Personality and Background

Personality and Background

Chapter 4: Personality and Background

Characters are defined by much more than their race and class. They’re individuals with their own stories, interests, connections, and capabilities beyond those that class and race define. This section expounds on the details that distinguish characters from one another, including the basics of name and physical description, the rules of backgrounds and languages, and the finer points of personality and alignment.

Character Details

Your character’s name and physical description might be the first things that the other players at the table learn about you. It’s worth thinking about how these characteristics reflect the character you have in mind.

TIKA AND ARTEMIS: CONTRASTING CHARACTERS

The details in this section make a big difference in setting your character apart from every other character. Consider the following two human fighters.

Hailing from the Dragonlance setting, Tika Waylan was a brash teenager who had a rough childhood. The daughter of a thief, she ran away from home and practiced her father’s trade on the streets of Solace. When she tried to rob the proprietor of the Inn of the Last Home, he caught her and took her under his wing, giving her a job as a barmaid. But when the dragonarmies laid waste to the town of Solace and destroyed the inn, necessity forced Tika into adventure alongside the friends she’d known from her childhood. Her skill as a fighter (a frying pan remains one of her favorite weapons) combined with her history on the streets gave her skills invaluable in her adventuring career.

Artemis Entreri grew up on the streets of Calimport in the Forgotten Realms. He used his wits, strength, and agility to carve out his own territory in one of the city’s hundreds of poor shanty towns. After several years, he attracted the notice of one of the most powerful thieves’ guilds in the city, and he ascended the ranks of the guild quickly despite his youth. Artemis became the favored assassin of one of the city’s pashas, who sent him to far-off Icewind Dale to recover some stolen gems. He’s a professional killer, constantly challenging himself to improve his skills.

Tika and Artemis are both human and both fighters (with some experience as rogues), possessing similarly high Strength and Dexterity scores, but there the similarity ends.

Name

Your character’s race description includes sample names for members of that race. Put some thought into your name even if you’re just picking one from a list.

Sex

You can play a male or female character without gaining any special benefits or hindrances. Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture’s expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior. For example, a male drow cleric defies the traditional gender divisions of drow society, which could be a reason for your character to leave that society and come to the surface.

You don’t need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon’s image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character’s sexual orientation is for you to decide.

Height and Weight

Race Base
Height
Height
Modifier
Base
Weight
Weight
Modifier
Human 4'8" +2d10 110 lb. × (2d4) lb.
Dwarf, hill 3'8" +2d4 115 lb. × (2d6) lb.
Dwarf, mountain 4' +2d4 130 lb. × (2d6) lb.
Elf, high 4'6" +2d10 90 lb. × (1d4) lb.
Elf, wood 4'6" +2d10 100 lb. × (1d4) lb.
Halfling 2'7" +2d4 35 lb. × 1 lb.


You can decide your character’s height and weight, using the information provided in your race description or on the Random Height and Weight table. Think about what your character’s ability scores might say about his or her height and weight. A weak but agile character might be thin. A strong and tough character might be tall or just heavy.

If you want to, you can roll randomly for your character’s height and weight using the Random Height and Weight table. The dice roll given in the Height Modifier column determines the character’s extra height (in inches) beyond the base height. That same number multiplied by the dice roll or quantity given in the Weight Modifier column determines the character’s extra weight (in pounds) beyond the base weight.

For example, as a human, Tika has a height of 4 feet 8 inches plus 2d10 inches. Her player rolls 2d10 and gets a total of 12, so Tika stands 5 feet 8 inches tall. Then the player uses that same roll of 12 and multiplies it by 2d4 pounds. Her 2d4 roll is 3, so Tika weighs an extra 36 pounds (12 . 3) on top of her base 110 pounds, for a total of 146 pounds.

Other Physical Characteristics

You choose your character’s age and the color of his or her hair, eyes, and skin. To add a touch of distinctiveness, you might want to give your character an unusual or memorable physical characteristic, such as a scar, a limp, or a tattoo.

TIKA AND ARTEMIS: CHARACTER DETAILS

Consider how the names Tika Waylan and Artemis Entreri set these characters apart from each other and reflect their personalities. Tika is a young woman determined to prove that she’s not just a kid any more, and her name makes her sound young and ordinary. Artemis Entreri comes from an exotic land and carries a more mysterious name.

Tika is nineteen years old at the start of her adventuring career and has auburn hair, green eyes, fair skin with freckles, and a mole on her right hip. Artemis is a small man, compact and all wiry muscle. He has angular features and high cheekbones, and he always seems in need of a shave. His raven-black hair is thick and full, but his eyes are gray and lifeless—betraying the emptiness of his life and soul.

Alignment

A typical creature in the game world has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes. Alignment is a combination of two factors: one identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral). Thus, nine distinct alignments define the possible combinations.

These brief summaries of the nine alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.

Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society. Gold dragons, paladins, and most dwarves are lawful good.

Neutral good (NG) folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs. Many celestials, some cloud giants, and most gnomes are neutral good.

Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect. Copper dragons, many elves, and unicorns are chaotic good.

Lawful neutral (LN) individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes. Many monks and some wizards are lawful neutral.

Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer clear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time. Lizardfolk, most druids, and many humans are neutral.

Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else. Many barbarians and rogues, and some bards, are chaotic neutral.

Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order. Devils, blue dragons, and hobgoblins are lawful evil.

Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Many drow, some cloud giants, and goblins are neutral evil.

Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust. Demons, red dragons, and orcs are chaotic evil.

Alignment in the Multiverse

For many thinking creatures, alignment is a moral choice. Humans, dwarves, elves, and other humanoid races can choose whether to follow the paths of good or evil, law or chaos. According to myth, the good-aligned gods who created these races gave them free will to choose their moral paths, knowing that good without free will is slavery.

The evil deities who created other races, though, made those races to serve them. Those races have strong inborn tendencies that match the nature of their gods. Most orcs share the violent, savage nature of the orc gods, and are thus inclined toward evil. Even if an orc chooses a good alignment, it struggles against its innate tendencies for its entire life. (Even half-orcs feel the lingering pull of the orc god’s influence.)

Alignment is an essential part of the nature of celestials and fiends. A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn’t tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil.

Most creatures that lack the capacity for rational thought do not have alignments—they are unaligned. Such a creature is incapable of making a moral or ethical choice and acts according to its bestial nature. Sharks are savage predators, for example, but they are not evil; they have no alignment.

TIKA AND ARTEMIS: ALIGNMENT

Tika Waylan is neutral good, fundamentally good-hearted and striving to help others where she can. Artemis is lawful evil, unconcerned with the value of sentient life but at least professional in his approach to murder.

As an evil character, Artemis is not an ideal adventurer. He began his career as a villain, and only cooperates with heroes when he must—and when it’s in his own best interests. In most games, evil adventurers cause problems in groups alongside others who don’t share their interests and objectives. Generally, evil alignments are for villains and monsters.

Languages

Your race indicates the languages your character can speak by default, and your background might give you access to one or more additional languages of your choice. Note these languages on your character sheet.

Choose your languages from the Standard Languages table, or choose one that is common in your campaign. With your DM’s permission, you can instead choose a language from the Exotic Languages table or a secret language, such as thieves’ cant or the tongue of druids.

Some of these languages are actually families of languages with many dialects. For example, the Primordial language includes the Auran, Aquan, Ignan, and Terran dialects, one for each of the four elemental planes. Creatures that speak different dialects of the same language can communicate with one another.

Standard Languages

Language Typical Speakers Script
Common Humans Common
Dwarvish Dwarves Dwarvish
Elvish Elves Elvish
Giant Ogres, giants Dwarvish
Gnomish Gnomes Dwarvish
Goblin Goblinoids Dwarvish
Halfling Halflings Common
Orc Orcs Dwarvish

Exotic Languages

Language Typical Speakers Script
Abyssal Demons Infernal
Celestial Celestials Celestial
Draconic Dragons, dragonborn Draconic
Deep Speech Aboleths, cloakers
Infernal Devils Infernal
Primordial Elementals Dwarvish
Sylvan Fey creatures Elvish
Undercommon Underworld traders Elvish

Personal Characteristics

Fleshing out your character’s personality—the array of traits, mannerisms, habits, beliefs, and flaws that give a person a unique identity—will help you bring him or her to life as you play the game. Four categories of characteristics are presented here: personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Beyond those categories, think about your character’s favorite words or phrases, tics and habitual gestures, vices and pet peeves, and whatever else you can imagine.

Each background presented later in this chapter includes suggested characteristics that you can use to spark your imagination. You’re not bound to those options, but they’re a good starting point.

Personality Traits

Give your character two personality traits. Personality traits are small, simple ways to help you set your character apart from every other character. Your personality traits should tell you something interesting and fun about your character. They should be self-descriptions that are specific about what makes your character stand out. “I’m smart” is not a good trait, because it describes a lot of characters. “I’ve read every book in Candlekeep” tells you something specific about your character’s interests and disposition.

Personality traits might describe the things your character likes, his or her past accomplishments, things your character dislikes or fears, your character’s self-attitude or mannerisms, or the influence of his or her ability scores.

A useful place to start thinking about personality traits is to look at your highest and lowest ability scores and define one trait related to each. Either one could be positive or negative: you might work hard to overcome a low score, for example, or be cocky about your high score.

Ideals

Describe one ideal that drives your character. Your ideals are the things that you believe in most strongly, the fundamental moral and ethical principles that compel you to act as you do. Ideals encompass everything from your life goals to your core belief system.

Ideals might answer any of these questions: What are the principles that you will never betray? What would prompt you to make sacrifices? What drives you to act and guides your goals and ambitions? What is the single most important thing you strive for?

You can choose any ideals you like, but your character’s alignment is a good place to start defining them. Each background in this chapter includes six suggested ideals. Five of them are linked to aspects of alignment: law, chaos, good, evil, and neutrality. The last one has more to do with the particular background than with moral or ethical perspectives.

Bonds

Create one bond for your character. Bonds represent a character’s connections to people, places, and events in the world. They tie you to things from your background. They might inspire you to heights of heroism, or lead you to act against your own best interests if they are threatened. They can work very much like ideals, driving a character’s motivations and goals.

Bonds might answer any of these questions: Whom do you care most about? To what place do you feel a special connection? What is your most treasured possession?

Your bonds might be tied to your class, your background, your race, or some other aspect of your character’s history or personality. You might also gain new bonds over the course of your adventures.

Flaws

Finally, choose a flaw for your character. Your character’s flaw represents some vice, compulsion, fear, or weakness—in particular, anything that someone else could exploit to bring you to ruin or cause you to act against your best interests. More significant than negative personality traits, a flaw might answer any of these questions: What enrages you? What’s the one person, concept, or event that you are terrified of? What are your vices?

TIKA AND ARTEMIS: PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS

Tika and Artemis have distinct personality traits. Tika Waylan dislikes boastfulness and has a fear of heights resulting from a bad fall during her career as a thief. Artemis Entreri is always prepared for the worst and moves with a quick, precise confidence.

Consider their ideals. Tika Waylan is innocent, almost childlike, believing in the value of life and the importance of appreciating everyone. Neutral good in alignment, she cleaves to ideals of life and respect. Artemis Entreri never allows his emotions to master him, and he constantly challenges himself to improve his skills. His lawful evil alignment gives him ideals of impartiality and a lust for power.

Tika Waylan’s bond is to the Inn of the Last Home. The inn’s proprietor gave her a new chance at life, and her friendship with her adventuring companions was forged during her time working there. Its destruction by the marauding dragonarmies gives Tika a very personal reason to hate them with a fiery passion. Her bond might be phrased as “I will do whatever it takes to punish the dragonarmies for the destruction of the Inn of the Last Home.”

Artemis Entreri’s bond is a strange, almost paradoxical relationship with Drizzt Do’Urden, his equal in swordplay and grim determination. In his first battle with Drizzt, Artemis recognized something of himself in his opponent, some indication that if his life had gone differently, he might have led a life more like the heroic drow’s. From that moment, Artemis is more than a criminal assassin—he is an antihero, driven by his rivalry with Drizzt. His bond might be phrased as “I will not rest until I have proved myself better than Drizzt Do’Urden.”

Each of these characters also has an important flaw. Tika Waylan is naive and emotionally vulnerable, younger than her companions and annoyed that they still think of her as the kid they knew years ago. She might even be tempted to act against her principles if she’s convinced that a particular achievement would demonstrate her maturity. Artemis Entreri is completely walled off from any personal relationship and just wants to be left alone.

Inspiration

Inspiration is a rule the game master can use to reward you for playing your character in a way that’s true to his or her personality traits, ideal, bond, and flaw. By using inspiration, you can draw on your personality trait of compassion for the downtrodden to give you an edge in negotiating with the Beggar Prince. Or inspiration can let you call on your bond to the defense of your home village to push past the effect of a spell that has been laid on you.

Gaining Inspiration

Your DM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, DMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your DM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game.

You either have inspiration or you don’t - you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.

Using Inspiration

If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.

Additionally, if you have inspiration, you can reward another player for good roleplaying, clever thinking, or simply doing something exciting in the game. When another player character does something that really contributes to the story in a fun and interesting way, you can give up your inspiration to give that character inspiration.

Backgrounds

Every story has a beginning. Your character’s background reveals where you came from, how you became an adventurer, and your place in the world. Your fighter might have been a courageous knight or a grizzled soldier. Your wizard could have been a sage or an artisan. Your rogue might have gotten by as a guild thief or commanded audiences as a jester.

Choosing a background provides you with important story cues about your character’s identity. The most important question to ask about your background is what changed? Why did you stop doing whatever your background describes and start adventuring? Where did you get the money to purchase your starting gear, or, if you come from a wealthy background, why don’t you have more money? How did you learn the skills of your class? What sets you apart from ordinary people who share your background?

The sample background in this chapter provides both concrete benefits (features, proficiencies, and languages) and roleplaying suggestions.

Proficiencies

Each background gives a character proficiency in two skills. Skills are described in the Using Ability Scores section.

In addition, most backgrounds give a character proficiency with one or more tools. Tools and tool proficiencies are detailed in the Equipment section.

If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead.

Additional Languages

Some backgrounds also allow characters to learn additional languages beyond those given by race. See “Languages” earlier in this section.

Equipment

Each background provides a package of starting equipment. If you use the optional rule from the Equipment section to spend coin on gear, you do not receive the starting equipment from your background.

Suggested Characteristics

A background contains suggested personal characteristics based on your background. You can pick characteristics, roll dice to determine them randomly, or use the suggestions as inspiration for characteristics of your own creation.

Customizing a Background

You might want to tweak some of the features of a background so it better fits your character or the campaign setting. To customize a background, you can replace one feature with any other one, choose any two skills, and choose a total of two tool proficiencies or languages from the sample backgrounds. You can either use the equipment package from your background or spend coin on gear as described in the Equipment section. (If you spend coin, you can’t also take the equipment package suggested for your class.) Finally, choose two personality traits, one ideal, one bond, and one flaw. If you can’t find a feature that matches your desired background, work with your DM to create one.

Acolyte

You have spent your life in the service of a temple to a specific god or pantheon of gods. You act as an intermediary between the realm of the holy and the mortal world, performing sacred rites and offering sacrifices in order to conduct worshipers into the presence of the divine. You are not necessarily a cleric — performing sacred rites is not the same thing as channeling divine power.

Choose a god, a pantheon of gods, or some other quasi-divine being from among those listed in appendix B or those specified by your DM, and work with your DM to detail the nature of your religious service. Were you a lesser functionary in a temple, raised from childhood to assist the priests in the sacred rites? Or were you a high priest who suddenly experienced a call to serve your god in a different way? Perhaps you were the leader of a small cult outside of any established temple structure, or even an occult group that served a fiendish master that you now deny.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Religion

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A holy symbol (a gift to you when you entered the priesthood), a prayer book or prayer wheel, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15 gp

Feature: Shelter of the Faithful

As an acolyte, you command the respect of those who share your faith, and you can perform the religious ceremonies of your deity. You and your adventuring companions can expect to receive free healing and care at a temple, shrine, or other established presence of your faith, though you must provide any material components needed for spells. Those who share your religion will support you (but only you) at a modest lifestyle.

You might also have ties to a specific temple dedicated to your chosen deity or pantheon, and you have a residence there. This could be the temple where you used to serve, if you remain on good terms with it, or a temple where you have found a new home. While near your temple, you can call upon the priests for assistance, provided the assistance you ask for is not hazardous and you remain in good standing with your temple.

Suggested Characteristics

Acolytes are shaped by their experience in temples or other religious communities. Their study of the history and tenets of their faith and their relationships to temples, shrines, or hierarchies affect their mannerisms and ideals. Their flaws might be some hidden hypocrisy or heretical idea, or an ideal or bond taken to an extreme.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I idolize a particular hero of my faith, and constantly refer to that person’s deeds and example.
2 I can find common ground between the fiercest enemies, empathizing with them and always working toward peace.
3 I see omens in every event and action. The gods try to speak to us, we just need to listen.
4 Nothing can shake my optimistic attitude.
5 I quote (or misquote) sacred texts and proverbs in almost every situation.
6 I am tolerant (or intolerant) of other faiths and respect (or condemn) the worship of other gods.
7 I’ve enjoyed fine food, drink, and high society among my temple’s elite. Rough living grates on me.
8 I’ve spent so long in the temple that I have little practical experience dealing with people in the outside world.
d6 Ideal
1 Tradition. The ancient traditions of worship and sacrifice must be preserved and upheld. (Lawful)
2 Charity. I always try to help those in need, no matter what the personal cost. (Good)
3 Change. We must help bring about the changes the gods are constantly working in the world. (Chaotic)
4 Power. I hope to one day rise to the top of my faith’s religious hierarchy. (Lawful)
5 Faith. I trust that my deity will guide my actions. I have faith that if I work hard, things will go well. (Lawful)
6 Aspiration. I seek to prove myself worthy of my god’s favor by matching my actions against his or her teachings. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I would die to recover an ancient relic of my faith that was lost long ago.
2 I will someday get revenge on the corrupt temple hierarchy who branded me a heretic.
3 I owe my life to the priest who took me in when my parents died.
4 Everything I do is for the common people.
5 I will do anything to protect the temple where I served.
6 I seek to preserve a sacred text that my enemies consider heretical and seek to destroy.
d6 Flaw
1 I judge others harshly, and myself even more severely.
2 I put too much trust in those who wield power within my temple’s hierarchy.
3 My piety sometimes leads me to blindly trust those that profess faith in my god.
4 I am inflexible in my thinking.
5 I am suspicious of strangers and expect the worst of them.
6 Once I pick a goal, I become obsessed with it to the detriment of everything else in my life.

Criminal

You are an experienced criminal with a history of breaking the law. You have spent a lot of time among other criminals and still have contacts within the criminal underworld. You’re far closer than most people to the world of murder, theft, and violence that pervades the underbelly of civilization, and you have survived up to this point by flouting the rules and regulations of society.

Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set, thieves’ tools

Equipment: A crowbar, a set of dark common clothes including a hood, and a pouch containing 15 gp

Criminal Specialty

There are many kinds of criminals, and within a thieves’ guild or similar criminal organization, individual members have particular specialties. Even criminals who operate outside of such organizations have strong preferences for certain kinds of crimes over others. Choose the role you played in your criminal life, or roll on the table below.

d8 Specialty
1 Blackmailer
2 Burglar
3 Enforcer
4 Fence
5 Highway robber
6 Hired killer
7 Pickpocket
8 Smuggler

Feature: Criminal Contact

You have a reliable and trustworthy contact who acts as your liaison to a network of other criminals. You know how to get messages to and from your contact, even over great distances; specifically, you know the local messengers, corrupt caravan masters, and seedy sailors who can deliver messages for you.

Suggested Characteristics

Criminals might seem like villains on the surface, and many of them are villainous to the core. But some have an abundance of endearing, if not redeeming, characteristics. There might be honor among thieves, but criminals rarely show any respect for law or authority.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I always have a plan for what to do when things go wrong.
2 I am always calm, no matter what the situation. I never raise my voice or let my emotions control me.
3 The first thing I do in a new place is note the locations of everything valuable — or where such things could be hidden.
4 I would rather make a new friend than a new enemy.
5 I am incredibly slow to trust. Those who seem the fairest often have the most to hide.
6 I don’t pay attention to the risks in a situation. Never tell me the odds.
7 The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it.
8 I blow up at the slightest insult.
d6 Ideal
1 Honor. I don’t steal from others in the trade. (Lawful)
2 Freedom. Chains are meant to be broken, as are those who would forge them. (Chaotic)
3 Charity. I steal from the wealthy so that I can help people in need. (Good)
4 Greed. I will do whatever it takes to become wealthy. (Evil)
5 People. I’m loyal to my friends, not to any ideals, and everyone else can take a trip down the Styx for all I care. (Neutral)
6 Redemption. There’s a spark of good in everyone. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I’m trying to pay off an old debt I owe to a generous benefactor.
2 My ill-gotten gains go to support my family.
3 Something important was taken from me, and I aim to steal it back.
4 I will become the greatest thief that ever lived.
5 I’m guilty of a terrible crime. I hope I can redeem myself for it.
6 Someone I loved died because of I mistake I made. That will never happen again.
d6 Flaw
1 When I see something valuable, I can’t think about anything but how to steal it.
2 When faced with a choice between money and my friends, I usually choose the money.
3 If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.
4 I have a “tell” that reveals when I’m lying.
5 I turn tail and run when things look bad.
6 An innocent person is in prison for a crime that I committed. I’m okay with that.

Variant Criminal: Spy

Although your capabilities are not much different from those of a burglar or smuggler, you learned and practiced them in a very different context: as an espionage agent. You might have been an officially sanctioned agent of the crown, or perhaps you sold the secrets you uncovered to the highest bidder.

Folk Hero

You come from a humble social rank, but you are destined for so much more. Already the people of your home village regard you as their champion, and your destiny calls you to stand against the tyrants and monsters that threaten the common folk everywhere.

Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Survival

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools, vehicles (land)

Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice), a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Defining Event

You previously pursued a simple profession among the peasantry, perhaps as a farmer, miner, servant, shepherd, woodcutter, or gravedigger. But something happened that set you on a different path and marked you for greater things. Choose or randomly determine a defining event that marked you as a hero of the people.

d10 Defining Event
1 I stood up to a tyrant’s agents.
2 I saved people during a natural disaster.
3 I stood alone against a terrible monster.
4 I stole from a corrupt merchant to help the poor.
5 I led a militia to fight off an invading army.
6 I broke into a tyrant’s castle and stole weapons to arm the people.
7 I trained the peasantry to use farm implements as weapons against a tyrant’s soldiers.
8 A lord rescinded an unpopular decree after I led a symbolic act of protest against it.
9 A celestial, fey, or similar creature gave me a blessing or revealed my secret origin.
10 Recruited into a lord’s army, I rose to leadership and was commended for my heroism.

Feature: Rustic Hospitality

Since you come from the ranks of the common folk, you fit in among them with ease. You can find a place to hide, rest, or recuperate among other commoners, unless you have shown yourself to be a danger to them. They will shield you from the law or anyone else searching for you, though they will not risk their lives for you.

Suggested Characteristics

A folk hero is one of the common people, for better or for worse. Most folk heroes look on their humble origins as a virtue, not a shortcoming, and their home communities remain very important to them.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I judge people by their actions, not their words.
2 If someone is in trouble, I’m always ready to lend help.
3 When I set my mind to something, I follow through no matter what gets in my way.
4 I have a strong sense of fair play and always try to find the most equitable solution to arguments.
5 I’m confident in my own abilities and do what I can to instill confidence in others.
6 Thinking is for other people. I prefer action.
7 I misuse long words in an attempt to sound smarter.
8 I get bored easily. When am I going to get on with my destiny?
d6 Ideal
1 Respect. People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. (Good)
2 Fairness. No one should get preferential treatment before the law, and no one is above the law. (Lawful)
3 Freedom. Tyrants must not be allowed to oppress the people. (Chaotic)
4 Might. If I become strong, I can take what I want — what I deserve. (Evil)
5 Sincerity. There’s no good in pretending to be something I’m not. (Neutral)
6 Destiny. Nothing and no one can steer me away from my higher calling. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I have a family, but I have no idea where they are. One day, I hope to see them again.
2 I worked the land, I love the land, and I will protect the land.
3 A proud noble once gave me a horrible beating, and I will take my revenge on any bully I encounter.
4 My tools are symbols of my past life, and I carry them so that I will never forget my roots.
5 I protect those who cannot protect themselves.
6 I wish my childhood sweetheart had come with me to pursue my destiny.
d6 Flaw
1 The tyrant who rules my land will stop at nothing to see me killed.
2 I’m convinced of the significance of my destiny, and blind to my shortcomings and the risk of failure.
3 The people who knew me when I was young know my shameful secret, so I can never go home again.
4 I have a weakness for the vices of the city, especially hard drink.
5 Secretly, I believe that things would be better if I were a tyrant lording over the land.
6 I have trouble trusting in my allies.

Noble

You understand wealth, power, and privilege. You carry a noble title, and your family owns land, collects taxes, and wields significant political influence. You might be a pampered aristocrat unfamiliar with work or discomfort, a former merchant just elevated to the nobility, or a disinherited scoundrel with a disproportionate sense of entitlement. Or you could be an honest, hard-working landowner who cares deeply about the people who live and work on your land, keenly aware of your responsibility to them.

Work with your DM to come up with an appropriate title and determine how much authority that title carries. A noble title doesn’t stand on its own — it’s connected to an entire family, and whatever title you hold, you will pass it down to your own children. Not only do you need to determine your noble title, but you should also work with the DM to describe your family and their influence on you.

Is your family old and established, or was your title only recently bestowed? How much influence do they wield, and over what area? What kind of reputation does your family have among the other aristocrats of the region? How do the common people regard them?

What’s your position in the family? Are you the heir to the head of the family? Have you already inherited the title? How do you feel about that responsibility? Or are you so far down the line of inheritance that no one cares what you do, as long as you don’t embarrass the family? How does the head of your family feel about your adventuring career? Are you in your family’s good graces, or shunned by the rest of your family?

Does your family have a coat of arms? An insignia you might wear on a signet ring? Particular colors you wear all the time? An animal you regard as a symbol of your line or even a spiritual member of the family?

These details help establish your family and your title as features of the world of the campaign.

Skill Proficiencies: History, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a signet ring, a scroll of pedigree, and a purse containing 25 gp

Feature: Position of Privilege

Thanks to your noble birth, people are inclined to think the best of you. You are welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are. The common folk make every effort to accommodate you and avoid your displeasure, and other people of high birth treat you as a member of the same social sphere. You can secure an audience with a local noble if you need to.

Suggested Characteristics

Nobles are born and raised to a very different lifestyle than most people ever experience, and their personalities reflect that upbringing. A noble title comes with a plethora of bonds — responsibilities to family, to other nobles (including the sovereign), to the people entrusted to the family’s care, or even to the title itself. But this responsibility is often a good way to undermine a noble.

d8 Personality Trait
1 My eloquent flattery makes everyone I talk to feel like the most wonderful and important person in the world.
2 The common folk love me for my kindness and generosity.
3 No one could doubt by looking at my regal bearing that I am a cut above the unwashed masses.
4 I take great pains to always look my best and follow the latest fashions.
5 I don’t like to get my hands dirty, and I won’t be caught dead in unsuitable accommodations.
6 Despite my noble birth, I do not place myself above other folk. We all have the same blood.
7 My favor, once lost, is lost forever.
8 If you do me an injury, I will crush you, ruin your name, and salt your fields.
d6 Ideal
1 Respect. Respect is due to me because of my position, but all people regardless of station deserve to be treated with dignity. (Good)
2 Responsibility. It is my duty to respect the authority of those above me, just as those below me must respect mine. (Lawful)
3 Independence. I must prove that I can handle myself without the coddling of my family. (Chaotic)
4 Power. If I can attain more power, no one will tell me what to do. (Evil)
5 Family. Blood runs thicker than water. (Any)
6 Noble Obligation. It is my duty to protect and care for the people beneath me. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I will face any challenge to win the approval of my family.
2 My house’s alliance with another noble family must be sustained at all costs.
3 Nothing is more important than the other members of my family.
4 I am in love with the heir of a family that my family despises.
5 My loyalty to my sovereign is unwavering.
6 The common folk must see me as a hero of the people.
d6 Flaw
1 I secretly believe that everyone is beneath me.
2 I hide a truly scandalous secret that could ruin my family forever.
3 I too often hear veiled insults and threats in every word addressed to me, and I’m quick to anger.
4 I have an insatiable desire for carnal pleasures.
5 In fact, the world does revolve around me.
6 By my words and actions, I often bring shame to my family.

Sage

You spent years learning the lore of the multiverse. You scoured manuscripts, studied scrolls, and listened to the greatest experts on the subjects that interest you. Your efforts have made you a master in your fields of study.

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, History

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A bottle of black ink, a quill, a small knife, a letter from a dead colleague posing a question you have not yet been able to answer, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Specialty

To determine the nature of your scholarly training, roll a d8 or choose from the options in the table below.

d8 Specialty
1 Alchemist
2 Astronomer
3 Discredited academic
4 Librarian
5 Professor
6 Researcher
7 Wizard’s apprentice
8 Scribe

Feature: Researcher

When you attempt to learn or recall a piece of lore, if you do not know that information, you often know where and from whom you can obtain it. Usually, this information comes from a library, scriptorium, university, or a sage or other learned person or creature. Your DM might rule that the knowledge you seek is secreted away in an almost inaccessible place, or that it simply cannot be found. Unearthing the deepest secrets of the multiverse can require an adventure or even a whole campaign.

Suggested Characteristics

Sages are defined by their extensive studies, and their characteristics reflect this life of study. Devoted to scholarly pursuits, a sage values knowledge highly — sometimes in its own right, sometimes as a means toward other ideals.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I use polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition.
2 I’ve read every book in the world’s greatest libraries — or I like to boast that I have.
3 I’m used to helping out those who aren’t as smart as I am, and I patiently explain anything and everything to others.
4 There’s nothing I like more than a good mystery.
5 I’m willing to listen to every side of an argument before I make my own judgment.
6 I . . . speak . . . slowly . . . when talking . . . to idiots, . . . which . . . almost . . . everyone . . . is . . . compared . . . to me.
7 I am horribly, horribly awkward in social situations.
8 I’m convinced that people are always trying to steal my secrets.
d6 Ideal
1 Knowledge. The path to power and self-improvement is through knowledge. (Neutral)
2 Beauty. What is beautiful points us beyond itself toward what is true. (Good)
3 Logic. Emotions must not cloud our logical thinking. (Lawful)
4 No Limits. Nothing should fetter the infinite possibility inherent in all existence. (Chaotic)
5 Power. Knowledge is the path to power and domination. (Evil)
6 Self-Improvement. The goal of a life of study is the betterment of oneself. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 It is my duty to protect my students.
2 I have an ancient text that holds terrible secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands.
3 I work to preserve a library, university, scriptorium, or monastery.
4 My life’s work is a series of tomes related to a specific field of lore.
5 I’ve been searching my whole life for the answer to a certain question.
6 I sold my soul for knowledge. I hope to do great deeds and win it back.
d6 Flaw
1 I am easily distracted by the promise of information.
2 Most people scream and run when they see a demon. I stop and take notes on its anatomy.
3 Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization.
4 I overlook obvious solutions in favor of complicated ones.
5 I speak without really thinking through my words, invariably insulting others.
6 I can’t keep a secret to save my life, or anyone else’s.

Soldier

War has been your life for as long as you care to remember. You trained as a youth, studied the use of weapons and armor, learned basic survival techniques, including how to stay alive on the battlefield. You might have been part of a standing national army or a mercenary company, or perhaps a member of a local militia who rose to prominence during a recent war.

When you choose this background, work with your DM to determine which military organization you were a part of, how far through its ranks you progressed, and what kind of experiences you had during your military career. Was it a standing army, a town guard, or a village militia? Or it might have been a noble’s or merchant’s private army, or a mercenary company.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set, vehicles (land)

Equipment: An insignia of rank, a trophy taken from a fallen enemy (a dagger, broken blade, or piece of a banner), a set of bone dice or deck of cards, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Specialty

During your time as a soldier, you had a specific role to play in your unit or army. Roll a d8 or choose from the options in the table below to determine your role:

d8 Specialty
1 Officer
2 Scout
3 Infantry
4 Cavalry
5 Healer
6 Quartermaster
7 Standard bearer
8 Support staff (cook, blacksmith, or the like)

Feature: Military Rank

You have a military rank from your career as a soldier. Soldiers loyal to your former military organization still recognize your authority and influence, and they defer to you if they are of a lower rank. You can invoke your rank to exert influence over other soldiers and requisition simple equipment or horses for temporary use. You can also usually gain access to friendly military encampments and fortresses where your rank is recognized.

Suggested Characteristics

The horrors of war combined with the rigid discipline of military service leave their mark on all soldiers, shaping their ideals, creating strong bonds, and often leaving them scarred and vulnerable to fear, shame, and hatred.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I’m always polite and respectful.
2 I’m haunted by memories of war. I can’t get the images of violence out of my mind.
3 I’ve lost too many friends, and I’m slow to make new ones.
4 I’m full of inspiring and cautionary tales from my military experience relevant to almost every combat situation.
5 I can stare down a hell hound without flinching.
6 I enjoy being strong and like breaking things.
7 I have a crude sense of humor.
8 I face problems head-on. A simple, direct solution is the best path to success.
d6 Ideal
1 Greater Good. Our lot is to lay down our lives in defense of others. (Good)
2 Responsibility. I do what I must and obey just authority. (Lawful)
3 Independence. When people follow orders blindly, they embrace a kind of tyranny. (Chaotic)
4 Might. In life as in war, the stronger force wins. (Evil)
5 Live and Let Live. Ideals aren’t worth killing over or going to war for. (Neutral)
6 Nation. My city, nation, or people are all that matter. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I would still lay down my life for the people I served with.
2 Someone saved my life on the battlefield. To this day, I will never leave a friend behind.
3 My honor is my life.
4 I’ll never forget the crushing defeat my company suffered or the enemies who dealt it.
5 Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.
6 I fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
d6 Flaw
1 The monstrous enemy we faced in battle still leaves me quivering with fear.
2 I have little respect for anyone who is not a proven warrior.
3 I made a terrible mistake in battle that cost many lives, and I would do anything to keep that mistake secret.
4 My hatred of my enemies is blind and unreasoning.
5 I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.
6 I’d rather eat my armor than admit when I’m wrong.