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[5e/D&D] Backgrounds - the BIG list of backgrounds!

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I predicted there'd be all kinds of stuff being done as fan-efforts for D&D 5e and that backgrounds would be one of the chief among them, particularly since you could use backgrounds as readily for an OSR game as for D&D.

SO this thread is where you post one of the following:

a) original backgrounds

b) cut/paste of backgrounds you've done on other sites (e.g., blogs, fansites)

c) links to backgrounds other people have done (please link to the specific content not just to a general webpage or blog).  If you cut/paste a background from someone else's location it's best to do so with their permission, and in any case to include a link and credit to the original source.

Let's see if we can't make this the largest single collection of 5e Backgrounds on the internet!


This is a great idea. And agreed -- the game really invites people to add to it.

The following backgrounds are cut and pasted from Into the Breach with Basic D&D 5, a post for playing in my take on Benjamin Baugh's "Long Stair" modern espionage/military + D&D setting. I cheated a little with the proficiencies: I added a "military training" line for modern armor and weapon proficiencies that are above and beyond the default skills and proficiencies. There is a lot more context at the blog post itself. Here I'll just paste in the backgrounds.  

Architect: Specialist in basement architectural, layout, habitation, and xenotechnological distribution patterns. Architects contribute to a shared mapping database including common recurring basement geomorphic patterns as well as a complete database of known Dyson Class Stairwells. Architects serve as scouts during missions in the basement or in breached stairwells. Even a small Dyson Class Breach must be treated with caution.

Note: The player of an architect will be given a folder containing images of the layouts of known Dyson Class Stairwells -- that is, a folder filled with copies of +Dyson Logos's maps or a copy of Dyson's Delves I and/or Dyson's Delves II (print copies via Lulu). Any time the party enters a breach or other stairwell, it's up to the player to match the layout of the place they are traversing with one of the known maps. Once they identify which map they're working with, they can use that to guide the party through the dungeon.  

   Skills: Arcana, Perception
Tools: Dyson Class Delve Database, Climbing Gear
Trait: Wanderer (Basement)
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms

Caver (Special Environment Specialist Terrestrial): Specialist in natural cavern environments, xenoforms, and threats.

   Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics
Tools: Caving Gear
Trait: Wanderer (Caves)
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Cleaner: Specialist in cover ups and veil outs following Long Stair breaches upstairs. This specialization includes training in psychological and media ops. Cleaners must have Long Stair experience even though most of their work is carried out upstairs.

   Skills: Deception, Persuasion
Tools: Veil-Out Kit
Trait: Contact
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Diver (Special Environment Specialist Aquatic): Specialist in aquatic envirnoments, xenoforms, and threats.

   Skills: Athletics, Nature
Tools: SCUBA / Diving Gear, Speargun
Trait: Wanderer (Aquatic)
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

Field Analyst: Long stair data collection and analysis specialist. Some specialize in field investigations downstairs. Others specialize in investigations upstairs, tracking down unauthorized Basement tech and Long Stair breach points.

   Skills: Arcana, Investigation
Tools: Digital Surveillance Equipment, Portable Xenochem Lab
Trait: Researcher
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Handguns

Medic: Combat medic. Medics assigned to the basement train and prepare not only to deal with standard combat trauma but also with the special dangers posed by basement xenoforms.

   Skills: Medicine, Nature
Tools: Medical Kit, Anti-Toxins
Trait: "I Owe You One"
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms

Negotiator (Xeno-Ethologist): Specialist in both sapient and non-sapient xenoform behaviors and sociability. Trained in techniques for communication and negotiation with sapient xenoforms. Expert in xenoform biological and behavioral traits.

   Skills: Insight, Persuasion
Tools: Xenoform Database
Languages: Lingua Infera (colloquially known to veterans of the stair as "Chaotic")
Trait: Friends in Low Places
Military Training: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

Soldier: Fire team special operations soldier. Common roles in a fire team include rifleman, automatic rifleman, grenadier, and fire team leader. The rifleman is the standard fire team member and gains an additional +1 with Rifles. The automatic rifleman carries a squad automatic weapon and has proficiency in Machine Guns. The grenadier is armed with an indirect fire weapon and has proficiency with Grenade Launcher. The fire team leader is the operational commander for combat operations and can come from any of the above specializations.

   Skills: Athletics, Perception
Tools: Moderate Body Armor (Tactical Armor), Small Arms
Trait: Military Rank
Military Specialist Training: Grenades and one additional proficiency or specialty, as noted above.

Sapper (Combat Engineer): Specialist in combat constructions and demolitions, including the destruction of the diverse hazards (colloquially known as "traps" to many soldiers and agents) of the basement.

   Skills: Perception, Sleight of Hand
Tools: Demolitions/Explosives Kit
Trait: Life or Death
Military Training: Full Body Armor (EOD Suit), Small Arms

Search and Rescue Inferus Trooper: Specialist in rescue and recovery down below. When things go horribly wrong, these are the soldiers who get down there and pull you out.

   Skills: Athletics, Medicine
Tools: Emergency Medical Equipment, Para- and Rapid Descent Gear
Trait: "I Owe You One"
Military Training: Partial Body Armor (Tactical Vest), Small Arms

We've played this a couple times already and had a blast.

Courtney Camp's been doing a whole series of them!

I have a Slave background to contribute.

Gold Roger:
Lets see, these are the ones I've got ready for use. There might be overlaps with others who created custom background.

My biggest concern is creating features that are in line with the benefits provided by PHB background, as that seems to be the hardest.

Right now these are missing suggested characteristics (which reguire a lot of writing for little payof) and equipment (which is the only part I'm not comfortable advocating until I have more info).This no longer applies as of 08-28-2014 characteristics and equipment have been added

I'll revisit these once I have the PHB and possibly the DMG in hands.


Never a quiet one, you have lived your life advocating your chosen causes to the masses. Maybe you are a young idealist, speaking out against oppression and corruption or you have become a street preacher, warning that the end is near ,if people don't change their sinful ways. It might have always been just a job for you, nobles and merchants paying you to slander their enemies in the streets.

Whatever lead you to it, you have learned to talk in public, whip the mob into a frenzy and not be there when the authorities arrive.

Skill Proficiency: Performance, Persuasion
Proficiencies: Pick any 2 of these: disguise kit, painter's supplies, forgery kit, calligraphers supplies

Equipment: Collection of pamphlets and caricatures, chalk, eccentric set of common clothes, One hat or similar accessory to serve as your trademark, whistle, a pouch with 15 gp

Feature - Turning the Rumor Mill:

You are an expert on spreading the news, be they truth or vile lies. Once per week you can put a rumor into circulation in your current location. The rumor will persist for at least a month and might spread to other settlements.

In addition you have a bit of legal protection. If you are arrested or accused in court in a location where you have spend at least a week, an angry mob will gather, demanding that you are released and have your name cleared. The effectiveness of this depends on the nature of the local authorities of course.

Suggested Characteristics

Personality Traits

1 – I constantly reference heroes of the past and insist that they would be on my side
2 – I have a meaningful quote or entertaining anecdote for every occasion.
3 – Language is very important to me and I constantly correct others on their use of words, grammar and spelling.
4 – Whenever I'm of the stage, I'm actually quite shy and reserved.
5 – I speak with great motion, flailing my arms around at every word and exaggerated mimic expression.
6 – I am very concerned about my appearance, though my standards are eccentric and outside the “mainstream”
7 – I am very inquisitive in my social interactions, sometimes overly so.
8 – I am excitable. While I display a great range of emotion, calm and relaxed are not among them.

1 – Manipulation. Most people are like sheep, to be used by those with the brains and agenda.
2 – Information. Knowledge is power and it belongs to everyone. When word can spread, justice and truth will triumph.
3 – Fame. There is no greater glory than the adoration of the masses and no greater disgrace than  social ostracism.
4 – Anarchy. People are boring and things must be properly stirred for the sake of excitement.
5 – Conformity. We all must share the same beliefs and values for society to prosper
6 – Motivation. Everyone is in charge of their own destiny. Put they must be pushed and given the proper leeway to make it real

1 – I follow the lead of a great idol, whom I style myself  and my work after. An attack on them is an attack on me and I would do anything to get their approval.
2 – I depend on the approval and prosperity of my political party.
3 – My favorite tavern is my source of inspiration. Without the unique atmosphere I enjoy there, I would feel like like loosing my soul.
4 – I have a personal vendetta against a very popular person or group. I only live to see their reputation and fortune torn apart.
5 – Despite my many followers, there's only one person I only ever wanted to impress, but I'm still being ignored.
6 – My audience is as kin to me. I know them by name and know what happens in their life. When they suffer, I suffer. When they bleed, I bleed.

1 – I can't bear being outside the center of attention. Hey you, look at me!
2 – I am a notorious provocateur. I often get into arguments and trouble, just for the sake of being contrary.
3 – Without orientation for myself, I always say and do what I think people want and expect me to.
4 – It is inconceivable to me, that my reasoning and argumentation could be flawed and I react aggressive to criticism.
5 – The vices I rant against the most, are the ones I am myself most prone to.
6 – Envy drives and consumes me. As long as someones has what I don't have, I can see no justice in the world.


Many an adventure comes from a life of hardship, poverty or heavy responsibility. You are not one of them.

Raised in the highest social circles, spoiled and with few boundaries, your existence has so far been one big party.

Such a lifestyle is rarely sustainable, of course. Maybe your relatives are finally fed up with your scandals and disowned you, maybe you slummed it with a particularly bad crowd and got involved in some bad events, you could have simply gotten bored with your decadence and seek new thrills or you had to find that your families fortunes weren’t infinite after all and partied you way into bankruptcy. Other hedonists come to regret their ways and try to redeem themselves, turning their life by 180 degrees.

Skills: Persuasion, sleight of hand
Proficiencies: two gaming sets of your choice

Equipment: 2 Sets of fine clothes, 1 bottle of booze (good and very expensive stuff), a very fancy (and possibly quite lewd) but sadly incomplete gaming set, pouch with 25 gp.

Feature - Really Got Around:

People have long gotten used to you being involved in scandals and hearing the worst about you. You are completely immune to malicious slander and extortion.

In addition, whether you still carry on with your lifestyle or turned around, you know quite a bit of dirt on the rich and powerful. And when you don't, you know where to find it.

Suggested Characteristics

Personality Traits

1 – I am flirty with everyone, no matter my interest. It is as natural as breathing to me
2 – I know no shame. The scandalized looks I get just encourage me.
3 – I make a small bet or wager out of everything.
4 – I love shopping and am always on the look out for that one special store to set a trend with.
5 – I change my outfit and hair at least once per day.
6 – I always palm some small and insignificant thing from the places I visit.
7 – I have a fondness of exotic beasts and always want one as pet, no matter how unfeasible that would be.
8 – I try to make friends with everyone, but have a horrible memory for names and faces.

1 – Thrill. The world is full of exciting new experiences. One should try everything at least once and ones worth can be measured by the amount of experiences made.
2 – Beauty. Everyone wants to be pretty and surrounded by pretty things. Life is to short to bother with the ugly.
3 – Worthiness. My previous lifestyle was morally wrong. I work hard to be taken serious and fulfill my stations responsibilities
4 – Rebellion. Break all taboos, shake all conventions and break out of the stuffiness. I am the best example that the establishment needs to be torn apart.
5 – Generosity. What good is wealth and joy when you keep them to yourself. Sharing is caring and nothing gives you a warmer feeling, than a gift well received.
6 – Love. It is all you need. Everyone should fall in love, always and repeatedly. Romance will prevail over everything.

1 – I was spoiled, but I only ever knew social warmth from the servants who raised me. They are the only ones who really know me.
2 – When I go out, I'll never do it without the “gang”. Together we are the life of the party and without them, everything is bleak.
3 – I have a responsible sibling, whom I love for getting me out of trouble and whom I hate for always showing me up.
4 – There is a former friend or lover whom I hurt terribly. I want to make it up badly, but I don't dare getting close, because I believe I would only increase the pain.
5 – I have a great debt to someone poor, who is to proud to accept my help. I always dream up new schemes to repay it.
6 – My families estate is my identity and paradise. I would do anything to preserve it.

1 – I willfully endanger and waste myself. I am fully aware that I am headed for self destruction and romanticize it.
2 – I'm ignorant to the realities of the “common” people. Without ill will, I am insensitive in my dealings.
3 – There is a powerful addiction controlling me and no matter how hard I try, I can't get away.
4 – I have unknowingly left a trail of ruined lives. Those so affected are out for my blood.
5 – I am extremely vain. Concern for my looks can stifle even my best intentions.
6 – My entitlement knows no bounds. I'm not only used to getting what I want, I am convinced I deserve it all.


You where the princess in the tower, the man in the iron mask, the hunchback in the bell tower, the apprentice kept in the tower by a paranoid and controlling master or the child married of far to young to a much older and envious spouse.

Whatever the reason, you have spend your life in isolation, confined and with little to no contact to anyone but your captors.

You might be naive, but your hardship has left you with valuable skills. Your senses are sharpened by years staring longingly at the one view of the outside world you ever knew and listening for your captors footstep. Your body was hardened by numerous escape attempts, scaling walls, swimming through moats and most of all the running. So much time spend running away.

Finally successful in escaping or inexplicably released, you are your own person at last, to take revenge, to see what was kept from you or to run, just run away as far as you can.

Skills: Perception, Athletics
Tools: one gaming set or musical instrument of your choice
Languages: one of your choice

Equipment: One set of common clothing, one very personal letter stolen from your captor, pouch with 10gp

Feature - Never Again:

You have spend your entire life trying to escape and no one will ever keep you now. Whenever you come upon a confinement, whether yours or an others, you immediately spot the weakest point in it and know how to exploit it.

Suggested Characteristics

Personality Traits

1 – I apologize a lot and have unfailing, but outdated, manners.
2 – I go through life with wide eyed wonder. I rarely watch where I am going and come of as a klutz.
3 – I enjoy the freedom of choosing my own clothing to much and go overboard when choosing my outfit.
4 – I am always eager to try something new.
5 – I often take pause to enjoy a simple sensation, such as the wind in my hair or the smell of fresh summer rain.
6 – Used as I am to living under observation, I have no sense of privacy or personal space.
7 – I am savvy and catch on quickly, but I play up my naivety so others underestimate me.
8 – I am prone to sudden bouts of philosophical navel gazing.

1 – Companionship. I was lonely for so long. Friendship are the most important thing in the world.
2 – Independence. No one has any say in an others life. Don't let someone else keep you down.
3 – Vengeance. Those who have wronged me shall get to know my wrath.
4 – Exploration. The world has so much to offer and be seen. Let's get to it.
5 – Control. There are those who decide and those who are decided for and I have not been my own master for to long. It is time to turn the table.
6 – Caution. Every mistake is met with swift punishment. Better be safe than sorry.

1 – A mysterious stranger helped me escape and knows things about my past I don't. I need to find that person.
2 – There was a story I read or heard over and over during my captivity and I model my entire life on it.
3 – One of my captors or one of their servants always treated me well. Though they might be my nominal enemy, I consider them a friend and keep in touch.
4 – The reason for my imprisonment is still obscured to me and I will go to great lengths to find out.
5 – In my escape, I left behind my dearest possessions and I want to regain or at least replace them.
6 – I still remember having a life before captivity and seek out those who knew me then.

1 – In my mind I am still caged. I still hesitate to do anything my captors forbade me.
2 – I am naive to the ways of the world and easily scammed.
3 – My isolation also kept me sheltered. Pain of body or heart easily leave me in tears.
4 – Unbeknown to me, I was imprisoned for my own protection. Those who would see me dead are now free to hunt me down.
5 – Caged life was simply. I am incapable of dealing with the scope and complexity of freedom and depend to much on others.
6 – My captors are still out there. They won't harm me, but have no scruple to strike against those close to me.


Even in a fantasy world filled with bloody conflict, nothing gets done without skilled negotiators. You where a nobles herald, an orders spokesperson, a Diplomat in foreign lands, a negotiator for a trade cartel or the wry scoundrel, delivering the ransom notes and demands of a vile bandit lord.

Skills: Insight, Persuasion
Languages: two of your choice

Equipment: Set of fine clothes, letters of introduction from your patron, wrapped and sealed package you are to deliver in your patrons name (the content is worth at least 250gp), pouch containing 20gp.

Feature - Diplomatic Impunity:

Your confidence, poise and cool gives all but the most bloodthirsty killers pause. When faced with intelligent and relatable opposition, you can always attempt to negotiate and will be given the time to say what you have.

In addition you have a patron, who will attempt to shield you from legal trouble as long as you stay useful.

Suggested Characteristics

Personality Traits

1 – I am seductive and consider it another tool of my trade.
2 – Even the most insignificant interaction is an opportunity to trade for me.
3 – I use flattery in all conversations and compliment everyone I meet. Even my worst enemy
4 – I am proud of my cultivation and often talk of fine art and cuisine.
5 – My cosmopolitanism is plain for all to see, as my fashion is a mix drawn from many cultures.
6 – I am curious about things most consider insignificant and ordinary.
7 – I strife to teach my companions social graces and etiquette on every opportunity I get.
8 – I express everything with great gravitas.

1 – Peace. Violence is a last resort and parlay is sacred. I go into battle only with great sorrow and go to great length to prevent it.
2 – Civilization. Cultivation and progress are the greatest values and barbarism is despicable. I put great stock in proper manners and process. The pleasantries of advanced settlements are well deserved.
3 – Tolerance. To each his own. All lifestyles and cultures are valuable. Respect that and don't interfere unduly.
4 – Fairness. Contracts kept and all necessary information shared for a deal to hold value. This is the basis of all interaction and to not respect it is a grave transgression.
5 – Prestige. Everything I do is targeted at increasing and showing my standing. It is all one can depend on.
6 – Cleverness. Life is a battle of wits and the smartest take the prize. Cheating, lying and other underhanded means are just more tools for the deserving to use.

1 – My greatest dream is to end a certain conflict that has been sweltering for ages.
2 – My patron brought me from rags to riches, I owe them everything.
3 – I gave up my most precious possession to secure a deal. I still seek for away to regain it.
4 – Someone very close to me has been imprisoned or enslaved. It is my dream to see them legally released.
5 – In my travels I have found true love, but the very same travels have put us far apart and estranged.
6 – I have heard of a place that encompasses everything I hold in high regard, but I always semm to travel in the opposite direction.

1 – I always want to please everyone and always compromise.
2 – I am to hard a negotiator. I reject even the most reasonable offers, as long as I think I can get more.
3 – I have come to value the fine things in life a bit to much. A lavish feast, valuable gift or fine body to warm my bed can easily compromise my position.
4 – I once negotiated an incredible deal that left a third party in the dirt. Now they want my head on a pike.
5 – I am haughty and arrogant. When I don't want something from someone, I ignore them.
6 – When I deal with my Patron, I have no backbone. I approve of their every idea, no matter how heinous or stupid.


All but the most primitive societies have organizers and administrators, turning the wheels and keeping things running. They may be considered a necessary evil, the but of jokes and subjects of rants. Or they may be admired, considered the most important members of society or even holy. Whatever it is, you are a member of this selected caste.

The life of adventuring may be considered an odd position for someone associated with drudgery and waiting. But there are many ways fate can conspire to thrust a bureaucrat into the wild.

For some it is just a natural part of their solemn duties, such as tax collector, investigator and census takers in border regions. Some loose out in the great game of office politics, getting send out on bogus assignments. And then there are those who just throw up their hands in frustration or boredom, deciding that getting eaten by an owlbear is preferable to filing another b5075 gold VII process.

Skills: Investigation, History
Proficiencies: Forgery kit, calligraphers supplies

Equipment: Set of common clothes, forgery kit (papers, stamps and seals are authentic, but most don't belong in your hands), badge of office, key to your office, a satchel with letters containing death threads, pitiful begging for help and amoral offers, pouch with 15 gp.

Feature - Cut Through Red Tape:

Rules and regulations can stifle great kings, mighty swordsmen and archmages, but not you. Whenever there is a document to be obtained or a license to be bought, you can circumvent waiting lines, fines and standard response times. You always know what office is actually responsible, which document is really needed and who can be bribed how.

Suggested Characteristics

Personality Traits

1 – I collect motivational trinkets and display them wherever I stay.
2 – I'm an avid gardener and even when traveling, I have a little potted plant, that I perfectly groom and dote upon.
3 – I quote the rules and regulation in every conservation, whether it is appropriate to do so or not.
4 – I speak in a droning monotone.
5 – I can't help picking apart inaccuracies and double meanings in the words of others.
6 – I talk fast and will always use the most arcane words I can think of, even when I don't know their meaning or they don't exist.
7 – I take great pains to always look perfectly groomed and yet absolutely bland.
8 – I have a persistent nervous tick that is distracting. I am not aware of this, no matter how often it is pointed out to me.

1 – Harmony. No one can stand on their own. We must all strife to help and respect one another.
2 – Improvement. Everything needs to be efficient and some adjustment can always be made to come closer to perfection.
3 – Stability. Change is chaos and chaos is destruction. Life is only bearable,  when everything runs as intended.
4 – Ambition. Status is everything. I will do anything to advance and those who don't deserve to be stepped upon.
5 – Diligence. Sloppiness is a plague on the world. If something is to be done right, you have to take your time with it, always tripple check at least and have at least two more plans to fall back to.
6 – Absurdity. There is no point to anything and all order is a farce, just as well play along and enjoy the ride. Once one realizes this, everything becomes a joke.

1 – The office is my own little realm and a sanctuary from the worlds chaos. None shall enter unbidden, none shall move a single piece of paper out of place and, if you value your life, you certainly shouldn't threaten its existence.
2 – A relative got me into my position and I am indebted to them. I have a great need to prove my worth to this person.
3 – The symbols of office are no mere objects, they are a representation of my soul. My title and position give me purpose. Besmirching the symbols and good name of the regulations that give me authority is an attack on the very foundation of my existence
4 – I see no joy in my occupation, but I know that it affords me a small home and family to go back to. It's a small piece of heaven and my glimmer of hope.
5 – My life of duty and servitude was inspired by a great national event. I celebrate the year-day with great pathos and pomp. I am enthusiastic to find objects, people and knowledge on this event, but expectations are set and seeing them betrayed would shake me greatly.
6 – I have great comradery with my peers in occupation. I will always take time for them and stand in solidarity with them when they are in distress.

1 – I rose to swift in the hierarchy and am now under constant attack from envious and petty rivals.
2 – I am under great pressure from my superiors. I depend on them and constantly need to suck up to them.
3 – I am a creature of habit and it makes me predictable and easy to trick.
4 – I categorize everything and everyone at first glance and treat everyone who lands in my “unworthy” folder with vicious disdain.
5 – The impact of my decisions is distant to me and I am ignorant to the consequences of my paperwork. What is a logical decision in my calculations has ruined lives.
6 – It is actually unthinkable for me to go against rules and regulations. It would never come to my mind that breaking a law to get what is wanted is even an option.

The last is my personal favorite and the first I wanted to do. In the works are Slave, Ratcatcher, Graverobber, Dragonraised, Athlete, Interrogator and Entrepreneur.


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