Not-Quite-a-Blog the First: the Apprentice Background

Okay, so I haven’t quite gotten to a full blog this week. So instead, I’m posting a new background I’ve written for my upcoming D&D 5E campaign. This background is aimed at a younger character than the backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook generally are (as is my campaign).

I hope you find it useful.

Apprentice

You have spent the last couple of years apprenticed to a skilled artisan. They have been teaching you their trade so that you too can make a living by crafting things for other to use. However something has interrupted your apprenticeship and now you find yourself on a road toward a new life.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools, vehicles (land)

Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice), a work apron, a set of common clothes, a candle, a sack, and a belt pouch containing 5 gp.

Trade

The types of apprenticeships available to young people are varied. Choose the trade that you were learning or roll on the table below.

d12         Specialty

  1.             Alchemist
  2.             Brewer
  3.            Carpenter
  4.            Cobbler
  5.            Cook
  6.            Glassblower
  7.            Jeweler
  8.            Leather worker
  9.            Mason
  10.          Potter
  11.          Smith
  12.         Woodcarver

Feature: Work for Your Keep

You are a practical sort of person and you’re good with your hands. You can usually find something you can do to help people out in exchange for a roof over your head for the night. Depending on the help you can provide, this may extend to your companions.

Suggested Characteristics

You’ve been working in a trade which demands focus and hard work. You generally get along well with your fellow commoners and those in higher social classes will usually trust your simple manner and honest ways.

d8          Personality Trait

  1.           I’ve been trained to keep my head down and speak when spoken to.
  2.           I’m driven by the desire to produce a perfect work.
  3.           I’m used to doing the dirty jobs that need to be done.
  4.           I can work all day without losing focus.
  5.           I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life.
  6.           I feel the need to be secure in my life.
  7.           I enjoy being useful to the people around me.
  8.           I like tinkering with things and finding out how they work.

d6           Ideal

  1.           Fairness. A fair price for fair work.(Lawful)
  2.           Betterment. My work should improve the community I live in.(Good)
  3.           Freedom. People should be free to choose their own path in life.(Chaoitic)
  4.          Structure. Everyone has their own place in society. (Lawful)
  5.          Self-Improvement. People should always strive to improve themselves. (Any)
  6.           Excellence. Perfection is the only thing people should be aiming for. (Neutral)

d6           Bond

  1.            My master has given me the skills to survive in life. I owe him my unending loyalty.
  2.            I need to support my family.
  3.            My hammer is my most important possession.
  4.            I will always support my community.
  5.            A fellow apprentice covered for me when I made a mistake. I owe them for that.
  6.            I have a friend or sibling who believed in me, even when I didn’t.

d6           Flaw

  1.            I still don’t believe I’m worthy of a better life.
  2.            I’ll cut corners to get things done on time.
  3.            I caused an accident and somebody died.
  4.            Sometimes I get flustered if I have to think for myself.
  5.            If I can get away with not doing something, I will
  6.            I’m extremely shy and will avoid talking to new people.

Blog the First: My Early Days of D&D

G’day Internet. My name is Craig and I’d like to welcome you to my first ever blog post. It’s taken me a while to get here but hopefully I’ll be able to keep it going now that I’ve started. Given that craighargraves.com is my “work” website and my work involves hobby gaming, you can expect the vast majority of my blogs to be on gaming. So to start off today, I’m going to wander back into Nostalgia Land . . .

The 26th of January, 2014 was nominated as the 40th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons—the game which has probably had more impact on my life than any other. And for me personally, this years marks the 30th anniversary of having discovered this wonderful game. So today I’m going to go back and remember my start in gaming and what made it special enough that I would still be gaming all these years later.

I was introduced to D&D at the tender age of nine by my school-friend Evan. I more or less started with the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. While we had the Basic Set (the original red box set) around, being nine years old there was no way we were going to play the “basic” version when we could play the “advanced” version. I believe the first adventure I ever had was a one-on-one adventure where I fought my way through the dungeon at the back of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Unlike many people,I have absolutely no recollection of that first character’s name. I couldn’t even confidently tell you what class he was—I’m guessing he was a fighter. All I can really remember is that I was rescuing a princess, and I enjoyed it enough to come back for more.

In a way it’s kind of surprising that my first adventure came out of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. You see, my friend Evan was introduced to D&D by his older brother Brett, and it was Brett who actually owned the DMG. The DMG was this kind of mystical tome that nine-year-old younger brothers and their friends weren’t to touch—we were only players after all. To enforce this gaming-class distinction, Brett used to utilize various hiding spots in his bedroom to keep our hands off it. But every now and then we’d find his latest hiding spot. The DMG would then be secreted away to school (Brett was in high school at the time while we were in primary school) and lunch hours would be spent feverishly hand-copying out tables and other details we needed to play. (As I recall, the various magic item tables were a particularly high priority for our nine-year-old selves.) While I know it wasn’t the intention at the time, I think that mysterious, special quality to the books made the game all the more tantalizing.

Because we didn’t have ready access to all of the books we needed in those early days, much of our gaming was very free form. We’d walk around the school yard and play D&D without books, dice, or character sheets. It was pure imagination. Of course after school and on the weekends the paper, pencils, and dice would come out. I remember we used to carefully write up our character sheets in school exercise books. (The care we took with those character sheets probably contributed a lot to my neater-than-average hand writing today.) And of course, these formative gaming years birthed a life-long fondness for graph paper.

Sadly, prior to writing this post up I went and looked for my old gaming artifacts from that time and came up empty. While I feel like I’ve seen them recently, they weren’t to be found. This leaves me with just my memories:

I believe the first D&D product I ever bought was the module A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade. I remember one time when my younger brother really wanted to hurt me he took to it with a pair of scissors . . . He knew what he was doing all right.

The first hardcover I ever got was Legends & Lore. It was a birthday present from my mum. I remember being really disappointed when she told me she had been deciding between it and Fiend Folio. I still don’t have a copy of the original Fiend Folio . . . and I’m still kind of disappointed.

The first hardcover I remember buying for myself with my pocket money was the 1st edition Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide. It’s still one of my favorites.

The only character I really remember from those days is a half-elf bard named Kirranus Falstead. He wore a red silk shirt and I’m pretty sure he was the first character I ever had a miniature for.

I remember one character getting chopped in half by a large trap which swung a blade out of the wall at waist height. (Our thief knew about the trap but chose not to tell anyone.)

One time when I was DMing, I let the characters use the goblin lair they had just cleaned out as their new base. This was a mistake alleviated only by the habitual shortness of our campaigns.

I remember feeling so proud when Tom “the Super DM” (Tom, older-brother Brett’s high-school friend, was a super energetic DM—he was awesome) raved about how my cleric had cast both silence and then darkness to bypass some particularly tricky guards. (I think that was in Castle Amber . . .)

And I remember reading a lot and having a lot of fun.

Yes, D&D holds a special place in my heart (as it does for many others). While it hasn’t always been my game of choice, it was my first gaming love. I’ve only just started to dig into the fifth edition (I’m in new campaign preparation mode at the moment), but from what I’ve read so far I think that old love is about to burn as bright as ever. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy gaming,

Craig