A Collection of Unique Backgrounds for 5e

This week we are bringing you three great background for your next 5e character. These were all lovingly crafted by the talented Max Hughson, the same author who brought you the Hedonist. All the background are here in their full text and also linked to their page on dndbeyond for ease of use. Do any of these backgrounds speak to you? Comment your favorite below and keep an eye out for more to come in the next couple weeks.

Drizzt Do'urden the exile
Drizzt Do’urden the exile art by Julia Alekseeva

Exile

You once belonged to a prestigious order, a powerful tribe, or maybe even a noble family, but no more. You left, whether by choice or by force, and you are now on your own. During your time in exile you have traveled the world, surviving against all odds, learning to do whatever it takes to stay alive.

Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Survival

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A set of common clothes and a pouch containing 5 gp

Feature: Exile’s Elusiveness

The way you walk, speak, and act tends to leave you overlooked or actively ignored by most people. It’s hard for a majority of the population to recall what you said, whom you talked to, and where you went afterwards.

Suggested Characteristics

Use the tables for the Exile background as the basis for your traits and motivations, modifying the entries when appropriate to suit your identity.

Personality Traits

  1. I don’t run from evil. Evil runs from me.
  2. I like to read and memorize poetry. It keeps me calm and brings me fleeting moments of happiness.
  3. I expect betrayal from everyone around me.
  4. I live for the thrill of the hunt.
  5. I don’t talk about the thing that torments me. I’d rather not burden others with my curse.
  6. I expect danger around every corner.
  7. I refuse to become a victim, and I will not allow others to be victimized.
  8. I put no trust in divine beings.

Ideals

  1. I try to help those in need, no matter what the personal cost. (Good)
  2. I’ll stop the spirits that haunt me or die trying. (Any)
  3. I kill monsters to make the world a safer place, and to exorcise my own demons. (Good)
  4. I have a dark calling that puts me above the law. (Chaotic)
  5. I like to know my enemy’s capabilities and weaknesses before rushing into battle. (Lawful)
  6. I’m a monster that destroys other monsters, and anything else that gets in my way. (Evil)

Bonds

  1. I keep my thoughts and discoveries in a journal. My journal is my legacy.
  2. I would sacrifice my life and my soul to protect the innocent.
  3. My torment drove away the person I love. I strive to win back the love I’ve lost.
  4. A terrible guilt consumes me. I hope that I can find redemption through my actions.
  5. There’s evil in me, I can feel it. It must never be set free.
  6. I have a child to protect. I must make the world a safer place for him (or her).

Flaws

  1. I have certain rituals that I must follow every day. I can never break them.
  2. I assume the worst in people.
  3. I feel no compassion for the dead. They’re the lucky ones.
  4. I have an addiction.
  5. I am a purveyor of doom and gloom who lives in a world without hope.
  6. I talk to spirits that no one else can see.

Reconnaissance Agent

Slinking into a commander’s tent in the night to snag documents on troop movements, perching in a tall tree taking notes on a garrison’s numbers, or even flying above an encampment to keep track of a scouting party. Many different organizations utilize individuals who are skilled in tracking enemy movements, being unseen, and talking their way out of trouble if they happen to be spotted. Even during times of peace information is power and these individuals gather intelligence for their organizations diligently.

Skill Proficiencies: Perception and Deception, Intimidation. or Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: Choose 1 Vehicle Proficiency of your choice

Equipment: A small spyglass, a set of common clothes, a pouch of 15 gp

Career Commendation

Some members of your organization perform extraordinary feats of heroism that put these individuals in harms way in the name of duty. You are one such individual that went above and beyond and distinguished yourself from the rank-and-file of your organization. You can roll on the table to determine your Commendation or merely use it as inspiration for your own ideas.

  1. Reclaimed stolen intelligence from a renegade operative
  2. Broke an “unbreakable” code
  3. Successfully infiltrated an enemy stronghold to acquire a codex
  4. Seduced an enemy commander to learn their secrets and escaped with your cover intact
  5. Returned to save a fellow operative despite your cover being blown
  6. Went deep undercover into a cult and foiled an assassination attempt

Feature: Disinformation

If you take an hour in local tavern, temple, and other such gathering place you are able to impose disadvantage on any checks used to try to gather information about you and your allies.

Suggested Characteristics

Reconnaissance Agents are as varied as the tactics they use to get the job done; some slip in and out of shadows as easily as water, others use silver tongues to entice enemies into sharing the information they require, and some even some find a comfortable vantage point to sit and observe until they have what they need.

Personality Traits

  1. I would never give up my allies to the enemy
  2. I have no time for fiddle faddle
  3. I’m extremely organized, one has to be in this line of work
  4. An extra minute of planning could save lives, so I take five
  5. I can trust someone to do their job, but I trust no one else to do mine
  6. Being unseen is all well and good, but being forgettable is even better
  7. Where there are eyes and ears there are usually loose tongues accompanying them, this can be…advantageous
  8. I like a challenge, the more impossible the mission the better

Ideals

  1. Duty. I serve my organization faithfully. (Lawful)
  2. Knowledge. I want to learn all the secrets the world. (Neutral)
  3. Greed. I’ll sell anyone out, give up any secret, or sacrifice my comrades for money. (Evil)
  4. Protection. The more information we have, the fewer lives will be lost. (Good)
  5. Independence. The more information we have the less we need to rely on others. (Neutral)
  6. Lucidity. The secrets we collect are used best by the common folk. (Chaotic)

Bonds

  1. Flawed intel is more deadly than any blade, I am thorough because my last mistake cost many lives
  2. I left the life of intrigue behind but my superiors pulled me back in to find a mole in the organization
  3. A turncoat stole extremely vital intelligence from the organization and I will not rest until I retrieve it
  4. I was burned by the organization and now I’ve set my sights on dismantling it
  5. I found out I was working for the wrong side, so now I do what I can to help those who need it
  6. My partner was captured while saving my life so I won’t let their sacrifice be in vain

Flaws

  1. Everyone is hiding something, it’s hard to know where loyalties actually lie
  2. My plans are always the most efficient and have the highest likelihood of succeeding
  3. I always want to spend an extra ten minutes investigating everything I discover
  4. I think everyone is connected to everything…even if there aren’t any connections to be found
  5. I protect my contacts until they aren’t useful to me anymore, I cut ties harshly
  6. If anyone insults me or my dedication I make it my goal to grind them into dust

Run-away

You are running from something, literally attempting to escape a situation. Whether eluding an oppressive home life, people you can no longer bear to face, a cruel mentor, or even the bonds of servitude the one constant in your life thus far has been your continual flight to a better place…or at least a place that isn’t where you were.

Skill Proficiencies: Stealth, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools

Equipment: Thieves’ Tools

Feature: On the Lam

After being on the run you can now spot when you’re being followed more easily. If you are in a particular location (village, town, city, etc.) for longer than a day you can reliably track where the guards/authorities will be patrolling or stationed. While you have this awareness activated, you may roll perception checks to determine if someone/something is following you with advantage.

Suggested Characteristics

You may use the following table as inspiration to determine your characteristics

Personality Traits

  1. Just because I’m smiling does not mean you’re safe
  2. I prefer to be unseen, that way no one suspects me
  3. People are fascinating, I met many while on the run
  4. I wish to inspire those around me to free themselves of the chains of servitude, physical or otherwise
  5. I listen to everything and everyone around me, that way I know when someone has noticed me
  6. I’m quick to anger when interacting with those who feel superior to others for no reason other than their family name
  7. I prefer to be out of the spot light, attention means I’ve been noticed
  8. I have an urge to strike anyone who treats others the way I was treated

Ideals

  1. Never Again. I will do anything to keep from being enslaved again (Neutral)
  2. Not one more. I fight slavery, indentured servitude, and abuse of power where ever I go. (Good)
  3. Slay the Masters. I seek to destroy all who enslave others. (Chaotic)
  4. I lived it, so shall you. If I had to endure countless horrors, so should all others (Evil)
  5. Subtle Help. I see the unseen and assist those in need quietly (Neutral)
  6. Justice Prevails. The laws of the land will punish those who harm others, I will assist the law when asked. (Lawful)

Bonds

  1. I will never forget those who were kind to me as I fled
  2. I suffered many humiliations at the hands of another, and to this day I cannot bear to see any other mistreated in such a manner
  3. I ran away from that terrible household…after I burned it to the ground
  4. I owe a debt to a kind stanger who gave me a gift that helped me escape
  5. After I ran away, they replaced me. I will save that poor soul no matter the cost
  6. I will always be appreciative to those who opened my eyes to the possiblilty of freedom

Flaws

  1. I was controlled for a very long time, now I refuse any and all help to avoid being indebted to others
  2. I am slow to voice my opinion and when I do so it is quietly and apologetically, seen and not heard.
  3. Taking orders is no longer something I do…ever…from anyone, to the point of ignoring others who have differing ideas on the course of action that should be taken
  4. After spending so long on the sidelines my desire to be noticed is taken to a completely new level
  5. Everyone is out to get me and send me back to the life I fled, or they want me for themselves
  6. I don’t form attachments to anyone for fear of being dragged back down an all too familiar path

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