RIP, 2014 PHB backgrounds

I haven't seen any discussion on the 2014 PHB backgrounds that aren't in the Character Origins UA:
  • Folk Hero
  • Outlander
All the others seem to be represented, although Guild Artisan has been renamed to be Artisan. (Putting them in a guild was probably too restrictive and too much world building -- is the one blacksmith in a town a guild of one?)

The two left out of this UA might still show up, and they're wildly different, IMO.

Folk Hero, first off, doesn't seem like a background, but something to grow into. Your first level character is already a folk hero? And the benefits of the background seem to be things that a DM would be granting to higher level heroic PCs by default. In practice, I never saw anyone with this background ever do much with it. At my tables, it's been very much a "eh, I guess I have to have a background" background. This very much feels like a background developed early in the game's development and one that doesn't stand up well years later.

Outlander is also treated the same way -- "well, I guess I need a background" -- but it's so generic and, frankly, so good, that I saw it used for nearly every wilderness character as a way to pick up some free-floating proficiencies. I'm surprised we don't have anything exactly like it -- a Guide or a Hermit isn't the same thing and is much more specific.

Yes, yes, the UA backgrounds are meant as examples, but as is, they will be used at many tables as the list of backgrounds to choose from and it's likely D&D Beyond will present them that way. I'd like to see a generic wilderness person background included in that list.
 
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Lidgar

Legend
Funeral Coffin GIF by Dr. Paul Bearer
 


UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I want most of them gone. Write one or two as "how to" illustrations if they must, but ditch the rest so that players stop treating the illustrative examples as proscriptive defaults.
Totally agree with this, give and Alice and Bob example but no pre cooked backgrounds or if they must put them in an appendix.
 



CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I very much prefer creating my own backgrounds (the rules are right there in the Player's Handbook). Four of the last five characters I've played had custom backgrounds: Town Guard, Vampire Hunter, Whaler, and Tunnel Engineer. The one time I played a textbook background, it wasn't by choice: our DM told us that all characters had to have the Soldier background.

Do folks not write their own backgrounds? For me, it's a big part of the fun of character creation.
 
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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I completely disagree. There is nothing (IMO) wrong with listing some quick-grab backgrounds while suggesting to people that they can swap out any bit they like. Does anyone complain about the equipment packages? I've never heard it. You can choose to buy your gear, too. Everyone seems to understand this.
Then the examples should demonstrate that.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
Do folks not write their own backgrounds?
I never did before, so I actively appreciate how the playtest material foregrounds building your own background as an expected route so much more explictly. For whatever reason, based on the layout of the PHB, I assumed that customizing a background was a secondary option, only for if there was some compelling reason one of the listed ones didn't fit, let alone building one from wholecloth. Plus, I felt like I'd then have to convince the DM that any "non-book" background was as acceptable, and the additional benefit of customization didn't feel worth that, when the ones there were close enough. And to be fair, I never felt like I wasn't able to find a good enough one. But I definitely could have had better ones, and the fact that the book calls those "sample" backgrounds should have clued me in.
 

MarkB

Legend
I completely disagree. There is nothing (IMO) wrong with listing some quick-grab backgrounds while suggesting to people that they can swap out any bit they like. Does anyone complain about the equipment packages? I've never heard it. You can choose to buy your gear, too. Everyone seems to understand this.
Yeah, but based on some of the early playtest feedback, they don't understand it when it comes to backgrounds. We had a thread here complaining that the Gladiator background was racist for including Orcish as one of the chosen languages, and a lot of similar reactions on Youtube and social media.
 

gorice

Adventurer
I seem to be the only one who thinks Folk Hero was good. Look, there's got to be some kind of background that says 'peasants think you're cool', and that one did the trick. Peasants thinking you're cool doesn't go that far in a world ruled by knights and sorcerers, by the way.

I actually think the old background features were the best part of the backgrounds. They weren't just random backstory, they were something that could be, and was, used in play. Now, every character is going to have exactly the same mechanical connection to the world, and it will be a matter of DM fiat whether it means anything.
 



Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
Not everybody is ultra-creative, and many people struggle with balancing mechanics. Not having backgrounds to choose from, and forcing every player to create their own, it just more work (and more stress) for both the players and the DM. The 2014 PHB (and SCAG) were perfectly fine giving premade backgrounds, but also encouraging creative types to make their own. That way, everybody wins
 
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I seem to be the only one who thinks Folk Hero was good. Look, there's got to be some kind of background that says 'peasants think you're cool'
Does there? I find it hard to map that background onto any hero of fiction.

I don't think anyone springs out of the ground as a hero of the people. The folk hero was someone before that point.
 


Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Standard Backgrounds in the PHB should be full on custom, with maybe an example or two. Premade backgrounds should be regulated to Setting books, where they can have maximum flavor, and potentially setting specific feats to better reflect them.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I am really sorry that they appear to be getting away from the background features. They didn't come into play often, but their existence meant that backgrounds contributed something to your character you couldn't get through class or race.

I thought that was brilliant, and that it really worked to individuate a first-level character (a soldier cleric felt very different from a noble cleric or a criminal cleric); it was a wonderful access into roleplaying, I felt, which they appear to be losing.
 

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