Home Made Backgrounds

Has anyone tried making their own backgrounds? Grouping the skill is simple enough, as is the suggested equipment. The traits are what I'm getting stuck on. So I was wondering if anyone has attempted this, and could share some examples.

I made up Merchant for one of my players.  The benefit is that he can appraise most goods, and find sellers/buyers (and often get a good deal in the process).

For another I made Gladiator.  I used Thug as the base (you are very intimidating and scary), and added in the ability to locate fighting rings within cities (either legal/sanctioned or illegal).
I've been working on a pure steampunk setting, and have made about a dozen new backgrounds that reflect the setting's nuances.

Here are a few of them.
Street Prophet

Street Prophet:

You see visions and hear words of wisdom from your deity…or at least you think you do. You hold public exhibitions, repeating to those who attend your visions and prophesy. Some follow you and hold your words as truth, while others dismiss you as just another street-lurker trying to rabble-rouse.

Skills: Forbidden Lore, Religious Lore, Streetwise.

Trait- Captivate an Audience: When in areas populated with normally non-hostile people (common cities, towns, and villages), you can successfully capture their attention. This can be used as a distraction technique, or to honestly impart a message. Anyone watching and listening to you can make a successful Charisma saving throw (at a Disadvantage) to ignore the effects of this captivation. Those who do not try to resist it or who fail to do so are considered captivated, and will stand idly and listen to you while you speak. This effect ends when either everyone has made a successful saving throw or you stop your public display.

Suggested Equipment: Holy symbol, robes, waterskin, 40 gp.



Your study of the stars and heavenly bodies has been your primary ambitions for a large portion of your life. You can recognize constellations, as well as being able to identify meteors, eclipses, and other astronomical events and objects. You can recognize the aligning of certain stars as omens of good luck or bad. You also know the moon-phases and its effects on the tides.

 Skills: Forbidden Lore, Professional Lore, and Geographical Lore (navigating with the stars).

Trait- Unerring Navigation: As long as you can see the stars overhead in relation to nearby visible landmarks, you always know your approximate location and can tell which way you need to go to get to a familiar location. This trait is dependent on the familiarity of the location you are in. If you are in your own continent or country, then you gain advantage to rolls to determine your location or the direction you need to go. If you are in completely unfamiliar areas of the same world, you do not gain advantage. If you are on another world (be it another prime world or another plane of existence), or cannot see the stars, then this trait is not applicable.

Suggested Equipment: Case (map), ink, ink pen, paper (5 sheets), and 20 gp.



You have dedicated your life to helping those in need of medical attention. You have worked at hospitals, clinics, and as a traveling doctor. People are known to seek you out for your medical talents. Most civilized areas welcome you with open arms, and often your talents will be called upon by those in need. You can easily recognize the symptoms of diseases, poisons, plagues, and other physical ailments.

Skills: Healing, Professional Lore, and Natural Lore

Trait- Traveling Doctor: When you use a Healer’s Kit, it is altered as follows: The kit now has 50 uses, can treat up to five times as many characters, and a single use not only stabilizes a fallen comrade, but also grants them 1d4 additional Hit Points. You can also prepare antitoxins (as per the Equipment entry) using materials from the surrounding area, as long as the area is outdoors and relatively close to natural plant growth. You need 2d4 rounds to gather supplies and an additional 1d4 rounds to prepare the antitoxin. The antitoxins that you prepare immediately end the effects of whatever poison is affecting the victim as well as granting Advantage on saving throws against poisons for 2 hours. You can prepare these antitoxins in advance and carry them with you.

Suggested Equipment: Healer’s kit, healing potion,  3 belt pouches (for herbs), and 40 gp.

Personal opinion...

My group is converting our Dragonlance campaign to D&D Next so I'll be working with each player to tweak backgrounds to fit the setting and their characters.  In some cases, the existing backgrounds will work fine (the dwarf fighter who aspires to be a Knight of Solamnia is going to use the Knight background).  But, the human rogue born to Ergoth nobility but raised by the dwarves of Thorbardin from a young age...well, that will be a bit more of a challenge. 

All around helpful simian

I'm incorporating some of the 4e backgrounds into my Essentials-based campaign. I'm theorizing that the halflings in my campaign setting are largely pacifist, so significant numbers of elven and human fighters live among them as bodyguards, law enforcement...etc. These humans and elves are frequently trained in Acrobatics in order to do their jobs better.
Here are two I whipped up.  I haven't used them yet though.

Entertainer (actor, storyteller, dancer, musician).

Skills: professional lore, bluff, diplomacy

Trait: Perform for Benefit - You have practiced the art of performance and can use your ability to garner favor or earn some coin. You can entertain one or more individuals on the street, in a tavern, at court, basically anywhere. Successful performances earn you favor or coin depending on your situation and audience. An audience of commoners is easier to impress (DC 12), but the rewards are quite limited (up to 5 gp and/or minor favor). Performing for more affluent or educated individuals is more challenging (DC 15) yet the rewards can be greater (up to 20 gp and/or larger favor). You can use your talent 1/day to gain such advantages.

Suggested equipment: pens, ink, paper, musical instrument, performance clothing or costume.


Skills: professional lore, diplomacy, appraisal (new skill - ability to determine value of goods)

Trait: You’re in business! - You've spent some time buying and selling interesting baubles and other wares. You understand the art of the deal and how to set up shop, or transport goods to market. Given time in a town or city, you can find wares that may net you a profit. You can invest in goods and sell them at market or any other suitable destination. You must use your professional lore to find the items. Then, you must use your diplomacy skills to sell the goods. Use the following chart to determine DC, value of goods and time required:

DC 10 50gp or less 3 days

DC 15 100 gp or less 5 days

DC 20 500 gp or less 10 days

You can sell your goods for 100% profit if you succeed in your diplomacy roll. If you fail by 4 or less, you can unload your goods for no gain. If you fail by 5 or more, you cannot sell your goods yet and must try again another day. If you roll a natural "20", you gain 150% return.

Suggested equipment: a looking glass, a scale, a small wagon and mule to pull it.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"


Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog



In my Secondary series of blog articles, I offer a homespun system for people to make up their own Backgrounds.
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