Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice), a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp

I get pretty much everything else, but the shovel seems like a purely random addition. The other backgrounds don't have totally irrelevant equipment (though they may have surprisingly specific items).

My first thought was that the shovel is part of the character's past, but that's what the tools are for. Am I missing something?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do not answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 8, 2016 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


I think it has to do with this bit of background:

You previously pursued a simple profession among the peasantry, perhaps as a farmer, miner, servant, shepherd, woodcutter, or gravedigger.

Several of the defining events indicate that he may have expertise with said shovel as a weapon or as a tool of his trade (farming/mining/grave digging).

Ultimately though, several of the 5 backgrounds have at least something that's a potential roleplay item. The Soldier has a trophy and the Sage has a mysterious letter. These look like solid story hook type ideas that can enhance roleplaying. While the shovel may be more useful, it looks like it exists largely to inform a bit of the story of the PC this background is given to.

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ "...indicate that he may have expertise with said shovel as a weapon..." I wonder if I can convince my DM to let me be able to apply my Proficiency Bonus to attacks using the shovel. \$\endgroup\$
    – DampeS8N
    Jul 16, 2014 at 15:28
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ This said, if your character is not apt towards using a shovel specifically, you can probably get it replaced for a similar item that is more practical for your specific concept for your background if you talk to the DM for it. I could easily see the Proficiency Bonus applying to shovel use in that scenario. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aviose
    Jul 16, 2014 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DampeS8N If you want to know what all your character could do with the shovel, look at the old school "shovel knight" video game and see if your DM will allow it (i watched the playthough and it was pretty neat) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2016 at 13:58

One of the Folk Hero's listed "Defining Events", #7, says "I trained the peasantry to use farm implements as weapons against a tyrant's soldiers." I chose this for my Dwarf Druid, so it works nicely for me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We request that people answer the question independently. If your answer begins with "plus..." it suggests you're probably adding commentary or suggesting an improvement, and not answering the question independently. The linked answer suggests methods of answering a question independently if you don't want to totally repeat what's already found in other answers. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 0:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is already mentioned briefly in the top answer, so it's not really adding anything anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 1:10

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