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 backgrounds in this chapter provide both concrete benefits (features, proficiencies, and languages) and roleplaying suggestions. Proficiencies Each background gives a character proficiency in two skills (described in “Using Ability Scores”). In addition, most backgrounds give a character proficiency with one or more tools (detailed in “Equipment”). 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. Languages Some backgrounds also allow characters to learn additional languages beyond those given by race. See “Languages.” Equipment Each background provides a package of starting equipment. If you use the optional rule 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...


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 GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs 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 GM 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.


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 GM’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


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