5e SRD >Backgrounds >P.B. Publishing >

Demagogue

There are many types of leaders, and they each have their own style. In your particular case, however, you maintain your leadership by appealing to popular desires or prejudices rather than using rational arguments and logic. You are a demagogue, and you use the emotions and beliefs of the common folk to elevate yourself to positions of power.

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a mostly blank journal, a quill and ink, a small token or accessory by which people might recognize you, and a pouch containing 10 gp.

Feature: Cult of Personality

When you address a crowd and speak to them about a topic which concerns them substantially, you have a knack for calling upon their deep-seated passions, fears, and desires.

Even if you aren’t particularly charismatic, you seem to somehow know just what to say and do in order to get the common people to at least listen to what you have to say.

And once you get going, you deliver your messages with such conviction that any commoner who isn’t your enemy will tend to at least seriously consider your words upon hearing them.

While your efforts to persuade, intimidate, or inspire others still require the requisite languages and ability checks to succeed at their intended goals, you seldom have any issue attracting a decent-sized audience from the general population when you wish to address them publicly. Your public addresses to the common folk attract up to twice as many listeners as one would normally expect to gather for such a spectacle (up to the maximum amount of people available for such an audience and at the GM’s discretion).

Additionally, members of the right audiences pay more attention to and consider your messages more seriously than normal. When giving your speeches or public addresses to an audience of commoners, the GM is encouraged to treat an indifferent crowd as friendly for the purposes of determining their reactions and willingness to act in the ways which you desire. A hostile audience of commoners, however, is not affected by this feature unless you can first successfully shift their general attitude to one of indifference, at which point you may then treat them as friendly instead.

Fleshing Things Out

Some questions to consider when determining how this background applies to your character: Who is it that you lead? Or are you an aspiring leader without a dedicated following yet? What emotions and beliefs do you play on? Is there a particular enemy or villain you rail against? How do you really feel about the things you speak out about? What is your motivation to lead your constituents? Are your motivations benign or sinister? Do you just like to stir up trouble, or do you seek to keep to tradition? Or do you care either way in either case?

Regardless of the particulars, these statements should generally describe your style: you claim to represent the commoners, you incite intense emotions among them, you exploit those emotions to gain influence and power, and you claim that you will behave differently than your predecessors.

You should also consider what caused you to take up the role of an adventurer. Did you fall into the life of adventure because your work as a demagogue thrust you into it? Did leading your followers demand that you set out on a quest?

Or did you become a demagogue because your adventuring put you on the path of leadership? Perhaps your daring exploits give you just the fuel you need for your propaganda machine.

d8 Personality Trait
1 A healthy dose of fear can be a great motivator.
2 Truth is so subjective.
3 I want everyone to know how impressive I am.
4 People make their own luck.
5 I take great pleasure in being front and center with a crowd.
6 I’m not the worrying type.
7 I care very much about being punctual.
8 If one person can do it, surely I can, too.
d6 Ideal
1 Commonality. Nothing unites people like a common enemy. (Any)
2 Misdirection. The safe way to be a bad guy is to first make sure the public thinks someone else is the villain. (Evil)
3 Justification. My leadership is for people’s own good. (Good)
4 Practicality. Go with what works. Truth is a luxury. (Neutral)
5 Agitation. Sometimes people just need to be stirred up. (Chaotic)
6 Tradition. Problems start when people try to change the status quo. (Lawful)
d6 Bond
1 I have to fight bitterly against my rival as I contend for power.
2 I am an established leader and have quite the following.
3 Someday, they will all wish they had listened to me.
4 Some say my right to rule is divinely granted.
5 I want all of my followers to be capable.
6 The adoration of my followers is paramount to me.
d6 Flaw
1 I seek to fill every uncomfortable silence with words.
2 I will not tolerate my authority being questioned.
3 I secretly feel extremely inadequate.
4 I do not like to be touched.
5 If I want something, I won’t be able to think about anything else for more than a few minutes at a time.
6 I have a hard time paying attention when other people talk.