Highly Underrated Backgrounds in D&D

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) offers a vast array of backgrounds, each contributing to the depth and uniqueness of characters. While specific backgrounds garner more attention, a treasure trove of underrated options exists, waiting for discovery. Though the amount of backgrounds may seem daunting, players can truly benefit from taking the time to discover their hidden potential and how they can enrich the campaign’s narrative.

Anthropologist in ancient ruins

1 Anthropologist

The Anthropologist background is a treasure trove for players who relish exploration and cultural immersion. Characters with this background have dedicated their lives to studying different societies, making them invaluable when navigating unfamiliar territories. Their proficiency in Insight and Religion and the ability to easily integrate into foreign cultures can turn any campaign into a rich tapestry of diverse experiences.

A beautiful young inheritor

2 Inheritor

Few backgrounds offer such a potent blend of mystery and potential as the Inheritor. Characters with this background have inherited a significant item with a mysterious past, and as they uncover its secrets, they gain a unique edge. This background provides a compelling narrative hook and grants proficiency in Survival and the player’s choice of Arcana, History, or Religion, making it a well-rounded option for those seeking a mix of story and practicality.

Urban Bounty Hunter

3 Urban Bounty Hunter

The Urban Bounty Hunter background is a diamond in the rough for characters who thrive in the shadows of cityscapes. These characters excel at tracking their targets in sprawling urban environments and are proficient in Deception, Insight, Persuasion, or Stealth. The feature “Ear to the Ground” adds an extra layer of intrigue, allowing them to gather valuable information from the streets, making them an asset in any urban-centric campaign.

Cloistered Scholar studying in a library

4 Cloistered Scholar

The pursuit of knowledge takes center stage with the Cloistered Scholar background. Characters with this background have spent years in libraries and archives, accumulating a wealth of information on various subjects. Proficiency in History, two additional languages, and the “Library Access” feature make Cloistered Scholars indispensable when dealing with ancient lore and forgotten mysteries.

A member of the City Watch

5 City Watch

While the City Watch background may seem straightforward, many underestimate its character development and storytelling potential. Characters who have served in law enforcement bring a unique perspective to the party, and their proficiency in Athletics and Insight, combined with the “Watcher’s Eye” feature, allows them to maintain order in the chaos of adventuring life while uncovering hidden truths.

An Old Hermit

6 Hermit

For those who seek solitude and spiritual enlightenment, the Hermit background is a profound choice. Characters who have withdrawn from society gain proficiency in Medicine and Religion, along with the “Discovery” feature, representing a significant breakthrough in their isolated contemplation. Hermit characters can bring a sense of wisdom and mystery to the party, providing a unique perspective on their challenges.

A Rune Carver at Work

7 Rune Carver

Masters of runecraft, Rune Carvers dedicate their lives to unlocking the supernatural power within ancient symbols. Proficient in History and Perception, equipped with artisan tools, and fluent in Giant, they infuse their craft with personal touches by incorporating symbols from their native languages. With unique styles like inscribing wax or clay, whittling wood, or stitching runes into clothing, rune carvers bring a blend of magical expertise and craftsmanship to the party. Inspired by scholarly pursuits, they gain the Rune Shaper feat, enhancing their runic creations with finesse and magical potency.

A female sage

8 Sage

The Sage background is a scholarly choice that goes beyond the typical expectations. Characters with this background have expertise in Arcana and History and the invaluable “Researcher” feature, allowing them to recall a piece of lore or know from where they can obtain it. Sages bring a cerebral aspect to the party, quickly uncovering secrets and solving puzzles.

Older Mercenary Veteran

9 Mercenary Veteran

The Mercenary Veteran background offers a raw and seasoned edge for characters with a gritty past. Proficient in Athletics and Persuasion, these characters are skilled negotiators and formidable combatants. The knowledge they gain from the “Mercenary Life” feature can provide them with a reliable source of employment, ensuring a steady income and a network of contacts in the mercenary underworld.

A Courtier in the Throne Room

10 Courtier

The Courtier background is a hidden gem in the intricate dance of politics and diplomacy. Characters who have navigated the complexities of royal courts gain proficiency in Insight and Persuasion. The “Court Functionary” feature grants them access to the inner workings of any noble court, making Courtiers invaluable in campaigns with political intrigue and royal machinations.

Dungeons & Dragons offers a multitude of backgrounds, each with its own set of skills and narrative potential. While some backgrounds may take the spotlight more frequently, many alternate choices bring unique flavors to the game. Whether your character is a seasoned urban bounty hunter, a contemplative hermit, or a courtly diplomat, these backgrounds offer a rich tapestry of role-playing and mechanical depth possibilities in your D&D adventures.

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