I find it odd that some backgrounds give the character proficiency with tools but then do not list those tools under equipment.

For example, the Urchin:

Tool Proficiencies: Disguise kit, thieves' tools

Equipment: A small knife, a map of the city you grew up in, a pet mouse, a token to remember your parents by, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp

Does the fact the Urchin is proficient with the disguise kit and thieves tools imply she starts with them? Or is she somehow proficient with tools she does not own?


3 Answers 3


You have 2 choices for starting equipment. One is to take the equipment given by your class and background, which in some cases (such as the Rogue) includes tools, and in other cases (such as the Fighter) does not.

The other option is to take starting gold as given at the start of Chapter 5, and buy items from the basic equipment lists up to that amount. If you want a tool that your class and background do not provide, you can take starting gold and buy that tool. (Note that if you choose to take starting gold instead, you do not get any equipment from your class or background.)

You should consider, though, that in general the beginning of your life as an adventurer is meant to be a significant change from whatever you were before. (Such as a criminal, or urchin, and so on.) So even if you had those tools in your past, and became proficient with them during your former occupation, whatever caused you to become an adventurer might have involved leaving some possessions behind, or some things been stolen from you.

It's not so much a case of "proficient with tools she does not own" as "proficient with tools she had at some point but doesn't have now for some reason." But as I said earlier, if you want to have something that your starting equipment does not provide, you're free to take starting gold and go shopping for it.


The Background will tell you if you do start with any sort of tools, especially if you are proficient with them. The Folk Hero Background gives you proficiency with a set of Artisan's Tools of your choosing, and in the Equipment section it specifically states that you own a set of the tools for the proficiency that you chose. In the Urchin Background I guess it does not supply you with the tools with which it grants proficiency, perhaps because an Urchin effectively has no possessions save the small knife, the map of the city you probably made yourself, the pet mouse, the small token of your parents' memory, the clothes and the 10 starting gold it grants you. I guess if justification is necessary perhaps there was a small group of Urchins in your city, including yourself, and you all were proficient with those tools but only had one set to share.


At the beginning of each class description there are 4 choices under Equipment that suggest you take either one of (A) or one of (B). The rogue actually has 3 bag choices : A. Burglar's Pack, B. Dungeoneer's pack or C. Explorer's pack. Each comes with a variety and array of different gear. This is the gear provided by your class. In the background section each background has a list of available gear you can take a long with your class. You could choose the other option which is to roll for your wealth and shop for your gear on your own. A rogue can roll this 4d4 x 10gp. There are plenty of examples in being proficient in a set of tools, weapons or spells that you don't have at the current moment.


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