Hey Game Fans, we’re back with the third part of our series on Backgrounds for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Today we’re going to take a hard look at the Criminal and the Entertainer Backgrounds and how they affect your character’s background and possible development as you level up. First up, we have the Criminal, and then we’ll conclude with the Entertainer.
Prior to taking up the life of an adventurer, you spent your nights breaking the law and supporting yourself through a variety of criminal acts. Through close contacts you made during that life you are connected to the undercurrent of violence and crime that pervades society. Why was your character a Criminal prior to becoming an adventurer? Were you a member of a Thieves Guild or were you more of a freelancer? What was your crime of specialty? Of the extensive criminal contacts you made during that life, who do you still keep contact with?
If you’re having problems coming up with answers to these questions, look at the rest of your character’s background details, and see what meshes. You also have the benefit of a chart on page 129 for some example criminal specializations that you can roll for or pick. Find one that you like the sound of and do some research. This is what your character did before becoming an adventurer so take some time and think your way through the background.
The Criminal Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Deception and Stealth.
The Criminal Background gives you proficiency with a gaming set of your choice and with Thieves tools.
The Criminal Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
- A Crowbar
- A set of dark common clothing with a hood
- A belt pouch containing 15 gp (gold pieces)
Through the power of your ties to your former life, you have a criminal contact you can utilize for information about things going on in the criminal underworld or things they’d be interested. This contact also serves as a connection to other criminal operators and you might be able to call in favors and contact information.
The Spy is a variant criminal that focuses on gathering information and intelligence wherever they go. They operate very similarly to more traditional criminals, but are focused on hoarding secrets and information as their stock and trade. They operate the same way as traditional Criminals.
Look through the characteristics suggested on page 129 and see what aspects you like from the offered suggestions. Figure out what it was that originally drew your character to the Criminal background and between that and your crime of choice, you can start filling in some of the personality quirks. One of the interesting questions i like about this background is “Did you leave the life voluntarily or were you forced out?” Your character can be a reluctant criminal who did what they had to do to survive, or were you an unrepentant criminal who absolutely loved that life?
Some folks have a gift for music or storytelling. A few of those folks learn how to turn that gift into an ability to survive by literally singing for their supper. The Entertainer is perfectly capable of using their talent to take care of their room and board while on the road. The best entertainers look at their chosen art as a means to influence people and enjoy seeing the effect their chosen form of art has on other people.
One of the most critical aspects of this background is figuring out what your character’s entertaining skill or trade is. This is going to be a defining trait of your character so spend some time and do some thinking. If you end up having trouble making this decision, check out the Entertainment Routines chart on page 130. You can roll randomly or you can pick one that sounds interesting.
The Entertainer Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Acrobatics and Performance
The Entertainer Background gives you proficiency for the Disguise kit and one musical instrument of choice..
The Entertainer Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
- A musical instrument (of your choice)
- A costume
- The Favor of an admirer (lock of hair, locket, love letter or another trinket)
- A belt pouch containing 15 gp (gold pieces)
Every Entertainer has a chosen form of entertainment they provide and their skills and proficiencies reflect that chosen form of entertainment. If you can’t pick, feel free to roll on the table on page 130.
By Popular Demand
Entertainers always have a stage to perform on if they are so inclined. This allows them to stay in either modest or comfortable lodgings for free as long as they are willing to perform for the other patrons and guests. The quality of their stay is dependent on the quality of place they are performing at. In addition, people are aware of local performers and strangers who encounter an entertainer are generally friendlier toward the entertainer (in a place where the entertainer has performed at least once).
Entertainers are defined a lot by their chosen medium and that can shape their personalities in different ways. Why did your character choose that specific form of expression? Is it a well respected tradition from their homeland or are you an outcast pursuing a taboo form of expression? If you are having trouble figuring out some of your characteristics, remember you have the charts on page 130 and 131 to work with.
A variant entertainer that shows their impressive skills off in the arenas and fighting pits of the world. Gladiators are usually more martially inclined characters that spent their early careers in a variety of places beating people up for money and the praise of the crowd. Their usage of a By Popular Demand lets them find fighting pits and other places they can show off their skills and earn some loose coins along the way.
So that’s our next two background writeups in the bag, and we’ll be back next week with two more, The Folk Hero and the Guild Artisan. We’ll hopefully get through all of these before Christmas, and we honestly hope these help you figure out some of the background components of your characters. Game On, Game Fans.