Cabbies and ferien – people moving backgrounds for 5e D&D

Paths and ways in a fantasy world are not just occupied with masses of people walking with a few nobles on horseback. They are also clogged with carriages and carts delivering goods. In my own world one NPC used two giant turkeys to pull his coffee delivery cart. The players enjoyed the presence of this NPC so much they kept bringing him back up.

The cabbie or ferien are taxis for a world where there are dragons and very expensive teleport circles.


You help carry people and goods between neighborhoods and distances. Working in urban areas either on the land or water you know the paths between places and the peoples who inhabit them.

The cabbie may pull their own cart, use a pony or even have experience with a two-horse carriage. Often they have a stool to help their clientele into their car. Also willing to talk, even when the occupant isn’t interested, the cabbie can learn the happenings of a region or distract that occupant in such a way that they are susceptible to crimes.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Deception or Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: Vehicles (pick one of land or water)
Languages: One additional language, often from a culture that is nearby the home of the character
Equipment: Cart, carriage, rowboat, gondola, sailboat (pick one), a lantern with 3 flasks of oil, traveler’s clothes, a trinket, 2 days rations, pouch with 25 silver

Feature: Talk too much

You are a skilled conversationalist that frequently goes on and on. These long talks are often consuming and distracting. Some cabbies and feriens may have allies who use that speech as a distraction to pick pockets or similar events.

Additionally, you pick up the streets, rivers or flyways of a new city quickly almost never getting lost in natural urban areas.


Use the Folk Hero and Fisher for guidance.

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Alternate: Ferien

First, let’s get this out of the way. There’s no simple gender neutral word for ferryman. Similar to Anagod on World Anvil, I appreciate the older English word ferien. As you expect the cabbie knows the streets of a city or the ways between villages, the ferien works the waterways of a land — rivers, canals, lakes and shores.

Image from page 270 of Medieval and modern times; an introduction to the history of western Europe form the dissolution of the Roman empire to the present time (1919)
A scene in Venice – public domain

It’s pretty simple to make the Ferien version. Choose Vehicles (water) and then pick a rowboat, canoe, gondola or tiny sailboat for the vehicle. Nothing else needs to change.

Design Goals

Watching Shadow & Bone, or the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you see that those who manage transportation are part of fantasy stories. Whether the carriage driver or the polemaster in a gondola, these characters deserve the opportunity to be heroes.

Maybe because I’ve been focused on the bog-city of Sheljar for Dungeon 23 I thought it was time to share this background publicly. The bog-city, or an island city, must have peoples who are dedicated to navigating the waters.

Custom Backgrounds for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons


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