Wheel of Time- The four Pillars
The world of the Wheel of Time is home to very diverse set of nations. The different climates of these nations physically, politically and socially shape their people a great deal. As a result the background of a character plays a large role in their development and these differences are reflected in additional class skills and background feats.
While there are mechanical benefits to each background your character’s background can also help you create your back story. The skills and background feat you gain can help you determine what your character was like in the past.
Choosing A Background: Remember you can only choose a background once, you may not claim the background benefits from the midlands and nearby Tear. If your character travelled a great deal with a merchant family, or as a peddler select whichever background is most appropriate. Also be sure to keep your class in mind when selecting your background. Aiel for example can be any class but the algai’d’siswai suites them best as an example.
Humans have 13 backgrounds to choose from:
Aiel: Fierce, semi nomadic, desert people who value honor and duty above all else.
Atha’an Miere_(Sea Folk)_: A dark-skinned seafaring people who sail the exotic coasts in the most powerful ships in the known world.
Borderlander: Tough warrior nations from kingdoms that border on the Blight.
Cairhienin: A nation of founded on order and driven by the subtleties of the Great Game of Houses.
Domani: A sensuous and exotic people famed for their fierce tempers, cunning in negotiations, and inscrutable ways.
Ebou Dari: A passionate people famed for settling any manner of offense with a knife duel.
Illianer: The people of a powerful seafaring nation that values justice and stability.
Midlander: The sturdy and stalwart folk of the central regions of the westlands, known for their practical outlook on life and modest ways.
Outlander: You come from a world connected by the portal stones, perhaps an Aes Sedai pulled you into the world or you had an accident with the portal stones on your world. However you got here you, you are not like anyone else in the world.
Tar Valoner: Citizens of the most beautiful civilized and learned city in the world, who live under the ‘protection’ of the White Tower.
Taraboner: A people torn by civil strife but justly proud of a heritage and learning that dates back to the Age of Legends.
Tarien: A powerful nation renowned for its horses, and absolute grip of its nobles over the people, and its tendency towards war with its neighbors.
Tinkers: A nomadic people known for their pacifist ways, loud and colorful clothing, and their love of song and dance.
The only non-human background (and thus race) available is the Ogier.
Home Language: Although everyone in the wetlands speaks the same tongue, Common for simplicity, they all speak a different dialect. A person from Falme has a different accent from than one from Arafel. For example a phrase that is funny in Tear might be misunderstood in Ebou Dari and provoke a knife fight. The thick Illianer accent (similar to Newfies in Canada) is the most distinguished of all; and people from other countries often have difficulty understanding these people.(Just like in Canada, Lard Tunderin’ =P)
A mechanical representation of this could be a penalty applied to any Charisma based rolls that involve speaking to people whose language you are not “fluent” in.
Ogier have their own language, but those who leave their homes in the stedding learn Common before doing so, in order to communicate with humans.
Your home language or dialect is your native tongue that you speak and read. (Most inhabitants in the Wheel of Time are literate but some are not, literacy is a personal choice for the player and it is does not require a feat to overcome this deficiency).
Each background has certain languages that are available to them as bonus languages this represents the ability to speak that dialect fluently.
In addition certain classes are allowed access to languages even if they do not have the correct background.
Algai’d’siswai: all have a society dialect of hand speech. The Maiden’s of the Spear have the most intricate. As an algai’d’siswai you may take the hand language of the society you are from even if you are not an Aiel.
Nobles: The Old Tongue is an older, more ‘elegant’ form of common that was prominent long ago and is still found in many books and ancient documents. Nobles having access to such rare items are able to learn Old Tongue. The degree of mastery should be discussed with the GM.
Restrictions: Some backgrounds have restrictions on what they are able to purchase.
Skill Restrictions: This skill may not be purchased at character generation but may be learned later if the player so chooses.
Weapon Restrictions: Some backgrounds are unable to use weapons. Sometimes, as with the Tinkers, this is known cultural choice. Other times such as with the Aiel it is shrouded in mystery.
Required Skill: This is a skill that you must take at character creation. It is something everyone from the background is capable of. There is no requirement after first level to purchase additional ranks in this class skill though it is recommended.
Final Note: If you need more information on any of the backgrounds, except Outlander, refer to the one of the sources of setting information provided in the introduction.