Backgrounds (Optional Rule)


Okay; here are some very optional rules for character backgrounds. They’re adapted from a post-apocalyptic gaming system that I was working on before Mutant Future, and are originally swiped from Darwin’s World. I’m not sure if I want to implement them in the Barrier Peaks game, but they may be of interest to others who are starting a Mutant Future campaign.

Every character comes from somewhere. Your background defines your character as a personality and sets the stage for your behavior, beliefs, and ethical code. In game terms, a character’s background determines his Ability modifiers, technological familiarity, starting languages, and can grant special abilities or restrictions.

Your choice of available backgrounds will depend on your race. There are five backgrounds presented here: survivor (the default background), degenerate, resentful, throwback, and tribal.


Survivors are the ordinary denizens who inhabit the rebuilt towns and hardscrabble villages that are scattered throughout the wastes. This is the ‘default’ post-apocalyptic background in Mutant Future.

Game Rule Information:

Survivors possess the following background traits:

Race: Any.

Ability Modifiers: Survivors receive no bonuses or penalties to their ability scores.

Tech Level: Standard. Survivors have no bonuses or penalties on Technology Rolls.

Automatic Language: Unislang. Gutterspeak and the High Tongue are common second languages. Like most backgrounds, survivors are typically illiterate (unless they are Pure Humans or Androids).


Some communities were once (often within recent ancestral memory) capable of understanding the technology and culture of the Ancients, but has degenerated due to some set of circumstances – constant war, civil unrest, or a communal need to focus on other aspects of survival. Degenerate societies are generally on the decline, and will at some point likely break up or fall apart.

Game Rule Information:

Degenerates possess the following background traits:

Races: Any except Android.

Ability Modifiers: +1 Charisma, -1 Constitution. Degenerates are savvy and typically gregarious, though not as hardy as other characters.

Tech Level: Since their communities still possess some knowledge of Ancient relics, degenerates receive a +10% bonus on their Technology Rolls.

Automatic Language: Gutterspeak. Unislang and occasionally the High Tongue are also spoken. Literacy level is determined by Intellect score, as per usual.

Ruin Sense: Accustomed to living amongst the ruins of the Ancients, degenerates gain a +2 bonus on Ability Checks to avoid potential mishaps from exploring unsafe structures.


There are many who look at the devastation wrought upon the world and blame the Ancients’ technological hubris for the Fall. Those who reject technology, known as ‘resentfuls’, now seek to rebuild and preserve it by progressing only to a point they deem natural. They use hand-woven fabrics and natural weapons and tools, and either shun pre-Fall technology or actively seek to eradicate it.

Game Rule Information:

Resentfuls possess the following background traits:

Races: Any except Android.

Ability Modifiers: +1 Strength, -1 Intelligence. Resentfuls are willing to work hard, but often reject knowledge and learning as ‘tainted’ by the Ancients.

Tech Level: Resentfuls distrust technology and receive a -10% penalty on all Technology Rolls.

Automatic Language: Unislang. Tribal dialects are also widely spoken. Most resentfuls are illiterate, as per the standard rules.

Tech Foe: Resentfuls gain a +1 bonus on damage rolls against higher-tech foes. This bonus applies to robots, cyborgs, soldiers in powered armour, or even an otherwise low-tech enemy with a blaster or other high-tech weapon. A resentful loses this bonus for the adventure session if he has used higher-tech items or is equipped with any higher-tech gear.


Throwbacks are the self-styled guardians of all things Ancient. While some throwbacks become crotchety curmudgeons, always muttering about the ‘good old days’, most are youthful and optimistic. They often become leaders; their hope and firm convictions garner them followers fairly easily.

Game Rule Information:

Throwbacks possess the following background traits:

Race: Pure, Stock, or Near-Human only.

Ability Modifiers: +1 Charisma, -1 Strength. A throwback’s optimistic insights reassure others, but they tend to let others do the hard work.

Tech Level: Because of their familiarity with the Ancients, throwbacks automatically understand Complexity Class 1 artifacts and receive a +10% bonus on all other Technology Rolls.

Automatic Language: The High Tongue. Unislang is also very common. A throwback’s literacy is determined by race and Intelligence.

Naïve: Because of their idealistic worldview, throwbacks receive a -2 penalty on all bluff-related Ability Checks as well as attempts to determine the true motives of others.


Primitive communities, far removed from centres of remaining technology, have returned to hunting and gathering for survival. Often fiercely xenophobic, tribal villages are typically surrounded by pits, spear traps, and other hazards. Tribal characters are often deeply suspicious of outsiders and most view ancient technology with a mixture of fear and awe.

Game Rule Information:

Tribals possess the following background traits:

Races: Any except Android and Pure Human.

Ability Modifiers: +1 Constitution, -1 Intelligence. Tribals are tough and self-sufficient, but usually don’t receive formal education of any sort.

Tech Level: Tribals are primitive and suffer a -10% penalty to Technology Rolls. In addition, a tribal cannot make Technology Rolls for Complexity Class 3 artifacts – they are beyond their comprehension.

Automatic Language: Tribal dialect. Unislang and the dialects of neighbouring Tribal groups may also be spoken. Like most characters, tribals are illiterate by default and must select ‘Literacy’ as a bonus language to be able to read and write.

Radiation Tolerance: Exposure to radiation in the post-apocalyptic wastes has provided tribals with a tolerance to its effects. Treat all radiation exposure as one class lower in terms of damage and effects.



  1. Like I mention above; I don’t think I’m going to implement backgrounds in the current campaign. They’re posted here for interest (and because I already had put them together for a different game system and were east to convert).

  2. If you like this optional rule, then check out the four Additional Backgrounds that I’ve added.

    Note that I’ve also incorporated some of the Additional Races into the background descriptions.

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