Proposal: Broader, more customized Backgrounds.


Ancestries & Backgrounds


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I believe backgrounds could be a lot more interesting, and a lot less restrictive, if you assembled them from several components. Each of these components would have a small impact on your character, and would add up to form an actual complete background.

WHERE did you come from? What is the culture or land from which you hail? This is an important part of any actual person's upbringing but is absent from the current system.

This sets your second starting language other than Common, rather than this being set by your Ancestry. It gives one trained skill that the player chooses from a small list associated to the chosen region.

WHAT did you do in your life before being an adventurer? What was your "job"?

Pick a profession like the Playtest backgrounds. Here, they come with an actual skill, as well as a Lore appropriate to the profession. It also comes with a free item or items, such as a skill kit (eg crafting tools) or something else of comparable value.

WHO were you most associated with? Are you still affiliated with them? How did or does this impact you?

Pick a guild, faction, town guard or whatever. A variety of options would be presented here. Each one would be associated to a mainly role-playing benefit rather than a strictly mechanical benefit. 5E has a lot of good examples in its backgrounds, like Hospitality with your peers.

You would also get a second Lore, appropriate to this group; eg, affiliation with the government of Cheliax could give Cheliax Lore.

HOW did the cumulative effect of these experiences and associations shape you? What impact did they have on your approach to how you go about your calling?

Pick one of the skills or Lores granted by your background choices to this point. That skill or Lore is raised to Expert and you get a skill feat in it.

WHEN did you train for adventure and set upon your new path in life? How old are you? Why are you an adventurer now, and not at some other point in your life?

Pick a floating ability boost. Flavor it how you like, because there isn't actually an age modifier. For example, intelligence can be represented as the raw gift of a young prodigy, the trained reason of an adult, or the sheer accumulation of facts over time by an elder; likewise, Constitution can be flavored as everything from youthful energy, to adult vigor, to an elder's wiry toughness.

Your class now gives a floating ability boost in addition to its key ability, to make up for backgrounds now only granting one boost.

WHY did you turn to the adventurer's path, or at least why did you refocus to where you are now headed? Did something happen to you and yours? What was your motivation? How has this affected you or how did it influence your final training for becoming an adventurer?

Pick a Campaign Trait. If these are not in use, pick a more general Trait from a list that would be presented in this section. Traits in PF2 should be geared toward abilities and passives rather than numerical modifiers. They should be about on the level of an ancestry feat, so can be things like "get a cantrip" or "get a few gear proficiencies" or the like.

If they don't want to go to the effort of coming up with general Traits, then in the absence of a Campaign Trait you would literally just pick another Ancestry Feat.


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I love this idea. It really allows flexibility in Backgrounds and it hits on all of the fun little narrative bits that PF1e’s trait system enabled, that the current Background system doesn’t quite match.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There might be too many different fields in the above, but I like the idea. I can still see a role in the rule book for the currently listed backgrounds: "Pick your background from one of the listed examples below, or make your own by selecting from these parts."


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I like the idea, but to the developers credit they designed the background system to be ultimately flexible. They gave a snapshot of some options in the playtest but they made a framework that could be easily adapted, which is as follows:

You get two ability boosts

You get a skill feat

You get a profession/lore related to the flavor of your background.

Knowing this, I am not worried because I have no doubt that even if they do not introduce a certain background you could create it yourself. Expect an explanation of how this can be done, with examples, when 2e is released.

I think campaign related flavor backgrounds will be where we see a lot of interesting material surface. I think it will be an excellent way to start off feeling invested in the story.


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/Signed.

Right now background is too much like 5E. Basically a set and forget at level 1. It could be much more nuanced and detailed than that. Something that could start simple and become more complex throughout a characters development.


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I, for one, don't want backgrounds more involved. Right now, they are light and flexible because they should be a minor part of your character. What you have said out is almost more involved than your class is in defining your character.


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I really like this but I wouldn't want it replacing the current ease of the system.
However I always encourage my players to to take pride in crafting their background and this is a great guideline.
I could definitely see this format included in full release for a "make your own" method while still giving options for those who find exactly what they want quickly from the list.


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The one downside is that this would be more complex. But it does sound much more interesting and flexible than the current system. As it is, Lore, Skill Feat and determining where one stat boost goes are all just a bit too generic and bland. If Backgrounds are going to replace the Traits of PF1, then they need to have some of the flexibility and interesting possibilities of Traits. And preferably be even more interesting than traits.

Both Traits and the current Background system seem to be more about arbitrarily picking what mechanical benefits you want instead of encouraging organic background development. I'm not really sure how to change that with any system that gives mechanical benefits. There will always be incentives to take the best benefits than make something that fits the character concept. Your Who section regarding roleplaying opportunities of a choice is really good in this regard. Perhaps background should be more focused on roleplaying opportunities than mechanical benefits.


AvalonRellen wrote:

I like the idea, but to the developers credit they designed the background system to be ultimately flexible. They gave a snapshot of some options in the playtest but they made a framework that could be easily adapted, which is as follows:

You get two ability boosts

You get a skill feat

You get a profession/lore related to the flavor of your background.

Knowing this, I am not worried because I have no doubt that even if they do not introduce a certain background you could create it yourself. Expect an explanation of how this can be done, with examples, when 2e is released.

I think campaign related flavor backgrounds will be where we see a lot of interesting material surface. I think it will be an excellent way to start off feeling invested in the story.

The problem is that a lot of GMs aren't going to go through the effort of vetting custom backgrounds and might just treat the list as final. Thus, just like bizarrely many 1e characters were bullied as children (Reactionary) and every magus' parents were skilled in the casting of shocking grasp, I'm sure there will be some backgrounds considered mechanically ideal for certain classes.


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This solves the issue I have with backgrounds being restrictive due to having a fixed boost and some classes/builds having to be limited on what they pick. It also does a lot of other nice stuff.

Great job! Would love to see this kind of depth in the game to really flesh out characters.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like this because it provides more minor benefits rather than one or two major ones, though it is more complex than the existing system. Personally, I'd like to leave ability scores out of background altogether. I really liked PF1 traits because they were (mostly) smaller benefits, so you could pick one that actually fit your character without feeling mechanically disadvantaged.

My concern with the current system is that I feel it nudges people too strongly toward backgrounds that "fit" their class, and the nature of the math in the system means you can't really make up for that elsewhere until higher levels when your ability scores increase.


So really what we have here isn't all that different from how Traits worked in PF1, in that there were 4 groups of Traits you could take.

All Backgrounds really did was put Traits into bulk packages, which allowed them to grant more powerful benefits (whole Skill feats for free is relatively solid).

That said, I think building your own background makes a lot more sense and you've defined some nice building blocks for that here. The typical things that goes into a background seem to be as follows:

- Profession

- Region of origin

- Major life events

- Affiliations

And that about sums it up. The rest can be derived from these types of things or are probably more apt to be included under Ancestry/Class specifically.

I think if you wanted to create the best form of a system like this, it would involve choosing which of the above matters most to your character.

Some characters don't have to have a previous Profession that influences their character, or any affiliations. Maybe someone had a humdrum life and didn't have many life events. Maybe someone's region was a boring hamlet.

So not all characters backgrounds need to be that comprehensive, but some might want to include multiple elements.

Proposal:

- Each type gains a sub section of choices which are given a value for balancing purposes (ranging 1-4)

- Each character can have 4 points worth of Background for distribution, selecting at most one from each type of background

- Each type grants a similar benefit as another of its type:

1. All 1 cost Professions grant a trained Lore Skill
2. All 2 cost Professions grant a trained Skill
3. All 3 cost Professions grant a Skill Feat
4. All 4 cost Professions grant a trained Skill, Lore skill, and Skill Feat

1. All 1 cost Affiliations are treated one step friendlier with members of that Affiliation
2. All 2 cost Affiliations are trained in a Skill related to that Affiliation
3. All 3 cost Affiliations gain a Skill/General Feat related to that Affiliation
4. All 4 cost Affiliations are treated one step friendlier with members of that Affiliation, are trained in a Skill related to that Affiliation, and gain a Skill/General Feat associated with that Affiliation


Meraki wrote:

I like this because it provides more minor benefits rather than one or two major ones, though it is more complex than the existing system. Personally, I'd like to leave ability scores out of background altogether. I really liked PF1 traits because they were (mostly) smaller benefits, so you could pick one that actually fit your character without feeling mechanically disadvantaged.

My concern with the current system is that I feel it nudges people too strongly toward backgrounds that "fit" their class, and the nature of the math in the system means you can't really make up for that elsewhere until higher levels when your ability scores increase.

Backgrounds in PF2 are probably the only thing I like in that system, because it is very easy as a GM to make ones for your own campaigns without much thiniking on the mechanical side, but I have to agree that leaving Ability Modifiers out of the equation might be preferable


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For more involved, complex Backgrounds, I would like that some Backgrounds came with an optional feat that you could take as an ancestry feat later.


masda_gib wrote:
For more involved, complex Backgrounds, I would like that some Backgrounds came with an optional feat that you could take as an ancestry feat later.

I'd go a step further and say they use the same pool, but I love that concept.

That allows people who choose Affiliations/Profession to continue advancing those paths if they so choose it (Why shouldn't a smith that continues to smith become better at smithing, or a guild member be promoted to a guild sargeant?)

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