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 '20 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 '20 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 '20 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related(?): "What are all the background features in the Player's Handbook? \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Mar 25 '20 at 16:43

Current as of AL Player's Guide v10.3.

The Adventurers League Player's Guide covers what is a legal DDAL resource. From the AL Player's Guide v10.3:

Choosing Your Background. Choose a background from the PH or any fifth edition product listed above. Alternatively, you can instead customize a background using the rules found in the PH. Your choice of background is not restricted by the PH + 1 rule.

Eligible sourcebooks containing backgrounds:

Notably, Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide has been removed from the list of eligible sourcebooks, and the statement "Your choice of background is not restricted by the PH + 1 rule" is trivial as the PH is the only eligible source containing any backgrounds.

Official Backgrounds

  • 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)
  • Safe Haven (ALPG v10.3)1
  • Sage (BR, PHB)
  • Sailor (PHB)
  • Sailor Variant: Pirate (PHB)
  • Soldier (BR, PHB)
  • Urchin (PHB)

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.

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

1 The ALPG S10 FAQ states:

If backgrounds can be custom, does that mean there’s no restriction on what resource they come from?
You may create a custom background, but background features from the sources listed in the player’s guide are the only ones allowed. The only exception is the Safe Haven feature, the rules for which are included in the player’s guide.

  • \$\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 '20 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 '20 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 '20 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 '20 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 IIRC your Background never took up your +1, so you could pick it from any available source - you could pick XGtE as your +1 to play a Hexblade Warlock, and still pick a Background from the SCAG, for instance. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Mar 26 '20 at 3:24

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