Monday, July 10, 2017

Backgrounds Part IV (Folk Hero and Guild Artisan)

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 Folk Hero and the Guild Artisan Backgrounds and how they affect your character’s background and possible development as you level up.  First up, we have the Folk Hero, and then we’ll conclude with the Guild Artisan.  

Folk Hero

There are a lot of people who find their way to adventure through a directed path or a goal of their own.  Other people find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and do things that they never thought they could.  These are the local heroes that find their way to the adventuring lifestyle after accomplishing a great (to them, at the time) deed.  Whether they slew a great monster, or saved a local celebrity, the Folk Hero is an example to the common man that great deeds come from the most unlikely places.  Folk Heroes are shaped from the common background they come from, but they have a destiny ahead of them that will carry them to great deeds and adventures.  
There are two components to keep in mind when you are building a Folk Hero.  First, what was the commonplace occupation or job did your character come from?  Were you a farmer, or a shepherd, or a well digger?  The second component to figure out is the defining event that made your character a Folk Hero?  Did you slay a terrible monster, or rescue a noble’s daughter?  These are two of the key elements of this background, so put some thought into them (there’s a table in the PHB on page 131 if you need help with your defining event).


The Folk Hero Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Animal Handling and Survival.

Tool Proficiencies

The Folk Hero Background gives you proficiency with a set of artisan’s tools (your choice, but i would suggest you grab one that fits your previous occupation) and vehicles (Land).  


The Folk Hero Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A set of Artisan’s Tools (your choice)
  • A Shovel
  • An Iron Pot
  • A set of Common Clothes
  • A belt pouch containing 10 gp (gold pieces)


Rustic Hospitality

You come from the ranks of the common folk, and your bond with them is strong.  You can always find a place to hide, rest, or recover with commoners, so long as you haven’t proven yourself to be a danger directly to them.  They will hide from people who are looking for you (including the law) but will not risk their lives for you.

Suggested Characteristics

This background is basically the commoner who meets a destiny type of story.  There are charts you can roll on listed on page 131-132, but the part of this background that i find interesting is the how does your character handle the shift from commoner to something else?  Did your character actually perform the great deed that made them a hero or did they take credit for someone else’s work?  Is your character comfortable with the change in social status that typically rolls with this kind of defining event, or would they much rather go back to being a farmer, or a well digger?  Figure out the personality elements that fit with your character and work your way out from there when you pick your characteristics.

Guild Artisan

Guilds are an important part of the fantasy setting that Dungeons and Dragons lives in.  Skilled trades are often regulated by guilds of like minded (and skilled) experts who know a specific craft or trade.  Being a member of one of these guilds is an important component to a character who wants to be a craftsman, because guilds can wield enormous political, economic, and social power in a given region or city.  Crossing a guild can be akin to a death sentence in the wrong city, and making friends with the guild can open up possibilities and potential avenues of wealth that a character can only imagine.  
A Guild is a powerful resource, and one of the most critical aspects of this background is figuring out what skilled trade your character is trained in, and the guild they are a member of.  Another important consideration is how your relationship with your character’s guild progressed.  Are you a member in good standing, or have you parted ways?  Was the split amicable or not?  Did you end up changing guilds during the learning process or have you been working under the same master from the beginning?


The Guild Artisan Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Insight and Persuasion.

Tool Proficiencies

The Guild Artisan Background gives you proficiency for an Artisan’s tools of the player’s choice.

Language Proficiencies

The Guild Artisan Background gives you proficiency for a language of the player’s choice.


The Guild Business Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A set of artisan’s tools of the player’s choice
  • A letter of introduction from the guild
  • A set of traveler’s clothes
  • A belt pouch containing 15 gp (gold pieces)

Guild Business

Every Guild Artisan has a specific skilled trade that they are members of a guild specialized in..  If you can’t pick, feel free to roll on the table on page 132.     


Guild Membership

Membership has some extraordinary benefits.  First, members of your guild will provide lodging and food, if necessary.  Further, in cities with a guildhall provide opportunities to interact with other members of the guild and potentially leads on new jobs and possible sources of adventure.  The Guild will offer support in legal matters if the case can be made for your innocence, or that the crime was justified.  Further, guild membership can give you access to powerful members of the guild (or other social personalities).  This may require a donation to the guild to secure.  Finally, a Guild requires 5 Gold Pieces a month in dues to maintain membership in good standing, and these benefits are not accessible if the dues are lapsed.

Suggested Characteristics

Guild Artisans who become adventurers have an interesting story to tell.  For some reason, they’ve put down their artisan’s tools and taken up the life of an adventurer.  Why?  What change in the state of that character’s life mandated the changeover from artisan to adventurer?  There are a host of potential story ideas that you can work with in this background, and take a look at the choices you have and see what you think is interesting to you.  Remember, these are just suggestions and you can substitute your own if you prefer.  

Variant:  Guild Merchant
A variant artisan that is focused on the buying and selling aspects of guild membership.  These characters are valuable because they are focused on the mercantile aspect of the guild and understand how the money works.  These characters are rarely artisans of their own, but are well connected to other guilds and trading networks.  They are an invaluable resource to the guilds they are members of.  There are some variant traits suggested on page 133.


So that’s our next two background writeups in the bag, and we’ll be back next week with two more, The Hermit and the Noble.  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.  

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