Old Quarter Commoner 5e Background

Following this weekend’s Twitter poll, here’s another 5e background: the Old Quarter Commoner. You can also check out the Gladiator and Bureaucrat.

I still need to do the Arcane Apprentice, Axe-Bearing Guard and Platinum Knight-Errant. Most of the other Character Backgrounds in Parsantium: City at the Crossroads have good equivalents in the Player’s Handbook (or in Kobold Press’ excellent Midgard Heroes).

OLD QUARTER COMMONER

You come from a poor family struggling to make ends meet in the Dock Ward or Poor Ward of the Old Quarter. You might be a Sampuran belonging to the shudra caste, a half-orc or an Aqhrani. Either way, you toil away as a labourer of some sort, although if you’re a half-orc you might do an “unclean” job such as tanning leather, slaughtering animals or working as an undertaker. Alternatively, you could be a street orphan, running errands for local merchants and acting as a tout or unofficial guide. Whatever you do, it’s an honest living, and you are part of a community of folk in the same situation, all of whom look out for each other. Life is hard, though, and you earn a pittance. If someone offered you a way to climb up the social ladder, you’d probably grab it with both hands.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools or vehicle (land or water)

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: a pair of bone dice, a letter of recommendation from a past employer, a set of common clothes and a belt pouch containing 10 gp

PAST EXPERIENCE

Roll or choose from the entries on the following table to determine the type of (generally unskilled) work you did before taking up the life of an adventurer. Skilled artisans and craftsmen are more likely to take the Journeyman background.

d12 Type of Work
1 Fisherman
2 Dockworker
3 Builder or general labourer
4 Slaughterhouse or tannery worker
5 Baker
6 Wagon driver
7 Tout or errand runner
8 Lamplighter
9 Sewer worker or dung sweeper
10 Undertaker
11 Prostitute
12 Bartender or waiter

FEATURE: ALL IN IT TOGETHER

You are at home among the tightly-knit communities of the Old Quarter, and can count on friends, neighbours and relatives for solidarity and support. Other hard-working poor folk will try and help you out if they are able to do so, providing you with information and sharing what little food they have with you if you are in need of a meal. If you are in trouble with the City Watch or one of the criminal gangs, you can find someone to hide you for a night or two, no questions asked.

Half-Orc Warrior

Art by Matt Morrow

SUGGESTED CHARACTERISTICS

Old Quarter commoners have led lives of poverty and hardship, surviving by dint of honest work, sheer bloodymindedness, and resilience. Some dream of riches and making it big, so they can turn their backs on the ward they grew up in for good. Others still feel a close bond to their family and their local communities, and want to make things better for everyone, not just themselves.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I take pride in my work. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
2 My religion is a great source of comfort to me.
3 I support the Greens, through thick and thin. Blues supporters had best give me a wide berth.
4 There’s nothing better than a trip to the bathhouse at the end of a long, hard week.
5 My frankness and honesty often cause offence, but I find it hard to bite my tongue.
6 I try and sneak off early when the boss isn’t looking.
7 It’s not easy being a half-orc in this city. People sometimes cross the street to avoid me.
8 I’ll complain to anyone who’ll listen about how hard my day at work has been.
d6 Ideals
1 Aspiration. I’m determined to make a better life for myself. (Neutral)
2 Change. It’s not right that we in the Old Quarter have so little, and those in the Imperial Quarter have so much. (Chaotic)
3 Community. We need to look out for each other and keep each other safe. (Lawful)
4 Might. I’ve knuckled down and worked hard and where has it got me? It’s time to start grabbing the things I want! (Evil)
5 Family. I’ll do whatever it takes to provide for my family. (Neutral)
6 Respect. Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be treated with respect. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I was born in the Dock Ward slums and they will always be my home.
2 My true love died three years ago and I still cry on her birthday.
3 I’m obsessed with the chariot races. Tarkhan Kadir’s autograph is my most prized possession.
4 The Friendly Society are my family too – I can count on them to stand up for our people.
5 My childhood friend has got mixed up with one of the gangs and it’s down to me to get him out of their clutches.
6 I’m going to prove to my mother that I can make something of myself.
d6  Flaw
1 I make a little extra on the side by doing some muscle work for the Golden Scimitars.
2 I find it easier to get through the day if I start drinking early.
3 I only take dash when I’m in need of a pick-me-up. I can stop any time I want.
4 I keep trying to win big at the Floating Palace but I just end up blowing everything I’ve earned.
5 My brother’s success makes my blood boil. One day someone is going to take him down a peg or two.
6 I know I shouldn’t have gone to the Winking Vixen. I love my wife and hope one day she will forgive me.
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