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?
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 “[[SRD5:Equipment}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.
Some backgrounds also allow characters to learn additional languages beyond those given by race. See “Languages.”
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.
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.
List of Backgrounds
|This section exceeds the text of the SRD|
(30 official and unofficial backgrounds).
|Acolyte (background)||Person of the cloth||Shelter of the Faithful||Insight, Religion||Two of your choice||SRD5|
|Urban Bounty Hunter (pointer)||Bounty Hunter of cities and towns||Ear to the Ground||Choose two from among Deception, Insight, Persuasion, and Stealth||Choose two from among one type of gaming set, musical instrument, and thieves' tools||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Charlatan (pointer)||Con man, someone who pretends to be someone else.||False Identity||Deception, Sleight of Hand||Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit||Favorite Schemes||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|City Watch (pointer)||Duly ordaned keeper of the peace||Watcher's Eye||Athletics, Insight||Two of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Clan Crafter (pointer)||Apprentice of a Dwarven Master Artisan||Respect of the Stout Folk||History, Insight||One type of Artisan's Tools||Dwarvish or one of your choice if you already know it.||Guild Business||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Cloistered Scholar (pointer)||Librarian||Library Access||History, plus your choice of one from among Arcana, Nature, and Religion||Two of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Courtier (pointer)||Court of Nobles Bureaucrat||Court Functionary||Insight, Persuasion||Two of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Criminal (pointer)||Thief, thug, hired killer, con-man||Criminal Contact||Deception, Stealth||One type of Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools||Criminal Specialty||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Entertainer (pointer)||Actor, dancer, musician, poet||By Popular Demand||Acrobatics, Performance||Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument||Entertainer Routines||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Faction Agent (pointer)||You belong to an ideological organization and sought to advance its goals||Save Haven||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||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Far Traveler (pointer)||You hail from a place far, far away||All Eyes on You||Insight, Perception||Musical Instrument||One of your choice||Why you are Here||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Folk Hero (pointer)||Local Hero||Rustic Hospitality||Animal Handling, Survival||One type of Artisan's Tools, Vehicles (Land)||Defining Event||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Gladiator (pointer)||You fight for an audience||By Popular Demand||Acrobatics, Performance||Disguise Kit, one type of musical instrument||Entertainer Routines||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Guild Artisan (pointer)||Member of an artisan guild||Guild Membership||Insight, Persuasion||One type of Artisan's Tools||One of your Choice||Guild Business||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Guild Merchant (pointer)||Seller of an artisan guild's goods||Guild Membership||Insight, Persuasion||One set of Navigator's Tools||One of your Choice||Guild Business||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Haunted One (pointer)||Encountered the supernatural at a young age and survived||Heart of Darkness||Choose one of Arcana, Investigation, Religion, or Survival||Choose one exotic language (Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Draconic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan, or Undercommon)||Harrowing Event||Curse of Strahd|
|Hermit (pointer)||You have separated yourself from others||Discovery||Medicine, Religion||Herbalism Kit||One of your choice||Life of Seclusion||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Inheritor (pointer)||An item of legacy was entrusted to you||Inheritance||Survival, plus one from among Arcana, History, and Religion||Your choice of Gaming Set or a Musical Instrument||Any one of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Knight (pointer)||Background: Knight, lowest of nobility||Retainers||History, Persuasion||One type of Gaming Set||One of your Choice||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Knight of the Order (pointer)||Background: Knight of the Order||Knightly Regard||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||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Mercenary Veteran (pointer)||Soldier of Fortune||Mercenary Life||Athletics, Persuasion||One type of gaming set, vehicles (land).||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Noble (pointer)||Background: Member of nobility||Position of Privilege||History, Persuasion||One type of Gaming Set||One of your Choice||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Waterdhavian Noble (pointer)||You are the offspring of a noble of Waterdeep||Kept in Style||History, Persuasion||One type of Gaming Set or Musical Instrument||One of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|
|Outlander (pointer)||You have lived outside civilization||Wanderer||Athletics, Survival||One type of musical instrument.||One of your choice||Origin||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Pirate (pointer)||You have served aboard a pirate ship||Bad Reputation||Athletics, Perception||Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water)||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Sage (pointer)||You have studied lore.||Reseacher||Arcana, History||Two of your choice||Specialty||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Sailor (pointer)||You have earned a living onboard a ship||Ship's Passage||Athletics, Perception||Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water)||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Soldier (pointer)||Enlisted Soldier||Military Life||Athletics, Intimidation||One type of gaming set, vehicles (land).||Specialty||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Urchin (pointer)||You grew up on the streets||City Secrets||Sleight of Hand, Stealth||Disguise Kit, thieves' tools||Player's Handbook (5e)|
|Uthgardt Tribe Member||You grew up in a tribe of Uthgardt||Uthgardt Heritage||Athletics, Survival||One type of Musical Instrument or Artisan Tools||One of your choice||Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide|