Bureaucrat 5e Background

It’s been a while since I’ve posted new content here – since Whispers of the Dark Daeva was published I’ve been busy working on the new Midgard Campaign Setting for Kobold Press.  Now that my Midgard chapters are done, I should have more time to write new Parsantium material and get the long-overdue Pathfinder version of Whispers finished!

Parsantium has always been a “city for all editions”. Here’s a new 5e Bureaucrat background, expanding on the character background in Chapter One of Parsantium: City at the Crossroads.


You have served in Parsantium’s vast and complex bureaucracy as one of the “beardless”, a junior civil servant. If male, you may be a eunuch, born to a poor family who handed you over to the authorities for schooling in return for a well-paid government job for life. Alternatively, you could be the second or third child of a wealthy Bathuran family, or a dwarf in the service of the Royal Exchequer. You may have done a superb job, or you may have spent most of your time daydreaming about dragons and dungeons rather than pushing paper around, but you’ve been overlooked for promotion several times now and your career is going nowhere. You have a good understanding of the workings of the corridors of power in Parsantium, including who wields influence over what, and which fancy hats and obscure job titles have the most prestige. You feel it’s now time to do something a bit more interesting with your life.

Skill Proficiencies: History, Persuasion

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: an impressive hat, robes of office, an ink pen, a bottle of ink, 10 sheets of parchment, and a purse containing 10 gp.


You are familiar with the labyrinthine structure of Parsantium’s government and can navigate through the many departments of its bloated and corrupt bureaucracy with ease. You know how to track down useful information in the city’s bewildering Hall of Imperial Records, and the right officials to approach to get your request for access properly notarized . You also know which forms you need to fill out (in triplicate!) to obtain most permits and licences, allowing you to complete your business smoothly and quickly, and without having to pay bribes to expedite the process.


Art by Marc Radle


Bureaucrats have spent a long time in the halls of the Curia, learning how to deal with mountains of paperwork, and mastering the etiquette needed to influence high-ranking officials.  This has shaped how they view the world: some are glad to be free from the regimentation they laboured under; others feel most comfortable when things are structured and there are rules to follow.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I write important notes to myself on the back of my hand.
2 I get distressed when other people don’t put things away in their proper home.
3 Lies trip off my tongue, even when it would be easier to tell the truth.
4 I’ve have had enough of petty rules and regulations.
5 I love being outside and feeling the sun on my face.
6 I stay calm under pressure, and can usually find an effective solution to whatever problem I’m faced with.
7 I have a friendly way with people that puts them at their ease.
8 My handwriting might look like an illegible scrawl to you, but I can read every word.
d6 Ideals
1 Order. Everything must be properly recorded to ensure the smooth running of the government. (Lawful)
2 Generosity. I do my best to help those in need. (Good)
3 Greed. I can make that happen but only if you make it worth my while. (Evil)
4 Freedom. Rules are meant to be broken. (Chaotic)
5 Aspiration. I work hard to make something of myself (Any)
6 People. I care more about my friends and family than filing. (Neutral)
d6 Bond
1 I am profoundly grateful to my mentor who helped me progress through the ranks, despite my lowly background.
2 I uncovered evidence of the Pavone family’s corruption but dare not tell anyone what I found.
3 I’m very proud of my hat – it was presented to me when I was promoted to Principal Secretary at the Department of Mercantile Affairs.
4 Every copper sestertius I earn goes to my family in the Poor Ward.
5 House Ziper bribed me to “lose” the deeds to valuable property owned by House Laro in the Hall of Imperial Records. I hope no one finds out what I did.
6  One day I will get my revenge on the petty tyrant who blocked my transfer out of the Department of Night Soil Management.
d6  Flaw
1 I find it hard to trust anyone.
2 I get very angry when people don’t fill out forms correctly.
3 It’s hard for others to hold my full attention for long.
4 My job was so dull I started taking cloud nine to get me through the day.
5 Some people say I’m tactless. I prefer to think of it as honest.
6 I’ll do anything for a quiet life.

Any comments or feedback welcome.  If you enjoyed this post, why not check out the gladiator, the gnoll, the vanara and trinkets?

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