Last Updated on June 21, 2023
Bringing a new Dungeons & Dragons 5e character into the world involves a lot of decisions. From picking a class, race, and character background to choosing your starting equipment, you get to make a whole slew of mechanical decisions at 1st level that define what your character can do.
However, figuring out who they are can be a more complex process than picking your starting spells. And then, even if you know who your character is deep down (as you come to understand their Personality Traits, Ideals, and Flaws), figuring out where they fit into the world of the game is another matter.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the things that tie a D&D character into the world of the campaign: their Bonds. We’re taking a closer look at bonds in D&D 5e and how you can use them to make your character feel like a part of the game world (not to mention give the dungeon master ammunition to make your life more interesting).
During character creation, you’ll be given a list of character bonds to choose from when you pick your background. However, because bonds are a roleplaying prompt, not a mechanical decision, you should feel free to improvise, adjust, and make up something that works for you.
You can scroll down for a generator packed with bonds that can give any character a connection to the world, but first we answer…
What Is a Bond in DnD 5e?
Whatever form it takes, a bond creates a connection between a character and the world of your D&D campaign. A bond ties you to something specific — a person, a place, an organization, or even an event in the world. Families, friends, hometowns, and treasured possessions are bonds.
A bond can inspire an adventurer to great acts of heroism or prove to be the weak point that leads to their downfall. Or it can be both.
A dungeon master shouldn’t hesitate to use their PCs’ bonds against them. An evil wizard who threatens a bunch of random villagers is a villain, but someone who finds the NPCs that the party cares about most in the world and sacrifices them to birth demogorgon into the world?
That’s a nemesis.
Likewise, player characters should also find ways to lean on their bonds, incorporate them into the story, and make them part of what drives their decisions. Find the right goal and connection for your next PC and making in-character decisions becomes a whole lot easier.
Your bond can reinforce your character’s background from before they became an adventurer or be a more recent acquisition. It can be something you wear proudly on your sleeve or a secret you’d kill to keep hidden.
Your bond can also be a kind of goal or quest — probably not something directly connected to the events of your campaign (although they can serve as fantastic ammunition for dungeon masters looking to create interesting subplots and give individual characters their own arcs).
DnD 5e Character Bond Generator
Hit the button to generate your character’s Bond.
|1||I would stop at nothing to recover a priceless family heirloom stolen years ago.|
|2||I would stop at nothing to restore the honor of my family, forever tainted by the dark deeds of my grandfather.|
|3||I would stop at nothing to restore the honor of my family, stripped of their land and title by a cruel and unjust ruler.|
|4||I would stop at nothing to restore my old family estate, left in ruins after a mysterious fire and said to be overrun by monsters.|
|5||I would stop at nothing to recover an ancient text sacred to my faith.|
|6||I would stop at nothing to recover an ancient volume of spells said to hold the secret to eternal life.|
|7||I would stop at nothing to find an ancient, accursed spellbook said to contain the foulest secrets of the necromantic arts and destroy it once and for all.|
|8||I would stop at nothing to find an ancient, accursed spellbook said to contain the foulest secrets of the necromantic arts and use it for my own ends.|
|9||I would stop at nothing to find a cure for a family member’s affliction, for the curse of lycanthropy has them in its grip, and I refuse to believe death is the only option.|
|10||I would die to recover the relic most sacred to my religion.|
|11||One day, I will retake my rightful place on the throne of a far-away kingdom.|
|12||I will do whatever is needed to protect and support the temple that took me in as a child.|
|13||There isn’t an animal, child, or defenseless thing in the multiverse I wouldn’t die to protect.|
|14||I am bound to protect the location of an object of great power — an ancient, cursed artifact that many evil people seek to use for their own ends.|
|15||I (along with six others) am bound to guard the location of a piece of a magical artifact. If reassembled, it could spell doom for all of creation.|
|16||I owe my life to the farmers who took me in as an orphaned child.|
|17||I owe my life to the bandit gang who took me in as an orphan and taught me everything I know.|
|18||I owe my life to the traveling musicians who gave me a home on the road when I was a child.|
|19||I owe everything to the noble family who raised me as their own, never telling anyone my true parentage.|
|20||Somewhere out there are the people who took my sister. I’ll find her and make them pay if it’s the last thing I do.|
|21||I crossed the wrong person, and now I need to make sure that they never find me or the people I care about.|
|22||I managed to convince some very dangerous people that I’m dead. If they find out the truth, it would be very, very bad.|
|23||I’ve stolen from some very powerful, very dangerous people, and now I need to pay them back with interest, or everyone I love will pay.|
|24||I owe everything to my mentor who showed me the ropes. One of these days, I’ll find them and make them pay for crossing me.|
|25||When I left my old life behind, I had to leave my best friend in a situation that got them killed. Now, I send their family money whenever I can.|
|26||The thing I value most in the world was taken by a group of powerful people. I’ll get it back if it’s the last thing I do.|
|27||I will become the greatest [Insert class] that the world has ever known.|
|28||I did something unforgivable in my former life, and everything I do now is in pursuit of atonement.|
|29||Someone who trusted me got hurt badly, permanently, because of me. Now, I take care of them however I can.|
|30||My rivalry with a childhood nemesis fuels everything I do.|
|31||My rivalry with another adventurer is what gets me out of bed in the morning.|
|32||I would do anything for my adventuring comrades — past or present.|
|33||I have an idol whose deeds I emulate whenever I can.|
|34||My [Insert Weapon or Item] is named after an old flame I can’t seem to get over.|
|35||A rival adventurer took my share of my last job, and I won’t rest until we’re even.|
|36||My family were sold into slavery by monsters, and I look for them wherever I go.|
|37||Monsters attacked my village and carried off my children. I have to find them.|
|38||The village where I was raised is the most important place in the world to me.|
|39||The arena where I watched my first fight is basically holy ground to me.|
|40||The library where I read my first book of magic is the place I imagine I’m in whenever things get too hard to bear.|
|41||When I’m sad, angry, or afraid, I just think about my mentor’s voice and imagine what they’d say.|
|42||I love a great beauty from my home village. One day, when I’m rich, famous, and powerful, they’ll have no choice but to notice me.|
|43||Nothing matters more to me than the members of my order/guild/monastery/etc.|
|44||I would burn down this bar for another drop of rum.|
|45||I have a fondness for notched cards and loaded dice.|
|46||The cuisine of my homeland always brings a rumbling to my stomach and a tear to my eye.|
|47||I’ve faced down demons, dragons, and worse; it’s preferable to the disappointment of my family.|
|48||I have sworn an oath to uphold the creed of my order.|
|49||I have sworn an oath to fulfill the duties required of me by my faith.|
|50||I have sworn an oath to defend this land and its people until my death.|
|51||I have sworn an oath to find and restore the rightful heir to these lands.|
|52||My loyalty to the ruler of these lands is unshakable.|
|53||I pledged my service to the common people, and I would die to see them safe.|
|54||I am in love with the heir to a family that has been at war with my own for generations.|
|55||If I return home, it will be to wed someone I do not love.|
|56||I am convinced of the existence of an imminent apocalypse and would do anything to avert it.|
|57||I am the last of my house. It is my duty to carry our name, our stories, and our future.|
|58||I am the last of my order. It is my sacred responsibility to safeguard our ancient knowledge lest it fall into the wrong hands.|
|59||I am the last disciple of a dying god. They speak to me in whispers that get fainter every day. I must find them new believers, or they shall soon be gone.|
|60||I will avenge any harm done to the land upon which I was raised.|
|61||There is an ancient question posed by a venerable scholar of my order, and finding the answer is my life’s work.|
|62||Uncovering the secrets of the past is my great passion. All the gold and gems just help pay the bills.|
|63||I’ve done terrible things in pursuit of hidden knowledge, and now I must use the information I gleaned to make things right.|
|64||I’m loyal to authority and will seek out someone to do the thinking for me if no one obvious presents themselves.|
|65||Anyone who fights beside me is a friend for life.|
|66||What good is being able to fight unless I fight for those who cannot protect themselves?|
|67||There’s a little inn in my village. One day, when I’ve saved up enough gold, I’m going to buy it and settle down.|
|68||I was part of a failed rebellion. Even though most folk don’t remember the way, I still fight it every chance I get.|
|69||Beauty in all its forms is my obsession. Clothes, art, people — if I see something exquisite, I must have it.|
|70||The city where I was born is the center of the universe. Nowhere else compares, and I’ll defend it — whether I’m debating the comparative merits of its famous meat pies or wielding a sword atop its walls.|
|71||I wouldn’t have survived if not for someone who took me under their wing.|
|72||I helped lead a successful rebellion. The people we put in power turned out to be a lot less savory than we thought, and now it falls to me to correct the mistake.|
|73||I was raised in a huge, loving family, and I always find myself trying to recreate that atmosphere, no matter where I am.|
|74||I was on a dark path in my younger days, and I could have ended up in a much worse place if it weren’t for a friend.|
|75||I’m hopelessly in love with a close friend, and I’m terrified that they don’t feel the same way.|
|76||I saw a demon summoned once. It looked right into my eyes, and I’m afraid it saw my soul. At night, when I’m alone, sometimes I catch myself whispering its name under my breath.|
|77||A monster attacked my family farm when I was young. An adventurer showed up just in time to save us, and from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to be.|
|78||I saw a great and famous mage perform a series of illusions at a festival in the city, and I’ve been obsessed with magic ever since.|
|79||I got lost in the woods as a child. I was alone for days without food or water. A druid found me and brought me home. Since then, I’ve always paid my respects to nature.|
|80||I got lost in the mountains as a child. I wandered alone for days until a band of dwarves found me. They brought me back to my family, and I’ve always been grateful.|
|81||I have a good luck charm that I won’t let anyone else see, or the spell will be broken.|
|82||I keep a short silver knife on a chain around my neck. I won’t unsheath it until the time comes to slay the monster I’m hunting.|
|83||I have a tattoo that I don’t remember getting — a confounding mess of geometric shapes, lines, and runes I don’t understand. If I could only find someone who could tell me what they mean.|
|84||I have a hideous deformity — the result of a brush with a cruel, wild magic sorcerer, and this is why I’d rather kill a wizard than meet their gaze.|
|85||I was raised around a particular kind of animal (horses, dogs, wolves, birds, cows, etc.), and I’ve always had a real fondness for them — not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of their feeding habits and migratory patterns.|
|86||I carry a map with me printed on a strange kind of paper that depicts a city with no name in a land that doesn’t exist.|
|87||I have an insatiable desire to try new things — food, experiences, daring escapades… The more outlandish, the better.|
|88||I am gathering copious, detailed notes about a very specific type of data — humidity, ambient temperature, the number of sides on objects, etc. I won’t explain why.|
|89||There is no one person more important than the group, and I would gladly lay down my life to defend it.|
|90||My god(dess) is missing. I have to find them and bring them home safely.|
|91||My god(dess) is missing. I have to find them and beat them senseless until they apologize for what they did.|
|92||I’m looking for someone to take over from me after I’m gone.|
|93||My weapon is my best (some might say only) friend. I talk to it sometimes.|
|94||I live in the shadow of an older, more successful sibling. I’m going to outshine them by any means necessary.|
|95||I am merely the latest in a long line of soldiers fighting a war most people don’t even know about.|
|96||I am sworn to uphold the codes of my guild.|
|97||My ship/horse/form of transport is, most people suspect, my one true love.|
|98||I struck a bargain with a powerful fey, and now every year, I must bring them a sacrifice of some kind, or they’ll steal me away forever.|
|99||I sold my soul to a hag in exchange for wealth and power. Now, if I want it back, I’ll have to bring her something better in exchange.|
|100||I have a group of close friends that I’d do anything for.|
Final Thoughts: Bonding With the Party
Bonds are a great way to make your characters feel like a part of the world. It’s not always easy to make a player get emotionally invested in a random village that’s been attacked by goblins. But if it’s the village where they spent a month recovering from a vicious owlbear injury after they crawled, half-dead, out of the forest, you can bet that they’re going to be raring to hunt down those goblin raiders in a heartbeat.
This brings me to my only other real thought about bonds in D&D. If bonds are such a good way of making your character feel like part of the world, why not use them to make your character feel like part of the party.
This is something that Powered by the Apocalypse games like Dungeon World do really well. Although establishing relationships between player characters is something that can totally happen organically during session zero, it’s not baked into D&D 5e.
The way I like to do it is by having players pick out a bond (ones with a subject, like “I owe my life to the comrade who saved me from a dragon” are good) and then ask the table at large who it was that is the focus of the bond. Whoever wants to be part of that bond then describes the circumstances surrounding that bond (how they rescued them from the dragon, why they were fighting it, etc.), and two individual character backstories become part of the party backstory.
Admittedly, some players may feel a little uncomfortable giving up power over their own player characters to someone else, but I swear that if you can get people over that hump, creating a party of adventurers with shared history is way more fun and interesting than a loose-knit confederacy of murderous edgelords on their own personal quests for vengeance.
- About Author
- Latest Posts
I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.