UA:Character Background: Mercantile Background

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This material is published under the OGL 1.0a.

Mercantile Background

Characters with a mercantile background work in the organized business of making money, buying low and selling high. While this characterization describes most jobs in the modern world, in feudal and semifeudal societies the average person has much less connection to commerce. The typical peasant turns over his crops to the local feudal lord, keeping enough to feed his family, and other family members make most of the finished goods (clothes, furniture, and other necessities) they require themselves. Accordingly, characters with the mercantile background are much more common in cities and in societies where money is the most common medium of exchange (rather than communal hunter-gatherer living or a feudal relationship).

The only recognition available in this background category is among caravan guards and guild officials, both of whom earn promotions to higher ranks (as described for the military background, below). A caravan guard applies his base attack bonus as a modifier on recognition checks, while a guild official applies his ranks in Diplomacy.

Example Guild Ranks

The guilds in medieval European society usually had a simple set of ranks: apprentice, journeyman, and master. Attaining higher rank meant spending years on the job and passing some sort of examination, or in the case of the master, creating a "master piece" that peers judged worthy. In a system with only three ranks, the recognition DC for advancing from apprentice tojourneyman is 26, and DC for advancing from journeyman to master is 30.

If you want more frequent recognition (and thus more guild ranks), set the recognition DC at a constant value of 24 and split each rank into three smaller ranks. Characters begin as apprentices in the third degree, then ascend to second-degree apprentices and first-degree apprentices. Then they become journeymen in the third degree.

Because the game is set in a fantasy world, you may wish to develop more fanciful titles for the guilds you create, especiallt those that are part of nonhuman or otherwise exotic cultures.

Mercantile Background Activities
d% Activity Class Feats Skills Gear Contacts Rep Recognition
01-14 Caravan Guard Fighter Alertness, Point Blank Shot Ride, Spot, Listen Armor Information +0 Rank, DC 24
15-27 Broker Rogue or bard Investigator, Persuasive Gather Information, Sense Motive, Diplomacy, Knowledge (local) Wondrous item that helps carry loads Information +1/2 -
28-40 Negotiator Rogue or bard Negotiator, Skill Focus (diplomacy) Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Bluff, Intimidate, Knowledge (local) Wondrous item that aids interaction Influence +1/2 -
41-53 Buyer Rogue or bard Diligent, Skill Focus (appraise) Appraise, Bluff, Sense Motive, Craft (any), Diplomacy Wondrous item with divination aura Influence +0 -
54-69 Traveling merchant Rogue or sorcerer Dodge, Mobility Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Appraise, Bluff, Sleight of Hand Wondrous item with illusion aura Information +1/2 -
70-83 Magic-shop owner Wizard Brew Potion, Craft Magic Arms and Armor Spellcraft, Knowledge (arcana), Craft(any) Staff or wand Skill +1/2 -
84-100 Guild official Rogue or cleric Leadership, Persuasive Craft (any), Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Bluff, Knowledge (local) Item that gives morale effect Influence +1 Rank; see text

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