D&D: The Five Best Backgrounds in 5E (For Now)
Dungeons & Dragons might be changing the way Backgrounds work. But for now, these are the five best backgrounds in D&D.
Backgrounds are up for some big changes in the next couple of years. But for now, there are a few that are more useful than others. For our money, these are the five best backgrounds in D&D. For now at least.
Outlander is one of the single most useful backgrounds in all of 5th Edition. You only need to have one player choose it. But if you pick Outlander, then your Wanderer feature will let you just ignore a significant portion of the environmental challenge rules:
You have an excellent memory for maps and geography, and you can always recall the general layout of terrain, settlements, and other features around you. In addition, you can find food and fresh water for yourself and up to five other people each day, provided that the land offers berries, small game, water, and so forth.
In other words, you never need to worry about bringing food or water with you while out traveling. You will always have enough for yourself and your party. Pretty on the nose for a Ranger.
There are several backgrounds that offer a feat now. And while many of them are useful, perhaps none is quite as useful as the Silverquill Student background.
This one gets you a version of the Magic Initiate feat. Only you have access to the Silverquill spell list. Which includes Silvery Barbs, one of the most intriguingly useful spells in the game. It allows you to force an opponent to reroll a successful attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. Which can lead to all sorts of shenanigans when villains face down powerful spells.
Marine is another background with a surprisingly useful feature. In addition to being good at boats, just like Hawkeye, you effectively increase your overland speed. You can move twice the normal amount of time (up to 16 hours) each day before being subject to the effects of a Forced March. Which means you can cover more ground than most.
On top of that, you get a pretty good selection of spells.
Sailor, on the other hand, is useful for its selection of skills. It’s one of a few backgrounds that give you proficiency in Perception, which is easily one of the most used skills in the game. It couples Perception with Athletics, another skill that has more than one use in combat.
Not only will you be skilled at perceiving attackers, but also at escaping grapples and climbing walls.
Nobles have a feature that’s literally called Position of Privilege. With it, you’re welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are. You know, just like in real life.