[Top 10] D&D Best Backgrounds For Fighter Builds

Best Backgrounds For Fighter d&D
I guess this guy really was built, huh?

D&D: What Are The Best Backgrounds For Fighters?

Your D&D character's background is one of the most important parts of character creation. It’s where you decide who they are and how they got there, so naturally it’s important to make sure that you choose the right background to properly explain your character. I’m here to give you some of the best options straight out of the PHB and explain why they are good choices

Guild Artisan

Have you ever tried blacksmithing? Those hammers are deadly!

Although not necessarily the first obvious choice, the guild artisan background offers quite a lot for the right kind of fighter. Whether the build is a blacksmith who wants to try pounding skulls instead of steel or a mason who just wants a change of pace, the guild artisan background has you covered. Your guild can offer you everything from a place to sleep for a night or two to political support for the measly guild fee of 5gp per month.


    Choose Guild Artisan if:

  • Your character has been trained in a craft or trade. This decides which guild you are a part of and possibly which guild you were trained by.
  • You might get into trouble with local authorities. Your guild will support you if they believe you to be innocent or your crime to be justifiable.
  • Those tavern room fees are starting to build up. Your guild has members everywhere who would be willing to open their doors to you for a night or two
  • You value community and local connections. Your guild can provide you with connections pretty much anywhere as well as an invisible network of informants and potential employers.



Some of the greatest fantasy heroes are orphans!


    One of the best places to learn how to fight is on the streets as a kid. Alone and orphaned, you do anything you can think of to survive, including cornering other urchins and beating them into giving you what little they have. Combat skills learnt on the streets are not easily forgotten and could prove vital for your fighter. Additionally, you get to start with a pet mouse! What’s not to love?


Choose Urchin if:

  • Your character was orphaned at a young age. Orphans often spend much of their early years on the streets and are a perfect fit for this background.
  • You’re considering multiclassing into a fighter/rogue. An urchin would have reason to know many of the less than legal methods of rogues and would know people who could teach them more.
  • You want a cute pet. The urchin background lets you start with a pet mouse, but your DM would likely let you change that to any pet of a similar size that you might find on the streets.

Variant Noble: Knight


Do dragonborn really need armor on top of their scales?


Characters choosing the noble background start with a number of benefits. First of all, they start with more gold than any other background and second of all, they are a noble whose family wields political power and owns land. Although it is one of the lowest noble titles you could claim under the noble background, choosing the variant rules for the knight have their own advantages. You have three loyal retainers by your side, ready to do your every bidding. They could be anything from a groom for your horse to trained squires who can help in combat.


Choose Variant Noble: Knight if:

  • You’re better than the people around you. Being a noble comes with some obvious benefits, including a higher social status that excuses certain behaviors.
  • You’re above doing simple chores like polishing your armor. That’s work for your squires and retainers to do for you.
  • You want the option to return home to wealth and power when your adventuring career is over. Every character deserves a happy ending. This background is perfect if your fighter wants that happy ending to involve a significant amount of money and comfort.


Variant Entertainer: Gladiator

Can you hear the crowds screaming your name?


The entertainer's background has always been a good one. It makes you popular, provides a means for you to sing for your supper and means that while people are watching you, your friends can cut their purse strings. The gladiator variant gives you all of that, plus the ability to find gladiator arenas and fight clubs where you can put your life on the line for some extra coin. You also get to start with a cheap but unusual weapon such as a net, trident or punch dagger that might come in handy during your performances.


Choose Variant Entertainer: Gladiator if:

  • A roaring crowd sets your blood on fire. This background means that you can showcase your combat proficiency in front of a crowd wherever you are, and get paid for it too.
  • You have a cool character concept that hinges on an unusual or exotic weapon. As a gladiator, you can start with that weapon instead of spending hours of gameplay trying to acquire it.
  • You don’t mind a bit of extra attention from strangers. Whether you’re craving professional attention for your combat abilities or a few extra glances at your muscled arms, this background means you’ll get it.



Every kingdom needs good soldiers to stay safe


The soldier background is the obvious choice for a fighter build. It builds a military career into your character's background as a member of an army, garrison or militia. Your character can use their rank in their former military organization to exert authority over lesser ranked soldiers during their adventuring career and has a very obvious explanation as to how they gained their combat abilities. In addition, You get a military specialty as anything from a healer to an officer to a quartermaster that might give you advantage on a critical role at some point in your campaign.


Choose Soldier if:

  • You don’t have the time or inclination to come up with a complex, unique background for your character. Character creation is hard enough without adding the additional stress of figuring out your character's background. The soldier background is a simple option for fighters that sums up your background quickly and will always make sense for a fighter.
  • The town guard think they’re more important than they are. You can pull rank and tell them off for confronting you if you have a military background.
  • You want the extra advantages provided by a military specialization. If you had a special role in the army, you’ll have extra skills and that will lead to more rolls with advantage



Not exactly the kind of sage I’m talking about, but whatever


Although there are not many advantages to using the sage background from a game mechanics point of view, it does fit a certain kind of fighter very well. If your fighter uses the sage background, perhaps they have spent their life researching a specific kind of combat and perfecting it. Maybe they’ve been gobbling up information on all kinds of combat or perhaps they’ve been studying some other topic for years but feel like a change of pace. Whatever it is, a fighter with the sage background wields both the pen and the sword with ease,


Choose Sage if:

  • You want brains and brawn. Having researched a single topic for your whole life, you will have enough intelligence to balance the raw physical power of a fighter.
  • You’re not hung up on making the most powerful character you possibly can. There are not a lot of technical advantages to this background from a fighter's perspective, but it does make for an interesting and dynamic character.
  • There’s a good chance you’ll multiclass into wizard. The extra intelligence from your years of study will make this particular multiclass quite powerful.



Peace and solitude or a bitter old man?


The hermit background offers a few interesting fighter character options. You could be a formerly great warrior who got tired of the death and the killing and became a monk in a secluded monastery or commune. You could have been abandoned as a child, made peace with nature and built your strength in anticipation of your eventual return to society. Any variation of either of these two options makes for a deep and interesting character. One other advantage of choosing the hermit background is that, as a hermit, you have discovered something. For some hermits it is a location in the wilderness that is unknown to anyone else. For others it is a great secret of the universe. For your fighter, it could be a powerful weapon or fighting style that will give you an edge over your enemies.


Choose Hermit if:

  • You have a deep yearning to live out a fantasy of living alone in the woods. That’s kind of the entire point of this background.
  • Your DM won’t let you start with a special weapon without a good reason for your character to have it. It would count as your hermits discovery and that should be good enough for your DM.
  • You want to play a fighter that’s just a little bit different. Years alone can take its toll on your mind…


Variant Sailor: Pirate

How do they know which ships are on their side and which to send to Davy Jones’ locker?


Another Common fighter variant that people like to play is a pirate, or a former pirate. Although there is no official class for this kind of character, there is an official background! It’s the variant sailor: pirate background. To start off with, any characters with this background have an extensive history on the high seas under the command of a dread pirate. Your character would know how to fight and sail as well as they know how to walk. With this background you get a choice of two features. The first offers free passage on any ship in exchange for a bit of help manning the sails. The second allows you to get away with minor crimes such as not paying for your dinner. Whichever you choose, this is an amazing background for seagoing fighters.


Choose Variant Sailor: Pirate if:

  • Your first love is the sea. Characters with this background have an inherent knowledge and love of sailing on the open ocean.
  • You travel on the ocean alot. This background entirely removes the need to pay for your passage on board ships and even allows you to know how to sail your own ship if you acquire one.
  • You prefer being feared to being respected. If it works, it works, right? If you have a reputation for killing people, who’s going to complain about your behavior?


Folk Hero

That looks heavy… and deadly


The folk hero is a small town nobody who undergoes a life changing event and displays extreme courage. This is a fighter who saved his village from bandits or single handedly fought off a bear. These characters typically fight for the common folk against the oppression and excesses of the higher classes. Because of this, they fit in just about anywhere outside of high society and the common people are willing to hide them from the law if necessary.


Choose Folk Hero if:

  • It sounds like fun to directly oppose the noble classes. Folk heroes often find themselves opposed by those who feel threatened by their influence.
  • You like playing the underdog. Folk heroes come from nothing and have little and often face up against people with much more power and money than they have.
  • You want a cozy hometown backstory. Folk heroes lead fairly normal lives until something adventurous happens to them.



Friendly lookin’ guy, ain’t he?


How could I leave the criminal background out from this list? From thugs to highway robbers to gang enforcers, many different kinds of criminals fit the fighter class perfectly. The benefits of this background are very targeted to a certain kind of character build, but they are there nonetheless. First of all, you have a contact in the criminal underworld who can pass you information, answer questions or even find you less than legal employment. You can communicate with this contact over long distances, having a natural ability to find sailors, caravan leaders and other people willing to work outside the lines. You also have a specialized criminal history that would give you abilities and proficiencies that you would not otherwise get.


Choose Criminal if:

  • You don’t mind being hunted. As a career criminal, it is quite possible the local town guard know who you are and will arrest you if they can.
  • You agree that crime pays. Who doesn’t like a bit of extra gold in their pocket, and what better way to get it than to take it from those who don’t deserve it?
  • It fits your character. The criminal background doesn’t fit all character archetypes, but if your character fits the criminal background, you probably don’t have a lot of other options.

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