Note that arcane backgrounds cannot normally be combined (there are some exceptions), one per customer.
Those who derive power through faith, they have the power to preform (usually subtle) miracles granted by whatever benevolent powers exist. Blessed are not restricted to the Abrahamic faiths as they exist in just about all religions. Faith can be a mighty touchy thing however and certain actions or sights can throw it into doubt.
Blessed have miracles (powers they can invoke), and gifts (minor always on abilities). In moments of desperation they can cash in what graces they have earned upstairs and call down some Divine Intervention.
How To: Spirit is the most important stat for a Blessed character, they also must have at least one point in Faith (ideally more).
Variations: Usually by religion, but you could also things like Nuns or Witch Hunters.
Starting with mystics of the far east, these dedicated warriors channel the channel the power of the Hunting Grounds through their bodies. This takes incredible focus and is exhausting but allows them to pull off tremendous feats of physical and martial arts prowess. Enlightened can fight the horrors of the Reckoners with their bear fists, catch bullets, and shatter rock with a single blow.
How To: Enlightened need the Martial Arts Edge in addition of the Arcane Background: Enlightened edge, as well as at least 1 rank in the Chi skill. Meditation will help them regain strain quicker, the amount of strain they posses is based on their Vigor.
Variations: Kung Fu Master, Kendo Fighter, Bare Knuckle Brawler.
Originating from the teachings of Silas Rasmussen the Doomsayers preach that the Ghost Rock apocalypse was a spiritual transformation and that mutants were its chosen people. When the Cult took a violent bent a number of their members ditched the green robes for purple and started preaching a more peaceful, co-operative version of the The Glow.
Doomsayers are the mutant radiation priests of the west, their miracles are bolts of radiation and blasts of nuclear fire. When it comes to blowing things up, doomsayers are a cut above other Arcane Backgrounds.
How To: Doomsayers need Faith and a high Spirit for control of their powers, and their Vigor determines their amount of Strain. The Tappin’ skill lets them draw an emergency reserve of power when near Maelstroms.
Huckers reach into the Hunting Grounds and play a very high stakes with its denizens often visualized as a mental poker game. If the Huckster wins he gets the power to pull off his Hex, if the spirit pulls a fast one the results could be catastrophic. Huckster’s powers aren’t the most reliable, some days they can be spectacular, other times they fizzle. Since the apocalypse the spirits they ambush have been eating better and the game’s stakes get higher.
Mechanically hucksters roll for skill then based on the roll draw and try to assemble a poker hand. The better the roll the more cards, the better the hand the better the effect. But if a black joker turns up the hex is twisted, and the Huckster takes backlash. With each card you draw the chance of a backlash increases. For smaller effects the Huckster can whip out ‘Tricks’ which are the much safer cantrip level spells.
How To: Different hexes use different Attributes to cast, but all hexes require the Hexslingin’ skill. Given that Manitou are more powerful these days the Old Hand edge is recommended.
Variations: Gambler, Hexslingin Gunslinger, Changer of Fates, Sideshow magician, Metal Mage, Old Gypsy Lady.
Junkers are a mix of Hucksters and Mad Scientists of old. They commune with the spirits of destroyed technology to turn piles of junk into useful inventions. They might not be the most stable or reliable but they work, mostly. Not all tech spirits are friendly however and damaged goods, or gun spirits can complicate things. Damaged Goods are unreliable and chaotic, and gun spirits are down right murderous and that attitude can rub off if they build too many weapons.
Mechanically there are rules for inventing things, you build out a device using the rules and add up point costs to see how hard it is to build, how long it takes, and what parts need to be scavenged, and how much ghost rock it needs for power. Junkers can also call on a few ‘Tool Tricks’ which are simple cantrip level spells.
How To: Junkers need Knowledge and Science: Occult Engineering to do their craft. A decent Spirit is recomended if you’re going to build guns without devolving into a drooling psychopath. Smarts is also useful for repairing devices and scrounging parts.
Variations: Chamber Initiate, Tainted One, Road Junker, Crazy Inventor.
Shaman contact the nature spirits of the Hunting Grounds to invoke favours. Spirits of Nature are powerful but fickle, and won’t act until appeased first. Appeasing the spirits takes difficult and time consuming actions, but generate appeasement points that can either be spend immediately or stored on account with a guardian spirit (if the character has one). Most rituals can’t be done in combat but there are a few that can, but these are often quite costly and involve self maiming, or sworn oaths.
Favors are however very reliable, most don’t even require a roll to pull off. Even big mojo like resurrecting the dead or healing a maimed limb are just a matter of earning and spending points.
Shamans need the Ritual skill, each ritual they know works off a different attribute, a Guardian Spirit is also useful if you want to have saved up appeasement points.
Variations: Trailer park Spiritualist, Old Ways Shaman, Modern Druid.
Around WWI the governments of the world figured out how to merge the arcane skills of Hucksters and the self-fueled powers of Enlightened into a new psychic arcane ability. Sykers channel power from the hunting grounds through their heads into spectacular psychic effects without the aid of a spirit. The result if far more reliable than the hexes of Hucksters, but can rapidly deplete their reserves of mental strength.
How To: Sykers use the Blastin’ skill and a good Knowledge, Vigor determines their Strain, Spirit is also useful for some Syker powers. The Meditation skill can be useful in regaining Strain faster.
Variations: Banshee Syker, Earth Military Syker, Psychic Spy, Greenie Syker.
Templars are the brave Crusaders of the post apocalypse. Preaching that whatever powers of good that exist have not given up on the world they claim they are watched over by all the souls of good people who have died fighting evil. Templars wear white tabards with a Maltese cross and carry swords or other melee weapons (they still use guns it’s just they know you can’t always rely on guns). Their saints grant them powers and permanent abilities which get stronger as they do great deeds. And certain actions bring and loose them the protection of certain powerful ‘Saints’ who have fought the good fight before.
Templars also have an interesting philosophy that they only help those who are worthy, and tend to turn their backs on cowards, the uncharitable, and the exploitative. They don’t waste water on weeds while the crops are burning behind them.
How To: Templars need a good Spirit and the faith skill as well as a few other skills listed in the Last Crusaders.
Variations: Templar Samurai, Squire, Fencer, Zweihander Templar, primitive templar.
I have no idea how they work, I just know they exist in the book. If you really want to play them I’ll read the damn rules.
People who have learned the recipe driven magic hidden in the delightfully misandric books titled ‘How to Serve your Man.’ Witch Spells are reliable and quick provided you have the materials in hand. The cost of reliability and lack of anything that will bite you is the ass is that witch spells aren’t terribly powerful, and have a limited selection of powers. Sadly witches never got their own splatbook.
How To: Witches need the Witchcraft skill.
Variations: Mystic Cook, Pagan Priestess, Occult Expert.
Background packages are basic modifiers to a character you can apply.
Before the end of the last war some clever spy types took a few Harrowed and managed to install metal bits in them to make better agents. Best of all they could turn the spirit in their head into a hamster in a wheel to power implanted devices, and remove and chance of the person loosing control. The technology started with infiltrators that had hidden weapons and implants to make them look more human then evolved. Soon their were Cyborg commandos with attached armor and stealth systems, and heavy combat models that were tanks with legs. As you can imagine the government didn’t want to risk these corpses with guns getting out of line so they installed AIs in their heads to act as a sort of external conscience and keep them on mission. Sadly these AI’s were never really programmed for a post apocalyptic scenario and are still following some semblance of their last orders.
Cyborgs don’t get the spooky powers Harrowed do but they do get free armor and cybernetic equipment at character generation. The downside is they also get more rules of engagement based on weather they are a infiltrator, light or heavy cyborg. Given that the more cybernetics you have the less likely you are to be able to enforce your own will over you AI means that the heavy cans are often little better than drones.
How To: Cyborgs need a decent buffer of Spirit as they loose it as they take more implants.
Variations: Agency Spy, Special Undead Service, Walking Artillery, Orbital Drop Shock Troop, Cyborg Scout.
Sometimes remarkable people will miraculously return from the grave, however they never return unchanged. Some of them come back wrong, as violent killers when they were once good men, others struggle with this darker passenger but manage to stay in control. As these people are no longer truly alive they can take a hell of a lot more punishment, and some of them can even tap into the powers that animate them to gain strange, deathly powers.
The harrowed are the bodies of dead people reanimated by evil spirits hoping to use them for their own purposes. Even if you can stay in charge of your own body there is no guarantee that you won’t loose control, as the spirit can still manifest its influence for a short time.
How To: Harrowed have to take several points of Harrowed hinderances in order to buy their Harrowed powers.
If your Character was a in the armed forces for a few years before the Last War than you could take Background: Soldier. Choose a branch of service (such as paratrooper or infantry) and gain a package of appropriate skills based on that choice. You also gain a multiplier to any points spend on purchasing equipment based on your rank.
Soldiers tend to highly skilled at busting heads, and well enough armed and equipped to do it. The downside is you take a random permanent injury, like PTSD, a missing limb or eye, something like that. They also tend to be over 40 and worthy of the title ‘Old Soldier.’
Using an old formula dating back to WWII, you can turn an average person into a specimen of Charles Atlas like perfection. Sadly these hulking brutes tend to suffer a decrease in mental capacity, but hey they’re big and they’re bad.
Veteran of the Wasted West
If you want a few extra points and chargen you can take the Veteran of the Wasted West background. This represents you character having a few adventures before the start of the game proper. These adventures have left a mark on you, as you draw a random card and based on that gain a random flaw. You might be a drunk, paranoid, loose a limb, get scared all to hell, or be cursed, the list goes on.
Veteran of the Weird West
Characters who could plausibly be around 200 years old (some shamans, hucksters, and harrowed), can take this background. You get more points than veteran of the wasted west but you receive a more dramatic flaw.
Here is a list of general character concepts and how to do them.
Conmen use lies and trickery, rather than guns and bullets, to get what they want. It might be after the apocalypse but there’s no shortage of marks.
How to: You’re going to want a high Mein, Smarts and Cognition to make a competent deceiver, as well as being able to suss out a lie or spot what someone is trying to hide. Bluff, Performin’: Acting, Disguise, and Persuasion will be your primary skills. Other skill like Sleight of Hand, or Flichin’ are useful in building a sufficient illusion to fool a mark or playing bait and switch.
*Variants: * Spy, Investigator, Salesman, Politician, Actor, Prostitute.
Communication isn’t easy since radios tend to be unreliable and, have limited range. A Courier can be a settlement’s link to the outside world. Since it might be you alone against whatever bandits, robbers, and abominations are on the road you’ll need to be quick or stealthy.
How to: Nimbleness is useful weather you are stealthy, running, or driving as it links to all those skills. You’ll also need a method of transportation: marathon running, riding, a motorcycle, or ultralight are all possible choices.
Variants: Marathon runner, Scout, Postman, Explorer, Herald.
Although ammo isn’t as common as it used to be, the gun is still king, and gunslingers remind people of that every day. The modern gunslinger has to be level headed and conservative with his shots, else he might find himself with an empty clip.
How to: Deftness beats out Quickness for what matters to a gunslinger. In the old west speed might have killed, but now haste makes waste, and you need to make your shots count. Those who want to get into heavier artillery will need Cognition for the Artillery skill.
Variants: Soldier, Sniper, Bandit, Gunner
Law Dogs are dedicated to bringing law and order back to the west, rather than just being gunslingers most poses some decent people skills.
How to: Law Dogs are usually like gunslingers but you might want Mein so you can use Intimidate or Leadership. Allowing you to goad criminals into surrendering and organizing townsfolk in defense of their towns.
Variants: Vigilante, Highway Patrolman, K-9 Officer, Town Sheriff, Bounty Hunter.
Leaders inspire others to face their fears and act effectively in concert.
How to: Mein links directly to leadership, and a high Knowledge aptitude might help as well.
Variants: Drill Sergeant, Mayor, Squad Leader.
Librarians are dedicated to saving mankind’s prewar knowledge before it is lost forever.
How to: Knowledge and _Smarts_Librarians typically have a lot of brain power and have useful Science, or Academia skills.
Variants: Teacher, Scientist, Bookworm.
Abominations, spawns of the Reckoners stalk this world and it’s up to the bravest of souls to face them, hunt them, and kill them.
How to: Spirit and Guts will help you keep your sanity, Academia: Occult will help you figure out how to kill some horrors.
Variants: Witch Hunter, Occultist, Exorcist.
Although the skies are safer than the ground there are still a quite a few risks from shreakers, combine raptors, and ground based artillery. Not everyone has the skills to make the most of an aircraft but those who can are fortunate indeed.
How to: Nimbleness is linked to the Piloting skill, so will be one of your primary attributes. You’ll also need a few points in belongin’s as aircraft aren’t cheap.
Variants: Sky Pirate, Crop Duster, Airline Pilot, Ace Fighter Pilot, Traffic Reporter.
These high speed warriors clash across the highways of america, fighting over ammo, plunder, and fuel. Their rides are their lifeline.
How to Nimbleness is used for driving, and Cognition or Deftness for mounted weapons. You’ll also need Belongin’s for a sweet ride.
Variants: Trucker, Highway Patrol, NASCAR Driver, Off-roader.
Power armor clad ex-soldiers and steel knights, each is a one man army in their suits but vulnerable outside them.
How to You will probably want Background: Soldier or Steel Knight (or both) as well as a ton of belongins to be able to afford powered armor.
Variants: LRRP Scout, Steel Knight, Confederate Armored Infantry.
There are plenty of resources from the old world for a clever scavenger to get. Most of the easy sources of salvage have been well picked over, there still some good stuff to be found there but don’t expect to strike it rich. The good stuff is in hidden or remote areas and one might risk a case of glows or venturing into a deadland to get it.
How To: Smarts is what any good scavenger needs, along with Knowledge as whatever you find might need a bit of tinkering to get working. Knowledge of the local area is highly beneficial to scavengers.
Variations: Archaeologist, Tinkerer, Librarian.
Since civilization took a dirt nap a lot of folks have had to go back to basics. Most of them were just youngin’s (5 or 6) before the war and grew up without the benifit of education. Mankind is a hardy bunch and most savages make due with sharpened hubcaps and homemade spears.
How to: High physical stats like Strength and Vigor mean that you can hit like a truck and still take it. Taking hindrances like Illiterate and All Thumbs will give you the extra points for useful survival skills like Trackin and Survival.
Variations: Neo-Luddite, Souix Brave, Pit Fighter.
Good doctors are hard to come by, not every settlement has a trained medical professional and some have had to make due with scavenged supplies and medical text books.
How to: Knowledge is linked to Medicine, so your better doctors have a good Knowledge stat.
Variations: Nurse, Paramedic, Drug Dealer, Veterinarian.
Scrappers are living humans who’ve had a few cyborg parts installed. While they don’t have the AI’s in their head and their civilian grade cybertech generally doesn’t compare to the military stuff meant to be crammed into walking corpses.
How to: Buying cybernetics generally decreases Spirit so it’s good to have a buffer; a decent Vigor will help prevent rejection of the implant. And since cybernetics are expensive you’ll need a few points in Belongings.
Variations: Augmented Pit fighter, War Amutee, High Class Bodyguard.
Survialists are those folks who saw the whole big bang coming and went to all the trouble of learning the find arts of wilderness survival.
How to: Cognition is important for trackers and spotters, Smarts is good for survival, Nimbleness will keep you hidden, and Deftness will let you hit what you shoot at. You might also want a few points in belonin’s for a bunker full of canned food.
Variations: Ravenite, Hunter, Last Man on Earth.
Survivors are a catch all term for those who have managed to survive the Apocalypse. Most Survivors might have done or seen things they wish they hadn’t, but they are still alive which is more that you can say for 98% of people.
How to: Picture a skillset that someone would have before the war and go with it. Add a few skills they picked up along the way/
Variations: Accountant, Farmer, Hairdresser, Painter.
Fear has a very tangible effect on the world, shadows get longer, and days get darker when the people are afraid. Tale Tellers spread the stories of how people have triumphed over the supernatural, trying to spread hope.
How to: Mein and the Tale Tellin skill are your bread and butter, Performin’ won’t hurt none either.
Variations: Reporter, Spin Doctor, Entertainer.
Technicians have the skills which made civilization possible, mechanics, electronics, engineering. These are the skills which can turn a hamlet into a city.
How to: Smarts and Knowledge are both useful along with Professions, Trades and Sciences.
Variations: Scientist, Mechanic, Civil Engineer, Carpenter, Welder, Chemist.
Sometimes other people already have all the good stuff. Theives specialize in going unseen while subtly relieving others of valuables.
How to: Deftness is good for Filchin and Lockpickin, while Nibleness is good for stealth and climbing.
Variations: Acrobat, Ninja, Assassin, Pickpocket.
There’s more that guns to hurting people, and Thugs are good at hurting people. Big and broad they use hammers, blades, or even their own fists to deal damage.
How to: Nimbleness is good for melee weapons skills, and Deftness for throwing, Quickness will help you be fast and furious, and Strength lets you hit hard.
Variations: Pit Fighter, Soloman Grundy, Swordsman, Berserker.
Economics being what it is there will always be some advantage to trade, a hammer is useless if the person who needs it is across the country.
How to: Mein is good for bartering, as is Cognition for scrutiny. You’ll likely want the Dinero edge and a few points in belongins.
Variations: Arms Dealer, Pimp, Loan Shark, Store Owner.