Myth, legend and story energize Dungeons & Dragons. The game, especially in its 5th edition circles back and amplifies itself. So many of the tales which helped create the game are those of the zero who becomes a hero. A small town X becomes greater than life, saving kingdoms and worlds.
These zeroes have so many professions. In 5th edition these preheroic roles are captured in Backgrounds. The game does a decent job of offering several. But some are missing — like the Hunter. A Hunter may be chasing a stag and stumble upon a sleeping woman. Or they set traps for furs, travelling to the city later.
Currently you could use an Outlander or a Folk Hero. But you aren’t a hero yet. That’s going to happen at the table. The Outlander ignores many of the stories of a hunter who is part of the community from which the tale starts. That’s why you need a Hunter. So here it is.
Whether for your lone homestead or for a large city you hunt for your people’s food. You may do this with a bow, or a sling, or traps. You do this swiftly and effectively, honoring the prey for what they provide your family, friends, and neighbors. You may be a pseudo-noble authorized to hunt on the Queen’s lands or a trapper out in the wilds.
Some hunters are expert trackers, others can stalk their prey for miles, while others still use snares. A hunter may focus on specific beasts, or not. No matter their preferred protein when they are on the trail they are completely dedicated to success.
Skill Proficiencies: Survival or Stealth
Tool Proficiencies: Leatherworker’s or Woodcarver’s Tools
Equipment: A non-magical ranged (w/ 10 pieces of ammunition) or 3 thrown weapons or 2 hunting traps, traveler’s clothes, waterskin, knife, whetstone
During a long rest you are able to find enough food for yourself and your proficiency bonus number of people for a day. You can do so and still gain the benefits of a rest, but still must sleep or trance as appropriate to your race or lineage. Additionally, you have twice your proficiency bonus for your Stealth or Survival skill gained from this Background when in natural surroundings. This bonus does not stack with Expertise or similar rules at any time.
You are not proficient with the weapons that are starting equipment.
For personality use the Folk Hero or Outlander, for now. When the Before We Were Heroes project is available for purchase every Background will have their own traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws.
The Hunter can also be played as a Trapper without any changes beyond the name. Just choose the hunting traps for your equipment.
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Hunter Design Goals
As usual this design started with the massive hole in the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook not having many mundane backgrounds and trying to shoehorn them into the Folk Hero. But being a hero is what playing the game is about, not the story in your past.
With the Hunter I wanted to explore a way to grant Expertise, under a different name, to any character at 1st level. But, this is as pricey as the cantrip granted by the Drudge. There must be a cost. That cost isn’t just dropping a single skill, but dropping a skill and one language/tool/etc. That didn’t seem to be enough though. So, the rule is that a Hunter must choose one of two skills and cannot have the other at 1st level. Our mundane hunter is either good at tracking/trapping or good at sneaking — not both.
The inspiration has to start with Artemis, Orion, and the Huntsman. But there are more, so many more. Missing this trope is glaring. Crockett, Boone, Ishi, and others can guide you to your own character.
Other Custom Backgrounds
- Remarkable Drudge