10 Best 5e Bard Backgrounds, Photo Sketch of a Man Playing a Pan Flute

Top 10 5e Bard Backgrounds

The Bard in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is one of the most role-play heavy classes players can choose. Their focus on Charisma-based skills makes them ideal for handling social encounters as the party’s Face role.

So, you have a lot of options for your Bard’s background choice. From prioritizing navigating high-society to using your adventures in tracking bounties to fuel your character’s performances.

Without further ado; here are my picks for the 10 best Bard backgrounds in D&D 5e.

Bear in mind; this is a subjective list. What I consider the best backgrounds for a Bard may (and probably should) vary from yours or someone else’s. I consider the Bard a class who fulfills the Face role in the party, so I weighed the skill proficiencies fairly heavily when deciding the top backgrounds for the class since that’s what you’ll rely on the most.

That said, let’s get started breaking down the best Bard backgrounds in 5e.

1. Courtier

Bard Backgrounds, 1. Courtier, Photo Sketch of a Woman Playing a Harp from Behind

The Courtier background is one of the best options for Bards in 5e. Its skills and extra languages lend to the usually socially-inclined class. And, the feature helps in specific situations when the Bard requires access to the upper class.

Basically, the Courtier background works for Bards who want to run in high-society circles or who frequently want secrets of nobles and aristocrats.

This background gives you two solid skills for engaging in social encounters. This becomes especially important when trying to convince non-player characters of something and to get a read on their reactions to you or your party members.

Also, you get two additional languages. For Bards who take the place of the party’s front-person in social encounters, the more languages you know, the better.

Now, Courtiers don’t get much in the way of equipment. So, don’t expect too much there.

Finally, the Courtier’s feature helps your character in navigating high-society. So, if you need information on certain members of the aristocracy, having a Bard with this background makes things a bit easier.

Choose the Courtier background if you want to play a Bard who specializes in social encounters or wants navigates high-society nobility.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

2. Faction Agent

2. Faction Agent, Photo Sketch of a Group of People Playing Flutes in Uniform

The Faction Agent background is great for Bards due to its flexibility. You get skills with some customization options and a couple extra languages to help in social encounters.

Using the Faction Agent background for your Bard means committing your character to an organization that usually specializes in some sort of activity or strives to achieve a specific goal.

You get a little bit of flexibility with your skill proficiencies thanks to this class. This allows you to personalize your background a bit more for your Bard and tailor it to your play style.

This background also gives you a couple more language proficiencies. Always good for Bards as they tend to interact more with NPCs due to their usually good Charisma score.

The Faction Agent’s background feature basically gives you a place your Bard can go to. Your chosen faction basically serves as a place to help in information gathering or rest.

Choose the Faction Agent background if you want your Bard to work with a specific organization that aligns with your character’s goals.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

3. Far Traveler

3. Far Traveler, Photo Sketch of an Elf Woman Playing a Flute

The Far Traveler background is a good option for Bards due simply to its theme. This background plays into the idea of a visitor from another land and utilizes their presence as a method of interacting with people. Even better, the skill and tool proficiencies and extra language make it a good background for a Bard character.

This background gives you a couple skill proficiencies great for social encounters. So, it’s good for Bards serving as the party’s Face character.

You also get a tool proficiency which may be another musical instrument. While Bards already have a few instrument proficiencies, another doesn’t hurt.

Furthermore, you get another language with the Far Traveler background. While not as ideal as getting two from other backgrounds, it still helps in interacting with more NPCs.

Now, with this background, you get quite a bit in the way of equipment. One item includes a musical instrument you have proficiency in. So, choosing this background gives Bards two instruments; one from the class and one from the background. Great for in case you lose or break one of them.

The background feature for Far Traveler plays up the idea of your character hailing from a faraway land. Basically, your character draws the attention of the populace. Something a crafty Bard may use to their advantage.

Choose the Far Traveler background if you want to play a Bard from a faraway land with unique instruments or performance styles.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

4. Knight of the Order

4. Knight of the Order, Photo Sketch of a Victorian Soldier Playing Flute

The Knight of the Order background is a pretty decent option for Bards as you get a bit of customizability with it. You have flexibility in your skill and tool proficiencies and you get another language.

This background gives you some options in your skill proficiencies. Granted one of those options is better for a Bard than the others. That said, the other options are great for playing along with the theme of your chosen order.

With this background, you get tool proficiency or proficiency in a musical instrument. Bards already get three instrument proficiencies, but it never really hurts to have another. Gives your character variety.

You also get another language. While not quite as good as other backgrounds which give you two languages, gaining one more is still pretty good for a Bard.

Finally, the background feature for Knight of the Order leans into the reputation of your chosen organization. Basically, you can find help in places where you order has a reputation.

Choose the Knight of the Order background for your Bard if you want to play a more heroic-style character or some sort of battle-musician or poet.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

5. Acolyte

5. Acolyte, Photo Sketch of an Angel Playing a Horn

The Acolyte background is a surprisingly good background option for a Bard. The skills you get work fairly well in social encounters and you get a couple extra languages.

The best part is the Acolyte background is included in the SRD. So, I can tell you exactly what you get.

Being a religiously-focused background, Acolyte grants proficiency in Insight and Religion to help your character in religious social encounters. Understanding how someone reacts in any given situation and understanding the various religions of the world helps when interacting with NPCs.

You also get two additional languages of your choice. So, you get a couple extra languages which helps for interacting with more NPCs.

Now, the Acolyte’s background feature, Shelter of the Faithful, isn’t that great for Bards. It basically lets you find shelter at any temples belonging to your faith. You also have the option of asking the local clergy for assistance if needed.

All great on their own but nothing that specifically benefits the Bard class.

Choose the Acolyte background for your Bard if you want to play a more religiously-focused character or a character who belongs to a religious-type group.

Source: Player’s Handbook & DnD Basic Rules | Backgrounds: Acolyte

6. Waterdhavian Noble

6. Waterdhavian Noble, Photo Sketch of a Nobleman Playing Violin

The Waterdavian Noble background is a decent choice for Bards if you like the theme of playing a more refined adventurer. The skill proficiencies granted from this background cater to a more intellectual play style, but may fit in well depending on how you play your Bard. And, you get another tool proficiency and language.

Your skill proficiencies from this background cater more to Bards who gather and recount tales of old. So, it makes it a pretty decent background choice, thematically speaking, for College of Lore Bards. You also get a Charisma-based skill for interacting with NPCs while wielding your pedigree. You are a noble after all.

You also get a tool proficiency which may be another musical instrument. Good for adding more variety to the number of instruments you Bard plays.

Of course, as a noble, you learn another language. This is great for Bards for interacting with more NPCs as the social-frontperson of the party.

Now, the Waterdhavian Noble background features is situationally useful and only useful to you, not the party. In essence, you hold a position of privilege in a specific region that allows you to live comfortably while you adventure. It’s not really great for finding information or helping the party, but you get to live nicely while on the road.

Choose the Waterdhavian Noble background for your Bard if you like the idea of being a classically-trained musician.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

7. Guild Artisan

7. Guild Artisan, Photo Sketch of a Man Building a Guitar

The Guild Artisan background is an okay option for Bards. You get a couple of good skill proficiencies and a language. But, you also get a tool proficiency that doesn’t do much for the Bard.

First off, the Guild Artisan background grants proficiency in a couple great skill proficiencies for social interactions. Basically, a pair of skills that help you convince someone to buy something and to tell if they’re trying to deceive you. Two important things to understand when you represent a merchant guild.

Second, you get a tool proficiency. The problem is it’s not for anything useful for a Bard. So, unless you’re playing a specific character concept, you probably won’t use this tool. That said, maybe you play a Bard who also builds their own instruments. That’d be pretty cool.

Thirdly, you get an extra language. Good for Face characters but not as good as other backgrounds that give you two.

Finally, the Guild Artisan background feature does a few interesting thing. First, it does the usual background feature thing of giving you a sort of home base you can return to. But, the real interesting bit is the fact that the more powerful guilds often hold political sway. So, you may have access to politicians or other powerful figures, which may come in handy for Face characters when they need to interact with nobility.

Choose the Guild Artisan background if you want to play a Bard who acts as a sort of salesperson for their guild or a character who uses their earnings from their performances to fund their merchant trade.

Source: Player’s Handbook

8. Sage

8. Sage, Photo Sketch of an Elf Woman Playing Violin in a Forest

The Sage background is a fun choice for Bards looking to lean into the idea of finding and gathering knowledge. The skill proficiencies from this background are a bit atypical for most Bards, but they work well in the theming for characters following the College of Lore.

This backgrounds gives you proficiency in the Arcana and History skills. Normally, these are unusual skills for your typical Bard. That said, they work well for Bards who seek knowledge to fuel their performances or for players who choose the College of Lore as their subclass.

You also get two additional languages of your choice. Now, that usually would mean the Sage background would be higher in this list. But, since the skills cater to a more specific playstyle, it might not be the best choice for players.

The Sage’s background feature, Researcher, is great for finding lore or information regarding historical records. Perfect for Lore Bards looking for information on ancient civilizations or heroes.

Choose the Sage background if you like the idea of playing a Bard as a seeker of knowledge, tales, and lore. Perfect for Bards who choose the College of Lore or College of Creation as their subclass.

Source: Player’s Handbook & DnD Basic Rules | Backgrounds: Sage

9. Entertainer

9. Entertainer, Photo Sketch of Someone Playing a Lute

The Entertainer background is the classic choice for Bards in 5e. That said, its not the best option due to it’s skill and tool proficiencies.

Now, the skills you get from the Entertainer background aren’t bad. You get a typical Charisma skill that’s a bit more niche than some of the others. But, the other one is really only beneficial for a specific Bard build.

You also get two tool proficiencies. One of which is another musical instrument, good for expanding your Bard’s capabilities. The other you probably won’t use.

The biggest drawback is the lack of any extra languages.

Your background feature basically makes it easier for your Bard to find a venue for their performances. By extension, performing (and performing well) in town may lead to the populace taking a liking to your character, making finding favors and information a bit easier.

Choose the Entertainer background if you want to play a classic Bard.

Source: Player’s Handbook

10. Urban Bounty Hunter

10. Urban Bounty Hunter, Photo Sketch Close-Up of a Man Playing Flute

The Urban Bounty Hunter background is an okay choice for Bards due mostly to its customizability. You have options in both skill and tool proficiencies. And, the background feature is situationally good for Bards looking for information.

The biggest draw of the Urban Bounty Hunter background for Bards is how it gives you options in what skills and tools you gain proficiency in.

First off, you have a choice of two skills from a pool of four. Most of them are great for interacting with NPCs in social encounters while the last one is just generally good. So, you can kind of adjust to how you want to play your character.

You also get two tool proficiencies from three options, one of which is another musical instrument proficiency. Good for adding variety to the number of instruments you Bard has the ability to play.

Finally, the Urban Bounty Hunter’s background feature basically helps your character find information on your bounties. As the typical Face character, this is pretty solid for Bards when the party needs information on a specific person.

I’ll admit, Urban Bounty Hunter is a thematically strange choice for a Bard. But, it’s an interesting one. A performer who moonlights as a bounty hunter which they then work their adventures into their performances. It’s…actually kinda awesome.

Choose the Urban Bounty Hunter background for your Bard if you like the concept of a character who sings or tells the tales of their adventures and bounties.

Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

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