Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Backgrounds for Dungeons and Dragons

Hey Game Fans, today we’re going to start/continue our discussion about the Backgrounds for character building in Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.  Basically, these are designed to cover the period of time between your character’s birth and when they started their career as an adventurer.  There are a lot of interesting options, but there’s also the option to build your own background out of combining the traits from other backgrounds together in an interesting casserole of deliciousness.
When you select a background you’re effectively choosing another component of your character’s background.  The first component you probably selected was your character’s race.  The second component selected was probably your class.  Now you’re working on filling in key details about the upbringing your character had and where he or she comes from.  This will have a lot of interesting background details you can work into your character, and you can help fill in some of your character’s personality traits that we talked about last week.  Each one of the backgrounds has several charts with relevant traits that are pulled from that background.  
Most of the benefits provided are part and parcel of the story of where your character comes from, but there are several tangible benefits you can gain from selecting specific backgrounds.  Let’s take a closer look at the components that all backgrounds share, and in the coming weeks we’ll break each one down in this series of articles.  


Each Background provides a number of proficiencies in both skills and possibly tools.  Each background offers proficiency in 2 skills from a list of potential choices.  It also has the potential to offer proficiency in tools, instruments, and other items that require proficiency depending on the specific background.  Remember, if you gain proficiency in something that you already have proficiency in, you can select a different skill or tool proficiency instead.  


Some backgrounds also provide proficiencies in additional languages that a character can learn.  (We’ll cover languages in another article).  


Each Background adds an additional supply of equipment to the starting gear offered by the character’s class.  In addition, each also provides a small amount of gold pieces to start the character on their adventure.  

Suggested Characteristics

Finally, each Background provides lists of suggested personality traits, bonds, ideals, and character flaws that are typical of characters from that background.  You can either select ones that are appropriate to the character you want to make, or you can roll randomly if you don’t have an idea.  


Every Background has an additional feature that provides some type of benefit to the character.  Some offer opportunities for lodging and travel while others feature ways to maintain a lifestyle at reduced price.  Some also feature other background details or specific campaign information that can shape your character’s interaction with the campaign setting as a whole.  

Customizing Backgrounds

So you’ve looked through the backgrounds and you’ve found one that mostly works but there are a couple of things that you’d rather have instead, you can sort of tinker with a background and change up some of the components.  You can make the following changes when you customize a background:
  • You can replace a Feature with the Feature of any one other background
  • You can choose any two skills.
  • You can select any two tool proficiencies OR languages from another background.
  • You can either use the gear package from the background you’ve selected, or you can buy your gear, (If you buy your gear, you can’t select the starting equipment options listed in the Classes chapter.).  
  • Choose two personality traits, one ideal, one bond, and one flaw that you think fit your character.  
Now if you can’t find a feature that works with the character idea you want to play, see if you and your DM can’t figure out a compromise or an alternative.  
Now we’re going to actually dig into these next week, but we wanted to give you an idea of what we were working with and how these are laid out.  We’ll kick off Next week with Acolyte and Charlatan.  Game On, Game Fans.

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