Serpent’s Skull Conversion: Backgrounds


Mostly a thought exercise, but here are some D&D 4e conversion notes for the Serpent’s Skull Player’s Guide from Paizo. If you’re unfamiliar with the model: Paizo publishes a free introduction to each of their Adventure Paths. The Serpent’s Skull path has pirates, jungles, and Robin Laws fiction, so I’m all over that.

The bulk of the Player’s Guide is background and notes on why particular races or classes would be on this adventure. This needs no conversion. The interesting conversion bits are the Campaign Traits, which correspond roughly to 4e backgrounds. I say roughly because they are somewhat more immediate than 4e backgrounds — e.g., you can take Boarded in Cheliax, which says nothing about your background beyond where you got on the ship. Still, I think the 4e background rules still work well.

The Player’s Guide says that characters may take two campaign traits; in 4e, a player may take up to six backgrounds, but only one of them provides any mechanical benefits. That rule remains. The actual conversions follow the break.

Boarded in Cheliax: Your detailed map of the Mwangi Expanse provides a +2 bonus to Nature and Perception checks for navigational purposes while in the Mwangi Expanse.

Boarded in Mediogalti: You have a +2 bonus to saves against poison effects.

Boarded in the Mwangi Expanse: Associated Skill: Nature. Either gain Nature as a class skill or gain a +2 bonus to Nature checks.

Boarded in the Shackles: Associated Skill: Endurance. Either gain Endurance as a class skill or gain a +2 bonus to Endurance checks.

Boarded in Varisa: You gain a +2 bonus to Bluff checks against natives of the Mwangi Expanse. Also, natives of the Mwangi Expanse receive a -1 penalty to saves against conditions imposed by illusion or psychic powers you use.

Colonial: You gain a +2 bonus to Endurance checks to see if a disease progresses further; also, all Heal checks made to heal you from a disease gain a +2 bonus.

Get the Cargo Through: As per Occupation: Merchant.

Jenivere Crew: As per Occupation: Mariner.

Mwangi Scholar: You may either gain Polyglot as a language, gain History as a class skill, or gain a +2 bonus to History checks.

Stowaway: Associated Skill: Stealth. Either gain Stealth as a class skill or gain a +2 bonus to Stealth checks.


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2 Responses to “Serpent’s Skull Conversion: Backgrounds”

  1. Len Says:

    I have never understood the way 4E handles backgrounds. And frankly I always just treat it as my ticket to getting an Athletics slot for “brainy” type characters or a Perception slot for “Brawny” type characters lacking the native skill slot.

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