I’ve held off on writing this one because in terms of backgrounds, I feel like it’s the most open. If you do anything heroic, you’re going to be a folk hero. Even if it’s something for a community in a small town or saving a leader from an assassination attempt in the city, you are going to become someone of legend.
In fact, that’s what adventurers are doing most of the time, they are trying to become folk heroes. Now, it might not be their biggest thing as to why they are adventuring, but it’s going to be part. If you are in a small town and you help them somehow, you’re going to be famous, because they don’t know anything more.
So how do you make a truly unique folk hero? I think you write whatever story that you want. You can choose a tragic backstory, a heroic backstory, but it’s always going to be something that really can lead you into adventure. It even works fine for evil characters because there are legends and stories being told about them, so how do you do something that feels interesting and different?
I don’t know that you really can. In terms of backgrounds, I’m going to write less for this one, because a lot of the other ones I’ve written for the other backgrounds, they can be that of a folk hero as well. Because, there are big events and people are going to tell your story. I will point out that there does seem to be more of a small town feel to a folk hero, but I do think you can be a folk hero from a city and that might be the more unique part to it.
You didn’t grow up in a good life, in fact, as a small kid, your parents left you at an orphanage in the big city. You don’t know who they are, but you always hoped that they were someone important. When you reached the age of sixteen the orphanage had to send you out into the world. Unfortunately, you weren’t able to get a job, you didn’t have training that other kids your age did, so you fell in with a bad crowd. You learned of a plot to kill the governor of the district. They asked you to help and you agreed, but you didn’t feel like you could be a bad guy, so you decided to turn the tables on them, and you saved the governor. That got you enough to get on your feet and the money then allowed you to travel and you hope to be able to find your parents some day, maybe if they’ve heard your story they’ll want to claim you.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
I wanted to write this one because it shows the big city folk hero. People everywhere know of you and the people in the small towns are going to be impressed by you.
Life sucked on the border. That is what it was like for my family as I grew up. There were a lot of battles around our town and our crops were burned often. Things looked terrible one time as the armies and battle spilled into our town. I was sleeping when I saw a holy vision. The angel spoke to me and told me what I needed to do. I sneaked into both camps while the armies slept and killed two wizards who were controlling the generals and making them fight. When they woke in the morning, they didn’t know how they got there, a few people had seen what I had done and soon the story spread, as well as the story of the angel. The temple in the town sent me out to spread the word of our deity, because that is the only one who could have talked to me.
Alignment: Neutral Good
Our town was a normal town until the circus came to town. They had picked up an infernal ring master who had taken control and was leading them around as they headed around through the underdark. I had been trained to see these things with the help of a patron who had given me my own talents. I saw the sign and with the help of my patron, I stood up to them. It was terrifying, but I felt more power flow through my than I ever would have thought. Because I stood up to them, we were able to released the four people they had already kidnapped. It was the right thing to do, but terrifying. Now the infernal ring master might have been killed, but his boss is now interested in me as I’ve ruined their plan.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
There are ton of different ways that you can go, and most any story can really work. These are just a few ideas that you can do. You can see how the first option could have criminal as well for the background, but they never went into that too far. Folk Hero is a really good catch-all for a lot of different backgrounds.
Have you played a folk hero in Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder or another game? How did you create your backstory?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!