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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.

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  • \$\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
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    \$\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

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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

MOONSHAE ISLES & BORDER KINGDOM CHARACTERS
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:

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  • \$\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
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    \$\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
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    \$\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
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    \$\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
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    \$\begingroup\$ Got this mostly updated for v11. Got a couple things to review still. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 22 at 6:25

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