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Backgrounds

Backgrounds allow you to customize your character based on their life before adventuring. This is the next step in their life story after their ancestry, which reflects the circumstances of their birth. Your character’s background can help you learn or portray more about their personality while also suggesting what sorts of things they’re likely to know. Consider what events set your character on their path to the life of an adventurer and how those circumstances relate to their background.

At 1st level when you create your character, you gain a background of your choice. This decision is permanent; you can’t change it at later levels. Each background listed here grants two ability boosts, a skill feat, and the trained proficiency rank in two skills, one of which is a Lore skill. If you gain the trained proficiency rank in a skill from your background and would then gain the trained proficiency rank in the same skill from your class at 1st level, you instead become trained in another skill of your choice.

Lore skills represent deep knowledge of a specific subject and are described on page 247. If a Lore skill involves a choice (for instance, a choice of terrain), explain your preference to the GM, who has final say on whether it’s acceptable or not. If you’d like some suggestions, the Common Lore Subcategories sidebar on page 248 lists a number of Lore skills that are suitable for most campaigns.

Skill feats expand the functions of your skills and appear in Feats.

Background Entries

Acolyte

You spent your early days in a religious monastery or cloister. You may have traveled out into the world to spread the message of your religion or because you cast away the teachings of your faith, but deep down you'll always carry within you the lessons you learned.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Religion skill and the Scribing Lore skill. You gain the Student of the Canon skill feat.


Acrobat

In a circus or on the streets, you earned your pay by performing as an acrobat. You might have turned to adventuring when the money dried up, or simply decided to put your skills to better use.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Acrobatics skill and the Circus lore skill. You gain the Steady Balance skill feat.


Animal Whisperer

You have always felt a connection to animals, and it was only a small leap to learn to train them. as you travel, you continuously encounter different creatures, befriending them along the way.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Wisdom or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Nature skill and a Lore skill related to one terrain inhabited by animals you like (such as Plains Lore or Swamp Lore). You gain the Train Animal skill feat.


Artisan

As an apprentice, you practiced a particular form of building or crafting, developing specialized skill. you might have been a blacksmith's apprentice toiling over the forge for countless hours, a young tailor sewing garments of all kinds, or a shipwright shaping the hulls of ships.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Crafting skill and the Guild Lore skill. You gain the Specialty Crafting skill feat.


Artist

Your art is your greatest passion, whatever form it takes. Adventuring might help you find inspiration, or simply be a way to survive until you become a world-famous artist.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Crafting skill and the Art lore skill. You gain the Specialty Crafting skill feat.


Barkeep

You have five specialties: hefting barrels, drinking, polishing steins, drinking, and drinking. You worked in a bar, where you learned how to hold your liquor and rowdily socialize.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Diplomacy skill and the Alcohol lore skill. You gain the Hobnobber skill feat.


Barrister

Piles of legal manuals, stern teachers and experience in the courtroom have instructed you in legal matters. You're capable of mounting a prosecution or defense in court, and you tend to keep abreast of local laws, as you never can tell when you might need to know them on short notice.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Diplomacy skill and the Legal Lore skill. You gain the Group Impression skill feat.


Bounty Hunter

Bringing in lawbreakers lined your pockets. Maybe you had an Altruistic motive and sought to bring in criminals to make the streets safer, or maybe the coin was motivation enough. Your techniques for hunting down criminals transfer easily to the life of an adventurer.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Survival skill and the Legal Lore skill. you gain the Experienced Tracker skill feat.


Charlatan

You traveled from place to place, peddling false fortunes and snake oil in one town, pretending to be royalty in exile to seduce a wealthy heir in the next. Becoming an adventurer might be your next big scam or an attempt to put your talents to use for a greater cause. Perhaps it's a bit of both, as you realize that after pretending to be a hero, you've become the mask.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and on is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Deception skill and the Underworld Lore skill. You gain the Charming Liar skill feat.


Criminal

As an unscrupulous independent or as a member of an underworld organization, you lived a life of crime. You might have become an adventurer seeking redemption, to escape the law, or simply to get access to bigger and better loot.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Stealth skill and the Underworld Lore skill. You gain the Experienced Smuggler skill feat


Detective

You solved crimes as a police inspector or took jobs for wealthy clients as a private investigator. You might have become an adventurer as part of you next big mystery, but likely it was due to the consequences or aftermath of a prior case.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Society skill and the Underworld Lore skill. You gain the Streetwise skill feat.


Emissary

As a diplomat or messenger, you traveled to lands far and wide. Communicating with new people and forming alliances were your stock and trade.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Society skill and the Lore skill related to one city you've visited often. you gain the Multilingual skill feat.


Entertainer

Through an education in the arts or sheer dogged practice, you learned to entertain crowds. You might have been an actor, a dancer, a musician, a street magician, or any other sort of performer.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Performance skill and the Theater Lore skill. You gain the Assurance skill feat with Athletics.


Farmhand

With a strong back and an understanding of seasonal cycles, you tilled the land and tended crops. Your farm could have been razed by invaders, you could have lost family tying you to the land, or you might have simply tired of the drudgery, but at some point you became an adventurer.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Athletics skill and the Farming Lore skill. You gain gain the Assurance skill feat with Athletics.


Field Medic

In the chaotic rush of battle, you learned to adapt to rapidly changing conditions as you administered to battle casualties. You patched up soldiers, guards, or other combatants and learned a fair amount about the logistics of war.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution and Wisdom and one is a free ability boost.,

You're trained in the Medicine skill and the Warfare Lore skill. You gain the Battle Medic skill feat.



Fortune Teller

The strands of fate are clear to you, as you have learned many traditional forms by which laypeople can divine the future. You might have used these skills to guide your community, or simply to make money. But even the slightest peek into these practices connects you to the occult mysteries of the universe.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Occultism skill and the Fortune-Telling Lore skill. You gain the Oddity Identification skill feat.


Gambler

The thrill of the win drew you into games of chance. This might have been a lucrative sideline that paled in comparison to the real risks of adventuring, or you might have fallen on hard times due to your gambling and pursued adventuring as a way out of a spiral.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Deception skill and the Games Lore skill. You gain the Lie to Me skill feat.


Gladiator

The bloody games of the arena taught you the art of combat. Before you attained true fame, you departed-or escaped-the arena to explore the world. Your skill at drawing both blood and a crowd's attention pay off in a new adventuring life.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Performance skill and the Gladiatorial Lore skill. You gain the Impressive Performance skill feat.


Guard

You served in the guard, out of either patriotism or the need for coin. Either way, you know how to get a difficult suspect to talk. However you left the guard, you might think of adventuring as a way to use your skills on a wider stage.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Intimidation skill and the Legal Lore or Warfare Lore skill. You gain the Quick Coercion skill feat.


Herbalist

As a formally trained apothecary or a rural practitioner of folk medicine, you learned the healing properties of various herbs. You're adept at collecting the right natural cures in all sorts of environments and preparing them properly.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Nature skill and the Herbalism Lore skill. You gain the Natural Medicine skill feat.


Hunter

You stalked and took down animals and other creatures of the wild. Skinning animals, harvesting their flesh, and cooking them were also part of your training, all of which you can give you useful resources while you adventure.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Survival skill and the Tanning Lore skill. You gain the Survey Wildlife skill feat.


Laborer

You've spent years performing arduous physical labor. It was a difficult life, but you somehow survived. You may have embraced adventuring as an easier method to make your way in the world, or you might adventure under someone else's command.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Constitution, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Athletics skill and the Labor Lore skill. You gain the Hefty Hauler skill feat in Athletics.


Martial Disciple

You dedicated yourself to intense training and rigorous study to become a great warrior. The school you attended might have been a traditionalist monastery, an elite military academy, or the local branch of a prestigious mercenary organization.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in your choice of the Acrobatics or Athletics skill. You gain a skill feat: Cat fall if you chose Acrobatics or Quick Jump if you chose Athletics. You're also trained in the Warfare Lore skill.


Merchant

In a dusty shop, market stall, or merchant caravan, you bartered wares for coin and trade goods. The skills you picked up still apply in the adventuring life, in which a good deal on a suit of armor could prevent your death.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Diplomacy skill and the Mercantile Lore skill. You gain the Bargain Hunter skill feat.


Miner

You earned a living wrenching precious minerals from the lightless depths of the earth. Adventuring might have seemed lucrative or glamorous compared to this backbreaking labor-and if you have to head back underground, this time you plan to do so armed with a real weapon instead of a miner's pick.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Survival skill and the Mining Lore skill. you gain the Terrain Expertise skill feat with underground terrain.


Noble

To the common folk, the life of a noble seems one of idyllic luxury, but growing up as a noble or member of the aspiring gentry, you know the reality: a noble's lot is obligation and intrigue. Whether you seek to escape your duties by adventuring or to better your station, you have traded silks and pageantry for an adventurer's life.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Society skill and your choice of the Genealogy Lore or Heraldry Lore skill. You gain the Courtly Graces skill feat.


Nomad

Traveling far and wide, you picked up basic tactics for surviving on the road and in unknown lads, getting by with few supplies and even fewer comforts. As an adventurer, you travel still, often into even more dangerous places.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Survival skill and the Lore skill related to one terrain you traveled in (such as Desert Lore or Swamp Lore). You gain the Assurance skill feat in Survival.


Prisoner

You might have been imprisoned fro crimes (whether you were guilty or not), or enslaved for some part of your upbringing. In your adventuring life, you take full advantage of your newfound freedom.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Constitution, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Stealth skill and the Underworld Lore skill. you gain the Experienced Smuggler skill feat.


Sailor

You heard the call of the sea from a young age. Perhaps you signed onto a merchant's vessel, joined the navy, or even fell in with a view of pirates and scalawags.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Athletics skill and the Sailing Lore skill. You gain the Underwater Marauder skill feat.


Scholar

You have a knack for learning, and sequestered yourself from the outside world to learn all you could. You read about so many wondrous places and things in your books, and always dreamed about one day seeing the real things. Eventually, that curiosity led you to leave your studies and become and adventurer.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in your choice of the Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion skill, and gain the Assurance skill feat in your chosen skill. You're also trained in the Academia Lore skill.


Scout

You called the wilderness home as you found trails and guided travelers. Your Wanderlust could have called you to the adventuring life, or perhaps you served as a scout for soldiers and found you liked battle.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Survival skill and a Lore skill related to one terrain you scouted in (such as Forest Lore or Cavern Lore). you gain the Forager skill feat.


Street Urchin

You eked out of living by picking pockets on the streets of a major city, never knowing where you'd find your next meal. While some folk adventure for the glory, you do so to survive.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Constitution, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in Thievery and a Lore skill for the city you lived in as a street urchin (such as Absalom Lore or Magnimar Lore). You gain the Pickpocket skill feat.


Tinker

Creating all sorts of minor inventions scratches your itch for problem-solving. Your engineering skills take a particularly creative bent, and no one knows what you'll come up with next. It might be a genius device with tremendous potential.... or it might explode.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Crafting skill and the Engineering Lore skill. You gain the Specialty crafting skill feat.


Warrior

In your Younger days, you waded into battle as a mercenary, a warrior defending a nomadic people, or a member of a militia or army. You might have wanted to break out from the regimented structure of these forces, or you could have always been as independent a warrior as you are now.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Constitution, and one is a free ability boost.

You're trained in the Intimidation skill and the Warfare Lore skill. You gain the Intimidation Glare skill feat.