D&D (2024) Just drop the backgrounds.

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
No thank you. My players would rather pick a thematic background than custom pick mechanical bits. Doesn't fit their style. The current approach of providing the custom option as default and then example background options is the best of both worlds.
I agree the 1DD backgrounds are best of both worlds.

I strongly prefer customizability. At the same time, I like to see examples of what backgrounds are supposed to do, to get a sense of what they are about.

Other players couldnt care less about customizability, and for casual play, just pick a readymade background and move on to the next item in character creation.

The only thing missing is, new feats with specific features that certain backgrounds need. But the place to find special feats is in each setting. For example, one town in Forgotten Realms might have different backgrounds that are prominent, than other town in Forgotten Realms. And generally speaking, the most common backgrounds in Forgotten Realms might be different from the most common backgrounds in Dark Sun. So, the core rules should only focus on a general medievalesque setting except magic exists, and should avoid mentioning details that are peculiar to a specific setting.

In my view, the 1DD backgrounds are kinda perfect. Typical examples for any medievalesque context, but customizable if necessary.
 

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Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Regarding "culture". I view it as the sum total of backgrounds.

Whatever backgrounds happen are most prominent (whether most typical or most prestigious) tend to define what the culture is.

A culture is a like a deck of cards. Each card is a background.

For example, among elves, if the High culture is known for its griffon rider background, and the Wood culture its deer riding background, that tends to affect the overall "impression" of each culture.
 

Regarding "culture". I view it as the sum total of backgrounds.

Whatever backgrounds happen are most prominent (whether most typical or most prestigious) tend to define what the culture is.

A culture is a like a deck of cards. Each card is a background.

For example, among elves, if the High culture is known for its griffon rider background, and the Wood culture its deer riding background, that tends to affect the overall "impression" of each culture.
This makes sense. In the Dragonborn nation of Tymanther in the FR, the soldier background is the most prominent background because every Dragonborn citizen in that nation is required to spend two years serving in their armed forces, the Lance Defenders. In A5e, the only culture that conscripts it's citizenry into it's armed forces is the Imperial Culture.

However, culture is also dependent on which race is in the majority too. If the nation has a majority population of Dragonborn, then they are going to influence the overall culture.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
This makes sense. In the Dragonborn nation of Tymanther in the FR, the soldier background is the most prominent background because every Dragonborn citizen in that nation is required to spend two years serving in their armed forces, the Lance Defenders. In A5e, the only culture that conscripts it's citizenry into it's armed forces is the Imperial Culture.

However, culture is also dependent on which race is in the majority too. If the nation has a majority population of Dragonborn, then they are going to influence the overall culture.
The dragonborn race can also have many different cultures. Each dragonborn culture would have its own deck of cards sotospeak, where each background is a card. These decks − like Magic The Gathering − may or may not have particular cards in common.
 

Lojaan

Hero
With backgrounds being fully customizable, there is no need for them at all mechanically.
Keep them in description chapter of character creation as fluff.

Add 2 skills to you 1st level class proficiencies. Drop the class skills limit.
add choice of 2 languages/tool/weapons total to your 1st level class proficiencies.
Take one feat.
This is my problem with the playtest backgrounds.

I 100% think that this background approach will turn into an optimization tool and not a backstory tool. Instead of choosing x background to get y, it’ll be choose y and move on. Why bother with the ‘background’ step at all? I see this very quickly moving to “you can choose a background but don’t worry about it – it doesn’t matter anyway. Just choose the stat increase and a feat that is good for your class and a useful skill (stealth or perception).”

For backgrounds to be meaningful they need to be part of a living world, and only the DM really knows that world. So, step one would be a guided discussion you have with the DM, starting with the following questions, so that both of you can find the actual place in the world that you are from;

• Did you grow up in the wilds or an urban, or rural area?
• What was the place like (dangerous, friendly)?
• What do you family do for a living, or what did you do before you started training to be your class (noble, craftsman, laborer, trader, hunter)?
• Why did you change (tragic event, heroic moment, divine intervention)?

Then group the 1st levels feats by the responses (ie, the feats for growing up in the wilds, the feats for coming from a dangerous environment etc…). The feats would be in more than one category – lots of overlap. Like, you could get ‘arcane initiate’ from where you grew up, what you did for a living, or what made you change. Pick a 1st level feat that reflects one or more of your answers. This represents a particularly significant aspect of, or event in, your background.

Then expand languages so that knowing a language means you also know about that society. Speak Orcish? Then you may also know the culture and traditions of this tribe that has just confronted you. Speak elvish? You may know about the courts of the fey etc… And instead of saying ‘choose a language’ ask ‘what other peoples have you spent time with? Was your best friend growing up of a different species? Did your family trade with different tribes? Was a favorite teacher from another species, or even another plane of existence?

(I think stat bonus should be moved to class – people choose stat bonus to suit their class anyway so this will remove all the “you have to choose x to play y” problems)

If this feels like an involved process, that’s kinda the point. If backgrounds are going to be a backstory tool, then go story. Ironically, the proposed system really suits people who are not interested in story at all, and it under serves those that are by saying “it doesn’t matter, just choose some game abilities and say you are from anywhere.”
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Maybe? If you pick stats first, you're limiting your class options down the road. And, stats could start at 10 and develop later based on your class training or whatever.
Maybe it would limit class options but if the point of ‘level 0’ is ‘playing your character before they had a class’ then isn’t that part of learning about your character from playing/rolling them, ‘tom the former urchin didn’t roll good on his INT, so he couldn’t become a wizard’ then like i said, it just makes sense to me to do it that way, you can play a character with stats but no class but not the other way around
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This is my problem with the playtest backgrounds.

I 100% think that this background approach will turn into an optimization tool and not a backstory tool. Instead of choosing x background to get y, it’ll be choose y and move on. Why bother with the ‘background’ step at all? I see this very quickly moving to “you can choose a background but don’t worry about it – it doesn’t matter anyway. Just choose the stat increase and a feat that is good for your class and a useful skill (stealth or perception).”
If this is a problem with 1D&D backgrounds, it’s a problem with 5e backgrounds too. 5e backgrounds have always been fully customizable and it’s not even an optional rule. People who didn’t allow their players to swap out any and all background elements may not have realized it, but they were house ruling. This is barely a mechanical chance at all, it’s mostly a change of presentation. The only mechanical changes is that the total gp values of background equipment was standardized to 50 gp, all backgrounds give 1 tool and 1 language instead of a total of 2 between them, and the background feature and traits everyone forgot about anyway were removed.
 



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