I’m putting together house rules and players guide type information for the Evil campaign I’d like to run again sometime in the future. Maybe it’ll even be the next game our home group plays – get some things out of their system so to speak. Briefly, it is a campaign inspired by Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward, where the BBEG has been defeated by the Heroes of Legend and the world made right. Then 100 years pass, and the PCs are some of the last villains in the world. They have to band together (because no one else will put up with them) and save the world from itself. It’s a lot of satire and is aimed at tongue-in-cheek rather than delving into the heart of darkness.
One of the things that I realized I’d need are altered backgrounds for the player-characters. When I went through the backgrounds in the PhB, I found that most of them would work with some slight alterations. For some background, this setting includes the idea of Rehabilitation Camps where criminals (what few are left) and ‘evil’ creatures are sent to be taught to be good citizens. I just mention that because it comes up in some of these backgrounds. The main thing I felt needed a change was the Feature for each. As a house rule I’m fine with players choosing any proficiencies that makes sense, whether listed or not.
Evil campaign needs subverted backgrounds. Also maybe start level three as well
Cult Initiate (Acolyte)
Feature: as with the Acolyte, but it applies to other members of the secretive cult you have joined. Have fun defining the cult with the DM. Maybe it is dedicated to the corpse of one of the old gods, or to the teachings of a mind flayer.
Feature: unchanged, but you have a probation officer with whom you need to check in. The officer works for the Ministry of Rehabilitation, and functions a lot like any probation officer – making sure you are gainfully employed, have a place to live, etc.
Feature: as above, you have a probation officer. Maybe the same one if another PC is also recently Rehabilitated.
Feature: Grudging Patriotism. You can always find a place to perform as long as you play songs approved by the Ministry of Rehabilitation. When you do so, you roll with disadvantage.
Variant: Sports Hero. You can find welcome wherever there are official games, expos, or heroic feast-days being celebrated.
Feature: similar to the Folk Hero. You have a reputation in the area, except in your actual hometown, where they know you’re a fraud.
Feature: You no longer have the Guild connection – in fact, you have the enmity of a Guild. In exchange, you begin the game with a stolen masterwork worth a few hundred gold – determine what it is with the DM.
You spent time in Quarantine, under even higher security than a Rehabilitation Camp. You were seen as a significant threat, and kept in isolation for a long period of time. You were released because you were determined to be harmless to the Empire. In Quarantine, you could have crossed paths with any number of powerful evil creatures, consigned to remain long-term.
Feature: Discovery. You learned something you were not supposed to know while in Quarantine. Determine what it is with the DM.
You have embarrassed your blue-blooded family for the last time with your behavior. You have a stolen signet ring, and might be able to impersonate a member of the family somewhere where they are not known well. You made off with a family heirloom worth a few hundred gold – determine what it was with the DM.
You are not from around here, and live on the fringes of society. You and your family are viewed with suspicion, which makes them even more eager to prove their loyalty and patriotism to anyone and everyone.
Feature: Plausible deniability. If you are caught for a minor crime or infraction, you can argue that you didn’t know better, and expect lenience, especially the first time.
Variant: Scavenger (Wanderer). You are able to scrape up food and relatively clean water for you and five other people each day by scrounging, begging, and so on. You won’t starve, but you won’t be happy either.
You have come to these shores from a far-off land, though not so far that you haven’t heard of the fall of the Dark Lord and the rise of the Empire. Your family and friends are currently being processed and some have been moved to Rehabilitation camps until they can be reintegrated into society.
Feature: Passage. Because you are a refugee, you aren’t expected to have the same papers and references that others would need to travel from place to place. Just remember to be obsequious.
Feature: Military Intel. You have of course lost your military rank, and there are some who would love to have you in for a court martial, but you did learn how the Empire functions, and know more about the military than any others (who aren’t part of it).
Your family (or orphanage) is still seeking you, but you have lived on your own for a long time now. Pretty much the same as Urchin, though, otherwise.