Hellborn (5e Background)

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Contract Devil (by Michael Jaecks at deviantArt))

You were spawned in the pits of the Nine Hells. You might be a devil, or a lost soul made flesh.

During your time in Hell, to what extent were you tormented? Do you have any memory of your time there? How did you find you way to the material realm? Perhaps you escaped, or sent on a mission by a greater devil, or summoned by external forces? Are the jailors of hell in pursuit of you, checking your progress, or merely waiting your return?

Prerequisite: You must be a devil or other race native to the Nine Hells.

Skill Proficiencies: Religion, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: Infernal

Equipment: An infernal contract describing your duties and punishments, common clothes, a set of bone dice or playing cards, 5 gp


You are not from the material realm, so how did you cross the planes? You can work this out with your DM or roll on the table below.

d8 Outsider
1 I was released from imprisonment to be hunted by devils for sport.
2 I was summoned from Hell by a wizard. The ritual went wrong so now I am free!
3 I have been tasked by a greater devil to locate an important artifact or person.
4 I was part of a great battle against hordes of demons that spilled over to the material realm.
5 I could always come and go as I pleased, but for some reason I now cannot return.
6 I was rescued from my torment by a reincarnate spell, although I was not the intended target.
7 I found a loophole in my infernal contract, and was ejected from the outer planes.
8 I was part of a prisoner exchange between a greater devil and a mysterious being.

Feature: Mark of Hell

You have an infernal taint that makes your origin obvious to anyone proficient in Religion. Choose one of the following features based on your particular genesis.

Claim to Sanctuary

Buried in the smallprint of every infernal contract is a clause that allows any fugitive from Hell to claim refuge at certain sacred sites. While claiming sanctuary, no devil or agent acting on a devil's behalf may attack, touch, bind or otherwise harm the claimant until the claimant leaves the sacred site. There are particular requirements: the sacred site must be devoted to a lawful good or lawful neutral deity; it must have some means for the claimant to signal their desire for protection (ring a certain bell, sit on a certain chair or hold a certain door knocker); the claimant must surrender their weapons; and they must publicly announce their sins. The fugitive cannot claim sanctuary at one particular holy site for longer than 4 days.

Cult Favour

Present in any civilized land are secret (or not so secret) cults devoted to usurping governments, accruing power or seeking forbidden knowledge: some groups achieve this through worshiping or making pacts with powerful entities like devils. A creature with the Mark of Hell is a desirable find for such a cult. A cult learning of your existence will send agents to strike a bargain with you. They can offer esoteric knowledge; access to hidden clubs, guilds and conspiracies; and secret places to rest. In return, they expect you to partake in infernal rituals of powerlust and sacrifice. Reneging on this deal can make an enemy of that damned sect; on the other hand cults are often in competition with one another.

Suggested Characteristics

The terrestrial world is a far cry from the fires, cacophonies and tyranny of the Hells. Hellborn will not be accustomed to civilized lands, or the relative peace. This may be a relief, or a source of distress.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I like to play with fire.
2 I nervously look over my shoulder, fearing the next torment.
3 I will outlive these mere mortals around me.
4 I obsess over contracts and agreements, and take pleasure in smallprint and signatures.
5 I warn people where their evil and immoral behaviour will take their soul in the afterlife.
6 I am struck by the beauty of this world. I revel in areas of gentle nature.
7 I am fascinated with chains, locks and other restraints.
8 Friendship is new and strange to me.
d6 Ideal
1 Order. Everyone has their place. Those higher in the hierarchy must be obeyed. Contracts must be honoured. Lawbreakers must be brought to justice. (Lawful)
2 Pain. It's important that others feel pain, loss and despair. How else can they reflect on their sins? (Evil)
3 Freedom. I know the horror of indefinite imprisonment, and would not wish that upon anyone. Every living thing must be freed! (Chaotic)
4 Redemption. There are people whose souls are in peril. No matter how vile, everyone deserves a chance to find goodness in themselves, and be saved from the afterlife I experienced. (Good)
5 Zealotry. My natural enemy – demons and their worshipers – must be hunted and eradicated. All tasks must lead towards this goal. (Any)
6 Aspiration. My lesser position in Hell fustrated me. I want more power, enough to challenge the greater devils! (Any)

d6 Bond
1 Those I wronged in my former life are still in pain from my sins.
2 I had a rival in Hell who followed me when I crossed over.
3 I keep what's left of my soul in a phylactery. I must find my other soul-shards to become whole again.
4 I still hear the voice of my devil master: he commands me, and abuses me when I fail him.
5 Devils and their agents are hunting me.
6 A goodly priest gave me sanctuary; I owe them much.
d6 Flaw
1 I cannot refuse a game or a gamble.
2 I am particularly fearful of death, as I know to where I would return. As a result I can be cowardly or paranoid.
3 I do not understand love, and underestimate those that are driven by it.
4 No-one must ever know that I stole from an influential devil.
5 I never give my word or oath, nor sign a contract; I know the power these bindings have.
6 I am hedonistic; I revel before my inevitable return to torment.

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