Similar to the possible races, official classes, and 4e backgrounds questions, what are official WotC-published backgrounds available for players, and which books/resources contain them?

By official, I mean that the backgrounds are available for Adventurers League Play. While other backgrounds from Unearthed Arcana or from other WotC sources outside the D&D team are of interest, please mention whether they're considered official and sanctioned or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ For AL-legality: do you specifically care about Forgotten Realms AL characters (as opposed to Eberron)? \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CTWind I didn't even realize there was a difference. I think any AL legal are fine, and a note mentioning if a background is specific to a setting would be perfect \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:49
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, ok- it's also worth noting there's backgrounds in official books that are not valid sourcebooks for D&D AL, then; as far as I know, the backgrounds in Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, for example, cannot be used in any flavor of AL, even though it's an official D&D team book. \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related(?): "What are all the background features in the Player's Handbook?" \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25, 2020 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


Current as of AL Player's Guide v11.0.

The Adventurers League Player's Guide covers what is a legal DDAL resource. From the AL Player's Guide v11.0:

You can use non-optional rules found in the Player’s Handbook, the Basic Rules, and all the books listed below.

Eligible sourcebooks containing backgrounds:

Official D&D Adventure Products

  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen
  • Rise of Tiamat
  • Out of the Abyss
  • Curse of Strahd
  • Tomb of Annihilation
  • Ghosts of Saltmarsh
  • Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
  • Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
  • The Wild Beyond the Witchlight

D&D Adventurer's League and Guild Adept Products

  • Ruins of Mezro
  • Rats of Waterdeep
  • Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping
  • Knuckleheads and Other Curiosities

Premier Organizer Products

  • The Border Kingdoms
  • Moonshae Isles Regional Guide

Official Backgrounds from Sourcebooks

  • Acolyte (BR, PHB)
  • Charlatan (PHB)
  • Criminal (BR, PHB)
  • Criminal Variant: Spy (BR, PHB)
  • Entertainer (PHB)
  • Entertainer Variant: Gladiator (PHB)
  • Folk Hero (BR, PHB)
  • Guild Artisan (PHB)
  • Guild Artisan Variant: Guild Merchant (PHB)
  • Hermit (PHB)
  • Noble (BR, PHB)
  • Noble Variant: Knight (PHB)
  • Outlander (PHB)
  • Sage (BR, PHB)
  • Sailor (PHB)
  • Sailor Variant: Pirate (PHB)
  • Soldier (BR, PHB)
  • Urchin (PHB)
  • City Watch (SCAG)
  • Clan Crafter (SCAG)
  • Cloistered Scholar (SCAG)
  • Courtier (SCAG)
  • Faction Agent
  • Far Traveler (SCAG)
  • Inheritor (SCAG)
  • Knight of the Order (SCAG)
  • Mercenary Veteran (SCAG)
  • Urban Bounty Hunter (SCAG)
  • Uthgardt Tribe Member (SCAG)
  • Waterdhavian Noble (SCAG)

Also worth noting is that D&D Adventurer's League supports customizing a background, as per the PHB rules for doing so. While this allows for a custom selection of skill proficiency and tool/language proficiency, you're still restricted to equipment packages and background features as published.

Backgrounds from D&D adventures and other products

  • Cult of the Dragon Infiltrator (HotDQ, RoT)
  • Dragon Scholar (HotDQ, RoT)
  • Deep Delver (OotA)
  • Underdark Experience (OotA)
  • Haunted One (CoS)
  • Anthropologist (ToA)
  • Archaeologist (ToA)
  • Fisher (GoS)
  • Marine (GoS)
  • Shipwright (GoS)
  • Smuggler (GoS)
  • Faceless (BGDiA)
  • Feylost (TWBtW)
  • Witchlight Hand (TWBtW)
  • Heretic (Ruins of Mezro)
  • Detective (Rats of Waterdeep)
  • Tavern Worker (Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping)
  • Tavern Regular (Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping)
  • Arctic Guide (Knuckleheads)
  • Cold Water Fisherfolk (Knuckleheads)
  • Goliath Seeker (Knuckleheads)
  • Prospector (Knuckleheads)
  • Skald (Knuckleheads)
  • Survivor (Knuckleheads)
  • Whaler (Knuckleheads)

In addition, Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus contains alternate features for all 13 of the PHB backgrounds.

Additional Material

If you’re participating in adventures set in either of these locations, you can use their respective products (found on the DMs Guild) to select a background for your character. Rising Shadows-Moonshae Isles Regional Guide
The Border Kingdoms: A Forgotten Realms Campaign Supplement

The information for older editions can be found here:

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't this list just be identical to the one on D&D Beyond (once it has the missing entries)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Depends on if AL supports 100% of the backgrounds from sourcebooks. I assume Ravnica/Acq Inc backgrounds wouldn't be but don't know for sure. \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:37
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Things like the Rick-and-Morty book, Ravnica, and Acquisitions Incorporated are not valid resources for DDAL play. As far as DDAL player should be concerned, they do not exist at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @bluemoon93 what about the season-specific backgrounds that have popped up a couple of times? (PoTA and definitely CoS, at least? Those books are at my office, where I can't go currently....) Are they still available as part of a +1, or did the season 8 re-work of all things AL toss those out? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Mar 26, 2020 at 0:23
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Got this mostly updated for v11. Got a couple things to review still. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 22, 2022 at 6:25

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