Article #11 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class. I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.
What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.
5. Star Child - You do not remember much about your early childhood other than that your foster parents found you in a shallow ditch blasted in a corn field. As you grew older and your powers manifested themselves they warned you to learn to hide that you were different lest others find out and turn against you. When in your teens they succumbed to the ravages of old age there was nothing to stop you forging out into a new and strange world in search of answers...
3. The Great Thespian - Your early years were an idyl spent playing with your brothers and sisters in the caravans of your parents travelling theatre. Your schooling consisted of mimicking your favourite characters from the tragedies and comedies you saw your parents play night after night as you travelled from town to town. As a teen you learned all the theatrical arts from actor to stage hand and honed your skills at night in supporting roles.
Your parents recognized that somehow your performances, even in the smallest of parts would often bewitch and delight the audience, but they could never understand where this talent came from. Until after a successful night playing in a sleepy village in the middle of nowhere a wizened old man asked to see your parents after the performance. He said that your skill was the work of magic and as an illusionist of the first rank he could not allow your parents to waste your talent on the stage and proposed that he make you his apprentice.
When several weeks later you had journeyed a thousand leagues from your homeland the illusionist disposed of his cunningly crafted disguise and revealed his true identity, he was infact the great thespian himself. You stood awestruck at the deception he had perpetrated on you and your parents and only narrowly avoided being skewered by his sword. As he lunged and you parried, he explained how he could not allow a talent like yours to overshadow his own and had decided to ensure that you would never upstage him. Sadly his talents did not extend to swordplay and his orations were cut short as you jabbed your rapier through his heart...
2. Dishonourable Conduct - Although you were happy being just a regular soldier in the Kings army, you never enjoyed the rough housing or esprit de corps as the officers called it. Sometimes you thought your comrades were as bad as the enemy you were sent to into battle to kill. All this changed for you when after a particularly bloodthirsty engagement you had to defend a young village girl from being sullied by one of your own sergeants. You stood trial by courts martial for acts of insubordination, and were it not for the pleadings of the chaplain your neck would have long since been stretched by the hangman's noose. Your punishment was commuted to life servitude in the order of paladins, a band of desperate men who, forced to give up their fate to the mercy of God, were despatched to the farthest reaches of the kingdom to despatch the Kings enemies no matter how suicidal the mission or overwhelming the odds.
4. A Man in a Woman's World - You didn't realise it at the time, but all through your childhood your grandmother taught you the ways of the spirit world. How to bend nature to do your bidding and when to bend to nature's will. The skills and knowledge which have been passed down from mother to daughter since time began are not normally taught to boys but your grandmother insisted that as your parents only child you were to be taught these lessons lest the old ways be lost to future generations. When the time came for her to pass into the spirit realm, the druids from the other nearby villages assembled to appoint her successor. Their shock as you were presented to them was palpable, and even though you demonstrated your extensive knowledge of the rites and incantations your grandmother had so patiently taught you they would not accept you as one of their equals and cast you out as an abomination...
3. Collectors of Truth - The training was arduous and the mortality rate high, but only the most proficient students of your order are selected to become collectors. Their mission, to be despatched to the four corners of the world to accumulate knowledge in all it's forms and to return it to the monastery for recording and analysis by the multitude of scribes. To survive the dangers of the outside world a collector must be wise beyond his years in order to identify Truth from Untruth, have the mental capacity to store the knowledge and possess the self preservation skills necessary to protect it on it's often perilous journey home...