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Disambiguation.png This article is about Background, from the SRD.
For other uses of Background, see Background (disambiguation).
This material from the 5th edition SRD is published under the OGL

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.


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.


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.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

This section exceeds the text of the SRD

(33 official and unofficial backgrounds).

AcolytePerson of the clothShelter of the FaithfulTwo of your choiceSRD5
AntiquarianAdventurer-historians who collect forgotten lore and lost relicsIt Belongs in a MuseumCalligrapher's suppliesOne of your choiceDracomortis
ApothecaryIndividuals who make a living diagnosing and treating medical ailments...or causing themMedical ProfessionalHerbalism kit, Poisoner’s KitDracomortis
Urban Bounty HunterBounty Hunter of cities and townsEar to the GroundChoose two from among one type of gaming set, musical instrument, and thieves' toolsSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
CharlatanCon man, someone who pretends to be someone else.False IdentityDisguise Kit, Forgery KitFavorite SchemesPlayer's Handbook (5e)
City WatchDuly ordaned keeper of the peaceWatcher's EyeTwo of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Clan CrafterApprentice of a Dwarven Master ArtisanRespect of the Stout FolkOne type of Artisan's ToolsDwarvish or one of your choice if you already know it.Guild BusinessSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Cloistered ScholarLibrarianLibrary AccessTwo of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
CourtierCourt of Nobles BureaucratCourt FunctionaryTwo of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
CriminalThief, thug, hired killer, con-manCriminal ContactOne type of Gaming Set, Thieves' ToolsCriminal SpecialtyPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Drow ScarredA fitting sacrificeCooking, Mining or CleaningUndercommonDingobabee
EntertainerActor, dancer, musician, poetBy Popular DemandDisguise Kit, one type of musical instrumentEntertainer RoutinesPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Faction AgentYou belong to an ideological organization and sought to advance its goalsSave HavenTwo of your choiceFactions of the Sword CoastSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Far TravelerYou hail from a place far, far awayAll Eyes on YouMusical InstrumentOne of your choiceWhy you are HereSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Folk HeroLocal HeroRustic HospitalityOne type of Artisan's Tools, Vehicles (Land)Defining EventPlayer's Handbook (5e)
GladiatorYou fight for an audienceBy Popular DemandDisguise Kit, one type of musical instrumentEntertainer RoutinesPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Guild ArtisanMember of an artisan guildGuild MembershipOne type of Artisan's ToolsOne of your ChoiceGuild BusinessPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Guild MerchantSeller of an artisan guild's goodsGuild MembershipOne set of Navigator's ToolsOne of your ChoiceGuild BusinessPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Haunted OneEncountered the supernatural at a young age and survivedHeart of DarknessChoose one exotic language (Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Draconic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan, or Undercommon)Harrowing EventCurse of Strahd
HermitYou have separated yourself from othersDiscoveryHerbalism KitOne of your choiceLife of SeclusionPlayer's Handbook (5e)
InheritorAn item of legacy was entrusted to youInheritanceYour choice of Gaming Set or a Musical InstrumentAny one of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
KnightBackground: Knight, lowest of nobilityRetainersOne type of Gaming SetOne of your ChoicePlayer's Handbook (5e)
Knight of the OrderBackground: Knight of the OrderKnightly RegardOne type of gaming set or musical instrument.One of your ChoiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Mercenary VeteranSoldier of FortuneMercenary LifeOne type of gaming set, vehicles (land).Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
NobleBackground: Member of nobilityPosition of PrivilegeOne type of Gaming SetOne of your ChoicePlayer's Handbook (5e)
Waterdhavian NobleYou are the offspring of a noble of WaterdeepKept in StyleOne type of Gaming Set or Musical InstrumentOne of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
OutlanderYou have lived outside civilizationWandererOne type of musical instrument.One of your choiceOriginPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Pirate (5e)/BackgroundYou have served aboard a pirate ship, Pirate BackgroundBad ReputationNavigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water)Player's Handbook (5e)
SageYou have studied lore.ReseacherTwo of your choiceSpecialtyPlayer's Handbook (5e)
SailorYou have earned a living onboard a shipShip's PassageNavigator’s Tools, Vehicles (water)Player's Handbook (5e)
SoldierEnlisted SoldierMilitary LifeOne type of gaming set, vehicles (land).SpecialtyPlayer's Handbook (5e)
UrchinYou grew up on the streetsCity SecretsDisguise Kit, thieves' toolsPlayer's Handbook (5e)
Uthgardt Tribe MemberYou grew up in a tribe of UthgardtUthgardt HeritageOne type of Musical Instrument or Artisan ToolsOne of your choiceSword Coast Adventurer's Guide


Related Articles[edit]

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