Every Hero in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is human, from somewhere among the many lands that surround the Whale Road. They may be from nearby, Baltic-born and stern as the sea. They may be from strange lands to the south, with strange speech and tales no one has ever heard before. Each Hero comes to a life of adventure by a different path. Their background represents both their lineage and their life experience.
First and foremost, every Hero has access to the same Ability bonuses as any other. Adding such modifiers allows you to customise your character but is not dependent on where they were born or what they look like. Similarly, you can roll on a table (or pick) a special quirk (benefit) that is personal to you. You make some other choices, such as your age, alignment and languages and every Hero gets to start with a Feat. You then choose a background, and start building a story of how your Hero came to be. We posit the existence of a Trader’s Tongue that the folk of the North Sea and Baltic use when making deals that has loan words from a variety of languages, so that everyone can understand one another.
For example, you might be Adrift, having lost your memory due to a head wound or other trauma. You might be an Avenger, seeking vengeance against a Monster that harmed your loved ones. You might be the subject of a prophecy, known as the Chosen One. Or you might be Noble’s Blood with the attendant responsibilities and expectations. Some are Foundlings, adopted by others but now searching for their true home. Others are Believers, spreading their faith whether new or old. Others are Exiles, sent from their homes for reasons good or bad. And a few were once Sidekicks, the Followers of another Hero who either met an untimely end or sent forth their friend, proclaiming them ready for a life of adventure themselves.
Like 5e, a background provides some skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies and equipment. Each background also provides a character feature that is tied into that story. And, of course, it also provides a list of suggestions for the character’s personality traits, ideal, bond and flaw. As we’ll learn about in a future article, using personality traits is just one way to gain inspiration in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, but it is one that is always available. And what Hero doesn’t want inspiration?
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is coming soon to Kickstarter. You can check out the system by downloading our free preview, the Hermit’s Sanctuary at drivethrurpg.com