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D&D: The Most Popular Background Proves Everyone Wants To Do Crimes

3 Minute Read
Aug 11 2020

You might be a smooth, you might be crunchy, but the data is in, and odds are good that most of your characters are some kinda criminal.

Let’s talk about backgrounds for a minute. The part of your character that gives you a few skill proficiencies, determines what your personality traits are like, and if you’re doing it right, sets you up with plot hooks and a whole story as to who your character is and why they’re adventuring. Well, the data is in, and after surveying D&D Beyond’s more than 30 million active characters, it turns out, that most of you are criminals. Whether they’re adventuring rogues who decided to get out there and steal:

Or Tieflings who take the motto “be gay, do crime” to heart:


…which is most Tieflings you’ll come across…the single most popular background in D&D right now is Criminal/Spy. At least, according to D&D Beyond Users, which as a general disclaimer aren’t the entire D&D population, but this user base is fairly significant, and with 30 millionish characters to pull data from, it’s a pretty good sample size. Here’s a look at the top 10 backgrounds, as well as the top 10 feats.

Now there are something like 77 different backgrounds to choose from, if you take into account the backgrounds released in all the adventure modules, books like Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, and so on, which D&D Beyond did, and the results are fairly surprising. Criminal/Spy is the most popular–and as you might expect, the top few backgrounds are taken straight out of the Player’s Handbook or the basic rules–the number five background comes straight out of Curse of Strahd.

Haunted One requires you to have access to Curse of Strahd on D&D Beyond, either because you bought the book digitally, are in a campaign using the book, or maybe you just spot purchased that one–but the brooding background that leaves adventurers haunted by some terrible darkness in their past that grants them enough tragically tormented charisma to sway any commoner to your cause (unless you’re a threat), is more popular than playing most of the other backgrounds in D&D.

The Far Traveler is another non basic rules/phb exception. Straight out of the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Far Traveler is great if you want to attract attention to yourself wherever you go–you’ve learned to use it to your advantage.


Now let’s look at the other half of the equation here, the top ten feats. War Caster leads the way–and as we’ve seen in the past, it leads the way by a mile. And while Fighters are the most popular character class in D&D, the most popular class taking War Caster is a Warlock. So perhaps the most popular Warlock is a Criminal. Or a Spy. Either way, I think that says a lot.

What background do you take for your character? Is your favorite background on the top ten list, or do you prefer rarer tastes? Let us know in the comments!

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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