A lot of RPG characters and D&D characters seem to come from humble backgrounds and work their way up into a more favorable position by gaining money and fame from their adventuring. But what if it’s the other way? What if adventuring is a step down for a character, but still seems better to them than any other option? That’s where this background slots in to Dungeons & Dragons for me. These characters are bored with life, have been kicked out of nobility, or possibly are just undercover seeing how the poorer of their lands live. Whatever reason, you have a character who has taken a step down in life.
Now, it’s very possible the noble doesn’t consider it a step down. Maybe they consider it to be more exciting or interesting to be an adventurer than to be doing whatever they were doing before. Regardless, I do still think there are some key differences between your standard adventurer and one who is or was a noble. The noble is often going to care or know more about the history of the locations they and their party are going to. A noble gets the skills of history and persuasion from their background, so they are going to look at situations differently than just another chance to kill monsters in a dungeon; they will care more about the history of the dungeon or at least know more about it. It is also probable that a character with a noble background will expect to be more in charge. They’ve had people waiting on them for much of their life, and camping out in the woods might not be quite their thing.
Before I give away all my story ideas while talking about the background, let’s get to them. Here are some suggested backstories for your D&D Noble.
I was only a child when my uncle killed my father and took over his lands. I was supposed to have been killed myself, but my father gave his life to give my mother and myself time to escape into the woods. We walked for days before we were taken captive by a native tribe living deep in the woods. I was young, and my mother says she was terrified for both our lives, but they didn’t kill us. They saw how hungry we were, and they fed us and taught us to live off the land. I honed my skills as a hunter, and my mother instilled a hatred of my uncle in me by telling me stories of a father whom I could barely remember. Much later, we were forced to run again as my uncle tried to clear his lands of all the natives. The tribe used me as a scout, and I realized I could integrate myself back into society and get my revenge. I said goodbye to my aged mother and my spouse from the tribe, promising to return. Now I am trying to get revenge on my uncle, take back my lands, and let the tribe return to their lands. But taking down my uncle won’t be easy — I’ll need help.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
I put the last of my money down onto the table. It’s not that I’m a bad gambler, I just have bad luck when it comes to games of chance. I felt the weight of my signet ring in my pocket and thought about putting that on the table. Or maybe I could sell it if I found the right vendor. It might get me enough money to get back to my lands. I didn’t really want to come back to my parents as a beggar. I had run away from home several years ago, and I had a decent amount of money with me. It’s amazing how much things you don’t own will sell for when they come from a noble’s household. If I don’t come back with some money, it’s going to go very poorly for me. I have a sword still, and I can fight; maybe that will be my plan, since I just lost the last of my money.
When you come from a large family, you can’t always get what you want. In my case, I wanted to just live an easy life. My parents are rich — what would you expect for someone who is nobility? I was given a few options. I could marry into another family to strengthen an alliance, I could join the military, or I could join the temple. Those were the only positions that were good enough for me; anything else was too much of a step down. Ideally, I’d choose one of the last two and still do the first anyway. I might be ready to settle down sometime, but it is going to be on my terms, and I am not much of a fighter. So my option was to join the temple. That life was a little bit boring for me, but I found ways to make it interesting, much to the chagrin of the temple. Turns out, that might not have been my brightest plan, because they have decided I would be a good person to start an offshoot of the temple in a small town. I need to travel there, but maybe I’ll do it in a roundabout way and have some fun as I go. They can’t complain if I say I’m spreading the good word, right?
Alignment: Chaotic Good
There are expectations for every child born into my family. You had to look a certain way, you had to behave a certain way, and you could not be connected to magic at all. Magic is evil — that is what I was taught from a very young age. I believed that too. But a voice came to me in the middle of the night, and took me away from my bedroom. According to my parents, I was gone for less than a day, but to me it seemed like a week. They could tell that something had changed when I came back. There was magic running through my veins. The doctors said that my blood had been tainted, and my parents believed them, and I believed them. They kicked me out even though I cried. I said that I wouldn’t use the power, but the law of our land is clear — I’m an outcast. I want to find out how I got these powers to see if I can get rid of them, but they have helped me, so I need to know more to see if they are evil or not. I don’t know much about the world, so I probably should find someone to travel with.
Alignment: Neutral Good
What sort of Noble have you played before? Is it a background that has interested you, or does it seem too simple/straightforward?
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