Backgrounds

Background

Sage

Personality Traits

I have read every great work among the world's most celebrated libraries, or at least that is what I tell everyone.

I recognize my intellectual advantage and am happy to patiently explain things to those who do not share my gifts.

Ideals

Beauty. True beauty allows others to see the truth in the world. (Good)

Bonds

I possess an ancient scroll that holds unspeakable secrets. I must not allow it to fall into the wrong hands.

Flaws

The promise of knowledge often diverts my attention.

 
 
Backgrounds illustration

Background Generator

Fantasy Characters Backstory Generator

Dnd Backstory Ideas

Backstory Generator

Why do characters need backgrounds?

Like any great hero, every adventurer needs an origin story. Choosing or creating a background can help answer important questions, like where the character comes from, who they are, and where they want to go. Though a sprawling epic that describes a legendary history is not required, players will have a deeper connection to a character that goes beyond the simplicity of a race and class.

Rather than creating a long detailed narrative, most game masters (GMs) will ask players to focus on important story beats that answer questions about a character's identity. These details help inform everyone at the table how a character may act or react in certain situations. And, providing a somewhat flexible background allows the GM to weave each character into the larger story rather than the other way around.

While players can work with their GMs to create custom backgrounds, the existing sourcebooks and adventure guides provide over fifty established options. These include a past as a courageous knight, a wise old sage, or even a former member of a thieve's guild. Regardless of the chosen background, there are specific questions one should examine.

Often the most critical consideration is motivation. A character may have a defined backstory, but those days are often behind them. So, what changed for the character, or what brought them to the current point in the story? How did they acquire their adventuring gear or their money? Where did they learn the skills associated with their class? And what makes them unique from every other soldier, sailor, or far traveler?

What else do backgrounds provide?

Along with the story components and roleplaying suggestions, selecting a background also provides additional functional character options. These include specific proficiencies, a variety of starting equipment, and additional languages. All of which typically relate to the narrative of the chosen background.

The additional proficiencies come in two different categories. The first is the addition of two skill proficiencies, which represent a specific aspect of the character's ability scores. For example, dexterity reflects a character's ability to do things like complete a successful acrobatic stunt, carefully steal an item, or hide their presence from others. Dungeons & Dragons describe these skills as Acrobatics, Slight of Hand, and Stealth, respectively. Choosing skill proficiencies, like those listed, would give the player a higher probability of successfully completing relative tasks.

The second type of proficiency is related to tools. These tools are a part of a character's starting equipment and help players do something they might otherwise struggle to do. Artisan tools may help craft or repair an object, a forgery kit provides the necessary items required to make forgeries, and thieves' tools could help pick a lock. Though these tools may not be the key to taking down the big bad, the only limit to their functionality (beyond the will of the GM) is a player's creativity and ingenuity.

In addition to a character's chosen tools, each background provides a collection of useful adventuring gear, conveniently organized into a pack. Alternatively, players can forgo the starting equipment and purchase individual items from specified lists in the Player's Handbook. The amount a player can spend is detailed in the Starting Wealth by Class table.

Specific backgrounds also allow characters to learn one or more additional languages. Typically, most characters start with an understanding of Common and native languages based on their race. A player's choice of background can provide them with a chance to learn any of the standard languages, select a dialect often heard within the campaign setting, or discover a more exotic or secret option with the GM's permission.

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