D&D Best Background For Every Class

Dnd Best Backgrounds
A DnD party stops to pose as they prepare to vanquish their enemies.

Regardless of what class you play—a warrior, a mage, or something in between—every good character has a past that developed them into who they are. Although the backstory tells the narrative of a character’s life, it is the character background that makes them who they are. In DnD, the background is what further determines a character’s extra abilities, languages, proficiencies, and any extra equipment they may have. The merit of choosing a good background is that it assists with helping a player get the most out of the class they play.

The list below offers the most logical background for the 12 base classes in DnD 5e, taken from all officially published material, but primarily the Player’s Handbook.

Best Background for Barbarians

A barbarian spots his attacker over his shoulder and prepares for battle.

Defined by their Rage, barbarians are savage, animalistic attackers with high Strength and Constitution. They are often the tanks of the party, able to soak up damage and take heavy hits more than other classes. Additionally, they have a high natural defense as they cannot wear armor, their Unarmored Defense equal to 10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier. Barbarians are also one of two classes that are purely physical warriors, with no options for spellcasting.

Best background: Outlander

Having spent the majority of your life in the wilderness, you are a survivalist who is well-versed in the laws of the natural world. As a Wanderer, you have an excellent memory for maps and geography and can always remember the general lay of the land. You can easily find food and fresh water for yourself and up to five others, provided that the land offers such resources. Growing up in the rugged wilderness, you have proficiencies in Athletics and Survival and one type of musical instrument. You also know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Barbarians

  • Barbarians are often animalistic attackers and those with the Outlander background tend to be primal and in tune with more primitive instincts.
  • One of the suggested characteristics of an Outlander is that they are often rude and uncouth as they know little about civilized folk, which aligns with how a barbarian is sometimes seen as savage.
  • The Outlander proficiency in Athletics allows for other skills to be chosen as a barbarian proficiency.

Best Background for Bards

A bard unsuccessfully tries to give the performance of a lifetime.

Often considered the charmers of a DnD party, bards are high in Charisma and Dexterity. They are known to be performers, keeping the party entertained and providing valuable dice Inspiration as one of the many spellcasting classes. A Jack of All Trades, bards have a wide variety of skills that can come in handy.

Best background: Entertainer

As an entertainer, you know how to capture your audience, whisking them away to the fantastical world you create with your performance. The Entertainer’s feature, By Popular Demand, allows you to always have a place to perform where you can receive free lodging and food after performing. Due to your performances, strangers will often recognize you in places you’ve performed previously and will typically take a liking to you. You also have proficiencies with disguise kits and one type of musical instrument, as well as Acrobatics and Performance skills.

Why This is the best background for Bards

  • Bards tend to be the smooth talkers of a party, due to their high charisma, and characters with the Entertainer background are suggested to have flamboyant or forceful personalities.
  • The ability to always have a place to practice the instrument a bard starts with as part of their class.
  • The Entertainer proficiencies in Acrobatics and Performance allow for other skills to be chosen as bard proficiencies.

Best Background for Clerics

A cleric calls on the divine to vanquish her enemies.

Clerics are known for their ability to use divine magic given to them by the gods as well as their Wisdom and Charisma. Their spells are often associated with healing as well as Radiant and Necrotic damage and their main feature is the ability to Channel Divinity to create magical effects through their deity’s energy. The well-known feature, Turn Undead, is a part of this ability.

Best background: Acolyte

Acolytes generally spend most of their time in the service of a temple to a deity, often acting as an intermediary between the holy and the mortal. Through Shelter of the Faithful, you can command the respect of those who share your faith and can receive free healing and care at an establishment dedicated to your faith, although you must supply any material components. If your ties to an establishment are strong enough, you can ask for and receive assistance in your tasks from those who work there. You are proficient in Insight and Religion, as well as two additional languages of your choice beyond Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Clerics

  • Clerics are known for their divine powers, and it makes sense that perhaps they received these powers from their time spent working for a temple or similar establishment.
  • Free healing from an establishment of a chosen faith means conservation of personal spell slots.
  • The Acolyte proficiencies in Insight and Religion allow for other skills to be chosen as cleric proficiencies.

Best Background for Druids

A druid sits in quiet meditation deep within the natural world.

As the class closest to the natural world, Druids are skilled in nature-based spells and have strong minds with high Intelligence and Wisdom. They also tend to have some connection to the four elements, often seeking to keep a balance between them. Their ability to Wild Shape allows them to change their form into that of an animal for a certain amount of time, changing back willingly or when the form is reduced to 0 hit points.

Best background: Outlander

Having spent the majority of your life in the wilderness, you are a survivalist who is well-versed in the laws of the natural world. As a Wanderer, you have an excellent memory for maps and geography and can always remember the general lay of the land. You can easily find food and fresh water for yourself and up to five others, provided that the land offers such resources. Growing up in the rugged wilderness, you have proficiencies in Athletics and Survival and one type of musical instrument. You also know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Druids

  • Druids have a strong connection to nature, so it’s natural that a druid would be knowledgeable about the lands they travel and what it can provide.
  • It’s suggested that those with the Outlander background see the ties of the natural world as one of the most important bonds in life, which is often true of druids.
  • The Outlander proficiency in Survival allows for other skills to be chosen as a druid proficiency.

Best Background for Fighters

A fighter stands tall amidst a raging battle, preparing to attack.

Out of all the classes, Fighters are perhaps the most diverse with the ability to learn the basics of all combat styles. While typically regarded as warriors and physical fighters, there are also options for spellcasting if desired. A fighter’s greatest merit is the combination of options between broad general abilities and extensive specialization through their Fighting Style and Martial Archetype. They’re also sturdy and relentless, able to use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d10 + fighter level through Second Wind or take an additional action through Action Surge.

Best background: Soldier

Having trained for battles over the years, a soldier knows what it takes to stay alive on the battlefield after progressing through the ranks. How far you made it, however, is entirely up to you. Because of your Military Rank, those who were loyal to your former military organization will recognize your authority and will defer to you if they are of a lower rank than your own. You can invoke this rank to receive assistance or supplies from other soldiers for temporary use. Proficiencies include Athletics, Intimidation, one type of gaming set, and land vehicles.

Why This is the best background for Fighters

  • Fighters are known for being well-versed in many types of combat, something that is typically seen in Soldiers or those with military backgrounds.
  • Both the fighter and Soldier descriptions mention extensive training in learning how to fight, making this a good pairing when considering a character’s upbringing.
  • The Soldier proficiencies in Athletics and Intimidation allow for other skills to be chosen as fighter proficiencies.

Best Background for Monks

A monk gets into postition to utilize his training against a foe.

One of the two purely physical classes, meaning no options for spellcasting, monks rely heavily on their Strength and Dexterity in battle. However, they are best known for their use of Ki, which allows them special features and abilities in exchange for expending this mystical energy. Like barbarians, monks must have a strong defense for not being able to wear armor, their Unarmored Defense equal to 10 + Dexterity modifier + Wisdom modifier.

Best background: Hermit

Tucked away from the rest of the world, hermits often spend their time in study or prayer. This time of contemplation can lead to a unique and powerful Discovery that could have a large impact on the party or campaign as a whole. Yet, the details of the discovery are up to you to discuss with your DM. Hermits are proficient in Medicine, Religion, and herbalism kits. You also know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Monks

  • Monks are typically regarded as living in secluded monasteries or similar establishments, sheltered from the real world, and seclusion is a key characteristic of Hermits.
  • While the implication of a Hermit is one who is well suited for seclusion, this is not always the case and could be a reason for why a monk has reentered society.
  • The Hermit proficiency in Religion allows for other skills to be chosen as a monk proficiency.

Best Background for Paladins

A paladin destroys the weapons of her enemies as she throws herself into the fray.

Known for a blend of religion and combat, paladins seek the path of righteousness and fighting for what is right according to their faith. They have a high Wisdom and Charisma, with their greatest feature being their ability to Smite and deal extra damage. As a sort of blend between a cleric and a fighter, paladins can utilize spells but are generally seen as a more physical warrior. Even their Lay on Hands ability--one that is typically associated with spellcasting due to its healing nature--does not use any spell slots and restores hit points equal to one’s paladin level x 5.

Best background: Knight

Considered a minor noble, you have sworn to defend the land that has given you your title. You have a Squire, who is loyal to you and willing to follow your orders as long as they are not in constant danger. Often times they are the one in charge of performing mundane tasks and upkeep for you. As a knight, you are proficient in Athletics and Religion. You are also proficient in two additional languages of your choice beyond Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Paladins

  • Paladins are often regarded as noble guardians and defenders of a town or city, more so than soldiers, which lends itself to a Knight’s minor nobility status as a protector of a place and its people.
  • The ability to have a personal coat of arms, which could be used to display the faith of a paladin.
  • The Knight proficiencies in Athletics and Religion allow for other skills to be chosen as paladin proficiencies.

Best Background for Rangers

A ranger stands proud, the spirits of the animals that guide her at her side.

Most commonly known for their skills with bows and arrows (although rangers are not restricted to these types of weapons), these hunters have high Strength and Dexterity. Their best feature is their Favorite Enemy, which gives them advantage on Wisdom (Survival) and Intelligence checks when it comes to the chosen type of enemy. One of the spoken languages of the favored enemy is also learned. They are also well-versed in their Favorite Terrain and receive certain bonuses when it comes to this type of terrain.

Best background: Outlander

Having spent the majority of your life in the wilderness, you are a survivalist who is well-versed in the laws of the natural world. As a Wanderer, you have an excellent memory for maps and geography and can always remember the general lay of the land. You can easily find food and fresh water for yourself and up to five others, provided that the land offers such resources. Growing up in the rugged wilderness, you have proficiencies in Athletics and Survival and one type of musical instrument. You also know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Rangers

  • Rangers are generally regarded as the survivalists of the party when it comes to natural environments, which pairs well with the Outlander’s ability to recall and navigate well in the wilderness.
  • One feature of the ranger’s Favorite Terrain is the ability to find twice as much food as normal when in this type of environment, which is guaranteed with the Outlander background.
  • The Outlander proficiencies in Athletics and Survival allow for other skills to be chosen as ranger proficiencies.

Best Background for Rogues

A rogue crouches down to avoid detection from unwanted eyes.

Rogues are the sneakiest class, often moving around in the shadows or performing recon for the party. They are known for their Dexterity and Intelligence as well as their expertise in many different areas. While not a jack of all trades like a bard, they have a varied skill set and are highly talented in what they do. Their greatest feature is their Sneak Attack, which allows them to do extra damage when: the player has advantage on the attack roll, an ally is within 5 feet of the target, the target is incapacitated, or the player attacks a target who is unaware of their presence.

Best background: Spy

Hiding in the shadows, you secretly gather information on a target, your purpose known only to you and whoever has asked you to spy in the first place. You don’t draw attention to yourself, and, when wearing common clothes, people don’t generally remember you due to your feature, Echo of the Great Game. You also know how to write in a special code that can only be read by those trained to decipher it. Proficiencies include a Disguise Kit; Forgery Kit; and two from Acrobatics, Perception, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth.

Why This is the best background for Rogues

  • Rogues are known to be the class that works best in the shadows, which is a huge part of the Spy background.
  • The ability to not draw attention to oneself, which is very useful for stealthing and sneaking around.
  • The Spy skill proficiencies free up additional options for your rogue expertise, if the same skills are also chosen as proficiencies.

Best Background for Sorcerers

A sorcerer stands, his magic flowing through him as he awaits his opponent's next move.

Sorcerers are defined by their magical abilities that stem from their own bloodline. They have a high Constitution and Charisma and utilize a feature called Sorcerer Points which can be used to gain additional spell slots or for special spellcasting options. They also have what is called Metamagic, which allows them additional effects when they cast a spell.

Best background: Inheritor

Something of great value has been entrusted to you by someone important in your life. The details and history of the Inheritance are up to you and your DM, although the Inheritance is often life-changing. The skill proficiencies under this background are Survival, along with one from History, Arcana, and Religion. You also are proficient with one type of gaming set or musical instrument and know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Sorcerer

  • Sorcerers get their magic from their bloodline; technically the Inheritor background implies inheritance of an object, but it can be spun that the inheritance was one’s powers.
  • It’s stated that the inheritance is life-changing, which is often the case for mages upon discovering their powers.
  • The Inheritor proficiencies in Arcana and Religion allow for other skills to be chosen as sorcerer proficiencies.

Best Background for Warlocks

A warlock faces off against his enemy, spell moments away from firing.

Warlocks get their magical abilities from forming a pact with an otherworldly entity, however, they are separated from clerics in that a warlock’s patron is not a god. Warlocks are high in Wisdom and Charisma and have Pact Boons which grant them special features and benefits. Spell-wise, they have Eldritch Invocations which serve as additional spells outside of their spell slots or add extra features to a spell once cast.

Best background: Haunted One

You are haunted by something that cannot be vanquished with a spell or a sword, a constant presence and reminder of what you’ve done. With the feature Heart of Darkness, commoners who look into your eyes can see you’ve faced and/or done unspeakable things and will do what they can to help you despite their possible fear of you. And, unless you prove yourself to be a danger, they may even assist you in fighting. Proficiencies include two from among Arcana, Investigation, Religion, or Survival and one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Warlock

  • Warlocks get their magic from an outside entity that is often a constant presence in their life, similar to the situation of the Haunted One.
  • The Heart of Darkness implies the idea of something dark and horrific, which is something some of the warlock patrons can be considered, depending on the interpretation.
  • The Haunted One proficiencies in Arcana, Investigation, and Religion allow for other skills to be chosen as warlock proficiencies.

Best Background for Wizards

A wizard studies a book from which he draws arcane knowledge.

Ever studious, wizards learn their magical craft by reading and studying spells, and are known for their Intelligence and Wisdom. Unlike other spellcasters, there is no real limit to the number of known spells for a given spell level, as long as you have spell slots for that level. (Note that the number of slots does not change, even if you learn more spells of a given level than you have spell slots.) When choosing an Arcane Tradition, or school of magic, a wizard can gain additional benefits for that type of spell. Wizards are also able to recover expended spell slots upon resting through Arcane Recovery.

Best background: Guild Artisan

As a member of an artisan’s guild, you are an established part of the mercantile world, skilled in a particular field. Because of this, your fellow guild members are willing to pay for your lodging and food if necessary. You also have access to the guild hall, which can be used to meet potential patrons, allies, or make some coin. However, you must pay dues of 5 gp per month to the guild to keep your membership. You are proficient in Insight and Persuasion, one type of artisan’s tools, and know one additional language of your choice other than Common and any languages your race offers.

Why This is the best background for Wizard

  • Wizards are one of the most common classes used for enchanting objects, which lends itself to the idea of a Guild Artisan.
  • Guild Artisans are big on knowledge of skills and talents for their craft, something that wizards are also known for when it comes to their spellcasting.
  • The Guild Artisan proficiency in Insight allows for other skills to be chosen as a wizard proficiency.

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A storyteller full of wanderlust, Hannah enjoys visiting vast worlds miles away from her Midwestern hometown searching for the next great adventure.
Gamer Since: 2007
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Rhaxtyx 1 month 2 weeks ago

Sorry I couldn't resist but I think you made some mistakes regarding the rules for expertise. The characters don't just have expertise right off the bat. They can't. Unless they are rogue or bard or a human with the racial feat, they can't have expertise that easily. You can however implement a house rule similar to that but still, no DM would gift their players expertise from level 1. I suggest you read more about the rules that concerns a sensitive concept like expertise. Thinking a rogue with a stealth expertise a level one... That would hurt my campaign a lot. Thanks for the post though. I appreciate the time you've put into this.

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