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I am getting back into D&D after about 15 years. Reading through the Players Handbook it refers to Noble as a class but it is found in the Background section.

Super novice question and I apologize, but I am trying to clear up my misunderstanding.

Is Noble a class, or a background? Of both? Meaning could I have (dumb example) Tiefling Druid with Noble background? Or would it just be a Tiefling Noble?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, where do you see it referred to as a class? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 15 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! I see you already took the tour so you can check the help center if you need further guidance. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Jul 15 at 17:08
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The word "class" is being used in two different senses here.

Noble, as a social class stratum in a Feudal/Medieval setting, is a different use of the term than "Class" for a PC such as Druid, Fighter, Ranger, Wizard, etc, that has a progression from level 1 - 20 with game mechanical benefits.

Answer: Noble is a background for D&D 5e, not a PC class.

Any PC can come from a Noble social class if the Noble Background (Chapter 4) is chosen.

Genre Conventions

When you are dealing with a fantastical setting that has kings, queens, princes, lords, and such broadly rooted in the typical feudal / medieval / Renaissance cultural setting from Western Civ, class differences are embedded in the default setting. As you can see in the text for the Noble background:

You might be a pampered aristocrat unfamiliar with work or discomfort, a former merchant just elevated to the nobility, or a disinherited scoundrel with a disproportionate sense of entitlement. (Basic Rules, p. 42)

Aristocrats and nobles come from a particular social class in the default setting. Commoners come from a different layer of the societal strata. See also this feature:

Feature: Position of Privilege

Thanks to your noble birth, people are inclined to think the best of you. You are welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are. The common folk make every effort to accommodate you and avoid your displeasure, and other people of high birth treat you as a member of the same social sphere. You can secure an audience with a local noble if you need to.

Aside: Commoners have an NPC default description, as do Nobles. That is in the Monster Manual (or the Monster / NPC appendix, Basic Rules) and is separate from the character creation of a PC.

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Noble is a background, not a class

It is a background and you can find the mechanics of choosing to be a Noble under Backgrounds in Chapter 4 of the PHB (Personality and Background.)

It is also not listed as option in Chapter 3: Classes.

Your example

In your example, you would be a Tiefling Druid with the Noble background. You pick your race, your class, and your background.

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