Unlike some of the other pieces I’ve done, this background is uniquely tied to the Summerlands. It doesn’t make sense anywhere else. That made it hard to write, but hopefully it also makes it flavorful and interesting. This is part of my series of summer posts inspired by the (now long over) June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM.
You have spent time working for one of the powerful dragons overseeing the Summerlands. Whether you were an apprentice or a slave, your life has been shaped by your proximity to a powerful patron. You might have engaged in magical research led armies, or served as a spy. Your connection to the dragon might lay in your past, a secret that you are running from, or it may be ongoing, as you work to shape the world to your master’s will.
Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Deception
Tool Proficiencies: Disguise Kit
Equipment: A disguise kit, a single dragon’s scale, a set of traveler’s clothes, a belt pouch containing 15 gp
Hand of the Dragon
While the dragons of the Summerlands are usually a distant presence, they do sometimes involve themselves more directly in the lives of the mortal races around them. While all the Summerlands’ dragons are evil, their degree of cruelty and depravity varies, as do their requirements for their servants. However you were connected to a dragon, that connection influences you throughout your life. Choose the hand the dragon played (or continues to play) in your life, or roll on the table below.
Feature: Paths of the Dragon
You know the location of dragon lairs and bolt-holes, and can always find a place to hide or rest for the night. In addition, when you left the dragon’s service, you took a single page with you. That page might contain a powerful ritual, or battle-plan, or a evidence of a secret conspiracy. By itself, the page might not be worth much, but given enough time and the right allies, you might be able to turn it to your advantage, or use it to bring your former master to ruin.
Work with your GM to determine the contents of your secret page, and its impact on the campaign.
The servants of a dragon are not always willing, but no one can work closely with such a creature without being touched by its magic, and its malice. Servants who run away spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders, and those who are freed often leave some piece of themselves behind. While the dragons of the Summerlands are evil, their degree of cruelty varies, and their servants are often good creatures whose lives have been stolen.
|1||I know that my former master is coming for me, and I and jump at the slightest noise, always looking over my shoulder.|
|2||In every situation, I have back-up plans for my back-up plans, and one plan always enables me to get away.|
|3||When I fight, which I love to do, I am prone to calling out orders in draconic, a holdover from my days as a warrior for the dragon.|
|4||I never stay in one place too long, and refuse to talk about my past.|
|5||Whenever anyone invokes the dragons, I spit on the ground and make a sign to ward off evil; I know they can hear it when someone speaks their names.|
|6||I know that my former master is coming, and I look forward to the confrontation.|
|7||I served the dragons with distinction, and take pride in my accomplishments.|
|8||I consider the dragons gods, though not necessarily benevolent gods.|
|1||Greater Good. I have seen the evil the dragons do, and I will make the Summerlands a better place in spite of them. (Good)|
|2||Responsibility. I am driven by the terrible things I have seen to bring justice to the world. (Lawful)|
|3||Independence. I will never allow anyone else to be used as I was used by the dragon. (Chaotic)|
|4||Power. I glimpsed power during my time of service, and I want to do more than just see it from the outside. (Evil)|
|5||Moving On. I only want to put my past behind me and move on with my life. (Neutral)|
|6||Service. I will serve the will of the dragon until my death. (Evil)|
|1||A dragon raised me as its child, and while I might reject its depravity, I still see dragons as my kin.|
|2||I have sworn a blood oath to kill the humanoids who do the dragons’ work in the world, for they are far worse than the dragons.|
|3||I would die to see the dragons’ grip on the Summerlands broken.|
|4||I carry a dark secret about my draconic master, one that its enemies would kill for, and it would kill to protect.|
|5||I want to become a great and noble hero, to erase the terrible deeds I performed while in the dragon’s service.|
|6||I left the dragon’s service out of love for someone else.|
|1||The sight of anything draconic sends me into a rage (including reven).|
|2||The scars from my time with the dragon will never fully heal, and I will sacrifice anything to keep from going back there.|
|3||Though I can understand it, I refuse to speak in Draconic.|
|4||While I believe that I am free, if a dragon commands me to do something, I am not sure I have the strength to disobey.|
|5||Agents of the dragon are actively hunting me at all times.|
|6||I am deathly afraid of the damage type inflicted by my former master’s breath weapon.|
Hacking the Dragon-touched
Backgrounds are hard. It seems like they’d be easy, since they’re basically five tables, four paragraphs, and some skills, tools, and equipment. All the same, they’re hard because they’re specific, and every line has to be tied together. A bond is not a trait is not an ideal, and each of those has to be written with its own unique flavor.
Still, I love the flavor of this one. It could fit in to another world, with some re-skinning.I could see, for example, this being an interesting background for a former Dragon Cultist in the Forgotten Realms, for someone trained by a metallic dragon in Pathfinder, or for someone who is part of the Draconic Prophesies of Eberron.