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Your most formative experiences have come about because you are afflicted with a chronic disease which you have not been able to cure. The exact nature of your affliction may vary from others who share this background, but your experiences with your disease and perhaps your efforts to find a cure have taught you certain skills and given you certain experiences.

Mechanically, one should assume that the disease does not affect or penalize a character’s statistics, but one might choose to roleplay that some of their existing ability scores and traits are at least partially the result of the disease. For instance, a player who makes a character with a low strength score and this background might choose to roleplay their character in such a way that their disease is responsible for their low strength score, though the disease does not actually penalize the character’s strength score. The manifestation of this disease is purely for narrative and roleplaying purposes.

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Medicine

Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism Kit

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A journal full of notes involving your affliction and cures you have attempted, a book or a collection of notes on conditions similar to yours, an herbalism kit, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 5 gp.

Feature: Untouchable

Your affliction may or may not be an obvious one to others, but once they become aware of it, most people want nothing to do with you for fear of the consequences which might befall them due to their proximity to you. While this can certainly complicate matters social and otherwise in some cases, it can also sometimes work to the Afflicted’s benefit.

There are many instances in which the wide berth people might give you might actually allow you to get away with things others may not. For instance, people may turn a blind eye to minor offenses or insults, petty crimes, or other social faux pas because they are unwilling to confront someone with your particular affliction face to face. In this way, while you are used to persecution when people learn of your curse, it can also provide a form of armor as few are willing to risk their own safety to challenge you for what they might consider minor slights.

Fleshing Things Out

Some questions to consider when determining how this background applies to your character: How does your disease manifest? What are its symptoms? How long have you had it and how did you contract it? How does it affect your interactions with others? To what lengths are you willing go when searching for the cure? How do you prefer to investigate for possible cures?

You should also consider what caused you to take up the role of an adventurer. Did you contract your disease while adventuring? Or is your quest for a cure what drove you to take up the life of an adventurer in the first place?

d8 Personality Trait
1 I know life is short, so I try to live it to its fullest.
2 I go to great lengths to conceal my condition.
3 I rely heavily on gallows humor.
4 I act in public like there’s nothing wrong with me.
5 I firmly believe that no one is worse off than me.
6 I don’t like to talk to strangers, for fear of them judging me.
7 I am more concerned with my own pursuits than other people’s.
8 Spend money while you’re alive and healthy; you might not have the chance otherwise.
d6 Ideal
1 Dedication. Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I can’t help others. (Good)
2 Exploitation. Pity and fear are tools I can wield to my advantage at the expense of others. (Evil)
3 Cure. My primary concern above all others is finding a cure. (Neutral)
4 Rubric. Systematic research and testing will restore me. (Lawful)
5 Variety. The best way to find my cure is to try everything. (Chaotic)
6 Health. I just want to be healthy again. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 My affliction is divine punishment for something horrible I did.
2 I’m afraid if I die before I cure this, I will return as the undead.
3 I must cure myself before I return to my loved one(s).
4 I was exiled from my people because of my disease. Someday I intend to return.
5 I am trying to raise money to fund a serious attempt at curing my disease.
6 Anyone willing to stand by my side through this trial is a true friend and worthy of my loyalty.
d6 Flaw
1 When discussing my disease, I go into way too much detail.
2 I will try anything, even something potentially harmful, if I think it might cure me.
3 I am reckless to a fault.
4 I shamelessly try to use my condition to get attention, pity, and special treatment.
5 I am afraid of other diseases and germs; I think I might be especially susceptible to them.
6 I refuse to take food or drink from others for fear of what might be in it.

Variant Afflicted: Cursed

Rather than a physical disease, your affliction takes the form of a mystical curse which cannot be removed by conventional means. If you choose the Cursed variant of the Afflicted background, this background gives you proficiency in either the Religion or Arcana skill (choose one) instead of Medicine.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Big Book of Backgrounds Copyright 2019, P.B. Publishing, Phil Beckwith, and Cody Faulk.