My DM wants me to pick a couple of backgrounds for my character for a 4e game. Where can I find them?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If anyone could edit this question to briefly explain what a "background" is in this context, I'd appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    Jun 12, 2012 at 21:28

2 Answers 2


One good source is the "Backgrounds section on this page. It lists major sources and summarizes the mechanical implications of the backgrounds.

DDI Character builder has a complete list and the demo is free.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that the Character Builder demo is at least two years out of date. So it will not include content from the many books and articles that have been released since. \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    Oct 18, 2010 at 5:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ The links in this answer are now both broken. You may want to update it to, e.g., point at archived versions of the pages. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 26, 2020 at 6:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should that first link should go here rather than to a cleric handbook? \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2020 at 20:11

Many backgrounds are specific to a particular setting. So the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, Eberron Player's Guide, and the Dark Sun Campaign Setting each have a set. If you're playing in a particular setting, ask to borrow the campaign guide to get access to the list. That's probably the easiest route.

The various X Power books (Martial Power, Primal Power, Psionic Power, etc) include backgrounds relevant to the book's focus. The Player's Handbook Races: X books (e.g. Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn, Player's Handbook Races: Tiefling) have backgrounds relevant to those races. There are also some in the Player's Handbook 2 and 3, as well as the

Going through all of those books is difficult. Many people use Dungeons & Dragons Insider to get the information, where it's all collected in one place. If you have a D&D Insider account, the DDI Character Builder and the D&D Compendium both offer a nearly complete list of backgrounds and will note which book they are originally from. DDI is a bit expensive, so if you don't have an account, see if your GM does and ask to borrow him computer for a bit to browse the compendium.

Finally, if all of that is too complex, I recommend just telling the GM you want the Akanûl background from Forgotten Realms. +2 resist cold, fire, and thunder. Hard to go wrong with that. :-)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, then you have to roleplay that your character hails from bleeding Akanul... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2010 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The link in this answer is now broken. You may want to update it to, e.g., point at an archived version of the page (or whatever may be appropriate). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 26, 2020 at 6:58

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