Backgrounds

The available Backgrounds for the 7th Age and a brief description of their uses are listed below. For more detailed rules for each Background, please refer to the appropriate Minds Eye Theater book. Certain Backgrounds, denoted by the "Population" keyword, adds 1,000 people to a character's total population, which is used to determine their Title. Background Caps are the same as the Max Ability Caps according to the Trait Cap charts listed for your appropriate creature type. This cap does not include Influences, which follow their own set of rules. As always please reach out to the storyteller staff if anything is unclear. 

Allies

(Population)

Each Allies Trait possessed represents people that you can call on for aid. Your Allies have special talents that make them better than the average person on the street, and can be quite useful if directed properly. Your allies do not show up in play directly, but can be used between play sessions. If you undertook a specific task previously, like tailing someone, researching a project or building a device, your allies can continue the work, doing so with one Ability Trait's worth of expertise. If you need a particularly competent ally, you can expend multiple Traits to gain access to a mortal with multiple levels of an Ability or Influence. Allies can possess an Influence or Ability up to the number of Traits spent for a given task, to a maximum of 5. Raising influences above 5 will require combining with other sources - even from other Allies - following the mechanics for Combining Influences. Be wary of calling on your allies too often, or for dangerous or illegal activities.

Allyu / Cult / Dreamers / Herd / Kinfolk

(Population)

This Background demonstrates a connection with certain mortals whom can serve as a source of supernatural 'juice'. These mortals can also perform a number of services for you, and are friendly (although they are not your servants or your true friends, and under no compunction to obey your orders). You may gain a number of supernatural Traits equal to the number of Traits you placed into this Background once per session - this takes at least 15 minutes per Trait, and possibly more depending on who and where the artists in question are in the context of your game location. You must, of course, remain out of character during this time. You should detail who these people are, where they live, how you came to be their friend, as it may become important in the chronicle at a future date. As per Laws of Ascension, Cult can aid you in ritual casting.

  • Allyu (Mummy): Sekhem
  • Cult (Mage): Tass
  • Dreamers (Fae): Glamour
  • Herd (Vampire): Blood
  • Kinfolk (Shifter): Gnosis

Alternate Identity

Sometimes you’ve gotta be ready to disappear. The ability to adopt alternate identities can mean the difference between a new life and an unmarked grave. With this Background, you can duck behind a fake identity; the higher the rating, the more support you have for that identity’s existence. By itself, an alternate identity is useful but not extremely so. You can use a new ID for a short time, but that’ll leave you starting fresh unless you’re planning to rebuild your life from scratch. Other Backgrounds and Influences, however, can be concealed behind an alternate identity. For every Trait of Alternate Identity spent towards an action, you can increase the difficulty of someone tracking the source of that action with Contacts or Information Network. If anyone discovers the action, it simply leads to “someone” taking the action and a dead paper trail of who is responsible. If more Contacts or Information Network are used that Alternate Identity on a specific action, others can discover who took the action.

Arcane

Only Mages and Mummies can take this Background at creation without special approval from the storyteller. Some supernaturals are merely sneaky, but others have a preternatural ability to avoid detection. A character with the Arcane Background is one of the latter, gifted with the capability of slipping through the cracks and skating through existence unidentified. Anytime you complete a scene, you may spend one of your Arcane Traits to cause everyone involved to forget and lose every record of either your name or your face. (You must spend two Arcane to make them forget both.) You must engaging in a static Mental challenge (no traits risked) against those present. If you win, those who lost don’t remember you. If you lose, those who beat you will remember you. Both sides may use Willpower as a retest. The individual using Arcane can opt to use a point of Arcane as an additional retest. You must do so immediately upon concluding the scene, for you cannot retroactively cause someone to forget you later, and this will not wipe all record of your existence from the planet - just your participation in any one scene. Therefore, security cameras have a technical problem, witnesses have trouble recalling your name or describing you to police, the lens cap was on, the photograph didn’t develop properly, the computer crashed... however it happens, you are forgotten. This Background has no game effect other than removing records of your character. You can’t, for instance, decide how your Arcane will wipe out records and decide to use it in a fashion that would hit other people’s records or some other important information. It works only on you. Even subjects with benefits like Mind magic or a photographic memory lose track of your character’s personal information inexplicably. Arcane may hide your identity, but it doesn’t cover your actions. Even if someone can’t remember who you are or what you look like, a victim will certainly remember if you used powers, your attacks, your crazed behavior or the dangerous information that you passed along. Your Arcane works only at your behest. Your friends don’t suddenly forget your name... but if your Arcane exceeds five Traits, even they might have difficulty remembering you.

Arsenal

This background represents not just weapons and ammunition (though a character with this Trait has a lot of those too) but all the other gear that a military needs to stalk and bring down monsters as well: camping supplies, night vision gear, body armor, communications equipment, heavy duty tools, combat supplies and so on. At the highest levels of Arsenal, a soldier's toy chest can include powerful explosives, even surplus military vehicles. It also represents the know-how for obtaining this sort of equipment (though broader contacts with such sources require other Backgrounds). The weapons and gear this represents can improve the effectiveness of your Domain Security. This background cannot exceed your level of Domain Security.

Avatar

Only Mages may take this Background. Every mage has a spirit, a soul, an inner voice, a guardian angel or some otherwise mysterious force that ties him to the cosmos, and mages refer to this force as the Avatar. Indeed, many mages theorize that every single human being has an Avatar. However, the mage’s strength lies in the Awakening, which causes his Avatar to stir and become a force for change on the Tellurian. The power of that Avatar impacts your mage’s ability to channel Quintessence, the most primal force of energy in the cosmos. Your Avatar Background has two main important effects. Firstly, your mage can refresh Quintessence Traits equal to the Avatar rating automatically by spending time at a Node. You need only win a Mental Challenge using the Meditation Ability each game hour in order to refresh one Quintessence Trait until you reach an amount equal to the Avatar Trait total. However, you do not gain anything if you already have equal or more Quintessence Traits than Avatar Traits. Quintessence gained in this fashion is considered personal Quintessence, and it cannot be stolen from you by anything short of an Archmage of Prime. Secondly, you can spend Quintessence only up to a limit of your Avatar Trait rating each turn. If you have one Avatar Trait, you can spend only one Quintessence Trait each turn. If you do not have the Avatar Background, you cannot spend personal Quintessence at all. However, you can still use Prime to transfer it to other people or sources, or to use it from Tass. At the Storyteller’s discretion, your mage’s Avatar rating may affect his Seekings. A strong Avatar (many Traits in the Background) will almost certainly guide a Seeking more strongly and personally.

Ba

Mummy only. Each mummy possesses a Ba, or a portion of the spirit that determines the longevity of a mummy. The Ba also represents how adept the spirit is at regaining new life after traveling down to Duat. For every Trait of Ba, a mummy's normal 60-year lifespan extends for 10 years. These Traits also represent the number of retests you can call once your mummy has died. If you do not succeed in a resurrection challenge, then you must wait until the next game session to initiate this challenge.
Note: As an optional rule for Ba, for games that have a more vested interest in the Underworld: It takes five full sessions in h a t to gain the energy necessary to make a resurrection challenge. Each level of the Ba Background reduces this number by one. At five Ba, you can attempt the challenge one hour after death.

Blessing

You’ve got it - some natural, inherent magical quality. It’s not an item you carry or a power from a familiar; it’s just something in you. You might’ve been born with it, or maybe you gained a Blessing from a spirit or demon. A Blessing functions just like a power in a Treasure or Wonder, except that it’s part of you. It has a cost equal to the level of the power required to make it work, doubled if it’s always on. Subject to your Storyteller’s approval, this could allow you to heal quickly, have a permanent supernatural sense, or just make you always manage to get a date when you go clubbing.

Chantry

You're part of a group that holds territory in a place designed specifically for study and improvement. Your turf might have a Library, a resident Mentor, a small Sanctum for your style of magic or any number of other benefits. By sharing it with your friends, you all contribute and make the place better. It could be as simple as a small coffee shop that you all jointly own or as magnificent as a restored turn-of-the-century manor. All of the characters in a given Chantry may contribute Background levels to it. Every two levels in the Chantry gives it one shared level of one of the following: Arcane, Destiny, Library, Wonder, Sanctum, Mentor, Allies, Retainers, Cult, Influence, Fame or a Reputation Trait. In this case, the Chantry itself hosts these benefits, but any contributing member (that is, a character with levels spent into it) may call upon these benefits. This allows the Chantry to collectively give the characters access to many more Backgrounds than they would have on their own. Note also that a Chantry isn't always supported completely by the characters; a bunch of poor characters in a wealthy Chantry are probably members alongside a wealthy mage who subsidizes it. The Chantry's furnishings come out of its Background level. A Chantry with no Resources is little more than a ramshackle hut in some out-of-the-way park corner.

Chimera

This Background allows you to possess a chimerical object of some kind. While every changeling can imagine himself a basic chimerical costume for his fae mien at no cost, any practical or usable items (those which require item cards, which always includes workable weapons and armor) in addition to costuming require purchasing this Background. Chimerical items are always much more striking than their mundane counterparts, and anything from a simple longsword or diary to a full suit of sci-fi movie bounty hunter armor or a woven tapestry of dreams can be owned. However, an item’s actual power and usefulness is determined by how many Traits of this Background you take.
1 - A basic chimera (a conversation piece)
2 - A minor chimera (a chimera with some benefits)
3 - A useful chimera (a chimera with some impressive benefits)
4 - A significant chimera (a powerful item)
5 - An incredible chimera (a legendary relic)
The Storyteller is still the final arbiter of what kind of items may be taken with this Background, and should generally be consulted about chimera of three or higher for approval, as they can have quite an impact on a chronicle. Note that living chimera are the province of the Companion Background, below. This Background may be taken more than once to reflect owning more than one item. Only fae and fae-blooded characters may begin with this at character creation.

Companion

This allows you to have living chimerical friends and companions. The Storyteller should be consulted as to the Traits and Abilities your Companion might have, although he need not tell you all of them at first, and the more powerful you make the Companion the more of an independent mind it will have. However your Companion may appear, his general aspect is indicated by the number of Traits you put into the Background:

1 - A basic companion (intelligence up to the level of a dog; no Arts)
2 -A minor companion (human intellect, some minor powers; no Arts)
3 - A useful companion (smarter than you; a level of an Art)
4 - A significant companion (quite bright; several levels of Arts)
5 - An incredible companion (a dragon, a genie; who knows how strong!)

This Background, like Chimera, may be taken more than once for additional Companions. In any case, Companions should be represented by cards or other props that are clearly marked and placed where they would be visible (to Kenning, anyway). Its rating determines the MAXIMUM level of Art it may possess. Gaining a Companion during gameplay can be done by expending an appropriate influence action (depending upon the description of the Companion you desire) to find your new Companion and experience expended equal to the level of Companion you wish to purchase. You cannot purchase a Companion higher than your Maximum Background Rating. Only fae and fae-blooded characters may begin with this at character creation.

For Mummies: When a human was mummified, she was frequently accompanied by a horde of animals to tend to her in the afterlife. There are recorded discoveries of tombs that contained thousands of beasts that had been preserved carefully for eternity. After your First Life, your tem-akh spirit was buried with an especially loyal beast. The more Traits your Amenti possesses in a Companion, the greater the beast can be. The Companion is immaterial, but it can communicate with you. It may gift you with minor blessings, as these creatures are sacred to the gods, and the gods look favorably on those who walk with their favored creatures. Your Companion also accompanies you in the Underworld. Common creatures to be mummified include cats, falcons, dogs, crocodiles, lions and the ibis, and anything with religious significance to the Egyptians is possible. Work with the Storyteller to hash out your Companion specifics.

Contacts

(Population)

With the right contacts in all walks of life, you can get a line on all sorts of useful information. Although having an "ear to the wall" doesn't necessarily provide you with good help or loyal servants, it does mean that you know who to ask when looking for the movers and shakers behind the scenes. In game terms, your rating in Contacts allows you to discern rumors and information. When you call on your contacts, you make a few phone calls, check with likely snitches and grease a few palms. In return, you get rumors and information as if possessed of a certain amount of Influence. Doing so lets you find out exactly what's going on in the city within a particular area. You can get information of a level equal to however many contacts you use. If you use Contacts x 3 on Industry, for instance, you get information as if digging up dirt with Industry x 3 Influence. The advantage of the Contacts Background is that contacts can be switched from place to place each game, getting information in different areas at your demand. Using Contacts for especially dangerous or secret information may require you to spend some money or perform a few favors, at the discretion of a Storyteller. On occasion, accidents can cause contacts in one area to dry up, such as a strike that affects your Industry contacts, or a particularly unlucky astronomical conjunction sends your Occult contacts running for the hills. Your contacts will not generally function as aides or lackeys; that is the purview of the Allies and Retainers Backgrounds.

Demense

You have a stretch of dream-territory with which you are familiar: Whenever you sleep, you go there, and sometimes you can even control or shape it. The Dream Realm that you command is fluid and malleable to your will, and with the right magic you can even trap other dreamers there and subject them to your powers, or use it as a jumping-off point to enter the Umbra through dreams. Your Demesne represents the area and control you have over a dream-realm that you visit whenever you dream. With Mind magic, you can pull other people into that realm; with Spirit, you can use it as a jump-off point. Your Dream Realm typically has an area of effect based on the grades of success for area, with your number of levels as the grades. Thus, a one-Trait Demesne is a single room, but a five-Trait Demesne stretches across an entire Dream continent. You can also add your Demesne Traits to all challenge resolution against other dreamers who enter your Dream Realm. Within your Demesne, the reality bends to your will, but if you're not careful, it is possible to spawn elements that can harm you as well.

Destiny

Some people are fated for great callings - or terrible failures. With the Destiny Background, you have some trial or famous circumstance in your future, an appointment for which you are almost sure to be present. You can still be killed or captured (since someone else might fulfill the terms of the destiny or that fate might be an interpretation of your own destiny), but you are almost sure to take part in some great event and to last long enough to get there. There’s no guarantee that your destiny is a good thing, though, and you usually know of it only in the vaguest sense, so beware.... Once per game session per Trait of Destiny, you may make a Simple Test (win only). If you succeed, you regain one Willpower Trait. You know that you’re destined for some fate, and this knowledge helps you persevere even when the chips are down. However, a Storyteller can conversely declare that you have fulfilled your destiny if you accomplish some great (or ignominious) deed, and he may remove the Background. He can also determine that some terrible battle is the culmination of your destiny and deny the use of the Background at that time. Regaining Willpower Traits with Destiny is done at the beginning of your turn before you act. You can't spend Willpower, recoup it with Destiny, spend more and repeat the cycle. However, you don't have to use up all of your Destiny Traits at once.

Domain

(Population)

Domain is the territory, almost always within a town or city, to which you control access. You can’t keep the living inhabitants from going about their business, but you can keep watch yourself. You can also have allies or servants specifically look for unfamiliar creatures and alert you when they find some. Domain refers specifically to the land and properties on it, as well as the people who might dwell there. These people are the public and citizens of your domain. They can be trained (via Learning influence) into other influences or population producing backgrounds. Domain plays an important part in feudal society. Nobles who lack significant domain seldom earn respect, but it isn’t an automatic entitlement to status among nobles. Each level of Domain represents 1,000 citizens with no extensive training or ability (such people are represented by other Backgrounds such as Influences). Domain is not limited to your usual Background caps. Six to eight pooled Traits secure all of a small town as a domain. Ten to 15 pooled Traits secure an important but not huge trading destination or center of pilgrimage. A city like Rome, Cairo, or Baghdad would require many hundreds of pooled Domain Traits. 

Domain Security

(Population)

Traits in Domain Security increase the military of your character’s territory rather than its size. Each Trait assigned to Domain security provides 1,000 soldiers in your standing army, complicating efforts to intrude into the domain by anyone your character hasn’t specifically allowed in. Your Domain Security cannot exceed the size of your Domain.

Enhancement

Due to genetic engineering, grafts or bionic implants, you've been made... more than human. Or perhaps just different. You can choose to be cybernetically or biologically enhanced - one or the other. A cyborg has bionic implants that provide weaponry, armor, replacements to organs and other such useful gadgetry. A genegineered human typically has superior physiological capabilities, often with enhanced mental ability as well.

Cyborg: Your cybernetic enhancements cause Paradox because they're not yet accepted in the Consensus. Each level of the Background grants one permanent Paradox Trait that counts for backlashes but never goes away. Each level allows you to purchase one additional Attribute Trait (which can take you above your normal maximum) or two Traits of implanted Devices. Naturally, you're still limited to Devices that can fit in your body, and no Devices above five Traits. Thus, you can have implanted armor or a plasma cannon, but not a car.

Biomod: Your biological modifications cause physiological disorders. Choose one Negative Trait for every level you take in the Enhancement, or one Derangement for every two levels. You gain one additional Attribute Trait (above normal human maximums) or two Traits of biological modifications.

Fae Blood

Requires the Fae Blood Merit, and can only be taken by Mages. This background can only be purchased to a maximum of five Traits. It indicates the strength of your Fae Blood, and determines the highest level of Arts you can attain, the number of different Arts you can have, and the number of Fae Gifts you can have. See pg. 149 Shining Host Players Guide.

Familiar

Whether it's a traditional black cat, a ferret, a favored horse or even a tiny dragonet, you have some sort of bonded companion that shares a link with your very spirit. You may or may not realize the depth of this link (Technocrats often think their Companions are simply very clever pets), but you can gain many benefits from your Familiar's presence. You spend levels from your Familiar Background, when you choose it, to gain certain benefits for your Familiar. The Familiar is essentially a small physical creature invested with a spirit that has become bound to you.

A Familiar automatically serves as an arcane connection for you. Thus, you can affect with magic anything your Familiar touches, but the reverse is also true. The Familiar serves as part of a pact (perhaps unspoken) that requires  our attention and perhaps some effort on your part; you can take elements of this pact as Flaws to reduce the cost of the Familiar (for instance, if your Familiar requires you to compose eccentric poetry to it and read it aloud at cabal meetings, this is probably an obnoxious one- or two-Trait Flaw). Your Familiar can take on your own Paradox and suffer the backlash from it, although this typically requires some level of incentive. Finally, a Familiar requires a supply of Quintessence; generally this is one Quintessence Trait per week per level of the Familiar, or else it fades away, loses its powers or otherwise becomes inert until fed.

  • For one Trait, the Familiar can talk; for two Traits, it can communicate with telepathy with anyone in sensory range, regardless of language.
  • The Familiar can have countermagic Traits equal to the Traits you place into that capability, and you gain this while you are physically in contact with the Familiar.
  • You can grant the Familiar special Lore on a one-Trait-for-one-Lore-level basis.
  • Your Familiar can nullify one Trait of Paradox per game session per Trait spent on Paradox nullification.
  • For one Trait, your Familiar can be an unusual form of an otherwise natural creature, like a dog with a prehensile tail. For two Traits, it can be clearly unnatural, such as a multicolored, six-legged frog.
  • For one Trait, your Familiar can have two extra health levels or two extra Physical Traits.
  • For one Trait, your Familiar can be larger than cat-sized, up to horsesized.

Font of Power

Places of mystical power are rare and hotly contested in the Seventh Age, and you happen to have regular access to one such place. There may be certain fees or quests levied on you, or you may have to travel through dangerous territory to get there, but you at least know the location of a stable font, and you can usually rest there to refresh your energies. This Background covers various places of power according to the various creature types: Caern (Gnosis), Dragon Nest (Chi), Freehold (Glamour), Node (Quintessence), Tomb (Sekhem). 

The number of points put into it equals the rating of the font, and how many Traits of supernatural energy can be gained from it daily (one Trait per Background level, per night). Each game session, you can test a number of times equal to the Traits of this Background that you have. Each win (no tie) on a Simple Test is worth one Trait of Dross, Tass or the like. The font has enough power for only one person to use. If you allow someone else to use the Node in one game session, then you cannot take its power for yourself as well. Others tend to hunt for such fonts, so watch out. Your territory may become endangered by other supernatural creatures. Spirits and strange phenomena tend to haunt such fonts as well. Storytellers may restrict this Background heavily to represent the fact that they are rare and valuable.

Within a freehold, Kithain do not age, and don't have to contest with Banality when performing their cantrips but spending too much time there is a quick ticket to Bedlam. Within a Node, Mages have an easier time casting their magick. Putting one Trait into this Background indicates a tiny font, barely scraping by, while three would be a thriving local center, and five is something that recollects the legendary fonts of times past. As whole chronicles can and have been built around fonts of power, you and the Storyteller must work together to derail the font: its politics, its regulars, its powers, and its mundane and appearance. Keep in mind that the more powerful the holding, the less likely it is to be held by commoners or low nobles, although it would not be unheard of. This Background may be "pooled" by several characters to create a powerful freehold, although it is up to the players to then determine derails of ownership, rulership and the like.

Generation

Only Vampires may take this Background. Generation measures the number of vampires in a direct line between the character and the First Vampire. Most new vampires in the Dark Medieval are of the Twelfth Generation, and having a lower generation means that an elder (or a successful diablerist) chose the character as childe for reasons of her own. The number of points put into this background determines your Trait Caps. For more details, see Vampire

Information Network

(Population)

You've got informants everywhere. You don't even need to go to them anymore - they come to you, and they bring all sorts of dirty little secrets to trade. The secrets you gather may be completely irrelevant to the problems you have right now, in which case you can always trade them away for something you can use. Any factoid or datum you harvest may seem irrelevant now but may be massively useful later, it may give you a vital lead that places you one step ahead of everyone else. At the beginning of each session (or during down times) make a Simple Test with the Storyteller. If you win, he gives you a bit of information that has been floating around the network (which may or may not be related to the current story). Alternately, your Storyteller may allow you to use it once per session as an "ear to the ground" to see if you can dig up something about your current interest (of course, what comes back need not have anything to do with the subject at hand, or even be truthful - caveat emptor).

Ka

Mummy only. Another fraction of a mummy’s soul, the Ka serves to guard the physical body, or khat, and ensure that no one bothers or harms it. Such protection varies from shrewd misdirection to outright attacks. When a mummy dies, no matter where in h a t the soul travels, the Ka continues to watch over the khat. The body does not decay, scavengers do not eat it, and it is not affected by the natural elements. Unless an extraordinary force acts upon it, the body effectively remains in stasis.
By buying more levels of Ka, you can strengthen your Ka’s ability to protect your body several ways. A powerful Ka ensures protection for your khat on a more mundane level - tomb robbers slip while scaling a wall, or a snoopy archaeologist loses the journal with the only copy of the directions to the tomb. Whatever it is, the effect is always coincidental, and is likely the source of many “mummy’s curse” tales.
The levels of Ka also grant it an equal number of extra Traits to use in bids against attempts to harm your khat. Likewise, those who would harm your khat are forced to bid the same number of extra Traits in challenges whenever they seek to injure your corpse or defile your tomb. So three levels of Ka grants you three extra Traits to add when comparing on ties or to use in bidding, and it means that the local tomb raider, who was given a Static Mental Challenge against six Traits to figure out how to open the door, must add those on to the difficulty (for a grand total of a nine-Trait difficulty).

Legacy

Mummy Only. You left something of lasting value on the world in your First or Second Life from which you still draw strength. It may be a structure, a great historical deed, an idea or even the mummified khat from your First Life on display in a museum, so long as it is remembered by mortals (not just other Reborn). In order to receive the benefits of this Background, the legacy must still exist. An infamous deed is not a Legacy unless it led to greater Balance and justice. The Legacy must also continue to exist, whether physically or in memory. A destroyed or forgotten Legacy means the loss of the Background. Once per game session, an Amenti in the presence of her Legacy may call for a Simple Challenge. If successful, two Sekhem are temporarily added to her pool for the night. If the challenge is tied or lost, only one Sekhem is added.

Legend

You are literally a living legend. You’re the reincarnation of some legendary ideal; when you live up to that ideal, you generate energy like a font of power. Energy (Quintessence, Glamour, etc.) gathers from the strength of the people’s belief in the Legend. Choose a specific Legend associated with your character. You might be a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, or the home of all the legends associated with Achilles. When you behave according to your Legend, you generate energy just like a font of power. Someone else can tap this energy by participating in your Legend. For instance, if you are a Legend of Jack the Ripper, you gain energy by stalking and trying to kill prostitutes; the victim in question can gain such energy (if she survives) by playing out that role. If you are a Legend of Achilles, you would gain it for going on a mad rampage through an enemy fortification, especially if the enemies just defeated one of your friends.

Library

It was once thought that the accumulated wisdom of the ages could always be found in some book somewhere. While there are too many universal mysteries to catalog them all, many wise mages have recorded their findings and musings in various journals and materials designed to pass on their knowledge, keep it safe or just remind themselves of key points. You happen to have some of those sorts of records. A magical library is an invaluable tool for research. Normally, developing greater proficiency in an area of magic requires quite a bit of study time. With the Library Background, you can cut this time down thanks to your study materials and access to copious notes. For each Library Trait that you have, you can shave one study session (generally, one week) worth of time off the period required to learn a level of magic, down to a minimum of one session. You must still pay the usual Experience Trait costs. Other people cannot benefit from your library unless you specifically assist them, which ties up your use of the Library Trait for that study time. The notes and books are all organized in a personal fashion, and you need to be there to interpret them, find the right materials and otherwise separate the chaff from the wheat.

Mentor

An older or more experienced character (likely an NPC) looks after you and comes to your aid occasionally. Whatever the case, you can get assistance from your mentor, though his favor may be fickle. When you call on your mentor, you risk a certain number of Traits to achieve a given effect. A lowly one-Trait mentor probably knows only little more than you, while a five Trait mentor may well have luminous standing within your sect and a wide range of potent powers. Regardless, taking up your mentor's valuable time is costly. You must engage in a Simple Test when you call on your mentor. If you succeed, your mentor deigns to aid you. If you tie, your mentor grants you assistance, but then requires something in return. If you fail, your mentor demands the favor first before helping. In any case, your mentor can be called on only once in any given game session, and only if you have an appropriate way to contact him or her. The level of aid that your mentor can give depends on the number of Traits in this Background (and Storyteller approval, of course):

  • For one Trait, your mentor is privy to a single piece of specialized information at a level above your own. If you have a Lore at 2, for instance, your mentor can be called on to gift you with one piece of information from that Lore at 3.
  • For two Traits, you can borrow one level of Contacts, Influence, Resources or Status from your mentor for the duration of the game. If your mentor is very powerful (four or five Traits), you can borrow two levels.
  • Two Traits allow your mentor to instruct you in a Basic power that you do not know.
  • For three Traits, your mentor can instruct you in an Intermediate power that you do not know.
  • Also at a cost of three Traits, your mentor can train you in the ways of a special Hobby/Professional/Expert Ability that is outside your normal ken, such as Wraith Lore.
  • For four Traits, your mentor can train you in an Advanced power beyond your grasp.
  • For five Traits, your mentor can train you in the phenomenal powers of the elders, if you are experienced enough to learn such secrets.

Your mentor is assumed to have the Instruction Ability at their rating of Mentor, and can thus reduce Learning Times based on their instruction. Mentors can teach anything they have, so long as you can learn it. If you have a Mentor that is not the same creature type as you, there is little other than Abilities that you can learn from them. Since Mentors can prove unbalancing by providing too many different powers over the course of a long game, the Storyteller may lower your total Mentor Traits as you call on his knowledge. This decrease represents the fact that as your character learns the mentor's secrets, the mentor has less left to teach.

Past Lives / Dream / Remembrance

Ancient days and half-remembered events flash before your eyes. While this can be disconcerting, it can also be very helpful when you need to draw out specific knowledge of the past. If you win or tie, you can gain a level in one Ability appropriate to the life. These Abilities last for one scene or hour (whichever comes first) or until you use them up. You can spend multiple levels of Past Life but must make a Simple Test for each. On a failure, you spend the Trait, but gain no benefit this time. You may also use it to gain general knowledge: On a win, you are struck with a realization. The storyteller must answer the question, although the presentation of it may be quite cryptic in nature. 

For Fae (Remembrance) this Background is your unconscious memory of Arcadia, as well as your intuitive knowledge of the fae and of your previous incarnations. You may also use this Background to retest Gremayre Challenges, although doing so in this manner gives you no visions or any other special insight.

For Mages, this can take the form of Avatar memories, past lives, racial memories or the universal subconscious. You have the ability to tap into a wellspring of knowledge that hails from the cosmos itself. Sometimes they open up and reveal to you the lives that the Avatar has guided before. Once per game session, you can use your Dream Background to gather useful information from the universal subconscious. You may use your levels in Dream as levels in any one normal Ability of your choice, replacing your normal Ability.  

For Shifters, past life can call upon the knowledge of his dead ancestors in times of need.

Patron

This Background details a particular noble who has taken a liking to you, and who thus favors you over her other subjects; you and she are friends. She may render you favors in times of need, although services will sometimes be required of you in return, and the two of you must be careful that this favoritism is not too public in nature -jealous nobles of all types would soon descend en masse to correct the impropriety. This Patron should be a Storyteller or Narrator character. Note that this Background does not imply the same relationship as the Mentor Background, although they may be combined to create a friendly noble mentor who’s willing to use her influence on your behalf. The number of Traits expended equals the rank of the noble who is your patron - one for a knight or lady, two for a baron/baroness, three for a count/countess, four for a duke/duchess, five for a king/queen. (Talk to the Storyteller about that last one in particular.)

Powerful Artifact: Fetish, Treasure, Wonder

You own a rare and potent device with magical powers. This Background represents Fae Treasures, Mage Wonders and Devices, Shifter Fetishes, Wraith Relics, and the like. This is a chimera or a physical object that is imbued with mystical properties and which can perform magical feats. Each level of this Background increases the power of the item you possess. This Background may be taken more than once to reflect ownership of more than one treasure. Characters may request a specific item during character creation, however it is the Storyteller who has the final distribution decisions. You should work with the Storyteller to determine what your item does, how you can use it, and if it has any requirements for its use (spending Traits, certain words or phrases, being covered in gold cloth, etc.) - very often the most potent treasures have strict requirements on their use, and it is very common for rulers to cast Protocol on potent items to prevent their misuse. However, in general, let your imagination run wild. This item could have any number of effects. Some cast spells. Others store supernatural energies. Still others simply have permanent magical Effects cast upon them. A few rare ones have combinations of these traits. The number of Traits that you place in the Background determines the overall power of the object.

Such items can be crafted in-game through use of various powers and abilities. For more details, see Crafting Times.

Pure Breed

Garou only. Just as there was a division between nobility and peasantry, so is there a recognized separation between the descendants of the greatest and lowliest of Gaia’s warriors. It is your pedigree as much as it is a measure of your noble lineage. Garou may claim to descend from the wisest, most courageous warriors of valor and mettle, but it’s all talk if their lineage is not as distinguishable as the nose on your face, as is the case with Pure Breed. Each Trait in Pure Breed adds to one Social Trait for tests against other Garou. Bear in mind that such a lofty line means you have some mighty big shoes to fill.

Resources

You have access to ready coffers. You also have some solid resources that you can use when times are tight. These resources are always readily available, and they come to you automatically due to your investments, trade and holdings. Your number of Resources Traits determines the amount of wealth that you can secure. By expending temporary Resources Traits (which return at the next game session), you can draw on your regular income, as shown in the accompanying table. If you expend permanent Resources, you can divest yourself of holdings, allowing access to 10 times the amount shown on the table. The Storyteller always adjudicates the limits of what you can buy, though. Truly powerful uses of Resources are best left to downtimes and moderation between game sessions.

For each trait of Resources you possess, you must choose what type of resource it represents. The list of possibilities is extensive and open-ended - be it food, materials for building and crafts, luxury goods as provided by craftsmen, or other things which can be set when the Resources Trait is gained. No character may begin with a Resources rating of greater than five, though the maximum rating a character can have in Resources is 10, regardless of normal Background Caps. Character may be able to buy/sell/or barter temporary Resources between one another, or NPCs. No exact exchange rates are set, as it is a product of what Resources people need and what they are willing to give up for it. Some non-resource backgrounds can be exchanged as goods or services in a similar manner. Bribes and negotiations may be possible, via RP, or applications of certain abilities.

TODO: List of types of Resources to be found in Haven

    • Alternate Identity (service)
    • Hoard (good)
    • Library (service)
    • Mentor (service)
    • Trods (service)
  • Some people find items and magical services with influences, while others buy them from a market. To purchase a magical item or service costs permanent Resources at a rate of 2 Resources for every 1 point of the purchased background. This may be adjusted to 1:1, up to your level of Commerce ability (though merchants may negate your use of Commerce with their own, which will be determined by a random die roll). These are the backgrounds you can purchase in such a manner -
    • Arsenal (good)
    • Boosting of existing Arsenal (service)
    • Chimera (good)
    • Fetish / Treasure / Wonder / Trinket (good)
    • Blessing (service)
    • Enhancement (service)

Retainers

Retainers are servants and companions with personal bonds of loyalty to your character. They may be actual servants, fellow veterans of a crusade, fellow members of a monastic sect, childhood friends and the like. Work out a description of these retainers and the nature of their commitment to you so that you and your Storyteller know what to expect in play (and what might make interesting surprises).

Your retainer's exact capabilities are up to the Storyteller, a retainer may be skillful but unmotivated, or loyal but inept. No retainer is ever perfect, but they all can be a great help. Most retainers are of average ability and competence. Obtaining Retainers after character creation can be done through creative uses of Influences and backgrounds. They are purchased with experience points (1 exp per background point), but must be found by expending backgrounds and influences. We are looking for story to guide the use of the experience and effort on the character’s part to find what they are looking for. Each Retainer or Companion will be created as a base character +5xp per background point.

  • A retainer can be assigned to watch over a particular location. Generally, if someone attempts to break into your home, the retainer there will attempt to stop the intruder.
  • A retainer can be used to manage your assets and perform tasks. Retainers tied up in this fashion allow you to manage more Influence than normal. They add to the number of Attribute Traits that you possess for purposes of counting your total Influences. Each retainer directed in this fashion adds one to your maximum Influence Traits. If retainers are later lost or killed, the excess Influence Traits are lost, starting with the highest levels of Influence held.
  • Retainers can do most menial tasks, as long as they are not abused.
  • They can physically come to your aid in time of need, unlike allies or contacts, yet they require a similar give-and-take relationship in order to secure a good performance.

You may choose to declare that any one of your retainers is a ghoul (for vampires), Kinfolk (for Shifters), Kinain (for Fae), thralls (for Demons), etc. Such retainers have the usual benefits of powers and an improved understanding of supernatural society, so they make useful guards, but too many can be troublesome. Jealous retainers can cause no end of troubles.

Rites

Rites are a fundamental part of Garou society, a very simple way to connect with the mystical powers of Gaia. Each Trait denotes how many rites you know at the beginning of the game. With three Traits in Rites, you have knowledge of a level-three rite, or a level-one and level-two rites or even three level-one rites. Rites can be learned through the teachings of a mentor with a specific rite. Though it is not unheard of for a Garou elder to teach a student a very powerful rite (as Rank is not a necessary factor of rite progression), it would necessitate a very indepth explanation.

Sanctum / Laboratory

Over time, a mage's influence can bend and warp the Tapestry in a specific place. That place becomes attuned to the mage and familiar with his magic. You have just such a place: a Sanctum. A Sanctum offers a hiding ground and, more importantly, a safe haven for magic. Within a Sanctum, all rules of magic are those of the owner. Your Sanctum follows your paradigm; your magic is coincidental there, while other magic is vulgar. Your years of work - often a decade or more in one place - have made it your mystical home.
A Sanctum is attuned to you and only you. Unless someone has a remarkably similar paradigm (perhaps an apprentice), the Sanctum won't work for the individual. In rare cases, old Chantries sometimes have small Sancta that act with a paradigm broad enough to encompass an entire Tradition's practices, and to work for any member of that Tradition. (Such Sancta are part of a Chantry package and not available to individual characters except through development in play).
Your magic is completely coincidental in a Sanctum. You can heal vulgar wounds, create elements, enchant weapons - anything you desire. You must still make all of the normal challenges and pay the normal costs. Magic that you send outside of your Sanctum, such as a ranged attack or enchanted item, is subject to Unbelief; the Paradox that you would normally gamer from such an Effect applies to the Effect instead of you, and probably weakens or warps it. Thus, you can't easily send screaming bolts of death halfway across the world to coincidentally kill your foe, but you can repair your damaged foci, heal yourself and conjure a few spirits for advice.
The size of your Sanctum depends upon the level of the Background:
One Trait - A circle, one pace across
Two Traits - A small room, five paces
Three Traits - A workshop, 10 paces
Four Traits - A house, 30 paces
Five Traits - A manor, one hundred paces

Secrets

You have your nose in other people’s secrets, and while this can be very dangerous indeed, it can also be exceptionally useful. Each level of this Background grants one secret of some kind from the Storyteller - this secret can be something general, such as which cops are on the take, or something more dangerous, such as the location of the vampire prince’s haven or a hidden caern. A secret may not necessarily be true - a wise man once observed that people will believe anything if you whisper it.

This background cannot be taken at character creation, and only exists as a Temporary background gained through Influences. It cannot be 'saved up' - whatever you learn when the secret is gained is the information you possess. It will not be used to represent absolutely every secret learned - rather, it is reserved for highly guarded (read: dangerous) knowledge that the character really has no business knowing. The secrets gained from the Background will add to the atmosphere of the game - serving as material for plot hooks and dramatic encounters, not a free ride through future encounters or a quick means of blackmailing or ruining other characters. There is no “expend a level, get a clue” feature to this Background - all you have to run with is whatever tidbit you were gifted with; do your own legwork to learn more. As it may prove problematic or unbalancing for the character to have such knowledge, this Background may be restricted or even forbidden in certain circumstances. Finally, this Background may never cover the secrets of other player characters; you’ll have to dig up those on your own!

Totem / Jamak

Whereas other Backgrounds only encompass the personal capabilities of your character, Totem pertains to you and your pack, as all of the members pool your Traits to purchase a specific totem spirit. All totem spirits have a Background Cost rating that you must meet in order to ally with it. Regardless of how many points the initial totem costs, all beginning totems have a base eight points to divide among Rage, Willpower and Gnosis, as well as starting with the Charms of Airt Sense and Reform. Standards and practices dictate that totems will bestow their powers to one pack member at a time, reserving the capacity of passing this power on to another pack member at the Garou’s discretion, assuming they don’t keep it for themselves. After the initial cost of a totem has been pooled and spent by the pack members, further Background points spent on it increases its strength and abilities, listed below:

Cost Power
One Per three points to spend on Willpower, Rage, and/or Gnosis
One Totem can speak to the pack without the benefit of the Gift: Spirit Speech.
One Totem can always find the pack members.
One Totem is nearly always with the pack members.
Two Totem is respected by other spirits.
Two Per Charm possessed.
Three Per extra pack member who can use a totem’s power in the same turn.
Four Totem is mystically connected to all pack members, allowing communication among them even at great distances (at Storyteller’s discretion).
Five Totem is feared by agents of the Wyrm (which could mean that they run away or that they do their best to kill the pack)

Unlike Garou, who run in packs and take totem spirits as patrons for their packs, Bastet are individuals who deal spirits on a one-to-one basis. A Bastet with this Background picks a totem spirit, as usual, but applies it like a personal totem: It works for the Bastet only. Also, since cats are by nature independent, the Bastet and the totem may "part ways" and the player can then trade the levels in this Background to gain a new and different Jarnak at a later date (though such an acquisition typically requires the]amak Promise Bond rite to be performed, as well as a suitable quest or other offering to the spirit). Generally, a Jarnak is a small, Gaffling-level incarnation of a larger spirit, and so each Jarnak has its own personal name, instead of simply being "Coyote" or "Griffin."
Buying a Jamak is otherwise just like purchasing the Totem Background, but the player must pay all of the associated points himself. Rarely, a pride of werecats will gather and choose a group totem spirit; such cats fall under the regular Totem rules and should be handled accordingly.

Vessel

Mummy Only. You have an item that is capable of storing Sekhem that you can draw upon later. A vessel can be virtually anything, but most have been within the Web of Faith for a long period of time, attuning to the energies of Sekhem. It may be apiece of jewelry, a stone from an ancient temple, a scarab amulet, or a relic like a bone from an ancient corpse.
For every Trait in this category, one Trait of Sekhem may be stored in a Vessel. To activate a Vessel, you must concentrate for one turn as the Sekhem flows into you, which you can use like your own. To store Sekhem, you must concentrate for two full hours and spend one Trait of Sekhem, imbuing the Vessel with this Trait, up to its maximum capacity. Udja-sen and characters with the Lifeblood Flaw (p.102) cannot take this Background nor use another’s Vessel.