Characters may or may not have led active, interesting lives and gained knowledge/skills prior to the first day of the campaign. Depending upon the ruling of the referee, there are three basic options for expressing this in terms of the game.
- No background at all, the character is a blank slate; her past is something that shall be determined in play.
- The player has strong idea, which can be related in a minimal number of sentences (50 words is a good limit).
- Roll on the table below 1d3 times. Identical results may be rerolled, or may be taken to indicate a high level of proficiency in the implied skills related to the background.
1. Forager: Foragers live outside the cities. Players with this background must pick a specific environment with which they are familiar (e.g. swamp, desert, woodland): within this environment the forager knows how to acquire untainted food and water. Any character that survives a significant amount of time the wilderness of the Metal Earth will pick up this background.
2. Scholar: At the very least someone with this background is functionally literate. The character may also have knowledge of a certain subject area.
3. Criminal: Criminals come in different varieties. At the very least, a character with this background should have black market/underworld connections in their home town. It is also possible that they are experienced in breaking and entering, extortion or some other traditionally criminal activity.
4. Outlander: This is character from another time or world. This background is available only to humans.
5. Looter: Looters have experience gaining access to and dealing with the hazards of ruins.
6. Farmer: Metal Earth farmers are adept in working with and repairing the machines of a green shaft.
7. Artists: Artists are capable practitioners of an art form (e.g., poetry, painting, sculpture) or one of the performing arts (e.g., stripping, playing a musical instrument, acting, prostitution).
8. Sailor: Sailors know about boats and junk(s).
9. Artisan: Artisans have a manufacturing skill that requires the use of their hands; this could be anything from making jewelry to blacksmithing to house painting.
10. Guard: Guards are trained in standard military procedure. Guards know how to march in formation; keep things polished; open and close gates; defend against a siege, and sometimes enforce the law.
Note: Certain species have automatic access to some backgrounds (e.g. all Sasquatch can be foragers) and may select these background in place of one random roll each). A suitable background should confer a bonus on task resolution saving throws (see here for more detail). The exact nature of each background listed below is described in terms of the Metal Earth setting. In some cases, they may well be different than what would be found in other settings. In all cases the exact impact a specific background has in mechanical terms is up to the referee.