Sunday, 20 July 2014

5e Underdark Background

Here is an experimental 5e Underdark background that might actually be useful to someone.



You are proficient in Athletics when the test is for a climb. If you are already proficient in Athletics, you are doubly proficient (count your bonus twice) but only when the test is for a climb.

You are proficient in Survival and doublly proficient when deep underground.

You can never become skilled in above ground Nature, it will always be alien to you.

You know the Silent Speech and can communicate with another who knows through subtle gestures that are not obvious to others.

You have Darkvision but are always at disadvantage in sunlight unless wearing special goggles or some kind of occluding device.


A small tool or object of your choice, made from human bone.

A small but powerful lamp, made of strange metals.

Strips of a dried but unidentfiable meat.

A secret tattoo showing a specific underground route known only to you.

A fine, strong silk rope.

Any of the weapons acquired through character generation that possess parts of wood, instead have parts of metal or bone. The hilt of your sword is bone, your arrows are thin steel etc.

You have one clothing item of deep blue-black silk. This is regarded as high quality above ground, though you think of it as normal. If anything you are wearing is leather, it is the cured skin of a particular sentient race, you think of this as normal.

Click or look under the break and roll.


You may roll, or choose, one, or all of these.

1. Your eyes are larger than usual for your race, they also have no whites, people cannot tell  where you are looking.
2. Colourless, your skin has no pigment. You sunburn easily.
3. Missing or non-functional nose. You smell by breathing deeply through your mouth.
4. Your fingernails are thick, long and hooked.
5. You walk toe-to-heel, people will notice your gait seems 'off' and rangers will be mystified by your tracks. They are distinctive though.
6. You don't yawn, snore, sniff, sneeze, cough, gasp, moan, cry out or even laugh much. It takes people a while to notice this. You may still scream in pain if badly hurt.
7. Spindly. Add a d6 to your height modifier. Keep your weight the same.
8. Though each individual aspect of your appearance is apparently normal, there is something very odd about the whole. Those who do not know your name will refer to you as 'that ill-starred individual' 'the strange one' or just 'the freak'.

FEATURE: Hyper vigilance

You can 'ping' your environment with a double proficiency perception roll. If you fail, or if there is no threat to perceive, the DM briefly takes control of your character as you respond to an imaginary danger.

d8 Personality Trait

1. I am always watching. The less I say the more I see.
2. I find the hidden threat in every environment I enter.
3. I rank my colleagues in order of which I would abandon first. Its nothing personal.
4. I always keep an exit in view.
5. I like small spaces, the smaller the better.
6. I love music but only from a distance, its always too loud up close.
7. I love cities but hate crowds. Empty cities make me happy.
8. I wear my wealth, but I disguise it to look cheap.

d6 Ideal

1. Loyalty. I am loyal to my group. And absolutely nothing else.
2. Hatred. Anyone who threatens me, even once, must die.
3. Patience. There is nothing wrong with waiting. Let the world move while you are still.
4. Traceless. I must leave no record of myself in anything I do.
5. Unforgiving. Even one mistake could doom us all. There must be no mistakes.
6. Liberty. Every second not spent starving or in chains is sweet anarchy, savour it and regret nothing.

d6 Bond

1. I must find, and consume a particular man.
2. A fortress in the sky, or some place not bound by earth, is the only place I can ever be entirely safe.
3. I was enslaved by a particular race or group. I will kill them all.
4. I will find a doorway to another world or time, then bring all my people through it to begin again.
5. I must find all evidence above ground of the existance of my people, and destroy it.
6. I must free all slaves of my particular race wherever I find them. Though I owe them nothing else.

d6 Flaw

1. Burning Eyes. You treat a clear cloudless sky as an enemy.
2. Inverse Cosmology. You secretly regard those most think of as gods, as daemons and devils, and those they think of as 'Evil' as the true gods. How you deal with this is up to you.
3. Funeral Rite. Failing to eat at least part of someone you respect when they die is a terrible insult. You would never do that to a friend.
4. Ready for Flight. You are never willing to become encumbered by what you carry. Ever.
5. If its about to go down, you will always try to draw first.
6. You have no real sense of 'Good' or 'Evil', they are like vague political terms to you.


  1. Hey. I bought your adventure. It is highly enjoyable and I plan on springing it on my group as soon as I can. I reiterate everything I said on your Drow post. You really capture the malice that we were told they had but were, I think, seldom shown that they had. You have, in essence, rekindled my love for the Underdark.

    Have you run your own adventure or has too much time in the kitchen spoiled the food for you so to speak?

    1. thanks for the kind words. I sort of drifted out of runing things for a variety of reasons. Do let me know how it goes if you run it.