Every story has a beginning. Your character’s background reveals where you came from, your original livelihood, and your place in the world. Your warrior might have been a courageous knight or a grizzled soldier. Your mage 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 your background details 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?


Choose one of the following environments where you were raised. You gain the benefits listed for that environment.


Coastal Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Coastal environment.

Coastal. You can hold your breath twice as long as normal.


Arctic Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in an Arctic environment.

Arctic Acclimated. You’re naturally adapted to cold climates, as described in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.


Desert Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Desert environment.

Desert Acclimated. You’re naturally adapted to hot climates, as described in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.


Forest Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Forest environment.

Forest Child. You have advantage on skill checks to balance on trees and small boulders and rocks.


Hill Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Hill environment.

Hillbilly. You have advantage on skill checks to balance on inclines, declines, and small boulders and rocks.


Grassland Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Grassland environment.

Runner. When you use the Dash action, you gain an extra meter movement for the current turn.


Mountain Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Mountain environment.

Mountain Born. You’re acclimated to high altitude, including elevations above 6 kilometers. You’re also naturally adapted to cold climates, as described in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.


Swamp Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Swamp environment.

Poison Resistant. You have advantage on saving throws against poison.


Underdark Dweller. You have advantage on Wilderness checks to forage in a Underdark environment.

Extra Language. You are proficient with Linguistics (Undercommon).


Urban Dweller. You have advantage on Streetwise checks to find food and water in an Urban environment.

Extra Language. You are proficient with Linguistics (one language of your choice).


Choose one of the following livelihoods. You gain the benefits listed for that livelihood.


Some livelihoods allow characters to learn additional languages beyond those given by their species.


Each livelihood makes a character capable in two or more skills. If the character is already capable in a skill, they can choose another skill of its choice.


Each livelihood 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 livelihood.

Customizing a livelihood

You might want to tweak the skills of a livelihood so it better fits your character or the campaign setting. To customize a livelihood, you can choose any two skills to be capable with. You can either use the equipment package from your livelihood 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.


You have always been fascinated by other cultures, from the most ancient and primeval lost lands to the most modern civilizations. By studying other cultures’ customs, philosophies, laws, rituals, religious beliefs, languages, and art, you have learned how tribes, empires, and all forms of society in between craft their own destinies and doom. This knowledge came to you not only through books and scrolls, but also through firsthand observation—by visiting far-flung settlements and exploring local histories and customs.

Anthropologists leave behind the societies into which they were born to discover what life is like in other parts of the world. They seek to see how other species and civilizations survive—or why they did not. Some anthropologists are driven by intellectual curiosity, while others want the fame and recognition that comes with being the first to discover a new people, a lost tribe, or the truth about an ancient empire’s downfall.

Skills: You are capable with Divinity, Linguistics, and Lore (at least one Civilization Lore).
Equipment: A leather-bound diary, a bottle of ink, an ink pen, a set of traveler’s clothes, one trinket of special significance, and a pouch containing 10 sp


You were a mixer of potions, master of the subtle art of producing potent magical effects from the right distillations. Hailing from the largest cities or the smallest villages, an apothecary’s work is always in demand, though many that would demand it do not fully appreciate the care that goes into making a potion safe and effective.

Skills: You are capable with Alchemy, Medicine, and one skill of your choice.
Equipment: Alchemist’s supplies, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 sp


An archaeologist learns about the long-lost and fallen cultures of the past by studying their remains-their bones, their ruins, their surviving masterworks, and their tombs. Those who practice archaeology travel to the far corners of the world to root through crumbled cities and lost dungeons, digging in search of artifacts that might tell the stories of monarchs and high priests, wars and cataclysms.

Few archaeologists can resist the lure of an unexplored ruin or dungeon, particularly if such a site is the source of legends or is rumored to contain the treasures and relics of wizards, warlords, or royalty. Some archaeologists plunder for wealth or fame, while others consider it their calling to illuminate the past or keep the world’s greatest treasures from falling into the wrong hands. Whatever their motivations, archaeologists combine the qualities of a scrappy historian with the self-made heroism of a treasure-hunting scoundrel.

Skills: You are capable with Linguistics, Lore (at least one Ancient Civilization Lore), and Sleight of hand.
Equipment: A wooden case containing a map to a ruin or dungeon, a bullseye lantern, a miner’s pick, a set of traveler’s clothes, a shovel, a two-person tent, a trinket recovered from a dig site, and a pouch containing 25 sp


You have always had a way with people. You know what makes them tick, you can tease out their hearts’ desires after a few minutes of conversation, and with a few leading questions you can read them like they were children’s books. It’s a useful talent, and one that you’re perfectly willing to use for your advantage.

You know what people want and you deliver. Common sense should steer people away from things that sound too good to be true, but common sense seems to be in short supply when you’re around. The bottle of pink-colored liquid will surely cure that unseemly rash, this ointment—nothing more than a bit of fat with a sprinkle of silver dust—can restore youth and vigor, and there’s a bridge in the city that just happens to be for sale. These marvels sound implausible, but you make them sound like the real deal.

Charlatans are colorful characters who conceal their true selves behind the masks they construct. They reflect what people want to see, what they want to believe, and how they see the world. But their true selves are sometimes plagued by an uneasy conscience, an old enemy, or deep-seated trust issues.

Skills: You are capable with Deception, Insight, and Sleight of hand.
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a disguise kit, a forgery kit, tools of the con of your choice (ten stoppered bottles filled with colored liquid, a set of weighted dice, a deck of marked cards, or a signet ring of an imaginary duke), and a belt pouch containing 15 sp

City Watch

You have served the community where you grew up, standing as its first line of defense against crime. You aren’t a soldier, directing your gaze outward at possible enemies. Instead, your service to your hometown was to help police its populace, protecting the citizenry from lawbreakers and malefactors of every stripe.

Even if you’re not city-born or city-bred, this background can describe your early years as a member of law enforcement. Most settlements of any size have their own constables and police forces, and even smaller communities have sheriffs and bailiffs who stand ready to protect their community.

Your bond is likely associated with your fellow watch members or the watch organization itself and almost certainly concerns your community. Your ideal probably involves the fostering of peace and safety. An investigator is likely to have an ideal connected to achieving justice by successfully solving crimes.

Skills: You are capable with Brawn, Intimidation, and Weapons.
Equipment: A uniform in the style of your unit and indicative of your rank, a horn with which to summon help, a set of manacles, and a pouch containing 10 sp


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.

Criminals might seem like villains on the surface, 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.

Skills: You are capable with Deception, Sleight of hand, and Stealth.
Equipment: A crowbar, a set of lock picks, a set of trap disarming tools, a set of dark common clothes including a hood, and a belt pouch containing 15 sp


You practice some form of medicine and are skilled at patching up wounds and alleviating ailments. You might be well known among other medical professionals or you may have discovered medicine on your own.

Skills: You are capable with Medicine, one skill determined by your specialty, and any general or social skill.
Equipment: An herbalism kit, a healer’s kit, a book of medical techniques, a vial of perfume, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 sp
1Combat medicineAthletics
6Veterinary medicineWilderness

Variant: Quack

You have medical knowledge… or so it seems. You lack real medical training, and most of your knowledge of medicine comes from hearsay and superstition.

If you choose this variant, your capability in the Medicine skill is replaced with capability in the Deception skill.

Even though you lack medicinal ability, you can still find work treating those who cannot see through your deception. If you are found to be a fraud, you may be in danger of retaliation from patients or their loved ones.


Scholars and Academics are great, but many a kingdom has needed those of the more intellectual bent to put their intellect to more practical uses—designing everything from siege equipment to bridges. While construction may or may not have used magic here and there, at the end of the day something built without an engineer’s oversight is much more likely to fall back down when it is needed most.

Skills: You are capable with Engineering and two skills of your choice.
Equipment: A bottle of black ink, a quill, a small knife, the blue prints to the last project you were working on, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 sp


You thrive in front of an audience. You know how to entrance them, entertain them, and even inspire them. Your poetics can stir the hearts of those who hear you, awakening grief or joy, laughter or anger. Your music raises their spirits or captures their sorrow. Your dance steps captivate, your humor cuts to the quick. Whatever techniques you use, your art is your life.

Successful entertainers have to be able to capture and hold an audience’s attention, so they tend to have flamboyant or forceful personalities. They’re inclined toward the romantic and often cling to high-minded ideaIs about the practice of art and the appreciation of beauty.

Skills: You are capable with Nimbleness, Lore, and Persuasion.
Equipment: A musical instrument of your choice, a disguise kit, the favor of an admirer (love letter, lock of hair, or trinket), a costume, and a belt pouch containing 15 sp

Faction Agent

Many organizations aren’t bound by strictures of geography. These factions pursue their agendas without regard for political boundaries, and their members operate anywhere the organization deems necessary. These groups employ listeners, rumormongers, smugglers, sellswords, cache-holders (people who guard caches of wealth or magic for use by the faction’s operatives), haven keepers, and message drop minders, to name a few. At the core of every faction are those who don’t merely fulfill a small function for that organization, but who serve as its hands, head, and heart.

As a prelude to your adventuring career (and in preparation for it), you served as an agent of a particular faction. You might have operated openly or secretly, depending on the faction and its goals, as well as how those goals mesh with your own. Becoming an adventurer doesn’t necessarily require you to relinquish membership in your faction (though you can choose to do so), and it might enhance your status in the faction.

Skills: You are capable with Insight, one skill of your choice, as appropriate to your faction, and one Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma skill of your choice, as appropriate to your faction.
Equipment: Badge or emblem of your faction, a copy of a seminal faction text (or a code-book for a covert faction), a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15 sp

Variant: Courtier

In your earlier days, you were a personage of some significance in a noble court or a bureaucratic organization. You might or might not come from an upper-class family; your talents, rather than the circumstances of your birth, could have secured you this position. You might have been one of the many functionaries, attendants, and other hangers-on in a court, or perhaps you traveled in a baroque and cutthroat conglomeration of guilds, nobles, adventurers, and secret societies. You might have been a behind-the-scenes law-keeper or functionary, or you might have grown up in and around a castle. Even if you are no longer a full-fledged member of the group that gave you your start in life, your relationships with your former fellows can be an advantage for you and your adventuring comrades. You might undertake missions with your new companions that further the interest of the organization that gave you your start in life. In any event, the abilities that you honed while serving as a courtier will stand you in good stead as an adventurer.

Far Traveler

Almost all of the common people and other folk that one might encounter have one thing in common: they live out their lives without ever traveling more than a few kilometers from where they were born. You aren’t one of those folk. You are from a distant place, one so remote that few of the common folk realize that it exists, and chances are good that even if some people you meet have heard of your homeland, they know merely the name and perhaps a few outrageous stories. You have come to this part of the world for your own reasons, which you might or might not choose to share. Although you will undoubtedly find some of this land’s ways to be strange and discomfiting, you can also be sure that some things its people take for granted will be to you new wonders that you’ve never laid eyes on before. By the same token, you’re a person of interest, for good or ill, to those around you almost anywhere you go.

Skills: You are capable with Insight, Linguistics (at least one of the language of your new land), and Perception.
Equipment: One set of traveler’s clothes, any one musical instrument or gaming set, poorly wrought maps from your homeland that depict where you are, a small piece of jewelry worth 10 sp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship, and a pouch containing 5 sp

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 creatures that threaten the common folk everywhere.

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.

Skills: You are capable with any three combat, general, or social skills.
Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools of your choice, a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 sp

Variant: Inheritor

You are the heir to something of great value—not mere coin or wealth, but an object that has been entrusted to you and you alone. Your inheritance might have come directly to you from a member of your family, by right of birth, or it could have been left to you by a friend, a mentor, a teacher, or someone else important in your life. The revelation of your inheritance changed your life, and might have set you on the path to adventure, but it could also come with many dangers, including those who covet your gift and want to take it from you—by force, if need be.


You’ve grown up fighting for the amusement of the crowd. Did you seek out this life, or was it thrust upon you? What sorts of gladiatorial spectacles did you take part in: individual combats, staged mass battles, gladiator-vs.-creature fights, or inherently unfair gladiator punishments (like unarmed prisoners against animals)? And what kept you going? the whips of your masters, the lure of competition, or the roar of the crowd?

Skills: You are capable with Athletics, Brawn, and Weapons.
Equipment: An inexpensive but unusual weapon, such as a trident or net, a disguise kit, the favor of an admirer (love letter, lock of hair, or trinket), and a belt pouch containing 5 sp

Guild Artisan

You are a member of an artisan’s guild, skilled in a particular field and closely associated with other artisans. You are a well-established part of the mercantile world, freed by talent and wealth from the constraints of a feudal social order. You learned your skills as an apprentice to a master artisan, under the sponsorship of your guild, until you became a master in your own right.

Guild artisans are among the most ordinary people in the world—until they set down their tools and take up an adventuring career. They understand the value of hard work and the importance of community, but they’re vulnerable to sins of greed and covetousness.

Skills: Choose three skills from Alchemy, Engineering, Insight, and Lore to be capable with.
Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools of your choice, a letter of introduction from your guild, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 sp

Variant: Guild Merchant

Instead of an artisans’ guild, you might belong to a guild of traders, caravan masters, or shopkeepers. You learn Persuasion and two of the skills. You don’t craft items yourself but earn a living by buying and selling the works of others (or the raw materials artisans need to practice their craft). Your guild might be a large merchant consortium (or family) with interests across the region. Perhaps you transported goods from one place to another, by ship, wagon, or caravan, or bought them from traveling traders and sold them in your own little shop. In some ways, the traveling merchant’s life lends itself to adventure far more than the life of an artisan.

Rather than starting with artisan’s tools, you can start with a mule and a cart.


You lived in seclusion—either in a sheltered community such as a monastery, or entirely alone—for a formative part of your life. In your time apart from the clamor of society, you found quiet, solitude, and perhaps some of the answers you were looking for.

Some hermits are well suited to a life of seclusion, whereas others chafe against it and long for company. Whether they embrace solitude or long to escape it, the solitary life shapes their attitudes and ideals. A few are driven slightly mad by their years apart from society.

Skills: Choose three skills from Alchemy, Arcana, Divinity, Medicine, Occult, Primal, Psionics, and Wilderness to be capable with.
Equipment: A scroll case stuffed full of notes from your studies or prayers, a winter blanket, a set of common clothes, and 5 sp


You have served the community where you grew up, serving as one the community’s investigators, who are responsible for solving crimes after the fact. Though such folk are seldom found in rural areas, nearly every settlement of decent size has at least one or two investigators who have the skill to investigate crime scenes and track down criminals.

Even if you’re not city-born or city-bred, this background can describe your early years as a member of law enforcement. An investigator is likely to have an ideal connected to achieving justice by successfully solving crimes.

Skills: You are capable with Insight, Perception, and Persuasion.
Equipment: A uniform in the style of your unit and indicative of your rank, a horn with which to summon help, a set of manacles, and a pouch containing 10 sp

Monster Hunter

You’ve made your living culling the creatures that go bump in the night. The denizens that make a road impassable or curse a tomb are where upon you stake your claim. Days of studying the monsters you stalk has lead you to understand their behaviors and quirks, as well as what tools are best suited to bringing them to heel.

You may hunt alone, as part of a team, or as representative of a large organization. No matter what, you do it relentlessly.

Skills: You are capable with Lore (creature), Weapons, and any combat or general skill.
Equipment: A hunting trap, a trophy from an animal you killed, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 sp


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 GM 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 GM 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.

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.

Skills: You are capable with Intimidation, Persuasion, and any general skill.
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a signet ring or brooch, a scroll of pedigree, a skin of fine wine, and a purse containing 20 sp

Variant: Scorned Noble

You grew up as one of the best and brightest, but what happened to send you away from your life of privilege? Was it a legal matter, an affair of the heart, or the skullduggery of a rival noble family? Are members of your noble family secretly supporting you or remaining sympathetic to your cause? Do you intend to go back, and if so, what needs to happen first?

Variant: Knight

A knighthood is among the lowest noble titles in most societies, but it can be a path to higher status. As an emblem of chivalry and the ideals of courtly love, you might include among your equipment a banner or other token from a noble lord or lady to whom you have given your heart—in a chaste sort of devotion. (This person could be your bond.)

Though the term “knight” conjures ideas of mounted, heavily armored warriors of noble blood, most knightly orders don’t restrict their membership to such individuals. The goals and philosophies of the order are more important than the gear and fighting style of its members, and so most of these orders aren’t limited to fighting types, but are open to all sorts of folk who are willing to battle and die for the order’s cause.


You grew up in the wilds, far from civilization and the comforts of town and technology. You’ve witnessed the migration of herds larger than forests, survived weather more extreme than any city-dweller could comprehend, and enjoyed the solitude of being the only thinking creature for kilometers in any direction. The wilds are in your blood, whether you were a nomad, an explorer, a recluse, a hunter-gatherer, or even a marauder. Even in places where you don’t know the specific features of the terrain, you know the ways of the wild.

Often considered rude and uncouth among civilized folk, outlanders have little respect for the niceties of life in the cities. The ties of tribe, clan, family, and the natural world of which they are a part are the most important bonds to most outlanders.

Skills: You are capable with Athletics, Wilderness, and any combat or general skill.
Equipment: A staff, a hunting trap, a trophy from an animal you killed, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 sp

Variant: Tribe Member

Though you might have only recently arrived in civilized lands, you are no stranger to the values of cooperation and group effort when striving for supremacy. You learned these principles, and much more, as a member of a tribe.

Your people have always tried to hold to the old ways. Tradition and taboo have kept your tribe strong while the kingdoms of others have collapsed into chaos and ruin.

You might have grown up in a tribe that had decided to settle down, and now that they have abandoned that path, you find yourself adrift. Or you might come from a tribe that adheres to tradition, but you seek to bring glory to your tribe by achieving great things as a formidable adventurer.


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.

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.

Skills: Choose three skills from Alchemy, Arcana, Divinity, Engineering, Occult, Primal, and Psionics to be capable with.
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 belt pouch containing 10 sp

Variant: Scholar

As a child, you were inquisitive when your playmates were possessive or raucous. In your formative years, you found your way to a great institute of learning, where you were apprenticed and taught that knowledge is a more valuable treasure than gold or gems. Now you are ready to leave your home—not to abandon it, but to quest for new lore to add to its storehouse of knowledge.


You sailed on a seagoing vessel for years. In that time, you faced down mighty storms, creatures of the deep, and those who wanted to sink your craft to the bottomless depths. Your first love is the distant line of the horizon, but the time has come to try your hand at something new.

Discuss the nature of the ship you previously sailed with your Game Master (GM). Was it a merchant ship, a naval vessel, a ship of discovery, or a pirate ship? How famous (or infamous) is it? Is it widely traveled? Is it still sailing, or is it missing and presumed lost with all hands?

What were your duties on board—boatswain, captain, navigator, cook, or some other position? Who were the captain and first mate? Did you leave your ship on good terms with your fellows, or on the run?

Sailors can be a rough lot, but the responsibilities of life on a ship make them generally reliable as well. Life aboard a ship shapes their outlook and forms their most important attachments.

Skills: You are capable with Athletics, Perception, and any general skill.
Equipment: A belaying pin (club), 10 meters of silk rope, a lucky charm such as a rabbit foot or a small stone with a hole in the center (or you may roll for a random trinket table in chapter 5 of the PHB), a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 sp

Variant: Pirate

You spent your youth under the sway of a dread pirate, a ruthless cutthroat who taught you how to survive in a world of sharks and savages. You’ve indulged in larceny on the high seas and sent more than one deserving soul to a briny grave. Fear and bloodshed are no strangers to you, and you’ve garnered a somewhat unsavory reputation in many a port town.


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 GM 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.

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.

Skills: You are capable with Athletics, Brawn, and Weapons.
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 belt pouch containing 10 sp

Variant: Mercenary

As a sell-sword who fought battles for coin, you’re well acquainted with risking life and limb for a chance at a share of treasure. Now, you look forward to fighting foes and reaping even greater rewards as an adventurer. Your experience makes you familiar with the ins and outs of mercenary life, and you likely have harrowing stories of events on the battlefield. You might have served with a large outfit, or a smaller band of sell-swords, maybe even more than one.

Now you’re looking for something else, perhaps greater reward for the risks you take, or the freedom to choose your own activities. For whatever reason, you’re leaving behind the life of a soldier for hire, but your skills are undeniably suited for battle, so now you fight on in a different way.


You are an experienced 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. You have spent a lot of time among other spies and still have contacts within the social underworld.

Skills: You are capable with Deception, Persuasion, and Stealth.
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a disguise kit, a forgery kit, tools of the con of your choice (ten stoppered bottles filled with colored liquid, a set of weighted dice, a deck of marked cards, or a signet ring of an imaginary duke), and a belt pouch containing 15 sp

Urban Bounty Hunter

Before you became an adventurer, your life was already full of conflict and excitement, because you made a living tracking down people for pay. Unlike some people who collect bounties, though, you aren’t a savage who follows quarry into or through the wilderness. You’re involved in a lucrative trade, in the place where you live, that routinely tests your skills and survival instincts. What’s more, you aren’t alone, as a bounty hunter in the wild would be: you routinely interact with both the criminal subculture and other bounty hunters, maintaining contacts in both areas to help you succeed.

You might be a cunning thief-catcher, prowling the rooftops to catch one of the myriad burglars of the city. Perhaps you are someone who has your ear to the street, aware of the doings of thieves’ guilds and street gangs. You might be a “velvet mask” bounty hunter, one who blends in with high society and noble circles in order to catch the criminals that prey on the rich, whether pickpockets or con artists. The community where you plied your trade might have been a great metropolises, or a less populous location—any place that’s large enough to have a steady supply of potential quarries.

As a member of an adventuring party, you might find it more difficult to pursue a personal agenda that doesn’t fit with the group’s objectives—but on the other hand, you can take down much more formidable targets with the help of your companions.

Skills: You are capable with Insight, Streetwise, and Weapons.
Equipment: A set of clothes appropriate to your duties and a belt pouch containing 20 sp


You grew up on the streets alone, orphaned, and poor. You had no one to watch over you or to provide for you, so you learned to provide for yourself. You fought fiercely over food and kept a constant watch out for other desperate souls who might steal from you. You slept on rooftops and in alleyways, exposed to the elements, and endured sickness without the advantage of medicine or a place to recuperate. You’ve survived despite all odds, and did so through cunning, strength, speed, or some combination of each.

You begin your adventuring career with enough money to live modestly but securely for at least ten days. How did you come by that money? What allowed you to break free of your desperate circumstances and embark on a better life?

Urchins are shaped by lives of desperate poverty, for good and for ill. They tend to be driven either by a commitment to the people with whom they shared life on the street or by a burning desire to find a better life—and maybe get some payback on all the rich people who treated them badly.

Skills: Choose three skills from Deception, Sleight of hand, Stealth, and Streetwise to be capable with.
Equipment: A set of lock picks, a disguise kit, a small knife, a map of the city you grew up in, a pet mouse, a token to remember your parents by, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 sp


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.

Choose a god, a pantheon of gods, or some other quasi-divine being, and work with your GM 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.

Votaries 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.

Skills: You are capable with Divinity, Insight, and Lore (two Lore about your deity).
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 belt pouch containing 15 sp


The usual first step in creating your character’s life story is to determine your early circumstances. Who were your parents? Where were you born? Did you have any siblings? Who raised you? You can address these questions by using the following tables.


1–19You know who your parents are or were.
20You do not know who your parents were.

You had parents, of course, even if they didn’t raise you. To determine what you know about these people, use the Parents table. If you want, you can roll separately on the table for your mother and your father. Use the supplemental tables as desired (particularly Class, and Occupation) to learn more about your parents.


51–55Home of a family friend
56–63Home of a healer or midwife
64–65Carriage, cart, or wagon
66–68Barn, shed, or other outbuilding
79–80Alley or street
81–82Brothel, tavern, or inn
83–84Castle, keep, tower, or palace
85Sewer or rubbish heap
86–88Among people of a different species
89–91On board a boat or a ship
92–93In a prison or in the headquarters of a secret organization
94–95In a sage’s laboratory
96In the Feywild
97In the Shadowfell
98On the Astral Plane or the Ethereal Plane
99On an Inner Plane of your choice
00On an Outer Plane of your choice

After establishing your parentage, you can determine where you were born by using the Birthplace table. (Modify the result or roll again if you get a result that’s inconsistent with what you know about your parents.) Once you have a result, roll percentile dice. On a roll of 00, a strange event coincided with your birth: the moon briefly turning red, all the milk within a mile spoiling, the water in the area freezing solid in midsummer, all the iron in the home rusting or turning to silver, or some other unusual event of your choice.


Number of siblings

2 or lowerNone
5–61d4 + 1
7–81d6 + 2
9–101d8 + 3

Birth order

2d6Birth order
2Twin or triplet

You might be an only child or one of many children. Your siblings could be cherished friends or hated rivals. Roll on the Number of Siblings table to determine how many brothers or sisters you have. If you are a dwarf or an elf, subtract 2 from your roll. Then, roll on the Birth Order table for each sibling to determine that person’s age relative to yours (older, younger, or born at the same time).

Occupation. For each sibling of suitable age, roll on the Occupation supplemental table to determine what that person does for a living.

Status. By now, each of your siblings might be alive and well, alive and not so well, in dire straits, or dead. Roll on the Status supplemental table.

Relationship. You can roll on the Relationship supplemental table to determine how your siblings feel about you. They might all have the same attitude toward you, or some might view you differently from how the others do.

Other Details. You can decide any other details you like about each sibling, including gender, personality, and place in the world.

Family and friends


02Institution, such as an asylum
08–15Paternal or maternal aunt, uncle, or both; or extended family such as a tribe or clan
16–25Paternal or maternal grandparent(s)
26–35Adoptive family (same or different species)
36–55Single father or stepfather
56–75Single mother or stepmother
76–00Mother and father

Absent parent

1Your parent died (roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table).
2Your parent was imprisoned, enslaved, or otherwise taken away.
3Your parent abandoned you.
4Your parent disappeared to an unknown fate.

Family lifestyle

3Wretched (−40)
4–5Squalid (−20)
6–8Poor (−10)
9–12Modest (+O)
13–15Comfortable (+10)
16–17Wealthy (+20)
18Aristocratic (+40)

*Use the number in this result as a modifier to your roll on the Childhood Home table.

Childhood home

0 or lowerOn the streets
1–20Rundown shack
21–30No permanent residence; you moved around a lot
31–40Encampment or village in the wilderness
41–50Apartment in a rundown neighborhood
51–70Small house
71–90Large house
111 or higherPalace or castle

*After making this roll, apply the modifier from the Family Lifestyle table to arrive at the result.

Childhood memories

3d6 + CharismaMemory
3 or lowerI am still haunted by my childhood, when I was treated badly by my peers.
4–5I spent most of my childhood alone, with no close friends.
6–8Others saw me as being different or strange, so I had few companions.
9–12I had a few close friends and lived an ordinary childhood.
13–15I had several friends, and my childhood was generally a happy one.
16–17I always found it easy to make friends, and I loved being around people.
18 or higherEveryone knew who I was, and I had friends everywhere I went

Who raised you, and what was life like for you when you were growing up? You might have been raised by your parents, by relatives, or in an orphanage. Or you could have spent your childhood on the streets of a crowded city with only your fellow runaways a nd orphans to keep you company.

Use the Family table to determine who raised you. If you know who your parents are but you get a result that does not mention one or both of them, use the Absent Parent table to determine what happened.

Next, refer to the Family Lifestyle table to determine the general circumstances of your upbringing. The result on that table includes a number that is applied to your roll on the Childhood Home table, which tells you where you spent your early years. Wrap up this section by using the Childhood Memories table, which tells you how you were treated by other youngsters as you were growing up.

Supplemental Tables. You can roll on the Relationship table to determine how your family members or other important figures in your life feel about you. You can also use the Species and Occupation tables to learn more about the family members or guardians who raised you.