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D&D > Tabletop RPGJun 28, 2024 10:00 am CT

What you need to know about backgrounds in D&D 2024

With the recent, huge flurry of information released about Dungeons and Dragons 2024, it can be hard to take everything in. That was a lot of videos! But worry not, your humble Blizzard Watch writers are here to help. Today, for example, we’re going to zero in on backgrounds.

The concept of having a background should be familiar to veterans of D&D 5th Edition, but they’ve been given a big glow-up in the new 2024 edition. Your character’s background is now fully half of their origin, at least as important as your species, and arguably more so! The biggest change is that your character’s background, rather than their species, determines what attribute modifiers they get from their origin. A background will list three of the six fundamental attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, in case you’ve forgotten) that are important to folks following that way of life. You then get to decide whether to give a +2 bonus to one of them and a +1 bonus to another, or alternately give +1 to all three. No more leaning on certain species for those critical attribute bonuses — now your Dwarf can be a mighty Wizard instead!

Another critical change to backgrounds is that all of them now award a specific feat at first level. Some backgrounds will award the same feat (Skilled was one that was called out as being offered multiple times), whereas the reward for other backgrounds will be unique. Personally, as a lover of feats and feat accessories, I think this change is great. They lend so much flavor to characters, but in 5E you had to either play a Human or wait until fourth level and give up your attribute bonus. Now everyone gets to play with them. The rest of  what backgrounds offer should be familiar to veterans of 5E: skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, and starting equipment. There are also some personality suggestions, but sadly those seem to be trimmed down compared to what we used to have; no more tables of quirks and goals, for instance.

The D&D 2024 Player’s Handbook will ship with sixteen backgrounds ready for use by players, with rules for custom backgrounds included in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. While only a few of the backgrounds on offer have been confirmed, enterprising readers and viewers have pored over the released material to come up with a list of fifteen of the sixteen prospective options: Acolyte, Artisan, Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, Farmer, Guard, Guide, Hermit, Merchant, Noble, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, and Wayfarer. What could that last background be? Offer your best guess in the comments!

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