About this Game >

1.1- Backgrounds

Your character’s background is a brief allusion to where you came from and your place in the world. Your fighter might be a knight or a grizzled soldier. Your rogue might have gotten by as a guild thief or command audiences as a minstrel.

You need not focus too much on the details of your character’s backstory. The most interesting things about player characters should be what they do and become in play, more so than what they used to be.

The table below offers some suggestions for how the combination of class and background can emulate certain archetypes. You are of course not limited to these (see also the “Choose a Narrative” sidebar for more on how to personalize your character).

Class/Background Archetypes

Fighter Rogue Priest Magic-user Academic Dungeon Delver Treasure Hunter Cloistered Priest Lore-master Acolyte Paladin Relic Seeker Ordained Cleric White Wizard Entertainer Gladiator Bard Evangelist Illusionist Highborn Cavalier Duelist Holy Knight Arcane Scion Peasant Hero Adventurer Fortune’s Friend Community Guide Hedge Wizard Professional Mercenary Bounty Hunter Divine Bondsman Occult Pedlar Outdoorsman Ranger/Barbarian Scout Druid Witch Doctor Outlaw Bandit Assassin Rebel Diabolist Urbanite Guardsman Spy Broker Temple Inquisitor Guild mage

Components of a Background

Backgrounds do provide some concrete benefits.

Proficiency Area

Each background gives a character proficiency in an area related to it, letting you add your proficiency bonus to all ability checks it applies to. In collaboration with your GM, you may tweak this if you decide to vary your background a bit. The rule of thumb however is to look only at what you should be proficient in based on your background, not what you could be.

Tool Proficiency

Some backgrounds come with a tool proficiency. If the choice is open-ended you can wait to choose till later in play when you have a clearer idea of your character.


Some backgrounds allow characters to learn additional languages (see “Languages” in the next section).


Each background provides a package of starting equipment. If you use the optional rule to buy your equipment with coin, you do not receive the starting equipment from your background.


Each background also have a feature, giving you some minor special benefits reflecting your upbringing.

Background Descriptions


You have trained your mind through literacy and book-learning. You are a dedicated student of a particular field – Occultism, including alchemy, other worlds and mystical substances; the so-called ‘natural sciences’ of mathematics, construction and invention; History, including archaeological field work; Geography and Cultures, accumulating knowledge of the present world or another subject.

Maybe you have studied at a public city university and have taken to exploration to advance its knowledge, or been cloistered into membership of an order guarding a more remote and exclusive storehouse of lore.

Proficiency Area: Choose a broad field of study which you are proficient in (examples include Occultism, History, Geography and Cultures, Sciences). Additionally, you are literate, well-read in general, and skilled in the proper forms and methods of research in your field.

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A letter from a dead colleague posing a question you have not yet been able to answer, a set of common clothes, and a Scholar’s Pack.

Feature: Academic Order

You belong to a university faculty, scholastic order or similar organization that provide you free access to their facilities and consultation with their experts.

As a fellow scholar, you are likely to receive preferential treatment at other libraries, orders and institutes not of your own that respect your field.

Variant Feature: Nose For Research

Whenever there is something you don’t know, you may make a DC 11 Int check with proficiency to see if you know where to find such knowledge, whether it’s a known city sage, a hidden library or ruined temple.


You have spent your life in the service of a temple to a specific god or pantheon of gods. You are trained to act as an intermediary between the holy and mortal realms, performing sacred rites and sacrifices.

Were you a lesser functionary in a temple, raised from childhood to assist the priests in the sacred rites? Or a high priest who suddenly experienced a call to serve your god in a different way? Perhaps you were the leader of a small cult of dubious standing.

Proficiency Area: You are knowledgeable in the exoteric theology and ceremonial and ritualistic lore of your faith. Furthermore, you are skilled in tending the needs of other people and reading the hearts of men.

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A holy symbol, a prayer book or prayer wheel, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15 gp

Feature: Shelter of The Faithful

You command the respect of fellow devotees and can perform the religious ceremonies of your deity. You and your companions can expect free healing and care at a temple, shrine, or other established presence of your faith, though you must provide any material components needed for spells. Those who share your religion will support you at a modest lifestyle.

You might also have ties to a specific temple. If near, you can call upon its priests for assistance, provided it is not hazardous and you remain in good standing.

Choose a Narrative

Choosing a Narrative means to pick a few words tying your background to the world the campaign is set in, and/or personalizing it to suit your character concept. If the GM agrees, it t may even affect your Proficiency Area.

Here are some examples for inspiration:

Highborn (Knight of the Order of X); Peasant Hero (dumb luck of the unproven); Outdoorsman (Amazon Beastmaster); Acolyte (Relic Seeker for the Temple of Y); Academic (Initiate of the secret lore of Z); Outdoorsman (Exile); Outlaw (Merry Man).


Maybe you are a cheerful wandering minstrel or jester; a sagely storyteller; a subtle courtesan; or low-key rumor-smith, gossip and news facilitator. Or perhaps you are a rowdy gladiator or pit fighter, inciting the crowds with your passion and flair.

Proficiency Area: You have more than one trick up your sleeve. Choose up to three performing arts from the following: Musical instrument of choice, physical performance (for example: dance; juggling; song; tumbling) and verbal performance (story-telling and poetry; acting and mummery; rhetoric and oration).

Equipment: A musical instrument of your choice, the favor of an admirer (love letter, lock of hair, or trinket), a costume, and a belt pouch containing 15 gp

Feature: There’s Always a Crowd

You always know how to get people’s attention and hold it. Whether it is a tavern, town square, or local noble’s court, you always know how to find an audience, to help you secure modest or comfortable food and lodgings for the night.

Your magnetic displays makes you a person of note among locals and word of your tales and performances tend to carry quickly.


Whether as a knight, squire, swashbuckling fop, courtier or a sorcerer of cultivated arcane bloodlines, you were born into a family of power and privilege.

Proficiency Area: You are learned in the ways of the powerful, possessing both social etiquette and savoir-faire as well as knowledge of laws and customs, both written and implicit, and how to best make use of them to your benefit. You have knowledge of heraldry from both near and far, there wheres and whys of society and culture and have at least passing familiarity with the personages of the major houses of the known realm and the rumors and hearsay attached to them.

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a signet ring, a scroll of pedigree, and a purse containing 25 gp

Feature: Blood Will Tell

Common people greet you with polite deference and respect and other highborn treat you as an equal.

You can always arrange at least a first meeting or audience with any local lord or ruler by right of blood.

Provided you maintain a Wealthy or higher lifestyle, you can secure invitations to most any social function.

Peasant Hero

You’re raised in the countryside, whether as a farmer, pastoral shepherd, river fisherman, or simply helping around the village. Now you’ve set sights on beyond the horizon, trusting your luck to bring fame and fortune.

Proficiency Area: You’re a solid farmhand, can forage, shepherd, fish, cook and in general have that unusual and hardy all-round practical knowledge of good people who live between wilderness and civilization.

Unlike other proficiency areas, if it can be reasonably argued that your countryside upbringing could grant proficiency with a given task (as opposed to should – the general rule of thumb for proficiency areas), it does.

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools; vehicles (land).

Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice), a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.

Feature: One of Their Own

Common people recognize you as one of their own done good and come through for you. You can always find a warm shelter and a hot meal for a few days in rural communities. They will shield you from outsiders and offer aid where possible so long as it doesn’t endanger their lives or the community.


You have specialized in a certain trade. Whether you are an artisan; a traveling pedlar or shop merchant; or a mercenary sword-for-hire, your skill set lets you reliably sell your services or goods.

Proficiency Area: You are skilled in all the necessary parts of your profession; from crafting (if applicable), to procurement, strategic planning and logistics, etc.

Additionally, you are a skilled trader, adept at appraising and bargaining for goods.

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools or tool kit.

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools or tool kit of your choice; a letter of introduction from your guild; a set of traveler’s clothes; and a belt pouch containing 15 gp.

Feature: Guild Membership

The guild can almost always provide opportunity for you to practice your profession to maintain a modest lifestyle where the trade exists. The guildhall provides a good place to meet colleagues and potential patrons.

If you’re accused of crimes, the guild will support you. With further donations, the guild may even be able to pull strings for you elsewhere in society.

You must pay 5 gp to the guild in monthly dues. If you miss payments, you must make up back dues.

Variant Feature: Independently Connected

You have working knowledge of guilds, companies and people of note in your chosen profession, as well as know-how to find and make connection with those you don’t know, allowing you to sniff out prospective customers anywhere with relative ease, and find work in your profession to sustain a modest lifestyle.


Whether you grew up in with a family of hunters or foresters, or as part of a barbarian tribe, you’ve spent most of your life in the wilds, honing the skills of surviving and thriving in the great outdoors.

Proficiency Area: You are skilled the ways of the wilds, from orienteering, avoiding hazards, tracking and foraging to recognizing local wildlife and flora, as well as signs of habitation and intelligent life.

Tool Proficiencies: One type of musical instrument.

Languages: One of your choice.

Equipment: A staff, a hunting trap, a trophy from an animal you killed, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.

Feature: Living Off The Land

Over the course of a full day of travel, you can always find food and water for up to six people whilst traveling without taking extra travel time or needing to roll, provided the land has sufficient resources.

Likewise, if there is shelter or habitation to be found at the end of day, you can find it without a roll.

Variant Feature: Tribal Member

You are a member of a large barbarian tribe. Members of your tribe will recognize you and offer you and your companions shelter and aid while traveling their savage lands. Other tribes are likely to recognize you as a kindred spirit and offer guest privileges in return for proper show of respect and possibly offerings of friendship.


Footpad, burglar, pickpocket, con artists, highway robber, smuggler, fence, or a rustling horse and cattle thief – Working outside the law takes many forms and you have extensive experience with them.

Perhaps you are forced outside the law by an oppressive rule you seek to overthrow. Perhaps circumstance gave you no choice. Or maybe, crime was simple the easiest choice.

Proficiency Area: Define your criminal path – You are skilled in the social aspect of your criminal career (intimidation, deception, fast-talk) and the physical rigors of performing your crime of choice.

Tool Proficiencies: Pick 2 from: gaming set, thieves’ tools or Forgery Kit or Disguise Kit or Poison Kit.

Equipment: A crowbar, a set of dark common clothes including a hood, and a bell pouch containing 15 gp

Feature: It Takes One To Know One

You have a nose for sniffing out fellow scoundrels. You know how to locate and use black markets and can establish contact with the local underworld in a short matter of time without rousing much suspicion.

Variant Feature: Menace

Your wicked ways has given you a palpable aura of menace. People thread carefully around you and you can intimidate regular folks into doing your bidding just to avoid problems. Up to a point. People who can look after themselves might take issue at sword point.


Whether you were a beggar, a watchman, gambler, toiling laborer, rat catcher or menial servant you grew up in the city and learned the ways of civilization and the streets to make a living.

Proficiency Area: You are skilled at fast-talk, negotiating and putting on a face to suit the circumstances, gathering information, spotting a tail and know how disappear in a crowd or hide in streets. You are also proficient in the mostly unskilled labor you worked in.

Tool Proficiencies: A gaming set.

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A small knife, a map of your native city, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch with 10 gp.

Feature: Ear To The Ground

You know the ways of the city and its inhabitants. You always know, or can find out in short order, who to talk to buy a certain item or obtain a certain service. Additionally, you instinctively know when you are in a bad or dangerous neighborhood or when people seem to take a special interest in you or your companions.