Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Backgrounds Part VI (Outlander and Sage)

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


Outlanders come from the wilderness and live off the land.  Whether they are from ancient forests, windswept deserts, or frozen tundras, Outlanders learned at an early age to survive off of the land and live in harmony with it.  These characters often lack social graces and other elements of a polite society, but are tough as nails and know how to make the most of meager resources.  There are a ton of interesting stories to tell with the Outlander, ranging from how the Outlander reacts to more civilized characters to telling the story of the Outlander’s return home and trying to work their way back to their origins.  
Outlander can work as a background for just about any class, but characters who have connections to the world beyond the boundaries of cities and other civilized folk can draw a lot of strength from the Outlander background.  Warlocks, Druids, Rangers and Barbarians can have a lot of fun with this background, but any character can use it is as the basis for an interesting story.  If you’re looking for some inspiration on what your character did during their time in the wild, there is a table you can roll on located on page 136.  


The Outlander Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Athletics and Survival.

Tool Proficiencies

The Outlander Background gives you proficiency with a musical instrument of your choice.  


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


The Outlander Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A staff
  • A hunting trap
  • A trophy from an animal killed
  • A set of traveler’s clothes
  • A belt pouch containing 10 gp (gold pieces)



The Outlander has sense of direction and memory for places.  They remember the area they are in, major settlements and key features.  Further, as long as the resources are available, the Outlander can find sufficient food and water for themselves and up to five additional people.  

Suggested Characteristics

Outlanders are not renowned for their social graces and this can shape your character’s personality in some interesting directions.  If your character goes to great effort to copy the social dynamics of more civilized folk, that’s as interesting as the story of the Outlander who chooses not to interact because they are unwilling to embarrass themselves.  You can tell a lot of different stories with the Outlander, and you always have the tables on page 137 if you get a little short on ideas.  


Learned men and women who study ancient and esoteric lore come from a variety of classes and walks of life.  These characters are typically studious characters who are often more at home in their schools and libraries than they are in the adventuring world.  However, there are stories of brave academics risking life and limb in search of ancient artifacts or lost treasures.  These characters are often extremely well informed in their topical area of expertise and that area of expertise will help shape the rest of the character’s background.  Your specialty can help you identify what your character is a passionate expert about and can help you frame some of the characteristics that are offered later.  If you don’t have an idea of what you want to do, you can always roll for it on the chart on page 137.  


The Sage Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Arcana and History.

Language Proficiencies

The Sage Background gives you proficiency for two languages of your choice.


The Sage Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A bottle of black ink
  • A quill
  • A small knife
  • A letter from a dead colleague posing a question yet unanswered
  • A set of common clothes
  • A belt pouch containing 10 gp (gold pieces)



Sages have an uncanny ability to find information.  Even if they personally can’t lay their hands on it, they can usually figure out where the information is and who has access to it.  Knowing where information is doesn’t necessarily grant the Researcher access, there may be fees, quests or other impediments on gaining access to the information, but the Researcher does know where to go looking for it.  

Suggested Characteristics

Sages are often defined by their studies and tend to shape their personality in ways that are encouraged by their studies.  Some are studious, others are more instinctual in their understanding of their topic.  Whichever characteristics you end up selecting, you can choose to make a character that leans hard into their background or you can make a character that’s trying to put that part of their life behind them.  The reasons behind either of these decisions can make for interesting role-playing, and like i suggest with all of these, take your time and figure out your characteristics.  If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, you can always roll on the tables on page 138.


So that’s our next two background writeups in the bag, and we’ll be back next week with the last three, The Sailor, The Soldier and the Urchin.  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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