Every seasoned DND player knows that there is more a character than just their skills and abilities. Suppose your DnD character has a low constitution and a high charisma followed by a highly clever name. However, that still isn’t enough, as you need to flesh out your character a bit more. To do this, you will first have to either figure out their background or give them one. If you are aware, DND 5e has a special background mechanic that lets you turn your 2D character into a multidimensional story-generating machine.
The DnD backgrounds feature was introduced when the 5th edition of DND was officially unveiled. This feature helps you figure out the dynamic history behind your character to match all the hard work you have done when creating it. However, selecting the right DnD 5E backgrounds from a pool of options is always tough. Similarly, there are multiple DnD backgrounds to choose from. However, all these backgrounds have something to offer including starting gold to turn your character into a really cool character.
If you too, are stuck on which one of the DnD backgrounds will work best for your character then this article is for you. In this article, we will walk you through a list of D&D backgrounds you can use for further enhancing your character’s dynamics.
DND 5e Backgrounds List
- 1.1 1. DnD Noble Background
- 1.2 2. Acolyte 5E Background
- 1.3 3. Dnd 5e Charlatan Background
- 1.4 4. DnD 5e Entertainer Background
- 1.5 5. DnD Outlander Background
- 1.6 6. DnD 5e Folk Hero Background
- 1.7 7. DnD Sage Background
- 1.8 8. Dnd 5e Guild Artisan/ Guild Merchant Background
- 1.9 9. DnD 5e Hermit Background
- 1.10 10. DnD 5e Criminal/ Spy Background
- 1.11 11. DnD Sailor Background
- 1.12 12. DnD Soldier Background
- 1.13 13. DnD Urchin Background
- 1.14 14. DnD Anthropologist Background
- 1.15 15. DnD 5E Archeologist Background
- 1.16 16. DnD Courtier Background
- 1.17 17. DnD 5E Faceless Background
- 1.18 18. DnD Gladiator Background
- 1.19 19. DnD Knight Background
- 2 How To Build Your Own Custom 5E Backgrounds?
- 3 The Bottom Line
DND 5e Backgrounds List
As the name suggests, a DnD 5e background defines your character’s backstory. It helps you dig into their history to figure out who they were before. In addition, it also reveals what exactly happened to your character that made him start diving into dungeons and fighting enormous beasts in the search for coins and treasure.
As we mentioned earlier, making the right choice when there is a whole pool of choices at your disposal can be tough. Similarly, there are many DnD backgrounds to choose from, but only one will help you make your character dynamic. Therefore, we have compiled a list of 5e backgrounds. All these DnD backgrounds have something or the other to offer, and all you need to do is figure out which 5E background fits the best with your character creation.
The DnD handbook offers multiple possible backgrounds to match your character with. Note that each of these DnD backgrounds offers perks that benefit you largely during gameplay. Depending on the background you choose, you either learn new languages, gain additional equipment, or achieve new role-playing abilities altogether. In addition to this, you also gain proficiency in two specified skills (background dependent).
As mentioned, each 5E background comes with a few suggested characteristics, such as:
- Personality Traits
This means that for every background you choose, your character will be granted these characteristics. Now that you know everything about a DnD 5e background and everything it has to offer, it is time to look at the DND 5e backgrounds you get to choose from. Therefore, here is the DnD 5E Backgrounds list:
1. DnD Noble Background
Here, your character belongs to the noble family, which owns dozens of land, collects taxes, and has a significant political presence and influence throughout the land. Given your family background, your character understands wealth, power, and privilege. However, you can choose to develop your character in two ways. Firstly, your character is born with a silver spoon and is unfamiliar with discomfort, is a disinherited scoundrel, and has a disproportionate sense of entitlement. Or on the contrary, despite being born with a silver spoon, your character knows how to make his way in society by being an honest and hard-working landowner who deeply cares about the people who live and work on his land.
Your level of authority can be discussed with the help of the dungeon master.
Note that you belong to the noble family and continue to remain so. Therefore, everything you inherit, earn, or build will ultimately be passed down to your children. However, you will first have to prove to your family that you are accurate civilizations’ blood as it will determine your family’s influence on you.
2. Acolyte 5E Background
There’s no place better to start than the acolyte. If you look in the player’s handbook, you will see that an acolyte is nothing more than a member of the church, convent, or faith organization. When you pair your character with an acolyte, it means that your character has spent his life in the service of the church, working for the pantheon of gods.
If you are an acolyte, your followers/companions heal for free at a temple, shrine, monastery, and every other faith organization. People sharing your religion will follow and support you in your quest. Also, you can learn any two languages of your choosing.
When near a temple, you can call upon priests asking for their assistance. Note that the priests will only assist you in non-hazardous situations and if you are in good standing with the church/temple/shrine.
3. Dnd 5e Charlatan Background
A charlatan is someone who always has had their way with people. All it takes are a few conversations for you to figure out what makes someone tick so that you can tease them. Another added advantage is that only a few leading questions will have them spilling out everything you need to know.
In DnD 5e, a charlatan grants your character with common sense. People trust in you to deliver, and you deliver as promised. With the help of the dungeon master (DM), you can come up with some of your questions. Paring your DnD 5e character with this background makes you highly skilled at the art of deception. Those seasoned to DnD 5e known that deception makes up for a majority of the gameplay. Also, a Charlatan rewards you with proficiencies that can be utilized without the expense of a magical resource or have any lingering effects whatsoever.
4. DnD 5e Entertainer Background
Just like the name suggests, building up the Entertainer background in DnD 5e will turn you into a charm in front of the audience. You are granted the ability to make an entrance, entertain, and thrive amongst people. Your sense of poetry can cure anyone of grief and shower people with much-need joy in their lives. Dance, humor, and poetry are some of your greatest skills, and art is your whole life. This is a fun background when you play a character primarily intended towards rogues or bards.
As an entertainer, you can choose between different skills such as an actor, singer, poet, jester, juggler, singer, storyteller, etc. You can choose between any of these skills to add a chunk of flavor to your character.
Getting an Entertainer’s background ultimately creates a persona around your character, which can come in handy during the long haul. As an Entertainer, you can always find a place to perform in DnD 5e, wherein you receive free lodging and food with modest comfort as long as you complete each night.
5. DnD Outlander Background
This character is somewhat similar to the folk hero. The only difference is that an outlander has been born and brought up in the wilderness far away from the perils of civilization. You’re a survivor by heart who has survived the most adverse of conditions. Also, you can easily comprehend the only thinking creature in any direction.
As the name suggests, an outlander background means your character excels in remembering maps and knowing the geography of the terrain he is in. All it takes is a single look for you to figure out and recall the overall layout of the terrain and the settlements on and around the terrain. Also, you can easily find food and fresh water for yourself and five other people every day. Since you’ve grown up in the wilderness, you are a natural explorer who ultimately adapts to the ways of the wild.
To gather food, you will first need to check with your DM and do a foraging check. Normally, it is impossible to find food if your character is in the northern tundra. But an outlander ignores all this and can easily find food even in the remotest corners of the world. For example, if you are playing the Icewind Dale in the snow, an outlander automatically finds food out of nowhere.
6. DnD 5e Folk Hero Background
The Folk Hero is another unique background to go with. When your character is a folk hero, he ultimately hails from a humble social rank but is destined for greatness. People of the hero’s home village regard you as the champion and as the village’s only hope against monsters, tyrants, and other such threats. When destiny calls, you become your town’s first line of defense against any pertaining threat.
This background makes you an adventurer way before you actually become an adventurer. As a folk hero, survival is your most common trait, and you can ultimately survive every threat and adverse condition thrown at you. Since you hail from a humble social rank, you fit in easily with the common folk. When on an adventure, you can always find a place to hide, rest, and recuperate among other people.
If you prove that you mean no harm to these people, these commoners will shield you from the law or anything that threatens your survival. However, note that these people will NOT risk their lives for you.
7. DnD Sage Background
As a sage, your DnD 5e character has spent his entire life acquiring knowledge of the universe. You have the lore, manuscripts and have listened to some of the most excellent experts in the world. All these efforts have made you the master in your preferred area of expertise. As a sage, you can choose your character to specialize as an alchemist, astronomer, discredited academic, librarian, professor, researcher, scribe, and many more. In addition, you can learn any two languages of your choosing.
A sage carries several equipments whose usefulness varies according to the campaign requirements. Your thirst for knowledge has made you the greatest researcher known to mankind. For example, if you come across lore you haven’t heard or read before, you can automatically figure where, when, and from whom you can obtain it.
Generally, for a DnD 5e character to acquire new lore, he must travel to the most inaccessible place and unearth the multiverse’s deepest secrets. However, these things don’t apply to a sage as he automatically recalls the place and person to obtain the lore from.
8. Dnd 5e Guild Artisan/ Guild Merchant Background
Getting this background makes your character a member of the Artisan’s guild who is skilled in a particular field and works in close harmony with the rest of the artisans guild. Everything you know is passed down to you when you worked as an apprentice to a master artisan. And under the sponsorship of your guild, you have now become a master guild artisan/guild merchant yourself.
As an artisan, you are free from the feudal social order and spend most of your time mastering your skills. If you are a guild merchant, you sell the work of others or help your guild get the supply they need. You either transport goods from one place to another via ship or caravan or bring in the supplies for your guild by purchasing them from your local seller.
As a guild artisan or a guild merchant, you can learn any one language of your choosing. Since you are an established and well-respected member of your guild, the guild will reward you with certain benefits from time to time. For example, if you are traveling to a city with a guildhall, you can meet other members from your possession. This can come in handy if you are looking for patrons, hirelings, or allies.
9. DnD 5e Hermit Background
If your character possesses the Hermit background, it means that he has lived his entire life in absolute secrecy. Your character has spent his formative years alone in a monastery far, far away. However, his time away from the feudal society has helped him found peace, clamor, and answers to all the questions he is looking for.
The Hermit background is not interesting or exciting unless and until you put a spin on it. From your time apart, you have acquired many notes that have aided you in your survival. Also, you have a real knack for medicine, because of which you always carry a herbalism kit with you. Although you have spent your formative years away from society, this has helped you made a powerful discovery. The nature of this discovery is entirely dependent on where you spent your time growing up.
But this discovery has long been forgotten or an unearthed relic of the past that contains all the answers to the cosmos. On the contrary, it could be a piece of information that could damage people both physically and mentally. Your discovery is the primary reason as to why you returned to society after years of exile.
10. DnD 5e Criminal/ Spy Background
Getting this background ultimately makes your character an experienced criminal with a history of breaking the law on countless occasions. Growing up, your character has spent an insane amount of time amongst criminals and has cultivated contacts in the world of crime. Your survival is entirely dependent on break the rules and regulations every time an opportunity presents itself. Looking at it from a mechanical angle, there are zero differences between the criminal and spy background in DnD 5e. As a criminal/spy, you get to choose specialties such as blackmailer, burglar, hired killer, enforcer, and several other specialties.
One of the key features of this background is criminal contact. This means that you have a reliable liaison who links you to other criminals in the underworld.
You are highly skilled in getting your messages in and out of the liaison. This can be a great tool to use in the gameplay as it can award you with clues and expositions. The more you craft this background into your contact, the more likely you are to have a sedimental attachment with other underworld members. However, note that the overall criminal network is well aware of you and your party and can influence the party’s direction.
11. DnD Sailor Background
If you compare the Sailor and the Outlander, you will find that nothing much separates the two. Just as the outlander has spent his entire life surviving in the wild, the sailor has sailed on a seagoing vessel for years, braving the deadliest storms known the humanity. You have fought against those wanting to sink your boat to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Given that you have spent the majority of your life on the sea, one of your key features is that you can ensure a safe passage for yourself and your mates every time needed.
In times of need, the ship’s crew will help you seek asylum somewhere on the ship. However, note that the crew will only help you and your companions if you assist the crew during the entire voyage. The usefulness of this feature will vary based on the type of campaign you are running.
12. DnD Soldier Background
Just as the sailor has been of the sea his whole life, war is the known only thing known to a soldier. As a soldier, you have spent your entire life training to be a warrior. You started training right from a young age and have studied all the uses of combat weapons and armor, know all the survival techniques, and how to stay alive on the battlefield. As a soldier, you are a part of the local militia who rose to overthrow the oppressive government. This mercenary works for coins or a legitimate soldier in the National Army.
You can work with your DM to figure out which military organization you belong to. In addition, the DM will walk you through all the ranks you have progressed and the type of experiences you have had during war.
One of your key features as a soldier is the loyalty and the military rank you have achieved over the years. Even though you shifted military organizations, soldiers from your past military will still acknowledge your rank, authority, and influence. Similarly, you can use your rank to exert dominance wherever required or use it to gain access to military encampments.
13. DnD Urchin Background
Just like the Outlander, the urchin is skilled in remembering all the secret patterns. He can flow through the cities and find passages through the civilization that others have missed. You are an orphan who was raised on the streets with no one to watch over you. From an early age, you have learned how to survive and provide for yourself. You have fought mercilessly over food and water. At the same time, you have always looked out for others like you and also for others who will go to great lengths to steal something from you.
14. DnD Anthropologist Background
Being an anthropologist from the primeval, ancient lost lands to the modern bed of civilizations, a fascination with diverse cultures has always been second nature to you. Your knowledge expands to the realm of philosophies, rituals, laws, customs, religious beliefs, languages, and the larger arts. You have learned everything there is to know about the empires, tribes, and other miscellaneous forms of society.
One of the most fascinating DnD 5E backgrounds, here you can communicate with humanoids who will not be speaking your tongue. By sheer observation, you must learn their gestures, expressions, and important words in one or more days to facilitate rudimentary communication.
15. DnD 5E Archeologist Background
Before taking on adventures, you have spent a considerable part of your youth crawling in the dust and pilfering relics of questionable legitimacy from ruins and crypts. Sure, you have managed to finally sell a few of those and earn ample coins to get yourself proper adventure gear, but you have still held on to one item with great emotional value. You must roll on the Signature Item table to view what you have, or you can even choose an item from the table.
While entering a ruin or a dungeon, you can aptly ascertain its intended purpose and gauge its builders, be it elves, dwarves, humans, yuan-ti, or otherwise. Moreover, you can also wager an educated guess about the monetary value of art items that are more than a century old.
16. DnD Courtier Background
Your in-depth knowledge of the bureaucracy’s workarounds allows you access to the records and inner functionings of any government or noble court you come across. You know their movers and shakers, the best people to approach for favors, and the current interests of the bunch.
The bureaucratic organization or noble court where you got your start is indirectly or directly associated with your bond, which could very well pertain to specific individuals in the group, like your mentor or sponsor. As for your ideal, it might be concerned with the prevailing philosophy of your organization or court.
17. DnD 5E Faceless Background
This is an interesting one in the D&D 5E list of backgrounds. A faceless character embarks on adventures behind the masque of a public persona. This masqued persona is as natural to them as their clandestine, so-called “true” face, but it still disguises their identity. You must roll on the Faceless Persona table to chalk out your persona, or alternatively, work with the DM to formulate a persona unique to your character that suits the tone of your game.
Many of your fellow adventurers will know you as your chosen persona. Those who attempt to learn more about you, be it your weaknesses, origins, or your overall purpose, find themselves stymied by your masque. Donning a disguise and behaving as the chosen persona make you unidentifiable.
If you take off your disguise and reveal your true face, you will no longer be identifiable as your persona. This lets you change appearances between your 2 personalities as often as you want. You can use one to hide the other or even as convenient camouflage. However, if someone figures out the connection between your persona and your true self, it will lead to the loss of effectiveness of your deception.
18. DnD Gladiator Background
There’s always someplace worth putting up a performance, be it an inn, a tavern, a circus, or even a theater or a noble’s court. You will be provided free meals and lodging as long as you perform daily. Moreover, your varied performances qualify you as a local figure who people might take a liking towards.
Like every good entertainer, you must be versatile and spice up performances with diverse routines. You can pick one 1 to 3 routines or even roll on the table to determine your expertise as a performer. If you want success, hold your audience’s attention through your flamboyant personality. Your audience will typically err toward the romantic and high-minded ideals about finding beauty in art.
19. DnD Knight Background
A knighthood is one of the lowest noble titles in most societies, but it can also be a path to a higher status. If you want to be a knight, select the Retainers feature in place of the Position of Privilege feature. You may choose to include a banner or another token from any noble lord or lady to whom you have offered your heart in a chaste devotion as an emblem of chivalry and courtly love.
You will typically have the services of 3 retainers, which will remain loyal to your family. They are essentially attendants, messengers, or majordomo. One of them is a noble serving as a squire in exchange for training towards his own knighthood; another two can be a groom for your horse’s upkeep and a servant to polish your armor.
They can all perform mundane tasks, but they will not fight for you or follow you into dangerous areas such as dungeons, and they will leave if they are abused or endangered too often.
How To Build Your Own Custom 5E Backgrounds?
There are a lot of DnD 5e player backgrounds to pair your character within the game. Every background you choose comes with a unique set of skill proficiencies and equipment that can come in handy during the gameplay. Apart from the default 5E backgrounds, you can also create a custom DnD 5e character background to add a little spin to the game. It is relatively simple to create your custom background in DnD 5e.
When creating a custom DnD 5e character background, you first need to choose 4 skills and traits from the sample backgrounds. Then, you will need to spend 175 GP on gear. Once you find the desired trait that gels with your Dnd 5e character background, you will need to link that character trait with the world; note that your chosen trait should ultimately link your character with the organizations and people he’s been in contact with. These traits can also be used to showcase any skills or abilities your Dnd 5e character possesses.
The Bottom Line
We hope our article successfully walked through some of the best DnD 5e player backgrounds to choose from. Every background you choose will add a unique spin to the game and your character gameplay altogether. Apart from the preset backgrounds, you can also choose to create your custom background. We have included a short guide at the end of the article to help you with creating your custom background.