Flintlocks & Fireballs
Backgrounds: Who Do You Think You Are?
Backgrounds replace Classes in vanilla 4e D&D, as follows:
Flintlocks and Firearms is a game in which humans are the dominant species — as such, it doesn’t make sense to have a party consisting of a wide kaliedoscope of elves, orcs, angels, minotaurs, golems, elementals, werewolves and half-dragon-half-demon weregolems. At the same time, player races are an important part of D&D4e’s game balance. To solve this, most of the races in D&D4e have been reskinned as humans with different backgrounds.
A background represents the culture your character was brought up in and the values she holds. A Wilder is a Wilder not because her parents were Wilders, but because she grew up in the Wilds learning the skills you need to survive outside of civilisation. A Trader isn’t the offspring of two Traders; he’s a man who learned the bargaining-rituals of the Traders. Sometimes, things are ambigious: someone with Imperial blood who grew up in the slums of Riverport might be Stellazzo or Imperial depending on whose values they held more strongly and which background’s advantages were more relevant to them.
The most important thing about backgrounds is that, like races in vanilla D&D4e, you can only have one. If multiple backgrounds might apply to your character, you must choose the one that is most fitting and disregard the rest — at least from a system standpoint.
There are a number of other races available to D&D players which aren’t listed here. If there’s one you’d particularly like to play, it might be possible to reskin it so that it fits the setting.