Monday, December 8, 2014

Unusual Backgrounds: The Inventor

Unusual Backgrounds for Fifth Edition: The Inventor

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Nature
Tool Proficiencies: Alchemical Supplies, Tinker’s Tools

You are ahead of your time- you are an innovator. You combine creative ingenuity with technical knowledge to make new things. Whereas many intellectuals focus their talent on magical knowledge, that is not your (or at least not your only) your focus. Your training involves the use of engineering and natural processes to develop mundane yet wondrous new technologies. To the outside observer, what you do might appear as magic, but you know better.  Studying supernatural processes may be a science to some, but to you the natural world offers plenty of marvels to learn from and adapt on its own.

Feature: Technological Marvel
You have made a technological discovery that is above and beyond the standard level of technology of the setting. Whereas you don’t immediately have the means of making the most of your breakthrough, your invention may have the potential of changing society. However, most people, even those in the intellectual community, will not understand or appreciate your discovery.  They may doubt, mock, or criticize you for it. Or they may even fear and persecute you for it.  They may have good reason, for your breakthrough has yet to be completely refined.  However, your knowledge gives you a leg up on the rest of society as it has practical implications you can exploit (if indirectly) once it is fully constructed. The DM and the player should work together to determine the nature of the discovery. Generally the nature of this discovery shouldn’t be used as an excuse for an easy power-up of the party; DMs should be skeptical of advances in personal weapons or armor technology.

Suggested Characteristics
Inventors combine both the worlds of the creative and the practical.  They are often skilled in general scientific processes (generally some combination of the following: observe, formulate a question, hypothesize, make predictions, test, analyze and draw conclusions, reproduce results), although science a formally defined or precise methodology may a long time away depending on the setting. Despite their methodological side, inventors also tend to have an out-of-the-box way of thinking fueled by a spark of spontaneous creativity.  Inventors may vary on their organization. Some are highly neat and followed detailed, regular processes, but others are messier and more randomly spontaneous, preferring the art of discovery over the science of routine.

 Personality Trait (1d8)
1.       I rigorously document and analyze everything of importance.
2.       I don’t let tedium weigh me down.
3.       I am skeptical of magic and other so-called supernatural processes.
4.       I name all my creations and talk to them like people.
5.       I love sharing ideas.
6.       I’m constantly jotting down notes for future projects.
7.       I fidget when bored or kept from accomplishing my goals.
8.       I apply my scientific principles to interactions with people.

Ideals (1d6)
1.       Creativity (Any)                      Developing new things is a reward in and of itself.
2.       Process (Lawful)                     The rules exist to be followed
3.       Autonomy (Chaotic)               The creative process must not be stifled by drudgery.
4.       A God Am I (Evil)                  My knowledge raises me above the level of the unwashed masses.
5.       Competition (Neutral)             I’ll show up all my rivals.
6.       Simplicity (Any)                     The simplest explanation, and the simplest solution, to a problem is often the best one, all other things being equal

Bond (1d6)
1.       Everything we make is a boon of the gods. Therefore I create in veneration to them.
2.       There is a specific problem I must solve.
3.       My inventions will free us from a life of needless toil.
4.       Rumors say the ancients had a powerful technology unknown in our time.
5.       These inventions are going to make me rich.
6.       Too much superstition rules our lands. Somebody must work to debunk it.

1.       I feel pity and disdain for the inferior minds.
2.       I am wracked by guilt when my inventions are used for purposes they aren’t intended for.
3.       I covet the attention magic users and priests receive from the rest of society.
4.       Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees.
5.       I can’t be bothered by trial details when I’m thinking about bigger ideas.
6.       I’ll leave it to smaller minds to do the heavy lifting and dirty jobs for me.

Variant: Tinkerer
Rather than merely putting things together, you also specialize in taking them apart. You enjoy scavenging through assorted bits and bobs to find lost technological relics. As such, you tend to be quite eclectic in combining vastly different technologies to form new contraptions.

For this Inventor variant, replace the proficiency in Alchemist’s Supplies with proficiency in Thieves’ Tools. Replace the Technological Marvel feature with the Technological Savant feature below.
Technological Savant
From tinkering with a mind-boggling assortment of devices, you have become accustomed to working with devices well beyond the understanding of your contemporaries. Once you’ve deduced the function of a given technological item, you can interact with it without any penalty or disadvantage you might normally incur due to a lack of familiarity with a different level of technology.

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