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

General Background Features

This section presents optional features for any background. You may replace the standard feature of your background with any one of the options presented here. [1]

  • Inheritor [1]
  • Mist Wanderer [1]
  • Spirit Medium [1]
  • Trauma Survivor [2]
  • Traveler [2]

Bonus Feat

DM Optional. Some backgrounds provide a bonus feat at 1st level. If the GM allows such a background all player characters have access to one of the following bonus feats (if their background does not provide a bonus feat):

List of Backgrounds

49 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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Athlete Acrobatics, Athletics Vehicles (land) One of your choice Favored Event Echoes of Victory Famous Athlete Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Charlatan Deception, Sleight of Hand Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit Favorite Schemes False Identity Con man, someone who pretends to be someone else. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
City Watch Athletics, Insight Two of your choice Watcher's Eye Duly ordaned keeper of the peace Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Cloistered Scholar History, plus your choice of one from among Arcana, Nature, and Religion Two of your choice Library Access Librarian Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Courtier Insight, Persuasion Two of your choice Court Functionary Court of Nobles Bureaucrat Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Criminal Deception, Stealth One type of Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools Criminal Specialty Criminal Contact Thief, thug, hired killer, con-man Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Drow Scarred Stealth, Deception Cooking, Mining or Cleaning Undercommon A fitting sacrifice former slave of the drow , UA [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Entertainer Acrobatics, Performance Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument Entertainer Routines By Popular Demand Actor, dancer, musician, poet Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Feylost Deception, Survival One type of musical instrument. One of your choice of Elvish, Gnomish, Goblin, or Sylvan Feywild Visitor Feywild Connection You have lived in the Feywild. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Folk Hero Animal Handling, Survival One type of Artisan's Tools, Vehicles (Land) Defining Event Rustic Hospitality Local Hero Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Gate Warden persuasion, survival Two of your choice (Abyssal, Celestial, or Infernal recommended) Planar Infusion Your background includes significant time near a gate to another plane. Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Giant Foundling intimidation, survival Two of your choice Origin Stories Strike of the Giants You were adopted by giants. Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Gladiator Acrobatics, Performance Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument By Popular Demand You fight for an audience Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Haunted One Choose one of Arcana, Investigation, Religion, or Survival Choose two, one must be (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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Hermit Medicine, Religion Herbalism Kit One of your choice Life of Seclusion Discovery You have separated yourself from others Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Investigator Insight, Investigation Two of your choice Watcher's Eye Police detective Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Gothic Investigator Choose one of Insight, Investigation, or Perception Disguise Kit, Thieves' Tools Path to Mystery Official Inquiry You relentlessly seek the truth. Perhaps you're motivated by belief in the law and a sense of universal justice, or maybe that very law has failed you and you seek to make things right. You could have witnessed something remarkable or terrible, and now you must know more about this hidden truth. Or maybe you're a detective for hire, uncovering secrets for well-paying clients. Whether the mysteries you're embroiled in are local crimes or realm-spanning conspiracies, you're driven by a personal need to hunt down even the most elusive clues and reveal what others would keep hidden in the shadows. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Knight History, Persuasion One type of Gaming Set One of your Choice Retainers Background: Knight, lowest of nobility Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Knight of Solamnia Athletics, Survival Two of your choice Squire of Solamnia Background — Honorable knight of Solamina Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Lorehold Student History, Religion Two of your choice Lorehold Initiate Student of the Lorehold College Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Mage of High Sorcery Athletics, Survival Two of your choice Initiate of High Sorcery Background - a member of the Mages of High Sorcery Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Mercenary Veteran Athletics, Persuasion One type of gaming set, vehicles (land). Mercenary Life Soldier of Fortune Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Noble History, Persuasion One type of Gaming Set One of your Choice Position of Privilege Background: Member of nobility Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Outlander Athletics, Survival One type of musical instrument. One of your choice Origin Wanderer You have lived outside civilization Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Pirate Athletics, Perception Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water) Bad Reputation You have served aboard a pirate ship Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Planar Philosopher Arcana, Persuasion Two of your choice Conviction Your philosophy of the nature and working of the planes dominated your pre-adventurer life. Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Prismari Student Acrobatics, Performance One type of musical instrument or artisan's tools One of your choice Prismari Initiate Student of the Prismari College Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Quandrix Student Arcana, Nature One type of artisan's tools One of your choice Quandrix Initiate Strixhaven student of the Quandrix College Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Rakdos Cultist Acrobatics, Performance Choose either Abyssal or Giant A Flair for the Dramatic Fearsome Reputation You are or were a member of the Cult of Rakdos. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Rune Carver History, Perception Giant and one other language of your choice Rune Styles Rune Carver Apprentice You were a carver of runes. Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Sage Arcana, History Two of your choice Specialty Reseacher You have studied lore. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Sailor Athletics, Perception Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water) Ship's Passage You have earned a living onboard a ship Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Silverquill Student Intimidation, Persuasion Two of your choice Silverquill Initiate Strixhaven student of the Silverquill college. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Soldier Athletics, Intimidation One type of gaming set, vehicles (land). Specialty Military Rank Enlisted Soldier Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Spy Deception, Stealth One type of Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools Criminal Specialty Criminal Contact Infiltrator, private investigator, spy Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Urchin Sleight of Hand, Stealth Disguise Kit, thieves' tools City Secrets You grew up on the streets Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
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 [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Witchlight Hand Performance, Sleight of Hand Disguise kit or one type of musical instrument One of your choice Carnival Companion Carnival Fixture You have been a part of the Witchlight Carnival Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]
Witherbloom Student Nature, Survival Herbalism Kit One of your choice Witherbloom Initiate Strixhaven student of the Witherbloom college. Canon, Pointer [[Publication:{{{15}}}|{{{15}}}]]

Sources and Notes

  1. Wizards D&D Team. Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft (5e) (2021-05-18). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0786967254. p. 31. Licensed: © Wizards of the Coast (used under 'fair use' clause). 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
  2. VRGtR p.32 2.0 2.1
  3. DM Optional. Ben Petrisor, et. al.. UA 2022 Heroes of Krynn Revisited (5e) (2022-04-25). Wizards of the Coast. Licensed: © Wizards of the Coast. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. DM Optional. Makenzie De Armas, et. al.. UA 2022 Wonders of the Multiverse (5e) (2022-07-18). Wizards of the Coast. Licensed: © Wizards of the Coast (used under 'fair use' clause). 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

Making 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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