5E: The Thing About Backgrounds

The thing about backgrounds in D&D 5E is this:  they’re strictly past-tense.

They’re not what you are — they’re what you were.  What you are, now, is an adventurer.

The most important question to ask about your background is what changed? Why did you stop doing whatever your background describes and start adventuring?  — Player’s Basic Rules, pg 36.

The official backgrounds, unsurprisingly, pretty much get this right.  Perhaps also unsurprisingly, a lot of fan-made backgrounds are starting to mess this up.  Just something to keep an eye out for.

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One Response to “5E: The Thing About Backgrounds”

  1. Wrath Says:

    I agree. I think most fanmade stuff thinks of backgrounds as a way to add a new mechanic or ability to their character, instead of embracing what it is meant to do. I think they see them as 4e Themes or pathfinder archtypes as a way to mechanically make you different. I don’t think that is what a background is or should be. But, I can totally see why and how players are going in that direction. It’s hard not to.

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