View Full Version : Help with terminology for backgrounds

Xuc Xac
2016-04-22, 06:30 PM
I'm working on a new system that features skill bonuses for a character's background elements. Things like growing up in the frozen tundra, or being raised in a major port city, or spending a large amount of time in a temple before starting adventuring.

The problem is I'm having trouble coming up with a short and simple name for the social milieu background. For a cliched example, an elf who was a commoner but served extensively in a noble court of their forest kingdom would have

Terrain (Forest) for their familiarity with that environment.
Class (Commoner) for their familiarity with that social class. A noble would be shaped by very different experiences even if they both have familiarity with the same court.
Race (Elf) for the common everyday knowledge all elves know about their culture and traditions.
? (Court) for the knowledge and skills gained in the noble court.

Other examples in this category would be things like "Academia/University", "Temple", "The Docks", "The Slums", "Fortification", or "Village". These are places where not everyone does the same job, but everyone picks up some common knowledge related to the function of the place. For example, a soldier will learn soldiering no matter where he's stationed, but one that worked as a temple guard will pick up some knowledge of religious matters. Not everyone in the temple is a priest, after all, and not every priest is in a temple. A priest that served as the chaplain in a military fort will probably pick up some military knowledge just from being around soldiers all day and being told where to stand during a siege. A blacksmith in that fortress would pick up the same knowledge, but a blacksmith in a rural farming village would pick up some knowledge about farming because most of the people in the village are farmers.

What's a good simple name for that category of places, institutions, and social milieu?

2016-04-24, 05:48 AM
I'd suggest "workplace". Each of your examples seems to be about familiarity with a type of workplace.

2016-04-24, 07:45 AM
Some ideas:

Background - Short, simple, and to the point. Moreover, this is probably the closest thing to an in-character term as you can get. If you ask someone what their background is, they're likely to respond with their job.

Resume - Kinda gets the same idea across as "workplace," but implies a past tense that might not have anything to do with what the character does now.

Work experience - More or less the same thing as "resume".

Day job - What the character does when they aren't saving the world from Big Bad things.

That's all I have for now. Hope these are helpful.