SRD5:Background

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Every story has a beginning. Your character’s background reveals where you came from, how you became an adventurer, and your place in the world. Your fighter might have been a courageous knight or a grizzled soldier. Your wizard could have been a sage or an artisan. Your rogue might have gotten by as a guild thief or commanded audiences as a jester.

Choosing a background provides you with important story cues about your character’s identity. The most important question to ask about your background is what changed? Why did you stop doing whatever your background describes and start adventuring? Where did you get the money to purchase your starting gear, or, if you come from a wealthy background, why don’t you have more money? How did you learn the skills of your class? What sets you apart from ordinary people who share your background?

The sample background presented here provides both concrete benefits (features, proficiencies, and languages) and roleplaying suggestions.

Proficiencies

Each background gives a character proficiency in two skills (described in “Using Ability Scores”). In addition, most backgrounds give a character proficiency with one or more tools (detailed in “Equipment”). If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead.

Languages

Some backgrounds also allow characters to learn additional languages beyond those given by race. See “Languages.”

Equipment

Each background provides a package of starting equipment. If you use the optional rule to spend coin on gear, you do not receive the starting equipment from your background.

Suggested Characteristics

A background contains suggested personal characteristics based on your background. You can pick characteristics, roll dice to determine them randomly, or use the suggestions as inspiration for characteristics of your own creation.

Customizing a Background

You might want to tweak some of the features of a background so it better fits your character or the campaign setting. To customize a background, you can replace one feature with any other one, choose any two skills, and choose a total of two tool proficiencies or languages from the sample backgrounds. You can either use the equipment package from your background or spend coin on gear as described in the equipment section. (If you spend coin, you can’t also take the equipment package suggested for your class.) Finally, choose two personality traits, one ideal, one bond, and one flaw. If you can’t find a feature that matches your desired background, work with your GM to create one.

End of the SRD5 material

List of Backgrounds

34 Backgrounds (official and unofficial)

Background Skills Tools Languages Specialty Feature Summary Notes Sources
Acolyte Insight, Religion Two of your choice Shelter of the Faithful Person of the cloth Canon SRD-OGL v5.1
Athlete Acrobatics, Athletics Vehicles (land) One of your choice Favored Event Echoes of Victory Famous Athlete Canon, Pointer Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Urban Bounty Hunter Choose two from among Deception, Insight, Persuasion, and Stealth Choose two from among one type of gaming set, musical instrument, and thieves' tools Ear to the Ground Bounty Hunter of cities and towns Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Charlatan Deception, Sleight of Hand Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit Favorite Schemes False Identity Con man, someone who pretends to be someone else. Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
City Watch Athletics, Insight Two of your choice Watcher's Eye Duly ordaned keeper of the peace Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Clan Crafter History, Insight One type of Artisan's Tools Dwarvish or one of your choice if you already know it. Respect of the Stout Folk Apprentice of a Dwarven Master Artisan Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Cloistered Scholar History, plus your choice of one from among Arcana, Nature, and Religion Two of your choice Library Access Librarian Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Courtier Insight, Persuasion Two of your choice Court Functionary Court of Nobles Bureaucrat Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Criminal Deception, Stealth One type of Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools Criminal Specialty Criminal Contact Thief, thug, hired killer, con-man Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Drow Scarred Stealth, Deception Cooking, Mining or Cleaning Undercommon A fitting sacrifice former slave of the drow User Creation Dingobabee
Entertainer Acrobatics, Performance Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument Entertainer Routines By Popular Demand Actor, dancer, musician, poet Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Faction Agent Insight and one Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma skill of your choice, as appropriate to your faction. Two of your choice Factions of the Sword Coast Save Haven You belong to an ideological organization and sought to advance its goals Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Far Traveler Insight, Perception Musical Instrument One of your choice Why you are Here All Eyes on You You hail from a place far, far away Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Folk Hero Animal Handling, Survival One type of Artisan's Tools, Vehicles (Land) Defining Event Rustic Hospitality Local Hero Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Gladiator Acrobatics, Performance Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument By Popular Demand You fight for an audience Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Guild Artisan Insight, Persuasion One type of Artisan's Tools One of your Choice Guild Business Guild Membership Member of an artisan guild Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Guild Merchant Insight, Persuasion One set of Navigator's Tools One of your Choice Guild Business Guild Membership Seller of an artisan guild's goods Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Haunted One Choose one of Arcana, Investigation, Religion, or Survival Choose one exotic language (Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Draconic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan, or Undercommon) Harrowing Event Heart of Darkness Encountered the supernatural at a young age and survived Canon, Pointer Curse of Strahd
Hermit Medicine, Religion Herbalism Kit One of your choice Life of Seclusion Discovery You have separated yourself from others Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Inheritor Survival, plus one from among Arcana, History, and Religion Your choice of Gaming Set or a Musical Instrument Any one of your choice Inheritance An item of legacy was entrusted to you Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Investigator Insight, Investigation Two of your choice Watcher's Eye Police detective Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Knight History, Persuasion One type of Gaming Set One of your Choice Retainers Background: Knight, lowest of nobility Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Knight of the Order Persuasion, plus one from among Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion, as appropriate for your order. One type of gaming set or musical instrument. One of your Choice Knightly Regard Background: Knight of the Order Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Mercenary Veteran Athletics, Persuasion One type of gaming set, vehicles (land). Mercenary Life Soldier of Fortune Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Noble History, Persuasion One type of Gaming Set One of your Choice Position of Privilege Background: Member of nobility Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Waterdhavian Noble History, Persuasion One type of Gaming Set or Musical Instrument One of your choice Kept in Style You are the offspring of a noble of Waterdeep Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Outlander Athletics, Survival One type of musical instrument. One of your choice Origin Wanderer You have lived outside civilization Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Pirate Athletics, Perception Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water) Bad Reputation You have served aboard a pirate ship Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Sage Arcana, History Two of your choice Specialty Reseacher You have studied lore. Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Sailor Athletics, Perception Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water) Ship's Passage You have earned a living onboard a ship Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Soldier Athletics, Intimidation One type of gaming set, vehicles (land). Specialty Military Rank Enlisted Soldier Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Spy Deception, Stealth One type of Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools Criminal Specialty Criminal Contact Infiltrator, private investigator, spy Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Urchin Sleight of Hand, Stealth Disguise Kit, thieves' tools City Secrets You grew up on the streets Canon, Pointer Player's Handbook (5e)
Uthdardt Tribe Member Athletics, Survival One type of Musical Instrument or Artisan Tools One of your choice Uthgardt Heritage You grew up in a tribe of Uthgardt Canon, Pointer Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide

Sources and Notes

User Creations

Make Your Own Background

To make a user created background copy the text from the Background Boilerplate and paste it into a new page. Then fill in the information for your background.


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