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Planar Scholar

There are those who seek to understand the world. Then there are those who seek to understand all worlds. Every realm, every plane, exists within the confines of the multiverse, but also operates under its own rules (or lack thereof ). As a planar scholar, you diligently seek to understand the planes and what makes them work. As to how and why? That varies from scholar to scholar.

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation and your choice of either Religion or Arcana

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A work-in-progress chart of the planes, a journal detailing your observations from various planes, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp.

Feature: Student of the Planes

You have a basic, working knowledge of the multiverse and its general arrangement, and you are aware that there are multiple planes beyond the one in which you were born. The amount you know about them is not determined by this, but this gives you a solid, baseline level of awareness and general information about the planes so that you are not clueless as to how the multiverse works.

Additionally, you are aware of the existence of other planar scholars performing similar activities as you out in the multiverse, so when you encounter others who share your interest in understanding the planes, they will typically react somewhat favorably to you and might also be inclined to share their knowledge with you if you are willing to do the same for them. Planar scholarship is not the most common of pursuits, so those with such a thirst for knowledge may jump at the chance to learn from another like mind, perhaps giving you some leverage when dealing with such individuals.

Of course, not everyone (including you) may be willing to share such knowledge, which might also cause friction between such individuals.

Fleshing Things Out

Some questions to consider when determining how this background applies to your character: Which planes have you visited? Is your interest in the planes grounded more in religious interest or arcane curiosity? Why are you interested in studying the planes at all? What do you hope to achieve through such study? Are you part of a larger organization of scholars, or do you study independently?

You should also consider what caused you to take up the role of an adventurer. Presumably your studies into the nature of the planes caused you to stumble upon something which propelled you into the life of adventure, though it is entirely possible that you were an adventurer first, and your exciting lifestyle led you to discover your passion for planar scholarship.

d8 Personality Trait
1 The planes run on beliefs, and I will never compromise mine.
2 Happiness is an incomplete map and an unsolved mystery.
3 I would trade much for knowledge I don’t yet possess.
4 The more locks on a door, the more I want to open it.
5 Patience is one of my virtues.
6 Rigorous study is my idea of a good time.
7 I want to meet new people and creatures and learn their cultures.
8 I try to write down everything about my experiences, both for myself and for future generations.
d6 Ideal
1 Help. I want to learn all I can about existence so that I can help others. (Good)
2 Power. I want to learn all I can about existence so that I can gain the power to ruin it. (Evil)
3 Order. There is an order to the multiverse, and I intend to decipher it by learning the rules by which it operates. (Lawful)
4 Potential. There are infinite worlds and therefore infinite possibilities. (Chaotic)
5 People. The people who live throughout the planes are what truly interest me. (Any)
6 Knowledge. Through knowing the worlds around us, we can know ourselves. (Neutral)
d6 Bond
1 I lost someone close to me due to a freak portal’s opening, and I intend to find them, wherever they ended up.
2 My mother left me with a mysterious riddle on her deathbed, and I believe that understanding the nature of the planes will help me solve it.
3 A fortune-teller told me that I’m destined to die sooner than later, so I hope that understanding the planes will help me avoid a terrible fate.
4 My siblings are well known in their professions, so I chose this path in order to compete with them.
5 The person who gave me this scar wasn’t from this plane, and I want revenge.
6 I came here from some other plane when I was very young, and I want to learn about my origins.
d6 Flaw
1 I often get mixed up about how things work on whatever plane I’m currently on.
2 I take foolish risks in the pursuit of my studies.
3 I often use mind altering substances to gain insights into the nature of the planes.
4 I tend to forget that not everyone places the same value on my studies as I do.
5 Commerce and trade work differently on some planes, and I often get confused about it.
6 I’m terrible about remembering people’s names.

Variant: Planar Explorer

Not all those who travel the planes intend to study how they are arranged and what makes them work. In some cases, these travelers are less interested in academic, analytical pursuits with the planes, but are instead simply interested in exploring the planes due to wanderlust, curiosity, or other similar drives to physically discover. If you choose the Planar Explorer variant of the Planar Scholar background, this background gives you proficiency in the Survival skill instead of Investigation. The Student of the Planes feature remains, though your approach to it is likely less academic and more exploratory in a literal sense, your observations consisting more of experiences than coming from experimentation.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

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