Well, we’re up to the Fighter now. To be perfectly honest, I never thought I’d get this far. As always, these are just ideas to spark your imagination, so if you hate them, keep it to yourself. Or don’t. What do I care? I’m just a webpage. Wanna fight about it?
As a worshipper of a God of War (Thor, Tempus, Kord, Crom, Ares, etc.) you were raised on the tenets of the church, which are basically, “fight everything the church tells you to”. As such you were probably sent out into the world to spread the gospel, and for those unwilling to listen, to beat the gospel into them with a mace.
While you’re an experienced fighter, you’ve mastered the arts of making it look like you’re on the verge of death, and throwing fights when you need to. In this way you and a partner have made money from unsuspecting townsfolk, until one day someone figured out what you were doing and you went on the run, taking your skills out to the wilds to earn your cash.
This is the mugger. The criminal who waits in back alleys for unsuspecting victims and then uses their size to intimidate them, or just saps them over the back of the head and takes all their stuff. As a last-ditch effort to avoid jail time, you have become a wandering adventurer, selling your muscle for cash.
The PHB gives this one away, as the alternate entertainer background is gladiator. So you’re a pit-fighter, someone who boxes on street corners for money, or someone who’s just willing to have a fist fight for cash, and the adoration of the crowds. And when you need real cash, you go adventuring.
Fighter Folk Hero
Folk Hero is like my favorite background because it’s like you get to be the Johnny Appleseed or William Tell for some small village. As a fighter you could be the guy who led a revolution against the petty tyrant mayor and his band of illicit lackeys. And then after freeing your village you either went on the run to adventure and escape punishment, or no one in the upper echelons of government cared about the tyrant you overthrew and you’re just out making your name into an even bigger legend.
Fighter Guild Artisan
Of course you’re a blacksmith. Too cliché? Clichés are a cliché for a reason. When you’re not using the hammer and tongs to forge better hammers, you use a hammer to hammer monsters, to make more money, to buy more iron, to hammer better hammers. Hammer. Hammer, hammer, hammer.
According to the player’s handbook there are no end of reasons people become hermits, but the one I like for the fighter is that you retreated from society after a life-altering event. I imagine you were being bullied and tormented and ran away to the wilderness where you taught yourself to survive, and now you travel the land as a noble hero, hoping to put an end to all bullies so no one ever has to go through what you did.
According to the landed gentry of medieval Europe, that pattern is the first born inherits the estate and enters politics, the second joins the army, the third goes into law, and the fourth joins the clergy. So you get one older brother, up to 2 younger brothers, and your path in life was chosen for you. Go forth, and bring honor and glory to your family name.
If he wasn’t so strongly associated with barbarian, this is where I’d put Conan. You are from a society that worships strength and fighting, and you have come to the “civilized” lands with nothing but a sword on your back and a desire to use your strength to become rich. Works great for a half-orc. What do you mean your leaders aren’t chosen through a battle royale? What the hell is a ‘noble lineage’?
I like the idea that this is a West Point graduate style fighter, who not only knows how to use a sword, but has also read the history and battle tactics of all the great and famous generals, and now has gone out into the world to apply this knowledge to small unit tactics, also known as dungeoneering.
It feels like the obvious thing here is ‘pirate‘, but I don’t want to go that way. Instead, I’ll stick with the soldier theme of fighter and say this guy is a naval officer, drafted into the king’s navy, taught to fight and sail ships, and now has his commission under his belt and is off to find something interesting to do with his life. He’s Popeye.
Obviously the default, since all soldiers are fighters, and fighting and soldiering are all pretty much the same thing. Fight, soldier, fight.
Being an urchin is hard, but being a big, strong urchin that knows how to fight? Well, still, not an easy life, but way better than being a scrawny little urchin that doesn’t know how to fight, right? This is your chance to get off the streets. Take all the things you’ve learned in street scraps and back alley brawls, and get out there and make yourself some money!