Shadows over Vathak: Amoral Prodigy Background (5e) (patreon request)
This pdf clocks in at 3 pages, with 1 page devoted to editorial/SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content.
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.
Okay, so the amoral prodigy is someone who absolutely excels at one field, and as such has a bit of leeway when it comes to some behavior that may not be possible (due to time constraints or morals) for others. Nice touch: The pdf does explain how e.g. a LG amoral prodigy might operate, as the background obviously works best for neutral or evil individuals and/or Vathak’s shades of gray morality.
Proficiency-wise, we get skill proficiency in Deception and Stealth, as well as one tool proficiency of your choice. The verbiage for the tool proficiency is somewhat opaque: “Your proficiency with
this tool is always doubled.” This could apply to the entire value, or just to the proficiency bonus. For an example of how that would be phrased usually, the rogue’s Expertise feature can be consulted. The text should read: “Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with the chosen tool.” On the plus-side, this ability does note that it doesn’t stack with other options that might let you double your proficiency bonus, so good catch there. The equipment includes the tool or kit, two sets of forged documents for new identities, an award relating to the tool, some gp and a cloak. On a formatting nitpick: In backgrounds, Skill/Tool proficiencies, languages etc. have a colon after them, not the full stop that 5e otherwise tends to favor.
The background’s narrative feature is cool: It essentially nets you a degree of trust from authorities and a somewhat solid reputation that lets you get away with things you otherwise wouldn’t.
The pdf provides the customary d8 personality traits, d6 ideals, d6 bond, and d6 flaw tables to add character to…well, your character. In the Ideal-table, the sub-headers like “Self.”, “Duty.”, etc. have not been bolded properly.
Editing is good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, we have a minor guffaw. Formatting also sports some deviations from 5e’s defaults, though these tend to be internally consistent and cosmetic. The one piece of full-color art is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Ismael Alvarez’ amoral prodigy background is cool and interesting background rife with roleplaying potential, particularly for darker settings like Vathak, or when you always wanted to play a somewhat sociopathic Sherlock or character like the good ole’ Dr. Frankenstein…or a certain bard… Either way, I very much enjoyed this background. While the minor guffaws do partially influence rules-integrity, the background does retain its functionality for most GMs, and the low price also made me decide to round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. For a single buck, this is definitely worth checking out.
You can get this background here on OBS!
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