Combat Engineer (Backgrounds for 5th Edition D&D/'Into the Mines of Moira' Bonus Content)

Michael O. Varhola
Following is a new Background for the 5th Edition role-playing game system, the Combat Engineer, a type of military professional skilled at tasks like construction of defensive works, investiture of fortified places, and creation of infrastructure like roads and bridges — much of which can be nicely applied to a dungeon environment! It is listed as the background for Trodecarn, one of the pre-generated characters included with Skirmisher Publishing's new "Into the Mines of Moira" adventure for 5th Edition and is being posted here as bonus content to this module. This terrific image, which also appears in Skirmisher's Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting, is by fantasy artist Amanda Kahl. 
 
Combat Engineer
You are a military professional skilled at combining practical techniques with theoretical knowledge to accomplish a wide variety of tasks, such as construction of defensive works, investiture of fortified places, and creation of roads and other infrastructure used to facilitate the movement of troops. You may be a soldier or a civilian contractor, and might serve in this capacity fulltime or only when need arises or you are so inclined.
 
In the course of performing your duties, you might use a variety of techniques to create or make use of many kinds of devices and structures. These could include siege equipment like ballistae, cannon, mangonels, rams, siege towers, suspended cauldrons, and trebuchets (DMG, pp 255-56); constructions like chevaux de frise, ditches, fences, mines, palisades, ramparts, roads, trails, simple wood and stone bridges, floating bridges, rafts, scaling ladders, grappling hooks, and field fortifications; and possibly explosives such as bombs, dynamite, grenades, and gunpowder if such things are present in your campaign setting (DMG, pp 267-68). 
 
Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Athletics.
Tool Proficiencies: Siege equipment; carpenter’s tools, mason’s tools, or smith’s tools.
Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice), a weapon that can also serve as an appropriate tool (e.g., battle axe, greataxe, handaxe, light hammer, maul, war pick, warhammer), a set of workman’s clothes (reinforced common clothes, plus an apron and hat), and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.
 
Feature: Mastery of Stone, Earth, Wood, or Explosives
A combat engineer may choose to become especially skilled at dealing with constructions made of stone, earth, or wood, or at using explosives. Stoneworks might include things such as walls, bridges, tunnels, and flagstone-paved roads. Earthen structures might include dams, hard-packed roads, ramparts, and mines. Wooden structures might include siege equipment, palisades, bridges, and rafts. Explosives include bombs, dynamite, gunpowder, and grenades (DMG, pp 267-68).
 
Anytime you make a skill check involving a material you are a master of, you can add your proficiency bonus to the check (e.g., checks for the construction of subterranean mines, siege engines, or rudimentary bridges). If you would already have been entitled to apply your proficiency bonus to a skill check affected by this feature then they stack and it is doubled for these purposes.
 
If you are a master of explosives then you inflict maximum rather than average damage against inanimate objects with such devices; are able to construct buried mines and other traps using them; and can bundle multiple explosive devices when placing them against inanimate objects or creating traps. A trap that might be set off in a simple way, such as when a creature steps on it or comes into contact with a tripwire, typically has a DC of 15 to construct; has an attack bonus of your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier; and has a saving throw DC of your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier.
 
Suggested Characteristics
Siege engineers tend to be practical, hardworking, and skilled with a variety of tools. They generally enjoy working with their hands and are often indefatigable.
 
d8        Personality Trait
1          I am fascinated by the military engineering traditions of all peoples and strive to learn more about them.
2          I see my vocation as a model for life in general, a continuous cycle of building and destruction, and tend not to be too elated about the one or upset about the other.
3          I hate the idea of putting part of myself into creating something only to have it destroyed.
4          I believe it is important to follow orders and that what I personally do or do not like is of secondary importance.
5          I like getting my hands dirty and breaking a sweat in the performance of my tasks.
6          I don’t complain about heat, cold, rain, or other environmental conditions and tend to look down on those who do.
7          I like to use technical jargon peculiar to combat engineering — literally, figuratively, and even in the form of double entendres.
8          I see warfare as generally being brutish and unsophisticated and feel that combat engineering is among its most rarefied aspects.
 
d6        Ideal
1          Loyalty. Honing my skills so that they can benefit my people is more important than anything else. (Lawful)
2          Equilibrium. Construction and destruction are just two sides of the same coin and each is equally important. (Neutral)
3          Destructiveness. All things come to an end and I am just doing my part by hastening the process. (Evil)
4          Constructiveness. I believe that building high-quality things makes the world a better place. (Good)
5          Proficiency. It is extremely important to me to be as good as possible at what I do. (Any)
6          Fulfillment. I build and I destroy because I enjoy seeing the results of my labors. (Chaotic)
 
d6        Bond
1          Someone I revere built something that I would do anything to protect.
2          Nothing is more important than seeing a task through to its completion.
3          I have great affection for the person who taught me my craft and would do almost anything they asked me to.
4          A companion was killed because of a mistake I made and I am now devoted to helping care for their family.
5          A military organization I am affiliated with keeps me supplied with equipment but, in return, I must periodically undertake missions for it.
6          An enemy built something that is hateful to me and I would do anything to destroy it. 
 
d6        Flaw
1          I like to see things burn or blow up and will often contrive to make that happen even when it might not really be necessary.
2          I appreciate good craftsmanship and might be disinclined to destroy something significant even if it could be important to do so.
3          If I had the opportunity to build something great I would do it for anyone.
4          I would do anything to expand my knowledge of military engineering.
5          My contributions to a mission are more important than other people’s and should take precedence over them.
6          If people get used up while building things, or get hurt in the course of destroying them, it is just the cost of doing business.