Monday, July 17, 2017

Backgrounds Part V (Hermit and Noble)

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 Hermit, and then we’ll conclude with the Noble.  


There are a lot of people who spend their early years living isolated lives of seclusion.  There is an attraction to quiet, peace of mind and a place to think without the worries of the world crashing down on you.  An interesting question to ask yourself coming out of this background is what brought you back to the rest of the world?  One of the defining characteristics of this particular background is the Feature: Secret.
Through your solitude, contemplation, and research, you’ve discovered a secret either long since forgotten about the world, or discovered something amazing that no one’s ever found out about something else.  This one requires a lot of interaction with the DM and you have to work together to decide what your secret is.  Depending on said secret, your character could be on the run from people who want to silence the character, potential seekers of the secret who are desperate to learn it, or a host of other interesting complications.
Ordinarily i wouldn’t do this, but because of the massive Player/DM interaction with this feature, i would suggest you avoid using this background for Adventurer’s League games.  If you decide to keep this one, i would definitely suggest you swap out the Feature for a different one, with a suggestion towards the Acolyte or Noble Features.  


The Hermit Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Medicine and Religion.

Tool Proficiencies

The Hermit Background gives you proficiency with the Herbalist’s Kit.  


The Hermit Background gives you proficiency with a language of your choice.


The Hermit Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A scroll case stuffed full of notes and ideas from your studies
  • A winter blanket
  • A set of common clothes
  • An herbalism kit
  • A belt pouch containing 5 gp (gold pieces)



Your long period of seclusion and study have revealed a hidden truth to you.  Whether it’s something about the hidden interplay between the outer planes, the True Name of an ancient demon, or the true lineage of succession for the largest kingdom of the continent, you know something that has the power to affect the campaign world (potentially).  This is one of the few Features that requires a lot of work with the DM and you are going to have to work together to define what this feature is and how it works in the campaign you are playing.  

Suggested Characteristics

There are a lot of potential reasons why a character would seek out a life of seclusion (especially at a very young age), and if you are having problems coming up with one, there’s a chart on 134 that can give you a direction.  Once you have that direction in mind, you can sort through the suggestion on the same page for detailing out your ideals, flaws, and bonds.  The nature of the Secret your character has possession of can also shape these decisions so do some thinking and see what you can come up with.  You always have the charts on page 134 to fall back on if you have problems brainstorming an idea.  


Nobility (and the system of government that supports Nobility) are an essential part of the High Fantasy world that Dungeons and Dragons is built on.  Noble heroes questing to rescue people in distress is as common as the scheming Baron or Count who oppresses his or her people to enrich their personal power.  Characters from this background aren’t that different from their “lesser born” adventuring companions.  This background has more interaction with the DM because being a Noble has both authority and responsibility tied into it.  
Being a Noble grants a character access to the ruling members of society with regular ease.  It also requires them to follow societal rules and expectations for behavior among the nobility.  Lowborn adventurers have the freedom to carouse at the tavern and get into bar fights.  Nobles are expected to behave better, high tea and sword duels are the norm.  The societal pressures can overwhelm a young noble, and the life of a far traveling adventurer can be very appealing to the young lady or lord of a noble house...


The Noble Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for History and Persuasion.

Tool Proficiencies

The Noble Background gives you proficiency for a gaming set of the player’s choice.

Language Proficiencies

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


The Noble Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A set of fine clothes
  • A signet ring
  • A scroll of pedigree
  • A purse containing 25 gp (gold pieces)


Position of Privilege

Being a Noble has a number of tangible benefits.  First, people are inclined to believe the best about your character because of the circumstances of their birth.  Nobles typically have the freedom to be anywhere they choose to be and people rarely stop you.  Common folk are especially accommodating and go out of their way to make sure you have pleasant times.  People of similar birth will treat your character as “One of them” and you can typically secure an audience with a local lord if you need to.   

Suggested Characteristics

Noble Characters have a different perspective than most other adventurers and that should factor in your personality traits for your Noble.  You should have sketched out the background details about your noble family with the DM and have a working idea of what your family does in the context of the local environment and how they interact with the larger nobility and aristocracy of the country your character is from.  How closely does your character hold those values?  Are you an active member of your family or are you a bit of a black sheep?  If you are having questions about some personality traits, feel free to check out the charts on page 135 and 136.  There are two variants that come with this background.

Variant:  Knight
A variant Noble, the Knight is the lowest tier of accepted Nobility and are often warriors or other highly skilled experts that a higher ranking Noble has elevated to a position of authority.  Knights often have personal coats of arms and a retinue of servants that accompany them along their journey to knighthood.  This leads into a variant Feature.

Variant Feature: Retainers

In lieu of the Position of Privilege feature, Knights often have the Retainers Feature.  This gives the character access to three servants, often messengers, runners, or other necessary people to help them with their knightly duties.  These servants are not adventuring companions (and will avoid obviously dangerous areas like dungeons).  If they are frequently endangered or abused, they will abandon the Knight.  


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