Resources: D&D 5e Characters

I talked about how the best character backstories are short, interesting and open. Putting up or shutting up, I created a character for each core class in D&D 5e. I also included some Roleplaying notes for players and, for Game Masters, a few ways these backstories could be built into adventures.

If you’re in a hurry, feel free to grab one of the pre-gen character sheets from below. I don’t guarantee that I got all the details correct, but it should tide you over for the first session.

Barbarian:

Backstory:

Khum had never tasted anything as good as crushed rainbow butterflies. He remembered when the butterflies first appeared – it was a few months ago near the mountain stream where the spotty mushrooms grow. They appeared suddenly, maybe even overnight. They were beautiful. Khum wondered if they tasted as good as they looked.

Ever since he first added the powder to his morning ale, he’d been hooked. It was tasty, yes, but it was more than that. He felt stronger these days. He needed that strength, though, as he wasn’t the only one interested in the strange insects. A local goblin tribe had discovered the delicacy too. The old wizard was capturing them as pets. As for those druids, well, they were willing to get violent to protect them.

They were all willing to kill to get their hands on the rainbow butterflies. That suited Khum. The challenge only made them taste sweeter…

Archetype:

Berserker

Roleplaying notes:

Khum is a hedonist – a hard drinking, big eating reveller who enjoys gambling and other pursuits… when he can bear the company of others. He’s a loner, enjoying nature’s bounty more than anything. He is angry and impatient, yet quite calculating when he wants to be.

GM notes:

The butterflies are the spawn of a larger, more vicious creature. The butterflies are a religious omen – thus, divine orders would also be interested in them. The butterflies are the byproduct of dangerous magical experiments.

 

Bard:

Backstory:

Lucille the Wise was a skilled healer, one of the best that than Dast had ever met. The kingdom they called home was small, impoverished and run by petty thugs. Everyone admired Lucille and that made her dangerous, but she was tolerated because of her skills.

Dast and Lucille became lovers in secret. She was a priest and sworn to celibacy. That didn’t stop her writing a book about their relationship. Called The Highest Love, it brought hope to people in a time of misery and squalor. In the text, she referred to Dast only as “Serenity” to protect him. Their relationship was exposed, but his role in it remained secret.

The protection soon proved necessary. The royal family executed Lucille on fabricated charges. Her newborn daughter – Dast’s daughter – was taken by soldiers. Lucille’s funeral was broken up by the royal guard. The execution, designed to deter her followers, instead enraged them. Protests lead to revolution and the royal family fled. Lucille’s daughter was nowhere to be found.

Though the kingdom has improved greatly, it is no longer home to Dast. He travels under the name Serenity, singing songs of Lucille, in the hope of finding his wayward daughter. It has been a gruelling quest spanning decades, but he knew not to lose hope. Lucille the Wise never did, even in her last moments.

Archetype:

College of Valor

Roleplaying notes:

Serenity is a dreamy-eyed romantic. He is plagued by love lost, but is content in having experienced it at all. He is not so much relentless as incredibly patient, less vengeful than hopeful, preferring to spread good than fight evil. Still, he will not stop until he has found his daughter – whoever she is, wherever she is.

GM notes:

The royal family were using the kingdom’s resources to summon demons – now, their work carries on in secret, slowly but surely. Dast’s daughter is an adult now and has fallen in with a gang of mercenaries. Dast’s daughter has been raised by the royal family and intends to reclaim “her” kingdom.

 

Cleric:

Backstory:

Oris remembers all his past lives. Each life, at around 20 years of age, strange memories flood into his mind of other places, other people. It always takes him a few years to make sense of it all. Somehow, whenever he died he would be born as someone else. Different names, faces, attitudes towards life… but always adoring the god of light and always embracing pacifism. He remembers each of his past selves coming to the realisation that the only constants in his lives were light and peace.

Which troubles him, as something has changed. For the first time in dozens of lifetimes, he feels rage. A bright, righteous anger burns within him. In Oris’ eyes, his former lives seem quaint and naïve.

There is evil in the world. He must face it.

Archetype:

Light Domain

Roleplaying notes:

Oris is friendly and courteous yet filled with anger. His own emotions surprise him. He can’t talk about this confusion, as his reincarnation is a secret he guards deeply – though he’d be willing to open up to experts in magic or religion.

GM notes:

Oris was chosen by the god of light to do good in the world, but a coming evil requires him to fight. Oris’ soul has been corrupted by an evil god, luring the chosen of the light onto a path of darkness. The god of death has noticed Oris’ defiance of the afterlife and is moving against him.

 

Druid:

Backstory:

Calarel was born in the city but longed for the countryside. When she became of age she left her family, seeking a life in the wilderness. There she lived for many years, alone but for the company of nature.

A visitor arrived at her makeshift shack one day. Tall and handsome, Calarel a deep connection to him. They talked for hours about the trees, the rivers, the sky. They dined together. Then he left.

Since that day, Calarel has noticed changes. Flowers bloom around her home. Stars shine brighter at night. One day a hungry wolf cornered her by the stream and a thorned vine defended her, lashing out at the creature.

And there were other changes. Calarel has been ill most mornings, and her clothes seemed to be getting tight. Impossible as it seemed, life was growing inside her…

Archetype:

Circle of the Moon

Roleplaying notes:

Calarel is a quiet woman, preferring solitude to company. Still, she is a sharp and cunning leader, familiar with both urban and wilderness environments. She has a deep knowledge of military strategy and historic battles, picked up from childhood stories. She knows she is pregnant by magic but is unsure if it is a blessing or a curse.

GM notes:

The handsome stranger is a god of nature, using Calarel as a vessel for his prophet. The stranger is a ghost from before this land was civilised, eager to be reborn. The stranger is her son from the future, drawn back to protect her from dark forces threatening both nature and history.

 

Fighter:

Backstory:

Never get involved in love triangles. That’s what Morwen had always told herself. Of course, the first time she broke this rule was with a mage…

The captain of the guard – her commanding officer – was handsome and charming. Despite all the risks, she fell for him. The captain’s wife, as skilled with magic as she was cruel, cursed her. Ever since, she had developed a hunger for blood. Animal blood wouldn’t do – it had to be the blood of intelligent creatures.

Morwen didn’t last long with the guards after that – it was only a matter of time before she was caught. She managed her condition the best she could – killing only those who deserved it, never wasting a drop. Still, she knew that she had to break this curse. She had survived this long by being strong, fast and clever, but mostly lucky. As long as she was like this, good people would see her as an evil monster.

She wasn’t sure they were wrong.

Archetype:

Champion

Roleplaying notes:

Morwen has been a soldier her entire life. She is tough, loyal and great in a fight. Still, she is a good person at heart and what she has to do disgusts her. She carries a couple of waterskins on her belt, topping them up with blood and sneaking sips when no one is looking.

GM notes:

The captain’s wife, eager for more revenge, has taken up with Morwen’s enemies. The curse can be lifted by drinking the blood of a god – not an easy thing to obtain. A dark spirit stalks Morwen, growing in power each time she drinks blood.

 

Monk:

Backstory:

When Ah-Pekku fell sick as a child, his symptoms baffled every healer. The could keep his vitality up for short periods but without knowing the cause of the purple boils spreading across his chest, there was little they could do. Everyone knew his life would soon end.

Ah-Pekku refused to give up. He dug deep, calling on all his inner strength. He trained his mind and body, forging them into powerful tools. He learned of and experimented with herbal medicines. His decline slowed, then reversed. In what seemed like a miracle, he fully recovered. But it was not without a price. In order to keep the illness at bay he needed constant doses of briccotro, a mild hallucinogen.

As Ah-Pekku grew, he became stronger. Yet if he ever forgot to consume briccotro, the weakness would return. This was manageable – he knew how to forage for it and how to prepare the right doses. And the visions caused were like dreams – meaningless, random, difficult to interpret.

At least, they had been until the last season. His hallucinations now always included fire. Normally soundless, these visions were accompanied by maniacal laughter. By day, everything was normal. By night, the visions tormented him.

And then rumours arrived of a strange new plague spreading through the land, one that started with purple boils and soon ended in death…

Archetype:

Way of the Open Hand

Roleplaying notes:

Ah-Pekku values discipline and mastery above all else. His dependence on drugs and their side effects both cause him great shame. He is competitive and does not tolerate fools or weakness.

GM notes:

The plague has crossed over from angels and fiends to mortal beings. The plague is the byproduct of attempts to magically predict the future. The plague is caused by microscopic fire elementals that can be harnessed for dangerous magic if in great enough numbers.

 

Paladin:

Backstory:

When Robin the Swift found the Timeless Archive in ruins, she wept with rage. Vast sums of knowledge, painstakingly accumulated over the millennia, were wiped out in an instant. As a loyal servant of the god of knowledge, she found this blasphemy too much to bear. She watched on with righteous glee as her order’s – the Order of Scrolls’ – investigations lead to a nearby village. The anarchists there were put to the sword and the settlement was razed. Robin slept well that night.

Years later, she heard rumours of surviving manuscripts from the Archive showing up in distant lands. Attempts to investigate on her own were futile – the documents always vanished well ahead of her approach. It was almost as if members of her own order were working with the thieves, conspiring to keep the truth out of her reach…

Archetype:

Devotion

Roleplaying notes:

Robin is fanatical about the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge. She is merciless in this view, not tolerating any acts she feels destroy or degrade knowledge. Normally friendly and outgoing, she has become increasingly paranoid.

GM notes:

The Order of Scrolls sought to destroy knowledge of a coming disaster. Elements within the Order are selling ancient rituals to cults and sects. The Archive was accidentally destroyed by fanatical worshippers who sought to spread the knowledge.

 

Ranger:

Backstory:

Boosley’s love of exploring started with the stories he heard as a young child. His favourites were of the Great Garden Path, a mythical set of landmarks shaped like primordial runes. Legends told of great power to those who could “walk the path” – find each rune and perform a ritual. The stories contradicted each other about the reward for this or the nature of the rituals. Still, they made fantastic tales.

The great myth occupied a fond spot in Boosley’s heart, though he rarely thought about them as an adult. At least, until he came across a clearing deep within a thick, dangerous forest. In the clearing was a small group of adventurers, all dead, at the feet of a wounded earth elemental. Boosley finished off the creature, grateful he did not have to face it at full strength.

The adventurers carried the usual supplies and equipment, as well as some strange scrolls. A highlighted map of the area, a strange ritual… with a jolt, he realised he was standing on the path. Without thinking, he completed the ritual as described.

Boosley isn’t sure, but since the ritual he has felt… clearer minded, like his senses were broader. And although he could be imagining things, there was the strange impulse to head in a particular direction, as if the Great Garden Path was guiding him to the next spot.

Archetype:

Hunter

Roleplaying notes:

Boosley restless and impatient. He is a pragmatist who just found out his favourite myth is real. He is still trying to make sense of it, swinging between cautious scepticism and wild enthusiasm. He is deep voiced and excitable.

GM notes:

The Path is a test by the god of wisdom. Many others follow the Path and some of them don’t appreciate competitors. The primordial runes mark the locations of dead gods, whose powers are bleeding out into the material world.

 

Rogue:

Backstory:

Tassius Grey, aka Crowstorm, never met the Patron. The Patron, whatever that name represented, was an old but infrequent customer of his. Every now and then Crowstorm would receive a blank letter, which by the light of a specific candle revealed his instructions. The jobs started simple – a robbery here, planting evidence there. Then he was instructed to infiltrate societies – pirates, nobles, cultists, even an orc tribe. Then he was tasked with assassination.

None of this was a problem, especially since this Patron paid well. But still, Crowstorm was curious. It had to be one of the city’s elite – no one else had this sort of money. But if there was a pattern to these missions, he couldn’t see it. No one seemed to have motives that aligned with these jobs.

One day, the Patron promised him the biggest job yet. But the instructions never arrived. Then his room was searched while he was out. People followed him in the streets. Worst of all, his well-honed instincts were screaming warnings. Whatever he was involved in had gone sour, and whatever protection he may have had is gone…

Archetype:

Assassin.

Roleplaying notes:

Grey is a master of disguise and persuasion. He was born into nobility but is comfortable in any crowd. He is a professional who is on edge – controlled, focused, but desperate for answers.

GM notes:

The Patron was a cabal of nobles seeking information about a lost artefact. The Patron is a businessman locked in a secret war against hidden factions. The Patron is a seer, seeking to prevent an apocalypse.

 

Sorcerer:

Backstory:

A raid was not the safest place to bring a baby, but Rain’s parents had few options. They were loners, outcasts, unable to support themselves except through stealing and pillaging. That’s what the orphanage matron had told her, anyway. She also told Rain that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. A storm ripped through the village that day – sudden, fierce, unexpected. It disappeared as suddenly as it arrived, but not before causing catastrophic destruction. Wind and rain tore the buildings apart. Many people died.

Rain’s parents were killed by lightning. Lightning hit Rain as well. It entered her body. It never left.

Even as a young girl, she manifested strange abilities. As she grew older, she learned to control some of them. It was the lightning, she knew. She could feel it crackling within her.

Archetype:

Wild Magic

Roleplaying notes:

Having a lonely childhood, Rain is eager to make friends with everyone. This is difficult, as she often loses the thread of conversations. Much as she likes other people, she enjoys listening to the crackle and thunder of her lightning – something only she can hear. She can be irritable, a side effect caused by insomnia which is turn is caused by the sounds in her mind.

GM notes:

The storm also gave others in the village strange powers. The magic in Rain is a fragment of a storm spirit’s power, who seeks to destroy civilisation and restore nature. The story of her childhood is a lie – Rain’s parents were in fact killed while summoning a lightning demon, who wants to reclaim the powers Rain ‘stole’.

 

Warlock:

Backstory:

Sarose and her husband, Elik, made a formidable team. Elik was schooled in magical theory and had an eye for artefacts and weapons; Sarose was a keen saleswoman who could build desire for her wares in just a few words. They travelled together, saw the world and got quite rich doing it.

Until Elik came across the Shadow Crystal. He found the strange object in the ruins of an extinct cult’s base. Underestimating its power, he became trapped by its magic.

It took Sarose years to figure out what happened. The Shadow Crystal had taken her husband from this plane to somewhere else, somewhere beyond the known planes. She learned to channel magic from this distant plane, enduring the strange thoughts that came with it. If she could weaken the planar boundaries just enough, her beloved Elik could return.

Of course, she tried not to think about what else could be brought back with him…

Archetype:

The Great Old One Patron

Roleplaying notes:

Sarose is persuasive and chatty, with a lust for travel and a taste for the finer things in life. The traumatic disappearance of her husband and her sanity-warping magics give her a dark edge – a maniacal lust of carnage that occasionally manifests. She has doubts about her quest to save Elik but refuses to stop, regardless of the consequences.

GM notes:

The adventurers who wiped out the cult were also trapped by the Shadow Crystal and have been corrupted by the Far Realms, seeking to return to wipe out all life. A Great Old One is using Sarose to grant him entry to the material world. Elik’s soul arrived at the afterlife, but in doing so he created a passage between the Far Realms and the afterlife.

 

Wizard:

Backstory:

The secrets of Darkfire are known to few. Athena Blackwinter intends to join their ranks. After inheriting a dusty tome from her great-grandfather, Athena became obsessed with trying to learn its secrets. The notes were garbled, confused, added in fits of madness by Blackwinters reaching back generations. Slowly, she began to grapple with its mysteries. She began to conjure the inky shadows that flickered like fire, then learned to channel these ‘flames’ into spells. But it’s not enough. She wants to know all its mysteries.

Archetype:

School of Evocation

Roleplaying notes:

Athena is obsessed with mastering this obscure type of magic. She will pursue any lead and take any opportunity to practice and experiment – knowing, of course, that flaunting her skills could attract the wrong sort of attention.

When describing what the spells look like, think about what Darkfire looks like and work that in. For example, Shocking Grasp could be ribbons of jagged darkness erupting from her fingers

GM notes:

Darkfire flows from an ancient god – neither good nor evil – whose revival would upset the existing divine order. Darkfire originates in the Darkstar, a sealed celestial body whose rays kill organic life. Darkfire is wild magic bleeding in from between the planes – fractures in the planar boundaries are growing, with Darkfire being the only remedy.

 

Pre-gen character sheets:

5e_Barbarian

5e_Bard

5e_Bard_Spells

5e_Cleric

5e_Cleric_Spells

5e_Druid

5e_Druid_Spells

5e_Fighter

5e_Monk

5e_Paladin

5e_Ranger

5e_Rogue

5e_Sorcerer

5e_Sorcerer_Spells

5e_Warlock

5e_Warlock_Spells

5e_Wizard

5e_Wizard_Spells

 

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