Now, there is no doubt that the background in the player’s handbook is awesome and fun to play with but as time goes by you just get fed up and instead want to make your own custom background. We have all been through this situation but making a custom background requires you to have extensive knowledge about how the official backgrounds are made and the set of rules being followed to create them. 

So, in this guide, I’m going to tell you everything that goes into making an awesome DnD custom background that you can customize however you want but before actually making a custom background, we need to understand what background is actually made up of.

Read this guide first about what is 5th edition backgrounds & its thirteen sample 5e backgrounds.

What makes a Background in DnD 5E?

All the backgrounds as seen in the player’s handbook are made up of the following components:

  • Skill Proficiencies
  • Language and Tools Proficiencies
  • Equipment
  • Personality traits
  • Ideals
  • Flaws
  • Bonds
  • Features

So, whenever you are making a character and you choose a background from the player’s handbook, you get these sample components or properties that define your character’s background and makes it fun to play with.

Making your First Custom Background

Now in order to make a custom background, we are also going to follow the steps mentioned above but instead of using the ones provided in the PHB, we will make our own or you could also just pick a couple of backgrounds from the PHB and try mixing the properties of different backgrounds, this usually generates some fun and interesting results and its far more easy than making a background from scratch.

Have a Reference in Mind

Now for making a background from scratch the first thing we need to do is think of a reference that closely relates our background and the background I’m going to make is a psychopath and for reference, I’m going to use Hannibal Lecter from the Hannibal show, who is a psychopath that kills (and eats) for pleasure but with utmost planning. The only difference would be our psychopath wouldn’t kill for pleasure or eat them.

Work out Proficiencies

So, once you have figured out what sort of background you are going for, it’s time to work out the proficiencies following the rules from PHB which allows us to have 2 skills proficiencies and 2 language or tools proficiencies or a mix of both, so 1 tool and 1 language proficiency.

For this one, however, I’m going to use 2 skills proficiencies, 1 language, and 1 tools proficiency. For the skills as our character is a psychopath killer, it’d make sense to give him insight so can predict what the target is thinking and also deception, so he can convince them and hide his true intentions and lies. This could be useful when luring a target without risking their suspicion.

Now as for the tools proficiency it’d make sense if our psycho-killer knows about chemicals so that he can get rid of his target after he has “taken care” of them.

Equipment

Now, for the equipment Dungeons and Dragons allows us to have multiple tools, a pair of clothes, and other objects along with some gold coins (Around 10-15). As for our psycho-killer, I think it’d make sense if he has a dagger or a cord to silently kill someone and for the apparel, he should wear a suit that doesn’t make him look like a psychopath and also deceive others into thinking that he is some rich guy and for the gold coins let’s give him 12 for now. You can always choose your own amount.

Feature

Features are one of the awesome things about any background, they are like background-exclusive stuff for your character, and for our psycho-killer, I’m going to use one of the already defined features in the PHB which is “The second identity” as the Hannibal Lecter has that of a psychiatrist which is probably how he learned and developed his skills, so it’d be great if our character had a hidden identity to hide himself in plain sight right?

Personality Traits

Personality traits is what further refines a background by defining who our character actually is and how he deals with the world outside. So, for our background, we could go ahead and make more than a few Personality traits but for now, let’s say our character is always reading the other person’s mind because that’s his true nature.

Ideals

For the ideal, let’s say our psycho-killer is evil within as he believes that “the superior always kills the inferior, that’s how the world works”. You can however think of something that matches your character’s personality when making your own and it’s better to have more than one.

Flaws

I think flaws are something that makes the game more interesting than anything else because the other players can use your flaws for their own advantage. So, for our character, I can actually think of a bunch to go with like “The childhood trauma of being tortured still haunts me”, “I have no empathy for anyone who shows weakness” these flaws could be fun and I think they match our character’s personality.

Bonds

Now for the bond, I think our character, who lacks empathy for anyone, must be drawn only to those who understand his way of thinking right? Because no one really understands the thinking of a cold-blooded killer so it’d make sense if he gets drawn or attached to only those who really understand him.

Finishing Up!

So, following a few simple steps we have already created our own custom background “A psychopath who lacks empathy for anyone and would kill them without anyone knowing as it’s his second nature and the only people he might spare are the ones who understand his way of thinking (which makes him curious) ”, that too using the official DnD 5e rules, which is great because this way our character background remains more balanced and we could always just go back to each step and make changes to it if we want. 

I hope you find this guide helpful and using this, You’d make super DnD custom backgrounds for your characters that everyone would love!