Rules Index


Chapter 4: Variant Rules

Deep Backgrounds

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 186
The decision of a character background is not necessarily a complicated one; the player simply selects from the available background options to reflect their character’s life before adventuring. While this is a good method for determining a character’s backstory, some players might want more insight into their character’s early life or family.

Using Deep Backgrounds

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 186
This variant replaces Step 4 of Character Creation. The player rolls on the tables in this section to determine their character’s family background, homeland, major childhood event, influential associate, relationships, and drawbacks. Each element of the player’s background adds options to the final list of ability boosts, skills, feats, and other options that their background can grant. The player writes these options down as they build their character’s background. At the end of the process, they select the following from among the options written down.
  • Two ability boosts, each to a different ability score.
  • Training in a Lore skill.
  • One skill feat (or possibly another feat or piece of equipment). If the player chooses a skill feat, they become trained in its prerequisite skill, or one of its possible prerequisite skills if it has multiple (such as Quick Identification). If the random results include a feat that isn’t a skill feat and the player selects that feat, they don’t gain training in a skill. If they choose a piece of equipment instead of a skill feat, the entry indicates what skill training, if any, they receive.

Rerolling and Selecting

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 186
At your discretion, the players don’t have to be bound by any results from the following tables. Depending on how your group wants to use deep backgrounds, players can reroll any result they don’t like, or even select a specific option from a table that fits their emerging vision of their character. However, if you allow players to reroll or directly select options (and potentially even if you don’t), you might want to exclude options that grant feats other than skill feats; these options are unusual enough that they might put too much pressure on players to select only these options. Note that the following tables reflect the Core Rulebook and the Age of Lost Omens setting—if your game takes place in a different setting, feel free to adjust the tables or allow players to select the options that best fit your setting.

Generating Deep Backgrounds

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 186
As a player, follow the steps below to generate your character’s deep background.

Step 1: Family Background

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 186
The word family means something different to everyone. You might have a biological family, adopted family, stepfamily, or any other kind and combination you choose; family bonds come in all types. To determine the number of family members you grew up with as an active part of your life, roll 1d% on the following table. Use the medium family for most ancestries, small if you’re a half-elf or half-orc, and large if you’re a goblin or halfling. For ancestries other than those in the Core Rulebook, use the column that best suits the ancestry. It’s up to you whether these family members are parents, siblings, grandparents, or other close relatives.

Table 4-5: Family Size

d%Small FamilyMedium FamilyLarge Family
1–4000
5–8001
9–20002
21–34013
35–39123
40–50124
51–60234
61–65235
66–69245
70–78345
79–80446
81–87456
88–90556
91–93567
94–95667
96–97677
98–99778+
1008+8+8+
  • If you grew up with no family, you had to learn to survive on your own. Add a Strength ability boost and a Constitution ability boost to your options.
  • If you grew up with one or two family members, your closeness to them made you highly aware of their feelings, and you. Add an Intelligence ability boost and a Wisdom ability boost to your options.
  • If you grew up with three or more family members, you had to mediate family conflicts and negotiate a crowded home. Add a Charisma ability boost and a Dexterity ability boost to your options.

Step 2: Homeland

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 187
Where you grew up is highly formative. Roll on the following table to determine the nature of your homeland. If your character is a dwarf, subtract 3; if an elf, add 2; if a goblin, subtract 4. For ancestries other than those in the Core Rulebook, apply a modifier that best suits the ancestry, if needed. Work with your GM to flesh your homeland out in further detail. With any of these options, you add a Lore skill based on your homeland’s terrain to your background options, such as Forest Lore for a wooded frontier or Absalom Lore if you grew up in that city.

Table 4-6: Homeland

1d20Result
1 or lessUnderground You grew up in a partly or wholly underground region, such as a human mining town, a goblin warren, or a dwarf-held cavern. Add Engineering Lore, Labor Lore, and Mining Lore to your background options.
2–3Frontier You grew up at the edge of a settled region. This might have been isolated hills if you are a dwarf, a ranch or farm if you are a human, or another similar frontier. Add Farming Lore, Fishing Lore, Hunting Lore, Scouting Lore, and Lore pertaining to a type of creature that threatened your homeland regularly (such as Giant Lore) to your background options.
4–5Trade Town People frequently passed through your homeland. You might have been raised near a major thoroughfare or crossroads, or in a small trade town. Add Accounting Lore, Guild Lore, Mercantile Lore, Stabling Lore, and Lore of a common ancestry (such as Dwarf Lore) to your background options.
6–7Simple Village You were raised in a sleepy village such as a bucolic gnome hamlet, a close-knit human town, or an established goblin fort. Add Herbalism Lore, Midwifery Lore, Milling Lore, Tanning Lore, and Lore of a type of food, drink, or product the village was known for producing (such as Alcohol Lore or Wagon Lore) to your background options.
8–9Cosmopolitan City You were raised in a community where no single ancestry predominated. This might have created tensions, but the community might also have pulled together from diverse foundations. Add Art Lore, Guild Lore, Legal Lore, and Underworld Lore to your background options.
10–11Metropolis You grew up in one of the largest cities in the world, such as Absalom or Westcrown. Add Architecture Lore, Gladiatorial Lore, Guild Lore, Legal Lore, and Theater Lore to your background options.
12Front Lines You grew up in a homeland torn by war. Even if you didn’t personally participate, it was never far away. Add Heraldry Lore, Scouting Lore, and Warfare Lore to your background options.
13–14Itinerant You never had a single place to call home. You might have been part of a nomadic caravan, a traveling group of entertainers, or a smuggling ring. Add Circus Lore, Fortune-Telling Lore, Games Lore, Labor Lore, and Underworld Lore to your background options.
15Another Ancestry’s Settlement Randomly determine another common ancestry; you grew up surrounded by that ancestry. Reroll on this table (with a modifier for the new ancestry, if applicable) to determine the type of community in which you grew up (for example, if your gnome grew up among dwarves and rolls a 3, they grew up underground). Add the Adopted Ancestry feat and the Lore skill related to your adopted ancestry (such as Dwarf Lore) to your background options. If you select this feat instead of a skill feat, you aren’t trained in a background skill.
16Coastal Community You grew up along a wide river, in a wetland, beside an ocean, or on an island. Add Fishing Lore, Sailing Lore, and Lore of a specific type of sea creature (such as Shark Lore) to your background options.
17–18Religious Community You were raised in a community of religious scholars, such as the town around an abbey, a remote elven forest shrine, or a dwarven temple-city. Add Art Lore, Scribing Lore, Lore about a deity that was the focus or enemy of your community (such as Pharasma Lore), and Lore about a plane (other than the Material Plane) where that deity resides to your background options.
19+Academic Community You were raised in or near a university, academy, or other center of learning. Add Academia Lore, Genealogy Lore, Library Lore, and Scribing Lore to your background options.

Step 3: Major Childhood Event

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 188
During your childhood, you were influenced by a significant event that helped shape the person you became. Roll on the table below to determine the type of event that shaped you.

Table 4-7: Major Childhood Event

1d20Result
1Abandoned in a Distant Land Due to some mischance (such as wandering off while on a trip or being press-ganged onto a seagoing ship), you had to survive in a distant land for a while. Add the Multilingual skill feat to your background options.
2Academy Trained You attended an academy where you studied a number of topics and skills. Whether you were a studious pupil or a dropout, the academy was your home for a good portion of your formative years. Add the Additional Lore skill feat to your background options. If you select Additional Lore as your skill feat, instead of becoming trained in Lore, you become trained in your choice of Arcana, Occultism, or Society.
3Attained a Magical Gift When you were a child, you found, stole, or were given a magic item that gave you an extraordinary ability. Add the Arcane Sense skill feat to your background options.
4Betrayed A friend or family member whom you trusted more than anyone else betrayed you. Add the skill feat to your background options.
5Bullied In your early life, you were often picked on. The callousness of bullies sharpened your resolve to stand up for yourself and others. Add the skill feat to your background options.
6Captured by Giants You were captured by marauding giants and fought your way free. Add the Titan Wrestler skill feat to your background options.
7Claimed an Inheritance You were bequeathed great wealth or property at an early age. You retained some of it; add a piece of common adventuring gear worth 15 gp or less to your background options. If you select it instead of a skill feat, you are trained in Society.
8Died You died or came so close that you walked the boundary between life and death. Add the Diehard feat to your background options. If you select it instead of a skill feat, you aren’t trained in a background skill.
9Fell In with a Bad Crowd In your youth, you ran with a criminal element: a gang, thieves’ guild, or similar organization. Add the Experienced Smuggler skill feat to your background options.
10 Had an Ordinary Childhood Your childhood was fairly ordinary, with no major catastrophe—a stark contrast to most adventurers. Add the Assurance skill feat for a skill of your choice to your background options.
11Had Your First Kill You’ve had blood on your hands since your youth, when you first took the life of another. You still have the weapon you used for the deed; add a common weapon worth 15 gp or less to your background options. If you select this option instead of a skill feat, you are trained in Athletics.
12Kidnapped You were kidnapped at some point in your childhood and had to escape, perhaps by pirates, slavers, a cult, or someone else. Add the Quick Squeeze skill feat to your background options.
13Lost in the Wilderness Whether lured to the wilderness by a malevolent force or simply lost, you had to survive on your own for a while. Add the Survey Wildlife skill feat to your background options.
14Met a Fantastic Creature When you were a child, you made contact with a magical creature, such as a dragon, unicorn, genie, pixie, or similar creature. Add the Recognize Spell skill feat to your background options.
15Raided A horde of raiders attacked your settlement and killed and wounded several of your people. This could have been a band of highway robbers or a conquering army. You have a relic from those times; add an armor or shield worth 15 gp or less to your background options. If you select this option instead of a skill feat, you are trained in Medicine.
16Robbed Your family’s possessions were stolen, and you vowed to catch the next burglar in the act. Add the skill feat to your background options.
17Survived a Disaster You witnessed and survived a major disaster in your childhood years—such as a great fire, flood, earthquake, volcano, or storm—by relying on what was at hand. Add the Quick Repair skill feat to your background options.
18Trained by a Mentor A mentor or patron took an interest in your development and volunteered to train or sponsor you. Add the Experienced Professional skill feat to your background options.
19Witnessed War You grew up against the backdrop of a major military conflict that affected much of your childhood world. Add the Battle Medicine skill feat to your background options.
20Won a Competition You distinguished yourself at an early age when you won a competition. This might have been a martial contest of arms, a showing of apprentice magicians, high-stakes gambling, or something more mundane, like an eating contest. Add the Fascinating Performance skill feat to your background options.

Step 4: Influential Associate

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 189
You may have had several people who played key roles in developing their skills and personality, but one likely stands out as the most influential. Use one of the results below as a template to develop an NPC in deeper detail. Work with your GM to determine the current fate of this NPC and whether you can still call upon the NPC for aid.

Table 4-8: Influential Associate

1d20Result
1The Academic One of your associates had a thirst for knowledge that could never be satisfied with simple answers. Through this association, you developed a keen appreciation for numbers, geometry, logic, hard study, and problem-solving. Add an Intelligence ability boost to your background options.
2The Boss You once gained employment under a powerful individual with far-reaching influence. When the boss spoke up, everyone listened. This could have been a military commander, village leader, guild head, or gang boss. From the boss, you learned how to make people listen and keep them in line. Add a Charisma ability boost to your background options.
3The Champion You were close to someone who excelled at athletic endeavors and tests of strength or skill. Through your friendship or rivalry, you developed a competitive spirit that continues to drive you in everything you do. Add a Strength ability boost to your background options.
4The Confidante You could tell this person anything. They know your deepest secrets and vulnerabilities just as you know theirs, and thinking critically about another’s perspective became second nature to you. Add an Intelligence ability boost to your background options.
5The Crafter One of your major influences cherished perfection through art. From this person, you developed a disciplined mind, a solitary focus, and the ability to create something useful and beautiful. Add an Intelligence ability boost to your background options.
6The Criminal One of your associates committed crimes regularly. They regaled you with many stories of daring robberies and break-ins—perhaps even murders. You learned what you know of the criminal element from this friend. Add a Dexterity ability boost to your background options.
7The Dead One One of your greatest influences was a sapient undead creature, such as a ghost, lich, graveknight, or vampire. Through this strange relationship, you learned of its mortal life, giving you perspective on your own life. Add a Constitution ability boost to your background options.
8The Fiend You dealt with, or were possessed by, a fiend who lent you power at a time of great need. Some part of it remains inside you, influencing you toward destructive ends. Add a Strength ability boost to your background options.
9The Fool One of your close associates mocked propriety and custom, engaging in wild and somewhat random actions from time to time. After a while, you learned there was simple wisdom to this foolery—a careless worldview that taught you to cast off concern. Add a Wisdom ability boost to your background options.
10The Hunter This person was a lone wolf who cautiously allowed you to become a member of their solitary pack. They taught you how to remain quick and thrive on your own in spite of natural dangers. Add a Dexterity ability boost to your background options.
11The Liege Lord You became close with someone you were bound to serve, be it an employer, minor lord or lady, or even a king or queen. Though this person held power over you, they held you closer than a subject or servant. As a result, you’re used to dealing with and being close to power. Add a Charisma ability boost to your background options.
12The Lover You had a romantic connection in your past, and this person deeply influenced your personality. Perhaps this was a first love, a casual partner you grew close to, or the one who got away. The experience bolstered your confidence in romantic interactions, even though your thoughts still stray toward that special someone from long ago. Add a Charisma ability boost to your background options.
13The Mentor You had a mentor who taught you everything worth knowing about life. This could have been the person who taught you your heroic abilities, or simply a kindred spirit who helped form your worldview. Add a Constitution ability boost to your background options.
14The Mercenary With this person, there was always a cost. No deed came without a trade for something of equal or greater value. You respected their cynical but fair dealings, and they influenced your philosophy. Add a Strength ability boost to your background options.
15The Mystic You were especially close to a holy person in your community who fundamentally changed your life, opening your eyes to the incredible powers that exist beyond the natural world. Regardless of whether you now follow a faith, certain religious artifacts, rituals, and texts played a large part in making you the person you are. Add a Wisdom ability boost to your background options.
16The Pariah You met a disgraced exile and found in their words something that spoke to you. What once seemed true in your religion, society, or family began to appear false, and you quickly learned not to trust everyone you meet. Add a Wisdom ability boost to your background options.
17The Relative You were especially close to a specific relative growing up. To you, this person was the meaning of family. They helped shepherd you into adulthood, teaching you everything you know about the world. You resolutely strive to keep a promise, vow, or oath that you made to them. Add a Constitution ability boost to your background options.
18The Seer You were close to a person who claimed to see the future—perhaps an oracle, seer, prophet, or merely some festival charlatan. The seer’s influence either made you into an optimist with a drive to fulfill that future or a fatalist resigned to accept it. Add a Wisdom ability boost to your background options.
19The Wanderer You knew someone who traveled from place to place with the changing of the wind, such as a minstrel, merchant, outcast, mercenary, or sailor. This person brought you wondrous mementos and inspired a wanderlust within you. Add a Dexterity ability boost to your background options.
20The Well-Connected Friend In your circle of associates, there was someone everyone knew. This person had contacts in every social circle. Through this connection, you continue to meet and associate with a wide variety of people in every walk of life. Add a Charisma ability boost to your background options.

Step 5: Relationships

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 190
This aspect of background generation determines the relationships you have with the other PCs and why your character might choose to adventure with them. This step is best performed when the entire group is sitting together and can generate and discuss these connections with each other. You should select another character and roll on the first table to generate an inspiring connection, then determine a different character and roll on the second table to generate a challenging connection. You might choose these characters randomly, or the group might decide that each character has an inspiring connection with the character of the player sitting to the left and a challenging connection with the character of the player sitting to the right.

Other players can reject a relationship connection they don’t feel fits with their vision of their own character; in this case, pick another character or a different relationship. Even though you and the other characters share a connection, only you add the skill feats from the relationships you roll to your background options.

Table 4-9: Inspiring Relationship

1d12 Result
1Animal Helpers When you and this character were younger, you worked together to nurse sick animals back to health. Add the Train Animal skill feat to your background options.
2Comrade-in-Arms You and this character were once comrades in military service, and you trained yourself and this character to improve your physical fitness. Add the Assurance skill feat for Athletics to your background options.
3Desperate Intimidation You had to frighten off pirates or slavers looking to capture you and this character. Add the Group Coercion skill feat to your background options.
4Homelessness At a time when you were both living on the streets, you taught this character valuable pointers to survive. Add the Streetwise skill feat to your background options.
5Kindly Witch This character connected you to a kindly but reclusive person who was living at the edge of civilization but had expansive knowledge to share. Add the Natural Medicine skill feat to your background options.
6Liberators You and this character worked together to free some captives—including one of your friends or relatives—from a gang of slavers. Add the Lengthy Diversion skill feat to your background options.
7Magician This character supported your brief dalliance with stage magic, which you took up as a precursor to learning actual magic or simply to keep your fingers nimble. Add the Subtle Theft skill feat to your background options.
8Missing Child When a young relative disappeared in a busy market, this character helped you question merchants and shoppers and find the child before they came to any harm. Add the Hobnobber skill feat to your background options.
9Patron of the Arts This character encouraged you to excel at a type of performance you loved, even going so far as to support you in lean times. Add the Virtuosic Performer skill feat to your background options.
10Religious Students You and this character shared some religious training in the past, even if you didn’t stick with it, and you admired their piety. Add the Student of the Canon skill feat to your background options.
11Timely Cure When a family member of yours was dying and there didn’t seem to be much hope, this character brought a simple but effective alchemical cure. You are determined to pay this favor forward. Add the Alchemical Crafting skill feat to your background options.
12Wasteland Survivors You and this character were lost in a dangerous wasteland together and depended upon each other for survival; you’re still not certain that either of you would have survived the ordeal without the other’s aid. Add the Forager skill feat to your background options.

Table 4-10: Challenging Relationship

1d12 Result
1Accidental Fall This character once inadvertently shoved you off a ledge or balcony. You’re mostly certain it was a mistake, but the fall was terrifying, and you’ve resolved to never be caught unaware like that again. Add the Cat Fall skill feat to your background options.
2Accusation of Theft You were once secretly certain that this character stole a cherished valuable from you. You were determined to steal it back, until you learned that this character wasn’t in fact to blame and you’d only misplaced the item. Add the Pickpocket skill feat to your background options.
3Called Before Judges Information provided by this character—either intentionally or inadvertently given—required you to justify yourself in front of a group of bureaucrats or magistrates. Add the Group Impression skill feat to your background options.
4Matter of Might You have long considered this character your rival in a question of strength. You are determined to prove yourself to be mightier, perhaps by intelligent application of force if you aren’t physically imposing. Add the Hefty Hauler skill feat to your background options.
5Mercantile Expertise To encourage an employer to hire you instead of this character, you worked hard to demonstrate your keen mercantile sense. It didn’t work; the employer hired this character anyway. Add the Bargain Hunter skill feat to your background options.
6Privileged Position You once sought the favor of a powerful spellcaster as a mentor, but this character was plainly the mentor’s favorite, no matter how hard you tried. Add the Quick Identification skill feat to your background options.
7Relationship Ender You once warned off an admirer seeking this character’s affections. You still maintain that the match would have been a poor one and that you did this character a favor. Add the Quick Coercion skill feat to your background options.
8Rival Trackers You and this character worked for a time as rival hunters, whether tracking animals or escaped criminals. Add the skill feat to your background options.
9Seeking Accolades You never seemed to capture the attention of the crowds at the tavern as easily as this character did, so you worked hard to practice your showmanship. Add the Impressive Performance skill feat to your background options.
10Slander You and this character were rivals for the same person’s affections, and you stooped to spreading vicious lies before the whole situation fell apart. Add the Charming Liar skill feat to your background options.
11Social Maneuvering You have always wanted to prove yourself better than this character in a fancy social situation but have yet to decisively do so. Add the Courtly Graces skill feat to your background options.
12Spy You spied upon this character in the past, either at the behest of someone else or because of your own suspicions. Add the Read Lips skill feat to your background options.