When it comes to creating a character in Dungeons & Dragons, choosing a background is just as important as selecting a race and class. Your character's background represents their life before becoming an adventurer and provides essential context for their personality, beliefs, and motivations. It can also serve as a useful tool for roleplaying, helping you to fully inhabit your character and make them feel like a real person.
In D&D, backgrounds provide a set of skills, tools, and languages that your character is proficient in, as well as certain personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws that help define who they are. Each background has a unique flavor and backstory, ranging from nobles and guild artisans to outlaws and hermits. Whether your character is a seasoned soldier or a curious acolyte, their background will shape their experiences and interactions in the game.
So if you're looking to create a memorable and fully-realized character in D&D, don't overlook the importance of selecting the right background. It can make all the difference in bringing your character to life and immersing yourself in the fantastical world of Dungeons & Dragons.
In this article, we'll explore 12 D&D scholar backgrounds and help you choose the best one for your character.
When choosing a background, it's important to consider your character's personality, skills, and abilities. A good background should enhance these traits and provide interesting opportunities for roleplaying. Some backgrounds offer additional tool proficiencies, while others provide bonus feats or unique features. It's up to you to decide which background is the best fit for your character.
The backgrounds we'll be exploring include the Acolyte, Guild Artisan, Noble, Sage, Soldier, and Folk Hero, as well as six backgrounds from Unearthed Arcana. Each background has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so it's important to consider which one will work best for your character's field of study, character options, and unique story.
Whether you're a veteran player or new to the game, choosing the right background is an essential part of character creation. By taking the time to consider your options, you can create a character that is truly unique and enjoyable to play. So grab your Player's Handbook, and let's dive into some of our favourite scholar backgrounds in D&D. These backgrounds are loosely based around our Arclands world, but feel free to adapt them in whatever way works for you.
Basic Scholar Types
Librarian: You are a skilled librarian and archivist at the Library of Harenis. You have spent years organizing and categorizing the vast collection of books and scrolls in the library.
Cartographer: You are a skilled cartographer who has mapped out the vast network of tunnels and chambers that make up the Library of Harenis.
Historian: You have spent years studying the history of the Library of Harenis, tracing its origins back to ancient times and documenting the events that have shaped its development.
Archaeologist: You specialize in uncovering the hidden secrets of the Library of Harenis, exploring forgotten chambers and uncovering lost artifacts.
Linguist: You are a master of languages, able to read and translate texts in many ancient and exotic tongues.
Philosopher: You are a deep thinker and philosopher, constantly pondering the mysteries of the universe and the hidden meanings behind the texts in the Library of Harenis.
Theologian: You are an expert in religious studies, particularly the history and beliefs of the Aruhvian Church.
Herbalist: You have a deep knowledge of herbs and their medicinal properties, which you use to create healing potions and salves.
Alchemist: You are skilled in the art of alchemy, able to create potions and elixirs that can have a wide range of effects.
Engineer: You are a skilled engineer, able to design and build complex machines and devices.
Astronomer: You are an expert in astronomy and the study of celestial objects, using your knowledge to navigate the stars and predict astrological events.
Mathematician: You are a master of numbers and mathematics, using your skills to solve complex problems and puzzles.
Advanced Scholar Types
Acolyte - Scholar of the Divine: As a scholar of the divine, you spent your formative years in a temple, studying the scriptures and teachings of your deity. You learned ancient languages, rituals, and how to perform sacred rites. Your training has given you a deep understanding of the tenets of your faith and the ability to cast divine magic. As an acolyte, you may have been tasked with tending to the needs of the temple and its followers, conducting religious ceremonies, or spreading the word of your deity. Your connection to the divine grants you the ability to heal and protect your party members in combat, making you a valuable asset on any adventure. At higher levels, your training as an acolyte grants you access to more powerful spells and abilities. You may specialize in a particular aspect of your faith, such as healing or destruction, or develop unique abilities that reflect the teachings of your deity. Your background also gives you access to a set of equipment that reflects your role as a scholar of the divine, including holy symbols, prayer books, and robes
Guild Artisan - Scholar of the Craft: As a scholar of the craft, you apprenticed with a master craftsman in your youth, learning the secrets of a trade. You studied the history and techniques of your craft and developed a deep understanding of its intricacies. Your training has given you the ability to create magic items and enhance weapons and armor, making you a valuable asset to any party. Your background as a guild artisan may have also given you connections to other artisans and craftsmen, as well as access to specialized tools and workshops. At higher levels, your training as a guild artisan grants you access to more powerful abilities and techniques. You may specialize in a particular aspect of your craft, such as blacksmithing or jewelry-making, or develop unique abilities that reflect your mastery of the trade. Your background also gives you access to a set of equipment that reflects your role as a scholar of the craft, including artisan's tools, trade goods, and a set of fine clothes.
Noble - Scholar of the Court: As a scholar of the court, you were born into a noble family and educated in the ways of politics and diplomacy. You learned how to navigate the complex social structures of the court and how to use your charm and wit to gain allies. Your training has given you the ability to cast enchantment spells and make deception checks with ease, making you a valuable asset to any party. Your background as a noble may have also given you connections to other powerful figures in society, as well as access to luxurious goods and estates. At higher levels, your training as a noble grants you access to more powerful abilities and techniques. You may specialize in a particular aspect of courtly life, such as intrigue or diplomacy, or develop unique abilities that reflect your influence and status. Your background also gives you access to a set of equipment that reflects your role as a scholar of the court, including fine clothes, a signet ring, and a scroll of pedigree.
Sage - Scholar of Arcane Traditions: As a scholar of arcane traditions, you have spent much of your life studying the arcane arts, delving into ancient tomes and scrolls to uncover secrets long forgotten. Your research has given you a deep understanding of the spell list and the ability to cast spells with greater power and efficiency. You may have also developed a specialization in a specific school of magic, such as divination or evocation, making you a formidable force on the battlefield. Your background as a sage may have also given you access to valuable knowledge and resources, as well as connections to other scholars and magical practitioners. At higher levels, your training as a sage grants you access to more powerful spells. Your research has given you an edge in identifying magical items and resisting magical effects. You may have access to rare magical components or alchemical reagents that allow you to create potions and magical items. Your quest for knowledge may lead you to explore dangerous and forbidden places, such as ruins and ancient tombs, in search of lost arcane lore. However, your knowledge and expertise also make you a valuable asset to any adventuring party, as you can identify magical traps and hazards, and use your spells to help your party overcome obstacles.
Noble - The noble background is an excellent choice for players who enjoy political intrigue and social manipulation. As a Scholar of the Court, you were born into a noble family and raised with the expectation that you would carry on the family's legacy. You received the best education that money could buy, including etiquette, diplomacy, and political strategy. You learned how to navigate the complex social structures of the court, how to read body language, and how to use your charm and wit to gain allies.
Your training has given you the ability to cast enchantment spells and make deception checks with ease. As a Noble, you can use your high charisma score to influence others and get what you want. You might have an ancient artifact passed down through your family, or a set of fine clothing that shows off your wealth and status. However, being a noble also comes with its own set of challenges. Your actions are always scrutinized, and you are expected to uphold the honor of your family at all times. You may have to navigate complex political alliances and feuds, and may have enemies among rival noble families.
Soldier - The soldier background is a great choice for players who enjoy combat and tactical thinking. As a Scholar of War, you were trained for battle at a young age, learning tactics, strategy, and the use of various weapons. You studied the art of warfare and gained valuable combat experience on the battlefield. Your training has given you the ability to make extra attacks and improve your attack roll, making you a formidable opponent in melee combat.
Your ability to coordinate with other party members and plan out battles strategically makes you an invaluable member of any adventuring party. You may have a specific set of weapons or armor that you are proficient in, or a signature move that you use to take down enemies. You are also skilled in survival, and can navigate dangerous terrain and find food and shelter for your party. However, your training has also left you with a certain level of discipline and rigidness, which can make it difficult for you to deviate from orders or take risks.
Folk Hero - Finally, the Folk Hero background is a great option for players who enjoy roleplaying and creating interesting characters. As a Scholar of the People, you were once a common person, living a simple life until you were thrust into the limelight by a heroic act. Your newfound fame gave you a platform to speak for the people, and you used it to advocate for their rights and well-being.
Your training has given you the ability to make charisma checks and animal handling checks with ease, and you can use your newfound influence to gain free passage and help from non-player characters. You may have a close bond with other members of your community, or you may be viewed as an outsider due to your newfound fame. Your heroic act may have left you with a false identity or a
In conclusion, the Dungeons & Dragons scholar backgrounds can offer unique role-playing opportunities for players to explore their character's field of study and intellectual pursuits. Each of the backgrounds we've discussed, from the Acolyte to the Folk Hero, offers unique abilities and traits that can help players shape their characters and enhance their gameplay experience.
If you're looking for a good class to pair with these scholar backgrounds (outside of the Arcverse), consider the Yuan-ti Cleric. The Yuan-ti have innate magical abilities, and the Cleric class offers access to divine spells and abilities that can complement a character's scholarly pursuits. Additionally, the Pact Magic feature of the Warlock class can offer additional spellcasting options and an ancient artefact as a magical focus.
As part of character creation, players should consider their ability scores and personality traits, which can shape their character's strengths and weaknesses. To enhance their abilities, players can take advantage of the ability score increase feature at certain levels, as well as the attack action and help action in combat.
For those interested in the business and trade aspects of Dungeons & Dragons, the Guild Merchant background can provide access to guild halls and a set of artisan tools, as well as the opportunity to use their charisma and negotiating skills to improve their trade. The Divine Merchant background, on the other hand, focuses on divine magic and the ability to enhance their allies' abilities.
Overall, Dungeons & Dragons offers a vast and varied list of classes and character options, and the scholar backgrounds we've discussed are just a few of the many possibilities available to players. No matter what background or class you choose, the key is to have fun and immerse yourself in the unique settings and experiences that D&D has to offer. And if you're interested in learning more, the Player's Handbook is always a great place to start. As always, we may earn affiliate commissions from qualifying purchases through affiliate links.
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