Background Design Checklist (5e Guideline)

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This is a TLDR version of Background Design (5e Guideline).

1. Does my background concept root the character into the setting?
  • The concept should associate the PC with a faction, organization, trade, person, event or location.
2. Does my background have the correct number of proficiencies?
  • The background should have two specific skill proficiencies; and two tool proficiencies or languages in any combination.
3. Is the starting equipment modest and flavourful?

Starting equipment should include:

  • A small amount of money so the player can customize their starting adventuring gear
  • Items that the character would have acquired prior to becoming an adventurer
  • One or two unique items related to the background
4. Does the background feature open up new options for roleplaying, exploring or interacting with the world?
  • Background features should not have strict game benefits.
    • But if it does, is the benefit flavourful; and should a proficiency be removed to balance it?
  • The feature should not give the player an ability or interaction that the PC could reasonably do anyway, even without your background.
  • Don't be afraid to simply copy and tweak the background features from the Player's Handbook.
5. Personality Traits
  • Traits should not be so obnoxious that they disrupt the game.
6. Ideals
  • Does the ideal give the PC a motivation or overarching goal?
7. Bonds
  • Does the bond link the PC to the game setting?
8. Flaws
  • Does the flaw provide roleplaying opportunities?

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