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Criminal Variants: Con Artist


Decided to take a pass at making a background. This time around I am making a background for a variation on Criminals. The general Criminal background is fine and I even use it for one of my PC’s but it seems to me that there was space for more. Criminals come in a wide range and having backgrounds to reflect some of those variations could be useful.  I thought I would start with a Con Artist.


A bit of trivia. The term “Mark” is a reference to a mark that was made on the back in chalk at carnivals.  The mark was to indicate the subject was susceptible to trickery. The chalk mark would be applied with a pat on the back. It has come to mean the subject of a confidence job in general.


On to the Background…

Con Artist

You are a master manipulator of people. You have lived your life as a con artist or a grifter. You present an image or identity to people to ingratiate yourself. Where some criminals might break into a home, or pick a pocket, you will instead be given what you want from your targets. They will want to give you things without the use of magic. It is a skill and you practice constantly.  Is there a point when you are not conning someone?


Skill Proficiencies. Insight, Deception

Language Proficiencies. One additional language

Tool Proficiencies. Forgery kit or Disguise kit

Equipment. A forgery kit or disguise kit, a set of fine clothes, a belt pouch, and 5 gp

Lifestyle. Modest

Feature: Marks on the Hook

You are actively on the con all the time. The subjects of your confidence games are called Marks.  It is tempting to think of them as rubes, as tools to be used, but the career con artists knows better. They are scattered throughout the community and can be the source of favors. These favors are minor and can include things like:

An introduction to an important official

An invitation to a party.

A bit of hard to find information

A minor discount on non-magical gear

Expending too many favors at once can “burn” a Mark, so spreading them around is usually the best choice. As a Con artist arrives in a new community, it is not hard to seek out new Marks. It usually only takes a day or so and a little money to spend on gifts and drinks.



d8           Personality Trait
  1. I love the finer things in life. Why eat when you can eat well.
  2. I try to keep things simple.  Too many distractions confuse things.
  3. I am afraid to speak to large groups.
  4. I often get lost when I am reading.
  5. My sense of direction is terrible, but I pretend it is perfect.
  6. I can’t pass up on a game.
  7. I always watch the exits with a plan to escape.
  8. People always think I am up to something, even when I am not.
d6           Ideal
  1. Fair: I may lie, but I always play fair. I play by a set of rules. (Lawful)
  2. Impulsive: I prefer to improvise. Screw the plan, I want to play. (Chaotic)
  3. Friendly: I always make people feel like they important and listened to. (Any)
  4. Detailed: I make sure every detail is accounted for and noted. (Any)
  5. Kind Hearted: No matter what, the people I go after deserve it. I don’t harm the poor, I don’t make grift a saint and I don’t do it to be mean. (Good)
  6.  Amoral: I will do whatever it takes because everyone deserves it. They are all suckers. (Evil)
d6           Bond
  1. I do it all for my large family. I was raised in the life.
  2. It is my city, my home, and my favorite cause.
  3. I owe a priest my life. They saved me and I will repay that someday.
  4. I will always be fond of my first crew.  I miss working with them.
  5. My heart will always belong the Lady/Lord who knows my real name.
  6. I routinely con noblemen into giving money, food and protection to a local church.
d6           Flaw
  1. I have an inflated sense of my own abilities and always push to far.
  2. I conned the wrong person.  The glittering feylord made it clear he will extract payment for it later. I live in fear of that day.
  3. I can’t help myself. I have to rub the rube’s face in all that I have taken then for.
  4. I am a drunk.  I will drink myself into a stupor if there is nothing else to do.
  5. I have no real loyalty.  I will do just about anything for the right amount of gold.
  6. One of my cons led to the death of a family.  I don’t know what to do about that or if I care.
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