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5e Character Backgrounds: Demagogue


Someone who has made a living being a demagogue is comfortable speaking to crowds, appealing to their emotions, and getting the gathered people to do something. Often they live on donations and in-kind aid for their cause. In bigger cities they might be a regular fixture in the local politics but in smaller towns, a demagogue often wanders a larger region to avoid putting too much strain on their patrons’ charity. The cause they champion may change, but the fiery passion that they defend it with does not. 

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, Deception

Tool Proficiencies: Forgery Kit, Disguise Kit

Equipment: Forgery Kit, Disguise Kit, a folding wooden step stool, a speaking trumpet, and a pouch containing 5 gp.


Rally the People

If you spend time at a gathering of people who can hear and understand you, you can instill them with a passionate speech. This allows you to influence their reaction towards a target group of your choice over the course of ten minutes, making them one step friendlier or more hostile, your choice. This lasts until the gathered group disperses or until they take their next short rest. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a short rest.

Suggested Characteristics

A demagogue is a passionate speaker and often outspoken defender of a cause or ideal. They do best when leading an emotional crowd, although many are well-versed in calm debate tactics as well, to the detriment of hecklers or opponents that think them fragile. The bedrock of their cause or ideology is strongly interwoven with their personality, where a kind heart might lead to championing the plights of the poor or a vengeful heart might seek to rile up a defense against besieging forces. One who has been in this line of work does not shy away from being the center of attention or meeting the verbal challenges with cutting words of their own. 

d8 Personality Trait:

  1. Brash. I know what I’m doing and I’m going to do it.
  2. Magnanimous. I use my voice to help those without one.
  3. Shepherd. I steer any who would listen away from dangers seen and unseen.
  4. Idealist. I am always seeking the right words to influence the right people to fix everything.
  5. Performer. On this stage that we call life, I wear the confidence that those around me need to hear.
  6. Manipulator. I gather those that will do what I say, even if they have to be tricked into doing so.
  7. Righteous. My beliefs cannot be compromised and they bleed into every conversation I have.
  8. Muckraker. I undermine and dig at those around me, uncovering hypocrisies and secrets.

d6 Ideal:

  1. Community. Restoring, building, or expanding a close-knit faction is the ultimate good.
  2. Orthodoxy. A unity of purpose and beliefs among all people will lead us to a greater world.
  3. Fury. Wrongs and evils must be addressed or the wounds of the world cannot heal.
  4. Honesty. People cannot connect or grow in a world of shut hearts and deceitful words.
  5. Upheaval. The existing order of the world cannot hold and must be first torn down.
  6. Presentation. Words become thoughts become beliefs, so we must present our best selves to improve. 

d6 Bond: 

  1. Pastor. A pastor I replaced or ousted is still a prominent figure in some circles. 
  2. Councilor. My past work in politics has made a powerful city council member a friend I can call on.
  3. Outcast. A community pariah hates me for getting them expelled and has nothing to lose.
  4. Supporter. Some commoner has fallen under my sway and would sacrifice a great deal to help my cause.
  5. Folk Hero. When I gave that speech I didn’t expect a town hero to befriend me and ally my cause.
  6. Disciple. An intellectual or noble regularly corresponds with me as their teacher in my beliefs.

d6 Flaw: 

  1. Cynical. I have trouble finding other’s sincere in their opposition or indifference, I seek hidden motives.
  2. Stubborn. Even in the rare case I change my mind, it is like I was never mistaken in the first place.
  3. Gullible. I am drawn to people’s spoken and unspoken stories, easily believing the flimsiest of evidence.
  4. Incendiary. I always get the last word, and if I’m losing, I will make sure it hurts. Truth cuts the deepest.
  5. Uncompromising. Those who think there are shades of gray are gullible,  malicious, or both.
  6. Deceitful. I sweeten my words and bend the truth because weaker minds cannot handle the whole truth.

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