D&D 5e: What is my DND background?

Do You Love DND & Tabletop Gaming?

Get access to 26+ RPG generators + our growing RPG content library.
Try my AI-powered DND Backstory Generator or my Random Dungeon Generator built with GPT-3 from OpenAI.

What is my DND background? Great question! The answer is that it’s up to you! While this can be daunting if you’re new to tabletop gaming (or even if you’ve been a gamer a while), it doesn’t need to be. There’s quite a few great online generators that will help you come up with player hooks, details, descriptions, and more. In this article, we’re going to take a look at six crucial things you need to consider when you’re starting a new D&D character. Don’t worry. We’ll be sure to give you plenty of great resources to help you.

Tip #1: Consider your character’s background.

In D&D, you’re not limited to being a fighter, a wizard, a cleric, a rogue, or a bard. You can pursue any profession you want. You can be a warrior, a crafter, a farmer, an entertainer, a merchant, a teacher, a scholar, a smuggler, a politician, a pirate, a spy, a big-game hunter, a diplomat, a smuggler, a mercenary, or just about any other profession you can think of. This is part of the fun of D&D. In D&D, you’re not limited to just one stereotypical class anymore.

Considering your background is important because it helps you to create an even more interesting and detailed backstory for your character. For example, if your character is a soldier, this won’t just mean that your character can fight and wield weapons and armor, but it will also tell you what kind of training your character went through and what kind of specialties and skills he possesses. The same goes for any other profession. A good background will not only give your character more depth, but it will determine what kind of starting gear and equipment you start with, and it will give you character hooks that you can use to help you generate story more completely.

Tip #2: Consider your character’s birth order.

While your background will help to determine a lot of what your character knows and what kind of life he has lived, his birth order will help to determine what kind of personality and qualities your character has.

For example, a character who is a thirdborn child will likely have a strong sense of responsibility and a strong sense of duty to his family. He’s used to being the peacemaker and the straight man. He knows how to roll with the punches and how to keep a cool head.

A firstborn child, on the other hand, may be a straight-laced perfectionist. He’s strong-willed and ambitious. He’s used to being the boss and being in control. A secondborn child may have a more laid-back personality. He’s used to being overshadowed by his older sibling. He’s a smooth operator and a charmer.

When thinking about how your character will behave, consider their siblings. If they’re an only child, that might also shape how they see the world and interact with others. This shouldn’t be the major force behind your character, but it should be something you keep in mind while you’re developing your character details.


Fantasy RPG Random Tables Books

Make life as a Gamemaster easier....

Tip #3: Consider your character’s culture and upbringing.

While you don’t need to know the rules of every little culture in the world of D&D, you should know enough about your character’s culture to know how to act. For example, if your character is a member of the Kalashtar (a half-elf, half-psychic race), then you should know that this race is shaped by their psychic sensitivity. You should know how this psychic sensitivity shapes their culture, their history, their family expectations, their lifestyle, their skills, and so on.

Tip #4: Consider your character’s occupation.

Just as you want to think about your character’s background, you should also think about your character’s occupation. What does your character do for a living? How will that occupation have shaped your character? How does your character’s occupation influence his approach to challenges?

For example, if your character is a sage, then he’s used to knowing how to gather information about new areas, new people, and new monsters. If your character is a noble, then he’s used to having servants to do his bidding. If your character is an entertainer, then he’s used to being the center of attention. If your character is a sailor, then he’s used to being on the move.

Tip #5: Consider your character’s personality.

Your character’s personality can help you play your character in more interesting and engaging ways. For example, if your character is a paladin, then your character will be motivated by a strong sense of duty and a strong sense of honor. You might be considered a stickler for the rules. You might also be inclined to think the best of others.

If your character is a ranger, then you might be more independent and distrustful of others. You might also be more inclined to be a practical joker and to try and get out of problems by guile and stealth. If your character is a sorcerer, then you might be more inclined to be excitable and impulsive. You might also be more of a risk-taker and a thrill-seeker.

Tip #6: Consider your character’s personality traits.

Make a list of personality traits, and think about how these might influence your character. For example, if you’re playing a paladin, you might be thinking about your character’s sense of honor, discipline, mercy, and forgiveness. You might also be thinking about your character’s sense of duty, loyalty, and religious faith.

If your character is a ranger, then you might be thinking about your character’s confidence, independence, resourcefulness, and courage. You might also be thinking about your character’s distrustfulness, impulsiveness, mistrustful, and adaptability.

Tip #7: Consider your character’s quirks.

If your character has any quirks, you should definitely record them. Quirks are any odd habits, peculiar opinions, or strange fears your character might have. For example, if your character is a paladin, then you might be thinking about his habit of putting others in danger in order to protect them, or his tendency to challenge people who insult his gods.

Of course, in order to have quirks, your character must have flaws. If he doesn’t have any flaws, you should come up with some. The more interesting your character, the more interesting your stories will be. After all, the purpose of D&D is to play interesting stories.

Tip #8: Consider your character’s flaws.

All good characters should have flaws. If they don’t, then they’re flat. If they’re flat, then they’re boring. If they’re boring, then they’re not worth playing.

Just like you want to think about your character’s strengths, you also want to think about his weaknesses. His flaws should be mild, annoying, or embarrassing. They should be things that make it harder for your character to get what he wants or make it harder for him to succeed in adventures.

For example, if your character is a paladin, then one of his flaws might be that he’s a little overly trusting of others. If your character is a ranger, then one of his flaws might be that he’s a little too quick to anger and a little too quick to resort to violence. If your character is a sorcerer, then one of his flaws might be that he’s a little too honest or a little too impulsive.

Tip #9: Consider your character’s background story.

Background stories are an important part of character development. Without a background story, your character will feel like a cardboard cutout. He’ll come across as a caricature.

For example, if your character is a fighter, then you might think about how he became a fighter and how he was trained. If your character is an aristocrat, you might think about where he was born and where he lives now. If your character is a merchant, you might think about how he started his business and how he made it successful.

Tip #10: Build Out from a Foundation

Once you have a strong foundation for your character’s background, you’ll have a much better idea how to play them in the game. This means that you have more traction to work with when you start to develop your character details, personality, quirks, flaws, and so on.

If you’re new to D&D, then the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to know all of the rules, you don’t have to know all of the settings, you don’t have to know all of the mechanics, and you don’t have to know all of the spells. All you need to know is enough to make your character interesting. The more interesting your character, the more interesting the stories you’ll be able to tell around the game table.


Fantasy RPG Random Tables Books

Make life as a Gamemaster easier....

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.
Fantasy RPG Random Tables
Make life as a Game Master easier.... with this RPG random tables book.