Combing magic with an emergent technology these workers of fire are usually about celebration and frivolity. They remain rare in most D&D worlds. When they work they are paid quite well. But outside of the largest communities there is little need for a Sparkler. For this reason they often travel in a small group of other Sparklers, attached to a circus, or maybe even part of an empires retinue.
This Dungeons & Dragons background is designed for 5th edition. It also adds a new tool (using PHB rules) and a new exotic weapon. The Sparkler grants a cantrip rather than one of the skills and tools/languages that are typical of backgrounds.
You are a master of smokepowder or gunpowder as appropriate to your world. Using these powders you can create displays to inspire or scare thinking beings. As a Sparkler you have also learned how to combine these effects with magic, thereby increasing the the scope of your art.
Often hired as an entertainer the Sparkler is in high demand during festival season. Due to wandering between large and/or rich communities your close friends tend to be the other Sparklers and your hosts.
Your knowledge of the powders is often approached as a magic much more powerful than it is, because it is both different and rare. Most Sparklers hide this knowledge from the general public working in secret except during their performances. Some Sparklers specialize in aerial displays, others in massive thunderous noises, and a few even weave the illuminating powder into their fluid dances and twirling — all are artists.
Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics or Performance
Tool Proficiencies: Fireworks
Cantrip: Minor Illusion
Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Costume, flint & steel, assorted fireworks including 3 rockets all stored in an oilcloth backpack, pouch with 5 gp
Feature: Ooohs and Ahhhhhs
Given a few minutes to prepare, you can create a wonderous display of lights and sounds that can serve as a distraction. This display may be augmented by your Minor Illusion. This display can serve as a distraction for some guards, as inspiration for a besieged city, or as a reward for those who have worked hard. The display, whether spells are used or not, feels supernatural to those who watch it.
Characteristics: For now, use those from the Entertainer, Guild Artisan, or pick & choose as appropriate for your concept. Whenever my background project sees full publication there will be unique characteristics for each of them.
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Cost: 150 gp | Weight: 20 lbs
Proficiency with fireworks means that you know how to safely store and transport the pseudomagical devices known as fireworks. You are also proficient in how to set up a small display that would entertain a group for a few minutes. This could be an aerial, ground, or sound based display — or a mix of all three. Larger displays would require several people proficient in the tool to work together.
Additionally you know how to create more fireworks. With the necessary supplies you can create a new display or three rockets during a long rest. The supplies may not be readily available.
Type: Firearms Ranged Weapon | Cost: 10 gp | Weight: 1 lbs | Damage: 2d4 | Type: Fire | Properties: Ranged (30/90), Loading, Special*
*On a hit those within 5′ of the target must succeed on a saving throw or take half damage.
All awakened rodents are proficient in rockets.
Sparkler Design Goals
The desire here is to have a real-world, culture-neutral version of a fireworks specialist. The primary example of these in fiction is the Illuminators from the Wheel of Time series, which share some aspects of Romany culture and some from aspects from various northeast Asian cultures.
Additionally the Sparkler serves to introduce a new tool and a new weapon to the game. The Rocket varies from the standard firearms rules by being a charge on a stick that would be pointed at a target either held in the hand or planted in ground, and then lit. Players may develop other ways to use them rather than just as a first round attack.