BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS: Character Backgrounds for Bronze Age Settings is now even better, thanks to a new update!
What's BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS, you ask? It's a colorful character-background generator written specifically for gaming in Bronze Age fantasy settings - and written by a professional scholar, with a doctorate in ancient history and archaeology.
BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS is available here on DTRPG.com (affiliate link) for $4.75 USD.
For the first time since its 2019 release, I've just uploaded an updated version of the document to DTRPG.com. Apart from some minor tweaks to the introduction, I have updated the following backgrounds: Scribal Scholar, Physician, Priestess/Priest, and Cultist. I've also changed the uploaded file from a Watermarked .pdf to a normal .pdf. (however, please don't post the file to online piracy sites, which has happened before; I'm a pretty small-fry creative and can use the support). :-)
I'm particularly glad to have updated the Priestess/Priest background. Something that has bugged me for a while is that my original Priestess/Priest and Cultist backgrounds really conveyed a more modern "sword and sorcery" vibe, instead of something more authentic to ancient Bronze Age religions in the Near East. The new entries for Priestess/Priest are much more authentic -- while still light and offering some zany fun that should provoke enjoyable play (really, check out the new sub-backgrounds below - I think they're really likely to provoke interesting plot hooks!). However, (with some improvements) I've kept the more "modern" sword-and-sorcery vibe available as features for the Cultist background, so you can choose which flavor of ancient cults your character used to roll with. If you want a more genuinely "ancient" feel - the whole point of BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS, after all - you'll be better off with the new Priestess/Priest entries.
In a variety of small ways, the other changes better align backgrounds with nuanced aspects of Bronze Age Near Eastern cultural history (mostly non-"authorial" scribal cultures, "law" as subjective/illustrative rather than, well, "legislative", etc.). You don't need to care or even know about such ancient details to make sense of the updated entries, but I'm happier with the new wording. :-) More pragmatically, the Physician background has gained an extra 1-in-6 chance to impress colleagues, since other Physicians will (hopefully) be less rarely consulted by the party.
Without the finished product's formatting, here is the raw text of the new Priestess/Priest page, as a taster for the updates ... or as a lure to those who haven't picked up BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS yet.
In every land, learned ritual specialists honor the Powers, and stand between the masses and the destructive forces of nature. Costly temples are supported by palaces.
You are literate. Also, add either a bronze facemask or a fancy ceremonial knife (flint blade, intricately carved ivory handle) to your equipment inventory.
Tell us about this background (d4)
1: Through elaborate rituals in complete darkness, you venerated an ancient being tied to shadows and childbirth. When you are bleeding, you can see in the dark (when at 50% or lower hit points due to piercing or slashing attacks).
2: You were a diviner and dream-interpreter. Once per session, you may search the omens for a hint about your situation. [GM, secretly roll a hidden 1d6. 1-3: tell the player the omens are unclear for now. 4: make up a red herring, a lie to misdirect the player. 5-6: offer the player a genuinely useful hint].
3: You served the Great River with offerings for irrigation, safe boating, testing guilt or innocence through ritual drownings, etc. You speak the secret language of rivers and may converse freely with any body of moving water.
4: Omens warned that angry gods would judge your king. You hid him, disguised a commoner in royal robes, and sacrificed this False King to placate the gods. He died shouting that he was the real king. Whom did you actually slaughter?
Tell us why you left (d4)
1: The inner organs of animals you slaughtered always gave bad omens. Your worried superiors dismissed you.
2: To show the greater power of their gods, conquerors seized your temple's sacred images and slew its priests. You fled. Are they still looking for you?
3: A radical new king insisted all gods but one ‘were no more.’ He closed your temple and confiscated its resources. Did you believe him? Why/why not?
4: Sickly, dark mold defiled your temple. You and six other priests were sent into the world to seek an explanation. Have you heard from the others?
The full product has 24 backgrounds like this, each with at least four sub-backgrounds and four suggested reasons you left to become an adventurer.
Thank you for your support - as I write this, this little guide is one copy away from reaching ELECTRUM status on DTRPG.com (again, an affiliate link). I'm very grateful to each of you who has invested in this resource. I hope you find BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS useful, fun, and inspiring. Happy Gaming!!!