Military Pilot (5e Background)

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Military Pilot[edit]

You flew, or you've been flying, for some Air Force for years. This means you were actively enlisted in a nation's military. Whether you're active personnel or an honored--or disgraced--veteran, your time in your Air Force has greatly shaped who you are, and your outlook on and approach to life.

Discuss the nature of your flight with your DM, as it will likely rely heavily on your campaign's setting. Did you fly on the front lines of combat, shooting down enemy planes to keep them from invading your homeland? Were you a spy pilot, using your abilities to gain intelligence on an enemy for the better of your home country? Or were you a test pilot, putting yourself into the hands of fate flying experimental aircraft which could fall apart at any moment? Did you enlist by choice, or were you drafted or enslaved and forced into the front lines? Are you still flying, and if not, why? All of these are important details to figure out when constructing your pilot.

(Note: This background is designed for a somewhat modern campaign. Be sure to ask your DM if it's appropriate for your campaign's setting.)

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Navigator's tools, Vehicles (air)

Equipment: Common clothes, 1 helmet, 1 trinket

Feature: Travel by Air[edit]

Being a certified pilot is a rare ability, no matter where your campaign takes place. The ability to operate aircraft can get you and your party from A to B, but it's not a favor anyone will grant you without a price, not even your own Air Force. Be prepared to do whatever duties the owner of the plane requests of you as payment, or at least pay a hefty gold piece sum! Not to mention, you can't just take a plane anywhere you want; most will require specific areas to land, likely another airport, and you might have to fly along preplanned flight paths to get where you need to go. Your DM will decide how long it takes you to fly there, and how close you can land with the aircraft, but it'll still be a lot faster than driving, even if it's a little inconvenient.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

Pilots are a daring, cunning lot, even if sometimes they can be a little on the reckless side. The life of a military makes them relilable and hardworking, though some of them might be moved by a yearning for glory in combat.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I work hard so I can play hard when the work is done.
2 Despite my boisterous attitude, I'm polite and respectful when I need to be.
3 Life is hard, and it's harder if you take it seriously! My gallows humor helps me through hard times.
4 I take charge of my life before life shoots me first.
5 I always have a backup plan or five, in case everything goes to hell.
6 I am always calm in the line of battle; it's the worst time to let my emotions control me.
7 I'm driven by a wanderlust that's led me far away from my home.
8 I try to be a dependable team player, because when your life is on the line, you want a team you can trust.
d6 Ideal
1 Freedom. The sky is freedom to go anywhere and do anything. (Chaotic)
2 Aspiration. Someday I'll retire with an impressive array of awards and medals to my name. (Any)
3 Mastery. Every enemy I shoot down is an enemy that won't be shooting at me. (Evil)
4 Respect. What keeps a team running is mutual trust between all members, high-ranked or not. (Good)
5 People. I'm committed to my Air Force, not to ideals. (Neutral)
6 Patriotism. I'm here to protect my countrymen, no matter who they be. (Any)
d8 Bond
1 I've had a few lovers in the past, but my one true love is the greatest maiden of them all: the sky.
2 Over any person or thing, my duty is to my country, the greatest country in the land, which I love with all my heart.
3 I have a loving family back at home, who I would love to return to and care for one day.
4 My plane is my pride; without her, I'd be nothing.
5 I met a handsome young pilot while we were both newly-trained rookies, and I hope to find them one day to confess my love.
6 I'm loyal to my squadron, no matter what happens between us.
7 My hometown was destroyed in a raid years ago, and I'll do anything I can to help them rebuild.
8 Me and my copilot are a perfect pair; we fly as one unit, predicting each others' moves as if they're our own, making us unstoppable in battle, and inseparable everywhere else, too.
d8 Flaw
1 I follow all my orders, even if I think they're wrong.
2 Once someone questions my courage, I can't back down, no matter how dangerous the situation.
3 I swear I'd do anything for a damn cigarette sometimes.
4 My pride will probably lead to my destruction.
5 It's not reckless if I don't die afterwards, right?
6 I really can't resist a pretty face.
7 My nation is the greatest, and I'll loudly proclaim and defend it, even if it gets me in trouble.
8 I once made a mistake in battle that cost one of my squadron member's lives, and I'd do anything to keep that mistake a secret.


Variant Military Pilot: Spy[edit]

As a spy pilot, you fly as an enemy to the nation you start in. Most likely, you crash landed and are trying to find your way home, gaining whatever intelligence on your current nation as you can.

Think about why you're spying, and discuss it with your DM to be sure it's got a valid root in your setting. Does your home country routinely do intelligence operations, even in times of peace? Is your nation at war with the nation you're starting in? Is a war on the horizon, whether they're at war or not?

Variant Feature: Enemy of the State[edit]

Your character is an operative for a hostile foreign power. Be careful to keep this information a closely-guarded secret. If they discover who you are, the current powers that be in the nation you start in will punish you for gathering sensitive information for your own Air Force, though the severity of this punishment will vary depending on who they are; you'll have to clarify that with your DM. This will in some ways make it difficult to go about life in this nation and their allies, but it makes it easier to bargain for favors with your home Air Force. They have an incentive to give you some supplies you might need; but you'll have to use them to gather foreign national secrets as well.

Variant Military Pilot: Veteran[edit]

You may no longer be actively enlisted in your Air Force, but you were honorably discharged after a successful career with a multitude of medals and awards to your name. You're recognized for your service by the people of your country and sometimes even your allies. How famous, if at all, you are for your accomplishments, you'll have to discuss with your DM. Remember to consider why you were discharged; were you declared surplus at the end of a war? Or did you have a career-ending injury? Did you just age out of the program? And what's motivating you to keep adventuring? It's no fun to be in a party with someone who just wants to stay at home all day.

If you choose to play as a veteran, you'll have a skill proficiency in Persuasion (or Intimidation) instead of Athletics.

Variant Feature: Veteran's Honors[edit]

You may use the recognition for your time in battle to gain favors from your Air Force or patriotic civilians at home (or abroad in the lands of your allies). You may have to show off a few medals to gain the respect of common people--you aren't a celebrity, after all--but their respect is still prevalent. Be careful, though; not everyone might agree with the actions of the Air Force (or your own actions at war, for that matter.) The more well known and famous you are, the more favors you can call upon, but the more people you'll encounter who despise you for what you've done on the front lines.


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