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The next step in creating your character’s origin story is choosing their background. A character’s background tells a story about the life they have chosen to lead, separate from the culture they were raised in. This step can be used to tell nearly any story; how your character became an adventurer, why they claim a culture other than the one associated with their heritage, or how they began their journey towards finding their place in the world. 

While picking a background does not have to complete your character’s story, it provides a sturdy base for developing that story. A character’s background typically reflects the individual training they have sought out or been given, rather than the common heritage and culture which they shared with their first community. One of the most important questions you can ask when choosing your background is how does this relate to your character’s current adventuring status? Did they leave a job they loved to adventure out of a sense of duty, or were they forced out of their home? Did they spend their inheritance on adventuring gear in search of excitement, or did they save their meager wages until they could embark on a journey bigger than themselves? After being dealt their cards in life, how did they make the most of it—or did they set off in search of a new hand? 

The backgrounds in this chapter provide mechanical benefits, such as ability score increases and proficiencies, as well as more roleplay-oriented benefits. As with the other origin sections, you gain the benefits of only one background. The following sections appear in the descriptions for most backgrounds. 

Ability Score Increase

Each background increases one of a character’s ability scores by 1 and allows you to increase a second ability score of your choice. This reflects the abilities utilized or valued the most by that background. 


Most backgrounds grant proficiency with two skills. 

Additionally, many backgrounds grant proficiency with an appropriate tool set (or multiple sets). 

If your character would gain the same proficiency from multiple areas, such as a heritage or cultural trait or class feature, they may instead choose a new proficiency of the same type (skill or tool).


Like cultures, your background can also allow you to learn additional languages. Provided there is no disability or condition that prevents them from doing so, characters are considered to be able to speak, read, write, and sign the languages granted by their background. 


Each background provides examples of one acquaintance, ally, or enemy that has had an effect on your character’s life. This could be a childhood friend, a sparring partner, or even a business competitor. Make sure to include your Narrator when choosing your connection; you never know when they’ll show back up.


Suggested equipment sets are included with each background, along with an associated gold cost. 


Each background includes options for a memento. This is a sentimental item reflective of your background and the occurrences that have built you into who you are, typically worth less than 30 gold.

Background Feature

Every background comes with a feature that helps determine how your character interacts with the world and people around them. While they rarely provide a set mechanical benefit, they can provide you with a reliable way to find information, shelter, or even financial support.