Aígyptian (Backgrounds for 5th Edition D&D/Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting)

Michael O. Varhola

Following is the background for the Aígyptian, which represents a quintessential inhabitant of the theocratic state of Aígyptos and should be applied to most of the people of its numerous agricultural villages and which appears in Skirmisher Publishing's "Aigyptos: A Gazetteer for 5th Edition." Characters from places like temple or palace complexes, military bases, or the coastal city of Alexandria will likely have the more general sorts of backgrounds that might be found anywhere.

Background: Aígyptian
You are an inhabitant of the hierarchical religious nation of Aígyptos and probably live within one of the many farming communities that lie along the banks of the Nile River or throughout its sprawling delta on the Mediterranean coast. You are likely a farmer, tending fields of grain, flax, and vegetables and groves of date palms; a fisher, casting your nets into the Nile or the waters of the Mediterranean; or an artisan, creating items for use in agricultural villages or the religious complexes they support (e.g., tools, pottery, beer, cloth, religious items). Your duties include periodically laboring on public works and possibly — especially if you have combat training — serving as a member of the militia. You may have seen coinage but have probably never handled or used it, relying strictly on barter to acquire any goods you might need. While foreigners may refer to your country as Aígyptos or Stygia, you know it as Kemet, the fertile “land of the black earth.”

You were raised to understand that your primary role in life is to support maat, the order that allows your village, the nation overall, and the cosmos itself to continue functioning properly. This idea has been inculcated into you by the religion of your people, which reveres a broad pantheon of natural, cosmological, and underworld deities, one or possibly a group of two to four of which are specifically associated with your community. You learn about these gods through the hierarchy of priests that serve as the local, regional, and national officials of Aígyptos and interact with them through their idols in the temples where they dwell and during festivals when they are put on display or taken from one place to another. You know that a god-king, or pharaoh, rules over the nation overall but probably have never seen him and are not ever likely to. 

Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Religion.
Tool Proficiencies: Farmer’s tools, fisher’s tools, or one type of artisan’s tools.
Equipment: A set of tools; a set of common clothes; and 20 gp worth of goods (e.g., grain, dates, dried fish, manufactured items like farming implements or pots). 
 
Feature: Magic of the Land
As an Aígyptian, you have a close connection with the land of your birth and can channel some of its abundant divine magic. You can choose any one Cleric or Druid cantrip and cast it a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus and are known throughout your community for being able to do so. Druidcraft is most common among farmers, and Guidance among fishers and artisans, but all can be found to some extent — and, with the ascendency of the serpent god Set, Poison Spray appears with increasing frequency. 
 
Feature: Local Knowledge
You have in-depth knowledge about Aígyptos and its communities, history, inhabitants, religion, lore, laws, mores, and traditions. For each point of your proficiency bonus, you know one secret or obscure fact about a specific area of Aígyptos equal in size to a village, probably your own community but possibly a locale like a mountain valley, salt marsh, or river island. Work with your storyteller to determine the information you know and how it might tie in with past, present, and future adventures. Examples might include the location of some forgotten tombs from an earlier era, the place within a papyrus marsh where a particularly large crocodile dwells, or some especially bountiful date palms that produce fruit in excess of what needs to be reported to officials. 
 
When you make an ability check that would be affected by your knowledge of Aígyptos, you may add your proficiency bonus to it (e.g., to determine the properties of indigenous plants, to know a pertinent fact about the history of a particular village). 
 
Suggested Characteristics
Residents of Aígyptos tend to be less worldly than those of lands visited by more foreigners and, as such, are often also more conservative and close-minded, which sometimes makes them seem dull or unimaginative to outsiders. They tend to be pious, hardworking, and community-oriented and to function best in ordered and predictable environments.
 
d8          Personality Trait
1            I relish the ordered simplicity of my community and never feel more at home than when I am engaged in the routines associated with it.
2            There is nothing I enjoy as much as the festivals and seasonal pageants associated with the gods, especially things like parades, ceremonies, and the procession of idols from one temple to another.
3            I have an abiding horror of the deep, empty, dead desert that lies just beyond the civilized world and seems to stretch away eternally.
4            I don’t mind work, but what I really appreciate are the fun things that follow it, ideally on a daily basis, such as games, sports, musical performances, and/or drinking.
5            I so want to see the great city of Alexandria and all the wonders it contains — and perhaps even to go beyond it and into the wider world!
6            I love both telling and hearing stories about the gods and feel edified as a result of doing so.
7            There are few things I like as much as working with my hands and enjoying the fruits of my labors.
8            Simple as it might seem in communities like the one where I live, I know that my country hides many secrets, and feel that my life is a journey to discover what they are.
 
d6          Ideal
1            Piety. The gods have given us everything that we have and I am committed to revering them and upholding the traditions associated with them. (Lawful)
2            Balance. Everything happens for a reason, even if we do not understand what it is, and good and evil alike must be accepted as part of the natural order. (Neutral)
3            Covetousness. It is just fine if other people want to live in poverty while priests and their ilk enjoy luxury, but I am going do whatever it takes to also live comfortably. (Evil)
4            Justice. Everyone, even simple or common people, deserves the right to be treated well and cared for by the community if they do what is expected of them. (Good)
5            Industriousness. There is nothing more key to success and happiness than hard work. (Any)
6            Privacy. I so despise being watched and having people mind my business and comment on it. (Chaotic)
 
d6          Bond
1            Aígyptos is my home and, even though I may travel to other places, I will never live anywhere else and will ultimately return to be buried here.
2            I will have no gods other than those of my homeland and will always support the values and ideals they stand for.
3            I am committed to protecting Aígyptos from anything that might threaten it, whether from within or without.
4            The welfare of my individual community in Aígyptos is more important to me than anything else.
5            I will always render aid to a fellow Aígyptian if possible — and to kin and neighbors even if it seems as if it might not be.
6            Whatever I might move onto in my life, I will not ever forget my roots as common person from a simple community.
 
d6          Flaw
1            All those old tombs are supposed to be sacred, but I did not know the people who are in them and think all the good things buried there would better serve living people (like me).
2            Lions, crocodiles, jackals, and other animals need to eat, too, and I can’t get too upset about them periodically grabbing a person, even someone like a child.
3            If the serpent god Set is so bad then why do the priests tell us he is “ascendant” right now and pay homage to him? There is, in fact, a lot he represents that makes sense to me …
4            Gods of other lands are detestable to me and I will do what I can to foil their aims and those of their followers.
5            I love competition and sports so much that I will do just about anything to win at them.
6            I get annoyed when I consider how much better would be the lives of common people if so many resources, including their labor, did not get devoted to building things like massive tombs.