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?

Yggdrasil and Midgard

Two (maybe even three) years ago I wrote a Parsantium article called “The Other Crossroads City” for a fanzine for Wolfgang Baur’s excellent Midgard setting. As some of you may know, the original Parsantium campaigns included several Midgard adventures, including Wrath of the River King, Courts of the Shadow Fey and Halls of the Mountain King.

Now, as I’m working on the updated Midgard setting for Kobold Press, the fanzine has finally been published!

Called Yggdrasil, it clocks in at nearly 100 pages and is absolutely free. You can download it here from Paizo.


Also, if you are interested in Midgard, a dark fantasy setting for 5th Edition D&D and Pathfinder, influenced by Central and Eastern European folklore, check out the Kickstarter.

Hammers & Nails – AetherCon V video

Back in November I appeared on a panel at AetherCon V called Hammers & Nails: What Goes into a Good Town? discussing worldbuilding and cities in fantasy RPGs.

The panel was hosted by Craig E Goad of Star City Savages, and also featured John Bennett (Raging Swan Press) and James Gantry (Rogue Blade Games). I enjoyed doing it and got to talk a fair bit about Parsantium.

You can now watch the video on YouTube 🙂

Latest News

Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and are looking forward to 2017!

Whispers of the Dark Daeva has been out for over a week now and I am very happy with how it’s been received. It’s had three positive reviews already which is fantastic!

Whispers of the Dark Daeva [5e]<

Megan Robertson gave the adventure 5 stars and wrote:
“A stirring adventure which gives the party a chance to make a name for themselves… It’s full of neat tricks to build up atmosphere and add to the realism of the town, as well as to provide a suitably creepy feel that grows along with the body count!”
Read the full review

Tim Baker also gave the module 5 stars. Tim says:
“As a long-time fan of the Parsantium setting and a 13th Age GM, this adventure has a lot going for it.”
Read the full review

Finally, Liam Gulliver reviewed it on his news and reviews site, the Dice Trip:
“Each act and area in the adventure reads as well thought out, planned and as [if] the author has a real passion for what they’re writing and the world they’ve created
Read the full review

I’m also delighted to report that you can now buy all three Parsantium products at Open Gaming Store. Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is included in their 12 Days of Christmas Sale at 30% off.


Looking forward, we’re hoping to get the Pathfinder version and POD editions of Whispers of the Dark Daeva done early in 2017. I’m doing some freelance work for Kobold Press at the moment which is keeping me busy but I’m also thinking about what’s next for Parsantium. This could be another adventure to follow on from Whispers, a 5e player’s guide with new races, backgrounds and class archetypes, or a guide to the wider world.  Let me know what you would like to see in the comments.

Happy New Year! 🙂

Whispers of the Dark Daeva now on sale!

It’s taken longer than expected but I’m very pleased to announce that my new Parsantium adventure for #dnd 5e, Whispers of the Dark Daeva, is now on sale at drivethrurpg.com 🙂

Whispers of the Dark Daeva [5e]

Thanks to all the playtesters who helped make the adventure better, and to Kate for doing the editing and layout. Hope you all enjoy it!