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Backgrounds describe training or environments your character experienced before becoming an adventurer. Your character’s background provides ability boosts, skill training, and a skill feat.

Backgrounds allow you to customize your character based on their life before adventuring.

Your character’s background can help you learn or portray more about their personality while also suggesting what sorts of things they’re likely to know. Consider what events set your character on their path to the life of an adventurer and how those circumstances relate to their background.

At 1st level when you create your character, you gain a background of your choice. This decision is permanent; you can’t change it at later levels. Each background listed here grants two ability boosts, a skill feat, and the trained proficiency rank in two skills, one of which is a Lore skill.

If you gain the trained proficiency rank in a skill from your background and would then gain the trained proficiency rank in the same skill from your class at 1st level, you instead become trained in another skill of your choice.

If a Lore skill involves a choice (for instance, a choice of terrain), explain your preference to the GM, who has final say on whether it’s acceptable or not. If you’d like some suggestions, the Common Lore Subcategories sidebar lists a number of Lore skills that are suitable for most campaigns.

Skill feats expand the functions of your skills and appear in Feats.

Magical Backgrounds

The world is full of adventurers of all sorts of origins, but these backgrounds directly verge on the magical. While these backgrounds are common, and any character can take them, they are particularly appropriate choices for a character in a game focused on magic and its secrets.

Rare Magical Backgrounds

Some magical backgrounds come from such special circumstances that they mark your character as forever distinct. You twist the prophecy in your favor, which will have consequences later. Reroll the failed check. You must use the result of the second roll. For 24 hours afterward, the GM can force you to reroll a successful saving throw, attack roll, or skill check as fate balances the scale. This is a misfortune effect. You can’t use prophecy’s pawn again until the GM uses this option or 24 hours pass, whichever comes first.

These rare backgrounds can give a player a significantly different roleplaying experience by setting their character up with a history or legacy beyond the norm. Whether a character with the chosen one background has been prophesied to achieve a goal that’s part of the main plot of the campaign or a side quest just for them, the character is situated in a special position within the narrative. Your character’s background is an intrinsic part of where they come from and not something they earn during the game. Rare backgrounds should be chosen only after a discussion between the GM and the other players as to whether one would apply for a particular character in your group’s game.

List of Backgrounds

Background Publisher Type Source
Common Backgrounds
Acrobat Common PCR2E
Animal Whisperer Common PCR2E
Artisan Common PCR2E
Artist Common PCR2E
Barkeep Common PCR2E
Barrister Common PCR2E
Bounty Hunter Common PCR2E
Charlatan Common PCR2E
Criminal Common PCR2E
Detective Common PCR2E
Emissary Common PCR2E
Entertainer Common PCR2E
Farmhand Common PCR2E
Field Medic Common PCR2E
Fortune Teller Common PCR2E
Gambler Common PCR2E
Gladiator Common PCR2E
Guard Common PCR2E
Herbalist Common PCR2E
Hermit Common PCR2E
Hunter Common PCR2E
Laborer Common PCR2E
Martial Disciple Common PCR2E
Merchant Common PCR2E
Miner Common PCR2E
Noble Common PCR2E
Nomad Common PCR2E
Prisoner Common PCR2E
Sailor Common PCR2E
Scholar Common PCR2E
Scout Common PCR2E
Street Urchin Common PCR2E
Tinker Common PCR2E
Warrior Common PCR2E
Magical Backgrounds
Academy Dropout Magical PSOM
Astrologer Magical PSOM
Eidolon Contact Magical PSOM
Energy Scarred Magical PSOM
False Medium Magical PSOM
Magical Merchant Magical PSOM
Magical Misfit Magical PSOM
Musical Prodigy Magical PSOM
Mystic Tutor Magical PSOM
Occult Librarian Magical PSOM
Plant Whisperer Magical PSOM
Street Preacher Magical PSOM
Student of Magic Magical PSOM
Surge Investigator Magical PSOM
Magical (Rare)
Anti-Magical Magical (Rare) PSOM
Chosen One Magical (Rare) PSOM
Genie-Blessed Magical (Rare) PSOM
Magical Experiment Magical (Rare) PSOM
Seer of the Dead Magical (Rare) PSOM
Song of the Deep Magical (Rare) PSOM
Time Traveler Magical (Rare) PSOM
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Core Rulebook (Second Edition) © 2019, Paizo Inc.; Designers: Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, and Mark Seifter.

This is not the complete section 15 entry - see the full license for this page