At a young age, you were sold into slavery and have spent your life since then in service to one or another master. Perhaps you were a farm worker, a house servant, or you were chained to the oars of a war galley. You may even have entertained rich lords as a gladiator in the arena.

You may have been lucky enough to rise to the position of cupbearer, or been in charge of other slaves, but, whatever your past, it was always concerned with pleasing your master and avoiding the lash.

When you choose this background, work with your GM to determine how you escaped or gained your freedom. Perhaps you murdered your master, or lead a slave revolt, or your master granted you your freedom after some service you did for him. Are you hunted now by your master’s house guards, or have you raised the ire of duergar slavers by escaping along with the rest of their wealth? In an underwater campaign, you might have been held by sahuagin or have escaped from a ship that sank during a sea battle.

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: vehicle (land or water)

Equipment: A slave’s mark (a tattoo or brand on the arm or face or a collar of leather, bronze, or iron), a crude dagger or club, a set of poor clothes


Your masters might have been cruel, indifferent, or kind, but they would have set you to one task above all others. Consider which role you served for your master. You can roll on the following table to determine the sort of slave you were, or choose one that best fits your character.

d10 Slave Origin
1 Galley oarsman
2 Gladiator
3 Farm slave
4 House servant
5 Cupbearer
6 Messenger
7 Forman
8 Temple slave
9 Palanquin bearer
10 Slave soldier

Feature: Silent and Unseen

Your survival often depended on you going unnoticed. In a crowded urban environment where your race is not uncommon, you can pass unnoticed as long as you speak to no-one, carry no visible weapons, and don’t interact with any creatures or objects. In addition, you can eat spoiled food without becoming sick.

Suggested Characteristics

Slaves who serve well and don’t cause trouble can live comfortable lives, unless their masters are tyrannical and violent, in which case such slaves eke out a miserable existence until they escape, turn against their oppressive masters, or die due to exhaustion or a fierce scourging. Most slaves who become adventurers cling tenaciously to life and rise up to champion the cause of other slaves.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I’m always smiling, even when in pain.
2 I count when I get nervous.
3 I’m the quiet, silent one.
4 I can cheer anyone up with a few words of encouragement.
5 I struggle to sit still, and I’m only happy when I’m doing hard labor.
6 I enjoy telling others what to do.
7 I enjoy every bit of my freedom, living life to the full.
8 I quickly get angry at injustice.
d6 Ideal
1 Revenge. Those who enslaved me will taste my own brand of justice. (Chaotic)
2 Freedom. All beings should be free, and I will fight to preserve that right for myself and others. (Good)
3 Service. Each of us must do our part. Whether free or slave, we must serve a greater purpose than ourselves. (Lawful)
4 Destruction. I will destroy any oppressor, no matter their purpose. (Evil)
5 Life. I am free to live as I see fit. (Neutral)
6 Destiny. I am free to fulfill whatever destiny I choose. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I owe my life to my old slave master.
2 I am indebted to the one who freed me.
3 I will go to any lengths for revenge.
4 I will go to the ends of the earth to free others from slavery.
5 I fell in love with another slave who I will do anything to rescue.
6 I’ll tell any lie to hide my past.
d6 Flaw
1 I am unnecessarily violent.
2 I have an unnatural fear of chains and cages.
3 Nobody can break the hard shell I’ve raised up around my past.
4 I’m prone to lash out at shows of authority.
5 I get extremely nervous in busy cities.
6 I fear wide open spaces.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Grimdark Pamphlet. Copyright 2020, Rising Phoenix Games; Author: Rodney Sloan. Copyright 2020, Rising Phoenix Games; Author: Rodney Sloan

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