Battlestorm Online — In Real Life (IRL) Backgrounds

This section describes thirteen new backgrounds for the Battlestorm Online Dungeons and Dragons game. Unlike typical backgrounds, these player creation tools will allow characters playing in Battlestorm Online to leverage their in real life (IRL) character skills mechanically in game. This adds another layer to the player experience — as PCs in Battlestorm are playing an IRL person who is running an avatar in an online death game. The avatar represents most of the character’s statistics and the IRL persona is primarily a role-play vehicle. For example, I a played Morgen Schnee in DungeonMasterGraham‘s Battlestorm Valhalla game through level 5. Morgen is a college student IRL whose parents are stuffy IT executives. She’s picked up cred and publicity as a gamer who uses her IRL name in fantasy games. She’s an avid MMO player known to help newbies and face down malicious PKers. Her avatar in Battlestorm Online is an Aasimar Paladin which includes most of her character’s statistics. Her IRL background, however, is Celebrity Gamer. Morgen has now transitioned into an NPC in a third Battlestorm game I’m running.

Written and cooperatively created by myself and Ted Burgess, this campaign includes our own, unofficial and unaffiliated, OGL-created D&D 5e content (published on Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop and available in the Gaming Studio) which is free for use in your D&D games. Ted and I are using this content to run our own campaigns — which we will be playing live on Twitch here and here. You may use this content for your own games as it is freely available on this site. If you decide to livestream your own Battlestorm Online game, please feel free. However, please also throw us a little mention now and then.


You are a well known gamer in real life. Perhaps your live-stream is crazy-popular. Perhaps gamer media has picked you up as a story focus for their articles. For whatever reason, the gaming community generally knows you. For better or for worse, you have a reputation among gamers. Your playstyle, avatars, and in-game actions are thus recognizable and it is likely that other avid gamers have heard of you. As a result, you tend to attract attention — becoming a focus for all variety of social attention ranging from celebration to trolling to everything in between.

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and Directory Search

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Iconic gaming skin — your avatar’s clothes, physical features and movements have their own special personality and character mojo which is unique to your playstyle. This includes one set of uniquely styled fine clothes, one bauble (see Gameworld Baubles below), and one flashy mannerism.

Flashy Mannerisms

Roll for or choose one of the flashy mannerisms below.

D8 Flashy Mannerism

  1. Your eyes swirl with colors when you use divination magic or make a perception, insight, investigation, arcana, or religion skill check.
  2. You have a special hand gesture that when you make it causes a chime, jingle, music or other background sound that you design to go off for 6 seconds.
  3. When you dash or jump your steps leave glowing footprints that slowly fade over the course of 6 seconds.
  4. When you draw your signature weapon, lights spark around it, your hair and clothes flow and billow, or a roll of thunder sounds.
  5. A characterized, smiley-faced version of your avatar, your familiar, your special mount, or your animal companion appears over your head and dances around in a circle when you are joyful.
  6. A halo forms over your head when you cast a spell using divine magic, use the paladin divine smite ability, or activate your channel divinity.
  7. Glowing spectral horns sprout from your head and your eyes glow pink, orange, or red when you cast a spell using arcane magic, or use eldritch smite. If you are a tiefling, your horns gleam with runes instead.
  8. You have a signature smile that you only use for those special situations. This can include anything from a sparkle over your teeth when you grin to a wicked and mysterious Cheshire cat type smile.

Gameworld Baubles

Gameworld Baubles are special common magic items accessible to Gamer Celebrities as a signature to their celebrity persona. Choose or roll for one Gameworld Bauble from the list below.

D8 Gameworld Bauble

  1. Lucent Orb. This orb attaches to one spell focus or weapon causing it to emit dim moonlight in a 10 foot radius. While emitting this light, the weapon is considered to be silvered and if the Lucent Orb is attached to a spell focus it is considered to be an improvised silvered weapon. You can extinguish this light by sheathing the weapon or spell focus.
  2. Lipstick of Secrets. For one round after you spend a bonus action to apply this glittering lipstick only your party members can understand the words you speak. Alternatively, you can use the Lipstick to write a message that only your party members can read. The message must be 20 words or less and it must be written on a solid surface. The message disappears after 24 hours. You may use this lipstick three times. At which point you must take a long rest to allow the lipstick to magically reform.
  3. Butterfly Cloak. When you jump down or fall from a height, your falling distance is reduced by 10 additional feet. When you jump down or fall while wearing the Butterfly Cloak, you also drift 5 feet in a random direction.
  4. Cat’s Third Eye. This green eye floats above your head. You can use your action to command it to move up to five feet away from you. When you do this the eye becomes invisible and you see from its perspective. The eye cannot pass through walls but it can squeeze through gaps the size of a keyhole or larger. The eye automatically closes and returns to its position above your head after six seconds.
  5. Brooch of Nightshade. When you wear this brooch you are considered to be standing in night’s darkness, even while in direct sunlight. The Brooch of Nightshade also reduces daylight to bright light, bright light to dim light, and dim light to nonmagical darkness. This lighting reduction only affects your form, not your square. So you are not obscured while standing in darkness generated by the Brooch of Nightshade. You may use your action to flip the Brooch to stop this effect. Restarting the effect requires you to use your action to flip the Brooch again.
  6. Safety Blanket. This blue cloak with silver trim is clasped by a platinum brooch formed in the shape of a protection rune. You may use your action to unclasp this cloak and to throw it over the body of one of your party members who is at zero hit points. When you do this, your ally automatically stabilizes and cannot be damaged unless a creature uses its action to remove the Safety Blanket. If the party member beneath the blanket has her hit point total increase above zero and regains consciousness, the effect ends. The Safety Blanket can only be used once per long rest.
  7. Floating Fire. This necklace bears a ruby carved in the shape of a flame. As an action, you may remove the ruby and cast it into the air. When you do this, the ruby turns into a flame roughly the size of a torch fire and floats over your right shoulder — following you when you move. The flame provides torchlight. You may use your action to direct this fire to light flammable substances, boil water, or heat objects within 5 feet. You may also make attacks with the floating fire as part of your attack action against creatures within 5 feet. The floating fire does normal fire damage equal to that of a torch. After 1 hour, the floating fire returns — reforming as a ruby on your necklace — at which point you must take a long rest before you can activate your floating fire again.
  8. Never-ending Sandwich. This sandwich is wrapped up in a green handkerchief with golden trim. When you unfold the handkerchief, it reveals a large, delicious sandwich. When you or one of your party members eat the sandwich you or the party member gain the benefits of a short rest. If you or a party member spends hit dice as part of this short rest, they may reroll any 1s on the dice. All that remains after consuming the sandwich is an empty handkerchief. After your next long rest, the Never-ending Sandwich reforms, again filling up the handkerchief.

Gaming Stream

Whether through your own live stream (that you manage remotely or that someone manages for you) or through gamer media, your actions in game are visible through a live stream. As a result, your gaming actions are public and generally known. This can either aid or hurt you in social situations, depending on circumstance. However, since you have a fan base, you can often ask for reasonable favors among fans when appropriate. This also means you have a cadre of flamers and haters who’ve glommed onto you as an object of criticism and ridicule.


For you, life is all about the gaming. RPGs, online MMOs, first person shooters and a plethora of others captured your interest at a young age — igniting into a passion that carries on into adulthood. Sure, you probably keep a job to help fund your gaming habit — unless you’re lucky enough to have a wealthy relative willing to support you. But regardless of what you do outside, life’s not about that for you. It’s the gaming that defines you. In-game, what you most enjoy is the element of working effectively with others. Team-building, comradery, developing effective plans, supporting your buds, and making the magic happen, together, is what really gets your blood pumping. In-game, this drive for forming cooperative bonds makes you a natural facilitator. Fellow players often seek you out for the good vibes and team-building you provide.

Skill Proficiencies: Two of your choice.

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and Directory Search

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Pouch with 20 gold, common clothes, one kit or set of tools of your choice.

Build the Team

Your long practice in working as a member of an effective team have afforded you with a number of options for helping your buddies out of sticky situations. Once per long rest, you can create one of the following effects for your team members as a reaction:

  1. Allow an ally to reroll one failed Death Save.
  2. Give an ally advantage on one skill check.
  3. Allow an ally to jump 5 additional feet so long as you are within 5 feet of that ally.
  4. Distract one enemy — causing it to roll with disadvantage on one Perception check to detect an ally or one Athletics check to grapple or shove an ally.
  5. Reduce the movement needed for an ally to dismount or mount to 0 so long as you are within 5 feet of that ally.
  6. Grant one ally within 5 feet of you advantage on the attack roll for one readied action.

Lighten the Mood

Your infectious humor, light-hearted quips and joyful antics are always helpful. But sometimes, when the chips are down, you can use your positive influence to lift your allies spirits at a critical time. Once per day, as a bonus action, you may grant your allies advantage on one saving throw to remove an ongoing fear, dominate, enchantment, confusion, enthrall, curse, or bane effect. The number of allies who can benefit from this effect is equal to your proficiency bonus. These allies must be able to see and hear you in order to gain this benefit.


Unlike many in a capitalistic society, the notion of running in the rat race to the top never really held much fascination for you. Sure, you competed in school and at games just like everyone else. But winning never seemed like the end-all-be-all. You were more concerned with making a difference to your nation and the world. Perhaps you were one of those Trekkie types who believed in social ideals more typical to the United Federation of Planets than most Earthly systems. Perhaps the heroic companionship in common cause for a greater good described in tales like The Fellowship of the Ring was your true north. Whatever the case, you were one of the lucky few who escaped from the cut-throat competition of business-based social economics and earned a post in the federal workforce. A place where your labor could really make a difference. IRL, you’re now an employee of a government agency that works to improve the lives of national and/or global citizens. Your dedication and ethic have allowed you to develop a deep expertise in your chosen field — no matter how broad. How you ended up trapped in a death game is an unlikely tale that only you can tell. But being brought here, you realize your perspective is a much-needed one for your poor fellow souls trapped in a vile and violent struggle against computer-generated monsters and perishing by the score.

Skills: Insight and one of the following — Arcana, History, Nature, Medicine

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search

Languages: Two in-game languages of your choice

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, 10 rations, a pouch with 10 gold

Political Acumen

You are one of the few people able to connect with and understand the actual NPC power structure of BSO. By observing NPCs such as Home Town Rulers, Quest Givers, and the like, you are able to glean special insights into the underlying operation of these game AIs. You thus have advantage on Insight and Investigation checks relating to AI NPCs in a position of power. In addition, once per tier, you may request one boon of a Home Town Ruler. You work with your Game Master to determine the nature of the boon. If your request is reasonable and you and your party succeed in any related skill checks, you may gain powerful assistance from a Home Town, its Ruler, and its associated network of NPC civil servants.

Prophetic Foresight

You have a larger understanding of how systems evolve and change. This understanding can be used to glean special insights into the nature of your BSO story arc. Once per tier you can roll an insight check against a DC of 15+ your tier. If you succeed, you can ask the GM one question about the nature of the developing story. The GM need not provide you with a full answer to your question, but they should provide you with new insights, possible paths for finding answers to your question, or hints about which quests may prove most fruitful in revealing the mysteries you are attempting to uncover.


In reality, you’re a highly trained medical professional with a background in life sciences and related chemistry and biology. Your technical expertise in science generally and in the area of medicine is considerable and could include new emerging illnesses, emergency hospital care, or a home practice. Regardless, you have special scientific and medical knowledge that provides you with a variety of benefits in-game. Your manner and call to care for others also grants you a unique gravitas and ability to steady those around you. To build their confidence to face the worst rigors of the dangerous in-game environment. How you use this scientific knowledge and reputable presence is up to you. Regardless, you have a special relationship with and understanding of various afflictions, healing processes, and death itself.

Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Nature

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s Supplies

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: One Alchemists supplies Kit, a set of Clothes styled as that of a fantasy world healer or alchemist, 10 days worth of Rations (each usable to generate a short rest), and one Healer’s Kit. In addition you begin play with an extra 20 gold pieces.

Aesop’s Ally

In your journeys through the Battlestorm game-world you have encountered and healed or otherwise soothed the hurts of mystical creature, a monster, or even a celestial being. This NPC monster is now a friend and ally to you. This ally exists at a fixed location in the game world. It cannot move from the general area. However, you can visit your ally without fear of attack from this monster. You may meet with your ally to share information, to socialize with it as friends, or otherwise to give and receive minor favors. At the DM’s discretion, this ally can also serve as a quest giver who provides various rewards when quests are completed.

Roll for or choose one Aesop’s Ally on the table below.

D8 Aesop’s Ally

  1. A quirky Unicorn you untangled from a bramble who’s always forgetting her name.
  2. A brash and bold young Dragon whose painful arrow wound you once healed.
  3. A Troll boss whose close brush with a fireball gave him a serious case of PTSD.
  4. A Night Hag who decided to go vegan due to food allergies and now makes the most delicious vegetable stews.
  5. An Aboleth so obsessed with jellyfish artwork that it accidentally poisoned itself.
  6. A Kirin whose leg was broken during a tornado.
  7. A Stone Giant who got her foot stuck in a cavern full of angry goblins.
  8. A Flumph sensei who lives in terror of a nearby hungry ogre boss.

Doctors’ Network

You’re aware of other doctors in the game world and have access to an informal network among these professionals. You can link up with this list through your Game Menu which has downloaded your professional social media contacts. This network provides you help in the form of contacts, information about special healing substances and magical items, and possible guild allies. In addition, it may result in new options only available to your network for trading special equipment or finding certain ingredients in the game environment. In addition, you may consult with fellow medical professionals on how to treat the injured, the ill, or those suffering from special afflictions.


Before you dove into Battlestorm Online, you were a hacker — a loner who learned how to make their way in the increasingly detailed and complex technological world of Earth. You may have worked in another profession. But your talents granted you a near-virtuoso ability to manipulate technology-based environments. These talents now give you special insight into the underlying code that runs Battlestorm Online. Granting you the ability to easily access game lore, use various tools to overcome in-game boundaries, and to conduct hacks that enable you to alter the game environment. If there’s something you lack, it may be in social connections with other players or in sympathetic contacts with NPC AIs. But that’s OK, your lone-wolf perspective has paid off great so far…

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Investigation

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, Disguise Kit, and One Tool Proficiency of your choice

Languages: One in-game language of your choice

Equipment: Pouch 10 gold, Disguise Kit, Thieves Tools or one Tool Kit of your choice

Teleportation Crystal Hack

You can selectively re-program teleportation crystals to teleport you and your party members to one location outside of a safe zone. This location must be a place you’ve visited before in-game and taken at least one hour to examine. You can reset this location by examining a different place and then by taking a long rest at an inn or similar location. These altered teleportation crystals can only store one outside safe zone teleport location at any given time. You may hack a number of teleportation crystals up to your intelligence modifier + your proficiency modifier. You can only hack your own crystal and those of people on your friends list, party members list, or guild members list who willingly allow you to examine their crystals.

In-Game Hack

The game moderators provide players with Inspiration to reward heroic acts, good gameplay, and to mark major successes. Inspiration is an exploit that allows players to re-roll one attack, skill check, ability check, or saving throw. Once per long rest, when you or one of your party members use inspiration, you can exploit the system so that it is not expended.


You’ve always been a social butterfly. And the newly emerged electronic world of recent decades granted you access to communication tools never-before-imagined. Whether a YouTuber, a blogger, or a live streamer, you’re a social media influencer in real life. You could be a hair stylist with a huge and devoted fan-base, a creator of visual art loved for your quiet flair, a story-teller whose inspiring tales are beloved by readers and listeners, or a musician whose electric talent has rocked the interwebs. Whatever your medium, you’ve developed at least a respectable number of fans and are well known as a creator. Your entry into Battlestorm Online was, perhaps, an experimentation — a chance to experience a full dive mystical virtual world as a new platform. You’ve brought your own magic in the form of your creativity and panache along with you. These talents grant you special skills when interacting with other players, AI NPCs, and even game moderators.

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and one of the following — Musical Instruments (up to 3), Scribe’s Tools, Disguise Kit, Painter’s Kit

Language Proficiencies: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: Fine Clothes, One Musical Instrument, Kit, or Set of Tools related to your chosen proficiency, pouch containing 20 gold, One Heraldic Note of Introduction which describes your auspicious talents and accomplishments.

Alternate Arcane or Divine Focus: You may use a writer’s quill, singing voice, a musical instrument, a painter’s brush, or a hair stylist’s scissors as an Arcane or Divine spell focus.

Notorious Stream

You have a large IRL and in game following. At any time, as a free action, during the game you may use your Main Menu to turn on your live stream. This live stream connects your Battlestorm experiences to your fans both IRL and in-game. You typically turn on your stream for various ad-hoc performances, readings, or to show off a flashy new hair style or make-up arrangement you’ve created. You may also decide to do this as you vividly paint spells into the air with your brush, scribe their runic characters with your writer’s quill, play or sing them as music, or style them with your scissors during combat encounters. Your stream is what connects you to your devoted fans and the game environment is nothing if not an opportunity to continuously perform, create stories, or generate an infinite variety of stylish flair for the already colorful cast of creatures and characters inhabiting Battlestorm Online.

Free Lodging

Your fame comes with a number of perks. One of the main ones is that lodging venues will waive the 1 gold piece cost of a long rest in exchange for the ability to advertise your presence. However, your long rest takes one hour longer as you spend time meeting and greeting with various fans attracted to the Inn by your presence.

Live Event

Once per character tier, with the permission of your Game Master, you may organize a Live Event that invites all of Battlestorm Online to publicly witness one of your newest creations. An event that is also streamed back to IRL media. This performance could be a reading from your newly published novel or manga, a concert in one of the large dueling and training arenas, an art gallery exposition of your newest visual creations, or a fashion show celebrating all your most-recent make-up arrangements and styles. Regardless of type, your event creates a splash in the world of Battlestorm Online and grants you an opportunity to address and rouse the spirits of all players. It’s also a chance to send a message back to the outside world.


Whether an executive of a major corporation, an office worker on a leadership track, a well-placed member of a law firm, or a middle manager with upward mobility, you are an office professional with leadership chops in a major industry. Your IRL field options could be as varied as food industry, auto, advertising, IT, entertainment, gaming, energy, aerospace, defense, legal, consulting, security, and many others. Your talents, however, gravitate around your ability to act as an industry leader and as a member of a larger organization that provides goods or services in exchange for compensation in the form of wealth and influence. In short, you are thus adept at working within various established economic power structures and at gaining a share of that power for yourself. You may be a devotee of those structures — believing that your industry provides a special benefit to society. You may be driven to use your leadership skills to create various helpful products for others while also accumulating individual prestige and profit. On the other hand, your views could well be cynical or even mercenary. Regardless of your motivations, your business acumen transfers to the Battlestorm environment in numerous ways.

Skills: Pick one from Arcana, Nature, or Investigation; Pick one from Insight, Persuasion, or Deception

Tool Proficiencies: Directory Search, Main Menu

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: One free set of Armor, a Fine Robe, or Fine Clothes valued at less than 80 gold. This armor is specially styled to bear your Prestigious Crest. When you upgrade your armor or clothing, its style and crest transfer as an in-game skin. One pouch containing 20 gold.

Special Entitlement

Your manner, dress and skill at bargaining affords you with special relationships, leverage, and the ability to secure better deals in game. As a result you can choose one of following benefits for each level of game play. You must choose this benefit immediately after leveling up, otherwise it is lost.

  1. Your bargaining skills gets you 20 percent off the cost of one magical item available in the Emporium.
  2. You are able to secure a price equal to 120 percent the listed value of a magical item you sent to the Emporium for sale.
  3. Your savvy investment choices have caused your guild bank liquid currency store to appreciate by 10 percent.
  4. You may trade one magic item from your guild bank in exchange for a special favor from another guild. This favor may include — cooperating to raid a known dungeon or monster spawn area, providing special knowledge gained through adventuring to aid you in one of your quests (which comes in the form of a GM hint in-game), or gaining a magic item of equal rarity to the one traded for one of your party members. At the GM’s discretion, other favors may be provided.
  5. You may make one black market trade for a special magic item or material at list price. The black market item list is determined by the GM.
  6. At the GM’s discretion, you may call a special meeting of the player business community. You may use this meeting to request actions by members of the community.

Prestigious Crest

You have a prestigious crest which you display on your clothing or armor. This crest may take any form or design you choose. In-game, it signifies that you were once a member of the business executive class IRL. It thus connects you with other business leaders who will silently recognize your crest and work to ease your passage through the game’s social, guild, and economic structures in exchange for preferential treatment on your part as well. So long as you honor this mutually beneficial arrangement, you may benefit from such associations.


IRL, you are a law enforcement professional. Whether a cop on a street beat, a police lieutenant or captain, or a detective, you work in law enforcement and have developed a keen ability to sniff out crimes, malicious deceptions, and exploitation. You’re a tough cookie who’s gained a lot of gritty experience while dealing with the dark underbelly of Earth’s civilizations. This acumen and association grants you a variety of special skills in the Battlestorm Online environment. Not the least of which is your innate trouble detector.

During your first few days in BSO, you were surprised and aghast at its barely-moderated wild-west style of governance filled to the brim with cheaters and PKers. Your gamer friends say this is par for the course in an MMO. But this is a death game and the surprising array of cheaters, griefers, flamers, trolls and outright PKers has put you on high alert.

That said, the system has somehow glommed onto your IRL history — granting you a special in-game marshal status. This status gives you enhanced access to special game functions that assist you in preventing, investigating, and even punishing PvP crimes. Despite these enhanced features and your passion for bringing criminals to justice, you often feel like the lone white hat in a sea of black hats.

Skills: Insight, Investigation

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, Land Vehicles Proficiency

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Manacles, Law Enforcement Badge, Equipment Belt, Scabbard, Quiver, Boots, Pouch with 10 Gold.

Red and Orange Player History

It really does seem like the game designers have learned a little bit about your personal work history. Because, for some reason, you’ve been given access to a special section of the Directory Search Menu. This section provides you with a list of every player that has ever had their icon change from green to orange or red due to PvP activity in the game environment. It also lists the reason why that player was listed as red or orange and the duration of the icon color change. This makes you feel like you’ve been backwards-recruited into playing the part of a marshal. It’s a role you didn’t intend to take up when you initially dove into Battlestorm. You just wanted a fun diversion. But given the fact that you’re trapped here in a game where people actually die, you’re not certain you can resist using the information that’s been dropped into your lap. Holding criminals and bad actors to account is one of the drives that led you to police work in the first place, after all.

Enhanced Game Map

Not only do you now have a wealth of information about bad actor players, you also now have the ability to pull up a list of all players killed or harmed by PvP activity. In particular, this information includes a mark indicating the location where each death occurred — creating a spatial display of PvP activity and PvP murders on the game map. This special game map function also shows you the current location of orange or red players. Finally, the map lists all active sanctioned safe-zone duels and provides their locations.

Posting Bounties

Last but not least, the game mods have granted you the special ability to ‘deputize’ other players — compelling them to take part in coordinated action against those who commit crimes. You can now post bounties for individual in-game criminals. You gain this new option directly through your game menu — which enables you to post 1 bounty per character level on a public board within any home town. You may only post 1 bounty per level — hitting a maximum of 20 if you top off your character’s power progression. If you do not post a bounty before you level up, you lose the opportunity. This bounty is listed as an in-game quest for other players. The reward is determined by the gaming moderators and the game AI.


You’ve lived a long and full life IRL — accumulating many wonderful experiences. You are now happily retired, financially independent, and able to spend your days as you see fit. Much of your time is now spent doing things you enjoy most. And one of your favorite hobbies is gaming. When BSO first offered you the opportunity to take part in the virtual reality game’s launch, to live in a made environment, to experience it in a body suffering none of the effects of old age, you jumped at the opportunity. For you it was like having a second shot at life — but without suffering from the lack-wisdom which inevitably comes with youth. In BSO, you get to enjoy the best of both your rich life experience and the amazing abilities of your young, strong, and swift avatars. Too bad the game ended up being a death trap. But at least now you have that rich well of experience to draw from. You also figure it’s not so bad if you die while on the front lines. You’ve lived a long life and your sacrifice might help someone with all of their life to look forward to. Not that you’re going to go down that easy!

Skills: Any three.

Tool Proficiencies: One tool associated with your in-game hobby (fishing rod, wood carving tools, chess set, small one-person sailboat, or playing cards); one other tool of your choice.

Language Proficiencies: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: One Fishing Rod, Wood Carving Kit, ornate Chess Set, superbly crafted one person Sailboat, or ornate Poker Cards. Special Lunch Kit including 10 tasty Rations, a set of comfortable Travelers Clothes, a sleeping Robe with Nightcap, one Novel, a pair of soft Boots, and a Never-Ending Crossword Puzzle Book (common magic item). A pouch with 20 gold.

In-Game Hobby

You have an in-game hobby which allows you to enjoy yourself while restoring and refreshing you avatar’s health. Choose one of the following — fishing, wood carving, chess, sailing, or poker. Instead of taking a rest at an Inn for one gold piece, you can take part in your in-game hobby for two hours. When you do so roll a d20. If you roll a 1, a calamity happens. If you roll a 20, a special event happens.

D10 Calamity

  1. Your hobby triggers a magical vortex that draws you into a nearby dungeon through a rift in game-space. The vortex’s magic temporarily disables your teleport crystal for 1 hour.
  2. You are accidentally immersed in water, set on fire, or frozen. You do not gain a rest. In addition, the first time you leave the safe zone you can choose either to take 1d10 damage or to lose one item you wear worth 10 gold or less.
  3. Your poor showing amuses a group of 2 pixies and 1 faerie dragon who hang around you for the rest of the day — using their magic to play practical jokes on you at inopportune times.
  4. You perform so poorly that you attract a mansplainer who spends the next hour lecturing you on how better to engage in your chosen hobby.
  5. You fall on your face, literally, while engaging in your hobby. This accident, however, earns you the sympathy of a nearby NPC who adds themselves to your friend list. This the first time you’ve had an AI friend — and you thought you’d experienced everything!
  6. Your poor performance somehow results in the release of magical beasts from a nearby menagerie. These beasts rampage through the safe zone — setting off chaos but harming no-one. They soon inhabit a nearby section of the outlands. A new quest item appears on the local quest board — Recapture the Magical Beasts. You gain a degree of infamy for setting the beasts free.
  7. You perform like a virtuoso in your chosen hobby. You do so well you earn the enmity of a jealous BSO game designer. The designer sends a fearsome monster with a CR equal to your average party level +1 to stalk your party once you leave the safe zone (chosen by the GM). If your party defeats the monster, it drops an item with a level of rarity determined by your tier (Tier 1 – common, Tier 2 – uncommon, Tier 3 – rare, Tier 4 – very rare).
  8. Your mediocre showing causes you to grow bored with your hobby. You cannot use your hobby and must use an Inn for your next rest.
  9. Your skill at your hobby causes you to gain a secret admirer who sends you flowers. Unfortunately, the flowers give you an allergic reaction that causes you to roll all initiative checks with disadvantage until your next long rest.
  10. Rambunctious teen gamers get ahold of your special hobby tools and keep them for ransom. It takes you 8 hours of game time before you learn the location of your hobby tools. Once you do, the teen gamers demand you succeed on a DC 15+ your character tier Performance Check to compose them a jaunty tune on the spot. If you fail, they demand you spend 25 gold to buy them enough fine foods and other entertainments to make them forget their ringing ears.

D10 Special Event

  1. You perform your hobby in such a satisfying manner that the place where you performed it takes on a magical aura of solace. This place now grants the benefits of an inn for both you and your party members for the next 3 rests without expense and taking only half the usual time.
  2. Your hobby enamors you to the local Quest Giver. The next quest you take part in awards you and your party an additional 10 percent experience.
  3. Your hobby earns you and your party an audience with a hometown’s lord. You gain the benefits of a long rest when you take this audience as the lord showers you with food and drink. In addition, the lord gives you gifts worth 100 gold per party tier.
  4. Your hobby results in the discovery of a treasure map that coincides with the next quest you undertake. If you follow the map, you discover one additional treasure hoard.
  5. Your hobby attracts the attention of a powerful boss monster. The monster sends its minions to spy on your actions and report back for its entertainment. This activity reveals the boss monster’s location in the dungeon by alerting PC information finders. The location is now marked on your player map. Your knowledge grants your party advantage on initiative rolls when you fight the boss monster.
  6. Your hobby results in you discovering a ghost story. The ghost story is actually that of rogue AI who’s broken out of the death game system. This rogue AI now creates its own safe zone in the outlands with special healing properties. Parties who pass through this zone and hear the rogue AI’s singing may gain the benefit of a short rest and have all conditions removed if they spend an hour there or if they consume a ration while in the zone. Once you trigger this special event, it is used up (roll again).
  7. Your hobby gains you friendship with a magic item crafter who offers you 20 percent off the price on your first purchase of their wares.
  8. You gain a special food as a result of your hobby. The special food has 20 portions and does not spoil. It is also delectable. When you or an ally spend an action to eat a portion you gain the benefits of a healing potion and the lesser restoration spell combined. When you or an ally consume 5 portions (taking your actions over the course of at least one minute) you gain the benefits of a potion of greater healing and the greater restoration spell combined.
  9. Your hobby results in a secret benefactor you sends you and your allies on a special magical cruise that lasts 5 days. The cruise allows you to gain the benefits of a full rest as you party, play, and go on delightful excursions. When you return to adventuring, you also gain the benefits of a Heroes Feast.
  10. Your hobby results in the discovery or accidental crafting of a magical item. The item’s power is based on your tier (1 — uncommon, 2 — rare, 3 — very rare, 4 — legendary). Once you receive this item, you cannot do so again until the next tier (roll again). This item usually has some relationship to your hobby. Your GM chooses the item.

Wisdom of the Ages

As a retiree, you’ve learned a bit of everything. Your life experience grants you a wellspring of knowledge and survival acumen that you can tap in your career as an adventurer. Choose three Skills that you’re not trained in. You gain half your proficiency bonus (rounded down, minimum of 1) in these skills. Alternatively, you can pick one non-proficient Skill and one non-proficient Saving Throw to gain this benefit. You can change your selection of which Skills or Saving Throw you choose for Wisdom of the Ages after each long rest.


Whether a precocious middle schooler who’s a newbie, a high schooler who loves to game, or a college student who blows off steam through gaming in between classes and exams, your time IRL was mainly spent in studies at a public or private academic institution before you were trapped in the death-game that is BSO. Both the academic environment and the student culture you came from was vital and ever-changing. Your identity within this culture was recognizable. Perhaps you looked forward to a bright future or struggled emotionally as you tried to figure out your place in the world. Maybe you’re an academic virtuoso with stellar grades, a student athlete with promise in your chosen sport, a mysterious loner, or an under-achiever who drifts through youth basking in various entertainments. Regardless, you’re young, plugged into popular culture, tend to be willing to take risks, and you’re well-connected to emerging tech trends. Your flexibility, newness, and ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations gives you some serious advantages in the BSO environment. Older, more experienced players may call you a punk. But you’re gonna surprise them in about a hundred different ways.

Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, and Stealth.

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, and one of the following — board, dice or card game proficiency, musical instrument proficiency, land vehicles proficiency

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, one Game Set (chess, cards, dice etc) or musical instrument, 10 rations, Backpack, 1 gold.

Amazing Adaptability

As a student, you’re a generalist. You’re also a quick learner with promise and flexibility. In game, this manifests as the ability to change your character statistics more easily than other players. You gain a special retraining tab in your Main Menu. This tab gives you the following option — once per tier you may retrain one feat, ability score, class or subclass choice without paying the retrain fee or spending time with a trainer. Once you use this retrain option, you cannot do so again until the next tier — for a maximum of four total uses through level 20. Yeah, you really are full of surprises. Actually, you’re an annoying badass…

Surprising Resiliency

When the chips are down, when you take critical wounds in-game, you are more likely to bounce back. If you’re reduced to 0 hit points and have failed two death saves, you now roll with advantage on your final death save. In addition, if a monster or PKer hits you with an attack while you’re at 0 hit points — roll a d20. If you roll a 20, the monster or PK hit does not count as an automatic death save failure.


Well established as an academic professional, in IRL, you’re a teacher of some variety. Whether an instructor at an elementary school or a professor at a major university, you possess a special talent for learning and passing on learning to others. In Battlestorm Online — a world populated by gamers of every stripe, your talent for gathering information and passing that information on to others is useful in a number of ways. Though no established institutions of learning exist in BSO’s virtual environment as they do IRL, information and training are highly sought-after. You are thus likely to find yourself in very high demand. Old students return to you seeking knowledge and word gets out among the gaming community that you’re both a great source for info and good at teaching various useful skills in your area of expertise. Whether this unexpected up-shot of being trapped in a virtual death-game surprises or annoys is entirely up to you.

Skills: One of your choice from History and Nature, plus one of your choice from Arcana, and Religion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search

Languages: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: Robes or other Instructor Regalia, a special Teacher’s Hat of some variety such as a Witch’s Hat (this is a common magic item that allows you to immediately recall the name of any person, creature or former student you meet in-game no matter how brief or obscure your previous contact), a Writer’s Kit, a Book of Lore in your chosen subject of expertise, a pouch containing 10 gold.

Expert Researcher

Even if you don’t have information readily available at your fingertips, you know how to find it. Your association with other academics and experts in-game, your understanding of research methods, and your quick ability to access in-game information resources gives you the opportunity to track down and unearth lore of all kinds.

In-Game Trainer

Your ability to teach affords you with the opportunity to train others in-game. If a player-character needs to retrain to a skill, feat, class, or subclass that your possess, you may provide them with that training at half the usual cost. You may also farm out your talents as an instructor to other players in game and take half the retraining fee as your payment for providing this service. You gain a special Trainer tab in your Game Menu which lights up when training has been requested. You may take the time to train other players once per tier for a maximum of four uses.

Student-Teacher Network

Either you’ve got some students and fellow academics in-game who knew you IRL and talk you up, or your reputation as a lore-master and instructor quickly spreads. In any case, you have access to a wide-ranging student and teacher network that forms one of the more vital communities in-game. This provides you with opportunities to forge new alliances, grow your guild, train other players, or simply participate in or host various cosy and informal gatherings. As an upshot, you also generally know where the best coffee and tea houses happen to be in any given hometown.


However tragedy struck, you are now confined to a hospital bed. A victim of deadly illness or a terminal degenerative condition, your time left in real life is measured in mere weeks and months. To you, the virtual game environment is a solace and escape from the grim realities of a vicious world. By comparison, the portrayed mortality of most games seems quaint or even comforting to you. Now trapped in a virtual death-game, your situation, though far more dire, lacks the same urgency felt by other gamers. Strangely, in this game, your life has deeper meaning. You aren’t confined to your hospital bed. Here you can escape the role of a victim of vicious circumstance, save lives, make a major difference, and instead play the role of a heroic badass. Right up to the very end.

Skills: Intimidate, and one from Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, Survival, and Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Game Menu, Directory Search.

Languages: One in game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, 10 rations, a pouch containing 30 gold.

For Me, Death No Longer Holds Terror

Your life will almost certainly end soon and you’ve already dealt with many terrible traumas. As a result, things that would typically terrify most people seem mundane to you. Intimidate checks targeting you are made with disadvantage. In addition, you make saving throws against fear spells, effects, and powers at advantage.

Infectious Confidence

The troubles of you’ve experienced have gifted you with an infectious, even reckless sense of confidence. It’s strange, now with death so close, that it becomes all the sweeter to share the fruits of victory with those who battle and risk their lives beside you. Whenever you are awarded inspiration, one party member of your choice also gains inspiration.


You served or presently serve in a national armed forces. You may be an army soldier, a sailor aboard a naval vessel at sea, a supply sergeant, or even a fighter pilot. Or you may be enjoying the fruits of an early retirement. Whatever the case, your military training and understanding of combat environments is well beyond that of normal members of society. Somehow, you ended up longing into BSO during its launch and got trapped in the virtual death game. Perhaps your skills as a military member came in handy then. Perhaps you knew exactly what to do, took command of the situation, and immediately formed an effective combat team to fight your way through the trouble. Or perhaps you suffer from PTSD following a terrible battle or training incident and when TSHTF you froze — unable to respond for days or weeks. Whatever the case, you’ve come to terms with your situation now and you’ve dedicated yourself to fighting on the front lines.

Skills: Survival and Perception or Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: Land Vehicles, Water Vehicles, Air Vehicles, Main Menu

Languages: One in-game language

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, Caltrops, 50 feet of Silk Rope, Grappling Hook, Manacles, Belt, Scabbard, Quiver, one Healing Potion, pouch containing 10 gold

Map Threat Indicator

You gain a new map icon that indicates the present threat of attack. The indicator shows either green (low threat), yellow (moderate threat), or red (high threat). In addition, if the enemy is about to attack, the indicator will flash red once the attacking force is 6 seconds away. This indicator can be set to appear on your heads up display. It gives you a general notion of how likely and imminent a new attack from monsters or PKers may be. It does not, however, tell you who or what is about to attack. When you move through the outlands or a dungeon environment, this threat indicator prevents you or your party from becoming surprised. In a safe zone, the indicator should almost always read green. However, if someone is about to challenge you to a duel in a safe zone, the indicator will flash yellow. How the system admins know all this is a mystery to you. Why they gave you this special tool is equally mysterious. Perhaps they know you were career military IRL…

Commands, Battle Maneuvers, and Formations

Your command of the battlefield and superior situational awareness allow you to give your team members a special edge during combat. Once per long rest, you may make a special command on your turn as a free action — granting an ally one of the following benefits:

  1. Your ally ignores difficult terrain during their next move action.
  2. If your ally is flanked, attacks against them do not have advantage until the start of your next turn.
  3. One ally gains advantage on their next attack roll.
  4. One willing ally within 10 feet of you switches places with you on your turn as a free action. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.
  5. One ally gains advantage on their next stealth check.
  6. One ally at zero hit points immediately makes a death saving throw with advantage.

Here we’ll conclude new player background offerings for Battlestorm Online. Overall, they pack a bit more of punch than typical backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook — coming closer to Strixhaven for mechanical effect and Wild Beyond the Witchlight for world impact effect. I hope you enjoy these IRL backgrounds which carry over various talents, skills and abilities into the BSO game!

If you’re looking for the player’s guide section for Battlestorm Online, you can find it here.

If you’re looking for other gaming related content you can find it in the Gaming Studio.

Future player content for BSO will likely include a section on guilds and possibly one describing new items. Our next Battlestorm Online post will reveal the initial set of tier 1 quests for the BSO Ragnarok campaign series.

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