I am not very pro-NC. It's the kind of thing I wouldn't want to be thrown into without warning and discussion beforehand.
As for exotic, the farthest I might go are humanoids with animal qualities, such as centaurs, nagas, and other hybrids. Fully animalistic characters are a turn-off for me.
There's plenty of weirder stuff out on the Wheel than animal-people...
Also, here are some thoughts, if people are interested in Connections:
Ihaana & Perrin van Slithers
: I kind of like the idea that at some point, Ihaana found herself indebted to Perrin and wound up at the heart of a cat-and-mouse (snake and mouse?) chase through Sigil for a few weeks, perhaps headed off by a confrontation between the two (that somehow results in Ihaana not getting knee-capped, preferably!) Maybe she took pity on a fellow Sensate, or appreciated the opportunity to lead a manhunt. Maybe she managed to repay her debt through not-entirely-legal means. I dunno! It's just a thought!
Ihaana & Harmony
: There is the met-on-expedition thing that you mentioned early on! Being trapped in some strange foreign judicial system sounds like it would have been exciting (or horrifying.) Alternately, I can imagine Ihaana taking advantage of the gullible, naked new Sensate and using her as a tool in some kind of con; she'd make for a great distraction, if nothing else. (Ihaana might not be incredibly moral.)
Ihaana & Alzeggra
: I don't have any exciting ideas for associations with Alzeggra just yet. I get the impression that Ihaana and Alzeggra might not get along great; Ihaana's predisposed against priests from the outset, after all; she'd be a strong candidate for the Athar if she didn't like the Sensate atmosphere better.
I am having a heck of a time coming up with a background and it isn't much of a character for me if I don't have lots of background.
Maybe we could help? There's a lot that can be done with Planescape! The near-endless supply of Prime Material planes gives a lot of leeway, too, if you don't mind a character who arrived in Sigil Clueless at some point (that's the approach I went with!)