Chapter 3 - Background
This chapter is aimed at helping you shape your hero's backstory. Where did he come from? What made him decide to become a hero? What flaws, mannerisms, quirks, scruples, or morals shape them? Listed here are a few example backgrounds from Apocalypse Nigh.
Before leaving on the ship for adventure, you were a Mage of the Imperium, though more likely you were a minor functionary in the lower echelons of the Imperium, but you still have pride in working for the Imperium. You can decide to let your compatriots know of your connection to the Imperium, but you also know that many decided to adventure in the frontier to get away from the Imperium... whining whelps. Just know you may get an Imperium-sent messenger every now and then.
Background Proficiency: Thaumaturgy
Background Starting Items: Component Pouch; royal blue shoulder cape and hood, emblazoned with the Imperium symbol of the black fist clutching lightning bolts against an orb of red, unmistakably identifying you as an Imperium Mage.
The capital of the Imperium, the most patriotic of the districts, you are probably well-to-do in the Imperium, if not an Imperium Mage, at least part of the nobility, such as the grandson of an archmagus in the Imperium, or perhaps you worked for one of the numerous politicians bartering for the public eye.
Background Proficiency: Interact
Background Starting Item: Signet ring, Noble's Clothing
A gentrified rich district, most nobility live here as opposed to the fast-paced capital district. This region was once the Kingdom of Ziegenhal, though there aren't many alive who remember that name. Many citizens here pay exorbitant prices for many services and goods, and most consider themselves second in class only to those of from the Capital, and even then, some hold a higher self-esteem.
Background Proficiency: Artistry or Craft
Background Starting Item: Artisan's tool kit or a musical instrument, or some other small item related to background.
"Middle class" living, working class citizens. Most commute to work in other districts, or work in the several retail shops and roadside restaurants that are abundant in the district. Bargain shopping is the hallmark of this region of mostly humans and hill dwarves.
Background Proficiency: Craft
Background Starting Item: Artisan's Toolkit
Before the Imperium, this area was home to roving tribes of Mountain Orcs. Then the Imperium came, and established reservations for the tribes, most of whom fought against magical rule. Most died. Now, the survivors live in communal villages built into the mountains, along with the communities of cave dwarves that swore fealty to the Imperium, seeking no bloodshed. Miners for distribution companies have also taken up residence here, to provide raw materials to the business owners of the Northern District.
Background Proficiency: Athletics
Background Starting Item: 50ft of hempen rope
Humans live in city buildings built into the giant wall that separates the Forest District from the rest of the Imperium. About a hundred miles of windswept plains separates these cities from the forest, where a dangerous darkness seems to subsume the trees if one traverses to deep. Rare plants and herbs are said to grow in the darkest parts, and there are those brave or foolhardy enough to venture to claim them. Few of either have returned to tell of their findings. Deeper in the forest, unbenownst to the majority of Imperium citizens, lives a country of elves. The elf rulers have integrated with the Imperium in that some technology is shared, but the elf citizens live in blissful ignorance. Most have never left the forest.
Background Proficiency: Stealth or Nature
Background Starting Item: Healer's Kit
In the valley of the flow from the mighty Thaurissan river that flows through the Forest District, the Swamp District is home to farmers who grow magically enhanced crops and animals for the Imperium.
Background Proficiency: Nature
Background Starting Item: Herbalist's Kit
The slums of the Imperium, this is the poorest district. Long ago, in the early days of the Imperium, the Lower District used to be part of the Capital District. The Great Pox spread from what is now Lower District, killing tens of thousands across the countryside. The Imperium used a great Abjuration to quarantine the epidemic, decimating the newly created district. The district is now divided into various sectors, where city buildings that were once stately and patriotic have fallen into disrepair and are covered in profane graffiti spouting anti-Imperium sentiment. There is little love for the magelords here, instead, local factions of thugs and crime lords rule sectors, territory comprised of entire city blocks, painted obscenely in the colors of the local gang or clan that rules it. An encounter on the mean streets of the Lower District Projects are as dangerous as any encounter in the Forest District. Imperium rule is still present, however, as the northern most sector (where the district borders the Capital District) is controlled by a squad of Imperium Enforcers. They typically let the local factions deal with their own problems amongst themselves, as long as they pose no threat to the Imperium itself.
Background Proficiency: Streetwise
Background Starting Item: Thieves' Toolkit