campaign Traits Benefits from the foreword of Dreams of the Yellow King.

I'm still only in the pre-planning stages for running this AP but I'm intending to use the Campaign Traits to give me ideas of how to fill in some of the blanks. Some of the traits spell this out, some need a bit more creative license. For example:

Diven by guilt - character suffered some form of corruption or compulsion that forced them to do bad things in service to Lowls;
Enduring Stoicism - character was exposed to terrifying experiences, seeing some of what Lowls usually kept secret even from his minions;
Foe of the Strange - character was employed by Lowls to hunt down Mythos creatures, or protect him from them;
Formerly Mind-Swapped - Lowls 'volunteered' the character to be mind-swapped;
Methodical Mind - character served Lowls as a librarian, administrator, or research assistant;
Pugnacious - character was one of the chief thugs in service to Lowls;
Ritualistic - Lowls involved the character in assisting in the performance of some abhorrent rituals;
Sensitive Mind - character was used by Lowls to investigate leads and find other Mythos scholars;
True Devotion - Lowls corrupted the character's faith and shepherded them into worshipping one of the Mythos deities while in his service;
Twitchy - character was used as an involuntary test subject for some of the horrid things Lowls discovered.

Silver Crusade

YogoZuno wrote:

That's certainly a posibility. Did your players pick up their gear? Is it actually all theirs? Was there an Asmodean holy symbol there? If not, you might have to consider why not? (Although, honestly, I still don't quite see why their gear is in the place it is at the start, other than game system convenience - it may not even have been their gear to start with!)

Again, without going into a lot of details here...the player characters will not have done very much, or made any decisions, between the point of losing their memories, and starting the AP.

You missed the part where I said she has the holy symbol of a deity engraved into her forehead, which was a result of a holy symbol tattoo meeting chitin.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I noticed it, but wasn't making assumptions.

An ex-Asmodean might add some interesting wrinkles to the Thrushmoor stuff. Diabolic deals might well be enforced despite amnesia, right? Would be quite appropriate, in fact.


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This is one of the things I'm puzzling over as well.

It's not helped by the fact that I currently only have part 1 and 2, but digging around this is the "facts" I seem to have some up with -

#1. The PC's background is left intentionally vague on purpose, for you to fill in as DM if you want.

#2. The PC's now are not who they were before in many ways. Working for Lowls they were somewhere between neutral and evil. I'm puzzled how this would work in a paladin, or a good cleric, but thankfully I don't have to. (No paladin in my party and cleric is neutral).

#3. About 2 to 5 years ago the PCs were given to Lowls by Weiralai, a Denizen of Leng. Weiralai may have acquired them from Gnoll slavers, specifically one named "Biting Lash".

#4. Lowls sacrificed the PC's minds in exchange for something about 2 days before "In Search of Sanity" starts.

#5. One (or more) of the PCs beat someone to death while working for Lowls.

#6. One (or more) of the PCs started a barfight (probably not a stretch for most parties) and owes on a tab at a bar.

#7. One (or more) of the PCs was friendly with a man in town. (not hard to do).

#8. One (or more) of the PCs hid some things under a dock in Thrushmoor (possibly hiding them from Lowls?)

So this leaves things really vague as to who they were before being captured by Gnoll Slavers (if you decide to use this route), and who they were while they worked for Lowls.

For the pre-Gnoll slaver portion the world is your oyster. Some of my PCs wrote their own backgrounds (I told them they could as long as they stopped about 2 years ago). Some of my PCs thought it would be more fun to let me write their backgrounds. (I offered). High adventurers? Schlubby cretins? Degenerate Cthulhu cultists? Have fun.
The one condition is that somewhere between 2 to 5 years ago they ended up in Gnoll slaver hands, or directly in Weiralai's hands.

Once Lowls gets the PCs things get more difficult. Mostly I would say the PCs stayed at Iris Hill, only occasionally going to town, like full time house staff. It's possible some magic compulsion was used on them, either provided by Lowls or Weiralai. Ideas of what Lowls did with them are:
Fighters etc - Hired muscle. body guards.
Wizards etc - Spell/research resources.
Clerics etc - Occult research, mystic explorations, religious knowledge base. (maybe character had studied Elder Mythos)
Rogues etc - Spies, assassins, "purveyors of rare objects". General dirty work.

So using my party as an example:

The Hunter was an adventurer who was captured by Gnolls in the wild. She was used by Lowls as muscle.

The Fighter (Catfolk) was captured by the Gnolls for use as an exotic slave. He was given to Lowls (who is afraid of cats) by Weiralai as a joke. He was not allowed in the house, had to sleep with the horses and mainly guarded the gate.

The Cleric of Irori was Lawful Evil in his former life (now Lawful Neutral since re-awakening). He dabbled in the Elder Mythos as was brought in as a research partner.

The Occultist skipped the whole slave experience and had worked with Weiralai previously similar to how Lowls does now. He did it for the research benefits.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
I'm puzzled how this would work in a paladin, or a good cleric, but thankfully I don't have to. (No paladin in my party and cleric is neutral).

Less of a problem than you might think. The PCs may have started life as good, and taken a bad turn. A Paladin may have actually fallen prior to his memories being erased, and has since been given a second chance. Or perhaps the character was trying to be good among his not-so-nice compatriots.

Quote:
#3. About 2 to 5 years ago the PCs were given to Lowls by Weiralai, a Denizen of Leng. Weiralai may have acquired them from Gnoll slavers, specifically one named "Biting Lash".

I don't recall exactly where it is, but I don't think the PCs have been with Lowls this long. I had the impression they had been working for him for several months at most.


Daeryon wrote:

This is one of the things I'm puzzling over as well.

It's not helped by the fact that I currently only have part 1 and 2, but digging around this is the "facts" I seem to have some up with -

#1. The PC's background is left intentionally vague on purpose, for you to fill in as DM if you want.

#2. The PC's now are not who they were before in many ways. Working for Lowls they were somewhere between neutral and evil. I'm puzzled how this would work in a paladin, or a good cleric, but thankfully I don't have to. (No paladin in my party and cleric is neutral).

#3. About 2 to 5 years ago the PCs were given to Lowls by Weiralai, a Denizen of Leng. Weiralai may have acquired them from Gnoll slavers, specifically one named "Biting Lash".

#4. Lowls sacrificed the PC's minds in exchange for something about 2 days before "In Search of Sanity" starts.

...

There is a pretty good timeline someone came up with here in the message boards. It only picks up with the advent of the fugue state, but it might give some good info for you.

The backstories are intentinally left vague, so, for example, what I'm going to do is customize each of my players' backgrounds using a blend of what is listed in the module and other, original, things.
Book three especially has more information on the timeline and backstory, as that is where the characters get their memories back, so I'd recommend reading through that. The whole path is worth reading over ahead of time, I think, as there are even things in book 6 that relate directly to the opening moments of the campaign.

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2uc37?Strange-Aeons-Backstory-Chronology#7


YogoZuno wrote:
Quote:
#3. About 2 to 5 years ago the PCs were given to Lowls by Weiralai, a Denizen of Leng. Weiralai may have acquired them from Gnoll slavers, specifically one named "Biting Lash".
I don't recall exactly where it is, but I don't think the PCs have been with Lowls this long. I had the impression they had been working for him for several months at most.
The Thrushmoor Terror pg 50 wrote:
Weiralai was responsible for initially bringing the PCs-who she enslaved-to Iris Hill 5 years ago as servants and thugs for Count Lowls.


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Yeah, There's a few references in Thrushmoore Terror that it's been several years that the party has worked for Lowls. I went with 2 years on average, as some of my party's ages don't make sense to have spent 5 years with Lowls and have had a history before that. (A 17 year old would have joined Lowls when he was 12? As what? A pageboy?).I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to make a their own background.

Also there's an incident I left off my list:

#9 One (or more) of the PCs got into an arguement that nearly came to blows with a member of the Sleepless Detective Agency in town.

Dark Archive

I'm getting close to GMing the big reveal at the end of book 3. I'm curious as to how much prepping and/or how did other folks handle providing the missing memories?


I think it depends on how much prep work you've put into writing your PCs' background to begin with. Personally I'm writing up all of my PCs' backgrounds using some prompting from the players to fill it out with what they want to be a part of their backstory (with an evil twist - all of them actually came to work for Lowls voluntarily, so they were all very big jerks). Using that I've made a series of bullet points for each character that I'm going to hand out to the players so that they can read and remember individually from each other (written in the style of "You remember X. You remember Y. So you decided to do Z." Etc.), after which I'm going to give a general narration of what memories they all share. After that I plan on basically doing a Q&A session with them, so that they can ask to clarify any memories they might have. Of course, some of them are unreliable narrators in their own right, so it might not be incredibly accurate.

So, a decent amount - it's a lot of exposition, and having everyone read their own individual memories, I think, saves time and lets them keep secrets from the others if they want. If you want them to craft their own memories, though, you can probably just get away with a brief monologue about what happened to them and what actions they performed, and then talk to them about what they want their backstory to be.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

All but one of my players are way down on the roll-player end of the spectrum. The one role-player did write up a background, and it's relatively easy to insert an additional few years between the end of what he wrote, and where the campaign picks up.

If aging is an issue, you can always say that the magical fugue state also messed with their age - either keeping it static, or even reversing it slightly.

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