Background Example.   Posted by Takmarin.Group: 0
Takmarin
 GM, 4 posts
Mon 8 Jun 2020
at 12:41
Background Example
This is an example of a character background received when I first tried to run this campaign for 4th edition, but due to people moving and lives changing, we only got through maybe 5 games, sadly.

It was my favorite background by far and it gave me chills.  I don't expect all to be like this, but this was a shining example of what I was looking for.  Obviously this one is different, because he was a Deva and was reborn, however, speaking as his character would, pulling in the environment around him as his character sees it, this is what I'm looking for.

I awoke, and I was.

The winds howled around me. The sky, my first sight, was dark and turbulent. The
clouds moved so fast; faster than any tempest. Not a natural storm, but something more
urgent, more sinister. I sat up, my greatcoat and cloak snapping around my limbs like
flags. Around me, there was a forest of stone. Great, shattered peaks of granite and slate
surrounded me. It was very cold. I felt high up, like I was on a mountaintop, but the
earth around me was broken and twisted.

I was. But where, precisely, was I?

I stood for the first time. I looked at my hands, a darker tinge of gray than the scree
and rubble that surrounded me. I put them to my face, over my heart; I was renewed,
resurrected, whole. I stepped over the broken teeth of my birthplace to see where I had
arrived. It was tough going. Boulders and crags, both large and small, lay in all possible
angles. It delighted me to discover I wore sturdy boots that blunted the biting teeth of
the shattered rock under my footsteps. Gravel crunched as I made my first, tentative
steps. My cloak snagged on sharp edges everywhere. The wind continued its horrible
keening.

Something shifted at the edge of my vision. A dagger of light, tinted with shadowy
hues of violet and black, stabbed down from the heavens and beyond my line of sight. I
moved toward it, treading carefully. I topped a short but sheer ridge just in time to see
the light recede. A presence, something unknowable, remained dozens of yards ahead of
me. The presence stood, unmoving, shimmering with an unnatural glint. I approached
with immense caution.

A sibilant whisper made itself heard over the roaring gale around me. It was difficult
to understand at first, but as I listened, I realized it uttered but one word, the syllables
stretched thin as though the speaker had all of eternity in which to say it. “Balance,” it
crooned. And with that, it vanished without warning, leaving sparks of red and green
behind in my eyes.

Another deva. Its aura, his aura, had been unmistakable. Who was he? What did he
mean with that single, cryptic word?

In the moments of confusion and awe that followed, I slid on the unsteady ground. I
stopped myself within paces of a sheer drop, but I had come too close. A sudden gust
slammed against me. I desperately latched onto a rime-coated bulwark as the winds
struggled to rip me from my perch and to the earth below, but, ultimately, I failed.

I fell.

My heart thundered. My cries of terror and defiance were lost in the tempest as I
dropped. My arms scrambled, hands grasping uselessly for purchase in the intangible
sky. I fell.

And, then, after moments that felt like forever, I fell no more.

The change was unexpected, yet gentle: I became a leaf in a lazy summer breeze. A
glimmer from my left hand drew my eyes. A simple platinum ring, interlaced with a
delicate filigree of feathers, glowed softly in the howling darkness. I was saved. Relief
washed over me.

I surveyed my path downward. All around, I witnessed devastation. Jagged cracks
zippered their way across the plains in all directions. Great fires seethed and raged
through a nearby forest, the tongues of flame dancing swiftly across the scorched
treetops. Thick columns of smoke rose everywhere, pulled and tossed and dispersed into
the sky by the squall. I saw the broken bones of what had been a great city: its streets
buckled, its spires toppled, its walls punched through. I spun about and I saw the cliff
from where I had been pulled. I had indeed been atop a mountain. One that had been
ripped up by the hands of titans and stabbed back into the tortured earth, point first.
The very sight of that impossible mountain gave me pangs of vertigo.

As I drifted ever downward, my vision was overlaid with sudden, brief flashes of the
past. I saw the city whole and vibrant, the forest lush, the meadows vast and seamed
with the marks of cultivation. This crushed realm, once a seat of power and knowledge,
had suffered a terrible punishment.

My feet touched the ground with the grace of a dancer. The softly glowing ring, my
savior artifact, grew dim and faded to ordinary metal. The winds were far less harsh here
than where I awoke, yet the chill remained. There was nothing around me but burned
barley fields and the impossible mountain, now several miles away. All was strangely
quiet. I slid to my knees, shaken and exhausted by the trials I had already undergone
in the short span of my new incarnation. The very feel of the world disoriented me. I
looked to the roiling clouds above for insight, but the sky offered me nothing but more
mysteries. I must go and explore.

I took several deep breaths and steeled myself. I stood and considered my destination.
The upended mountain was the obvious choice, but the city I had seen on my descent
pulled tighter at my curiosity. I made a guess in direction and soon discovered a row of
snaggle-toothed flagstones suggesting the remains of a trade route.

I followed the path for several miles, keeping a sharp eye on the mercurial sky and the
ash-shrouded horizon for signs of trouble. So much was amiss and wondrous about my
first day. I had been prepared for this journey: my coat and cloak, the tough-skinned
boots, the miracle ring. Who gave them to me? We deva never reincarnate with nothing,
but my new possessions were remarkably apt to my situation. And, what of the presence,
the other deva, atop the vertiginous mount? What was his purpose? Why did he visit
me?

Speculate as I might, answers eluded me.

On I walked. The travelers I came across were few in number and intensely uninterested
in engaging with a wandering stranger, especially one as rare as myself. They were
rushed as though chased, but I found no pursuers in their wake. It seemed whatever
luck I possessed was holding, but I knew it could not persist, so I started to hurry as
well. This realm was not a comfortable home for the idle or careless.

The endless plains offered me a hazy view of the city long before I approached its
perimeter. Its fractured walls stenciled the horizon like rows of bleached granite teeth.
The path, broadening as I drew closer, led to a massive pair of gates that remained
sealed in defiance of the desolation around them. I followed the wall for a short while
until a I found a breach. Dust and ashes coated my cloak as I stepped through. Here,
among the ruins, the wind was still. Its absence filled the air with a tense silence,
yet every sound I made was muted as though I moved through deep water. Nothing
approached me. I expected crows, rats, or even vengeful spirits twisting through the
empty sockets of crushed towers, but I saw nothing, living or unliving, aside from
myself.

I wandered aimlessly for what seemed like hours, threading through a map of collapse.
At last I came upon a structure slightly less damaged than others around me. A temple
of sorts. The open doors bore an intertwined symbol of a sun and a cog. Erathis: builder,
inventor, and judge among the gods. This was her dominion.

Within lay a series of crypts, many overturned and cracked. At the base of one lay a
slouched figure covered in a vermillion cloak, its hands clutching an alabaster sword
and pewter-colored, triangular shield. Its was a pose of exhaustion after succumbing to
a final defense. Stepping closer, I kneeled down and delicately lifted the defender's hat.
To my great shock and amazement, it was yet another deva, a female this time; that was
clear even through the sunken flesh and stiffness of death.

Compelled to do so without conscious thought, I delicately placed two fingers of my
left hand upon the deva's wizened brow. The moment a connection was made, memory
upon memory surged into my soul. I saw the city whole again, much as I had upon my
descent, bustling with people and trade, its gleaming walls ringing the land for miles
around. The vision shifted. I stood in a courtyard with dozens of figures around me,
each wearing the same style of crimson cloaks and peaked hats as the deva. In unison,
they unsheathed their shining swords and raised them skyward, uttering powerful oaths
of fealty. Another shift, and the city appeared again, but under siege. Thousands upon
thousands of unnamed beings streamed past me across the plains, leaving fires and
trampled earth in their wake. Shift. Atop smoldering battlements, red-cloaked mages
sent torrents of flame and frost into the attacking hordes, while others in their ranks
tended to the wounded and dying. Shift. Baleful shafts of light sliced through the clouds,
each one tearing deep, jagged chasms across the grasslands and through the city itself.
Spires toppled and walls collapsed all around me. The heavens themselves burned with
vibrant fury. Then, all was darkness.

I snapped back to the present moment, clutching my sides. I had been holding my
breath for what seemed like an eternity. The scenes I had witnessed were those of my
predecessor, who perished in world’s undoing. I was birthed from the womb of chaos.
She was me. Her end was my beginning.

I felt sudden, immense sorrow for all those who perished in the gods' wrath. Entire
families, lineages, cities, and nations had been wiped clean, their ashes smeared across
the sky in a soot-filled haze. The sheer scale of death and destruction was beyond
comprehension, but there must have been a purpose behind it all. Why would the gods,
all of the gods, consent to such a terrible act if there were no other option? The races
of this earth must have reached a breaking point of corruption, a tipping point where
redemption and faith were too scarce to deflect divine retribution. In my visions, the
shining city's pride and power were the shackles that brought it to its knees. The raiding
hordes weren't just mindless marauders. They were the trodden, the hopeless, the
forgotten, the vengeful. The city's defenders, the red-coated mages, were pure in spirit
and virtue, but their masters and the masses around them had become poisoned with
wanting. It was they that the hordes sought, and they who were slaughtered. These
scenes were replayed across the realm, and the divine host, increasingly weary and sick
of their progeny's follies, decided to play the endgame.

A cleansing.

I felt immense sorrow, but also a slender, sinewy ribbon of hope. The gods' punishment
was brutal and thorough, but there are those who lived, and those, like me, who were
reborn. We are here for a purpose. We have a clean slate; an opportunity for renewal.
We must avoid the sins of those who came before us, but there is hope. Hope for us all.
Everything around me took on a soft, pearlescent glow, and I knew. I knew in that
moment, that singularly miraculous and radiant moment, my purpose, my reason for
being. I will serve as a beacon. A beacon of hope. I will give purpose and vitality to
those who have lived through divine judgment. I will find others like me: survivors,
champions, visionaries; those with a destiny to fulfill. I will defend them. I will protect
them. I will guide them. I will encourage them. Together, we will build this world anew,
from the ground up, with new foundations of order. We will do so the right way, from
the start.

I looked at the seals on the walls around me. Erathis. It was She who was the patron
deity of the red mages, the true saviors of an otherwise decadent nation, and She who
would have been the most reluctant and hesitant to resort to a final, terrible end. I was
utterly convinced that it was She who prepared me so suitably for this quest, and so, it
would be in Her name and that of Her order that I would serve. She Who Builds would
direct and bless my every action. I would wield the divine, the arcane, and the blade. I
would be Her will, manifested.

It was an epiphany. I knew beyond knowing that my role was cast, my destiny set before
me. It filled me to the seams with delight.

I looked once more at the silent form of my predecessor and silently thanked her for the
knowledge, insight, and purpose I gained from her passing and her presence. As though
in response to my gratitude, her physical form dissolved in a halo of warmly glowing
light, leaving her armaments and artifacts behind for me to inherit. With grace and with
care, I donned my new gifts and set forth from the temple, quivering with the surge of
life flowing through me. I awoke before, but now I am truly awake.

I am awake, and I am.

I am Lu, the Red Mage.