While your character might have a life full of remarkable events and chance connections, two things in particular stand out. These are your Backgrounds, and they are core to the mystery of why you've been brought to the motel. There are 20 to choose from - each has:
If you think a particular background doesn't quite fit something you have in mind, get in touch and we'll be happy to talk things through with you.
Whether you found a suitcase full of money on the pavement, inherited millions from an unknown relative, or had angel investors pour unwarranted levels of capital into your company, you’re incredibly wealthy and you don’t know why.
Let us know how you got the money, and what you’ve used it for since.
Knack: I have so much money that I can afford any personal-scale purchase.
Once you were a high flyer - rich, influential, getting close to being a household name. Then it all turned to ashes. Maybe there was a scandal that hit out of nowhere, stock prices dropping like a stone, or everyone simply stopped returning your calls. Now you have the smallest fraction of what you had before, but at least you still have some friends from the old life.
Tell us what sort of prestige you had, and how it all went bad.
Knack: I have contacts among the rich and famous willing to do me a favour.
The first you heard of it was when you were called in to the big corner office by your boss's boss's boss, or kicked to the ground by the police, or faced an Intervention from you nearest and dearest. The law, your old friends, your family might all think you did it, but you know it was someone else. No matter how hard you tried to clear your name it was always countered by a new ironclad piece of evidence. After you were fined, fired or got out of prison you looked into it. Everywhere you searched you found records of a life you didn't live, and it kept on happening. Now you live with the proverbial Sword of Damocles over your head, never sure if today is the day grainy CCTV footage turns up clearly showing you committing assault, theft, or even murder. Worse, you get the district impression that none of this is really about you. On the other hand, the District Court did just quash that entirely warranted speeding ticket after evidence emerged proving you had been in Alaska at the time in question.
Tell us what you were framed for, and what the key piece of evidence was that convinced everyone it was you.
Knack: You always have an alibi. It has a plan.
You've spent a long time in some sort of restrictive institution - likely a prison, although a psychiatric hospital or a juvenile detention centre are also options. It was pretty bad to start with, but once the facility came under new management it got much worse - budgets slashed for counselling and quality-of-life things, agressive and uncaring guards, and inmates taken away to unknown chambers from which they never returned. You spent long enough in there that adapting to the outside world is difficult, but hey at least you started picking up a few tricks to help you survive in a such a controlling environment. Getting a pack of cards, some cigarettes (or more illegal substances), keeping a shiv on you at all times - all useful in a pinch. But there was more to it than that, you were just so good that you kept pushing. Once you got a whole watermelon in. You can't explain it, but that doesn't seem to stop you managing it.
Tell us how you ended up there, and whether you're still meant to be in there.
Knack: I can quickly hide something palm-sized on my person and it won't be found. With time, I can hide something as big as a microwave on my person, or conceal something as big as a car in situ.
You were thrown into a terrifying situation of mass devastation. Whether it was a natural disaster, a war zone, or a man-made tragedy, as it reached its worst you went through a weird break from reality and came out with newly-discovered reserves of inner reserves of strength and endurance. You pushed on and came out the other side whole, but the same cannot be said for the people who were with you - those that didn't die or go missing are now a shadow of their former self.
Tell us about the catastrophe, and who or what it took from you.
Knack: I won't be badly hurt by any large-scale catastrophe.
You can barely remember what life was like before them. Their offer came out of the blue - so long as you did what they asked with no questions or hesitation, they would make sure any hurdles life threw at you were… smoothed away. Whenever someone was causing difficulties all you needed to do was call a number, hand the phone over and watch as anger turned to shock turned to resignation. Even with that asset, though, the tasks your benefactors set you test your skills to the limit - and woe betide if you can't carry out their wishes.
Tell us what they've asked you to do, and how that went.
Knack: I know a number I can call to get someone very persuasive on the phone.
Occasionally, one of your dreams really sticks in your head. Not the meaningless ones, with your teeth falling out and your dog running for president, but strangely mundane ones of normal life. Every so often, you hear about some event and remember it happening in the background of a dream - being reported on over the news, happening outside the cafe you happened to be in, or the topic of a book your friend was telling you about. The thing is, the details from the dream always check out as true, even when you have to dig deep to verify them. You've learned to pay attention to those dreams in particular, and keep a look out for elements from them in the waking world.
Tell us one dream you've had that you hope was prophetic, and one dream you hope wasn't.
Knack: Once per session I can say something was in my dream, and get a bit more insight on it from the GMs.
Everyone has times when they feel like things have happened before, like coincidences are too perfect, like the world suddenly stopped making sense. You've felt that, on and off, all your life, but there came a day that ramped that through the roof. Maybe it was exactly the same as the previous one, or the same people happened to be present no matter where you went. The next day brought no relief, or the next, until desperation and strange inspiration lead you to try something that shouldn't have worked - but did. As soon as you finished your makeshift ritual the world returned to normal, with only you aware anything had happened. Since then, where others might brush strange things off as a trick of memory or a momentary confusion, you know. You know the world is broken.
Tell us what went weird, and what you did to try and stop it.
Knack: I can spot anomalies in reality. With time and preparation I can manufacture a deja vu and cause an anomaly in reality, and while I won't be able to specify what it is, or control it once it starts, overall it will tend to help rather than hinder.
There's a presence that haunts you. Its effect is subtle - cold spots in your house, whispers in static, unlucky coincidences happening to those who bring you grief. While the presence tends to go wherever you go there's a particular medium it prefers to manifest through - maybe animals, dolls, radio sets, or something else. Occasionally you get hints of the entity's motives, nature, and what it desires from you, and while any attempt at exorcising the presence has failed you've been able to put together scraps of occult lore into a way of communicating with it. It's strangely willing to do your bidding, though when it's free to improvise its tastes tend towards the entropic and macabre.
Tell us when you first became aware of the entity, what it's done for you, and what your ritual to communicate with it entails.
Knack: I can reliably communicate with the entity and can ask it to do things for me.
The community you were raised in was insular, non-conformist and centred around a… non-traditional belief system. You left the commune (or it broke up) before your teens and you had a pretty normal upbringing afterwards, but as you entered adulthood you realised there were things that didn't fit right; conversations with your grandmother years after she died, houses warmed by recited nonsense rhymes instead of fuel, keeping a glowing ember as a childhood pet. When you tried to remember precise details it was like grabbing clouds, but reenacting one of those childhood rituals did something. Something almost imperceptible, but suggesting much stranger possibilities.
Tell us what sort of things your commune believed in, and whether you're still in contact with anyone else from it.
Knack: One of the little rituals I was raised with is strangely effective. The GMs will let you know what it does!
Somehow, your career ended up on a conveyor belt - every promotion lead smoothly to another, without you even having to think about it. After a while you realised you had no idea what your job was meant to be now - you just came into work, sent emails, chatted around the water cooler, and passed your performance reviews with flying colours. When you happened to think about it, the conglomerate you worked for seemed to be ubiquitous but anonymous, a logo only seem among dozens of others. Still, there's a certain benefit to being a member of a company that everybody has to deal with.
Tell us the name of your company, and what weirds you out about your supervisor.
Knack: With a phone call and enough time for the orders to filter through I can get a position at any other business as a consultant.
It was a standard night. You were on your own - maybe in your room, or driving down dark country roads, or the last person to leave the office - and a blinding light appeared that immediately wiped out everything else. Next thing you knew it was several hours later, you were somewhere completely different, and you felt ice cold. You have no idea where you went, but some fragments of memory hint at floating in a vast nothingness…
Tell us how it happened, and how it's affected your life since.
Knack: I have some sort of doohickey that has felt important to me since the abduction.
You were dying, you were asked to sign a form, there was blackness, and you were better.
Tell us what you were dying from, and what you remember of the people who offered you the deal.
Knack: We'll tell you what's up after character creation.
Someone's dead, and it's your fault. Did they have it coming, or was it an accident or moment of madness? Whether the laws of the land have punished you or not, some guilt still lingers - you just can't push the thought of their dying moments out of your mind. Until you can make amends, move on, or otherwise exorcise the spectre hanging over you, this guilt is going to drag you down. There's a certain self-awareness that comes with guilt this deep - you know exactly what you're capable of, and you're damned certain you're not going to put yourself through this guilt again.
Tell us what happened, whether you've been punished for it, and what you plan on doing to cleanse your conscience.
Knack: I can trust my gut - once per session I can ask a GM a 'What if' ( e.g., “What if I kick down the door right now?”, “What if Mrs Kramensky learnt she was actually a Robot, “What if Operation Valkyrie actually killed Hitler?” ).
You were going through something harrowing - surgery, deprivation, trauma, a bad trip. All of a sudden the stresses and pains melted away, and you found yourself watching it all happen like it was a hundred miles away. You felt yourself drifting up through the ceiling, rising until the world was laid out beneath you like a model. As you drifted up into the stratosphere you felt something hanging above you, something mesmerisingly complex and intensely aware of your presence. Then you lost conciousness.
Weeks or months later you remembered this experience, and little by little recaptured that feeling of pushing your conciousness beyond your physical form. You haven't pushed it, for fear of your body collapsing or having a seizure - not to mention the feeling of incredible vulnerability.
Tell us how you first projected out of your body, and what you've glimpsed while projecting.
Knack: With some meditation I can project my perception out of my body floating at a walking pace.
You had a terminal illness or a long-term disability - possibly you thought you were never going to walk again, or would be dead within a few months. One day, quite suddenly, you fell unconscious - maybe while doing something mundane, or perhaps in the middle of some chaotic disaster. When you woke up you were fine - not just free of any injuries from blacking out, but in the peak of health. Your doctors and carers are baffled, but you feel energised and motivated by a vitality inside you that doesn't seem to be going away.
Tell us what you were suffering from, and the circumstances surrounding your healing.
Knack: So long as something doesn't kill me I'll be able to push through it and heal within a day or so.
You're connected: you may or may not be a full-time mafioso but you certainly know plenty, possibly doing the odd job for them or helping their businesses stay just this side of legitimate. You're somewhere in the middle of their hierarchy, and while you know the people directly above and below you the upper echelons of the organisation are still a mystery.
Tell us how you got recruited, and what you've done for them to maintain your credibility.
Knack: I can get the group to do me illicit favours - launder money, impede an investigation, kill someone, etc.
One of your family recently died. Maybe it was drawn out and expected, or maybe it was terribly sudden. In the wake of their passing you found yourself connecting with relatives you'd grown apart from or never really knew, and those connections have remained even as the initial shock and grief of the death faded into a background murmur. Having lost one of your kin, your resolve has strengthened - you'll be there to support each other, through thick and thin, and between you there's a surprising diverse set of skills.
Tell us about the person who died, and the personality and skills of your two closest family members.
Knack: I have a close bond with two family members, and they'll help when asked. Nobody can give you a kidney like a sibling.
You're a hustler, the best in the business. Or at least, you thought you were. You and your crew were notorious, cheating greedy marks out of their money with guile and intricate planning. From simple grafts to complex, protracted con jobs, your crew went from strength to strength. Then, one day, you picked a target and put them through the ringer and ended up with something quite unexpected. Now you have something so hot, or so strange that you can't possibly get rid of it - and hey, sometimes it is quite useful, but your original mark (or maybe their friends) are pissed and are looking for you. Maybe you've adopted a new cover identity, or perhaps you're on the run, but either way you are being hunted.
Tell us who the mark was, what you stole, and who the other members of your crew were.
Knack: Something I stole came with baggage I'm only beginning to understand.
You made an incredible discovery others were hesitant to believe, but as you went further and started gathering evidence that proved your hypothesis things got nasty. Strangers appeared, waving credentials and stating in no uncertain terms that you must hand over all research and products thereof on pain of fines, prison and worse. Maybe you complied, maybe you didn't and suffered the consequences. Either way, with none of your notes and evidence your research was dead aside from the scraps you could remember.
Tell us what your discovery was, and what you've seen that makes you think it's incomplete.
Knack: I still remember the basics of my discovery, and can always ask the GMs what I need to do to uncover the rest of it.