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So we're kicking off a 13th Age campaign, and I'm trying to make an elderly character. In his backstory he was a high-ranking paladin who made some terrible decisions, led a misguided crusade north of the Iron Sea, fell, went home to his tiny village defeated and was intended to be a ranger at level one at the beginning of the game.
My DM says that's a no go.
His argument boils down to my character having visited champion- and epic-tier environments before the game, described on page 183 of the core book.
But I'm looking at the suggested backgrounds like those of the fighter on page 102 of the core book, which suggest things like "Sea Wall veteran," implying a character with such a background has fought giant monsters; or "bankrupt nobleman," which implies a character with that background, at level 1, would come from a bigger city described in part on page 183 as a champion-tier environment.
Naturally I think the adventurer/champion/epic distinction doesn't kick in until the game starts, since 183 describes environments as "any place in the game world that a player might want to make a skill check."