Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Most folk in the various worlds of Dungeons & Dragons 5e are born, live, and die within a few miles of a single village. Not you, Far Traveler.
Whether you want to be the mysterious stranger in the corner of the inn, the flamboyant emissary of a distant empire, or a mystic wanderer between the planes, if you’re looking to play a character from a faraway place – a stranger in a strange land whose very presence is cause for speculation and curiosity among the locals – then the Far Traveler background is a great place to start.
The Far Traveler
Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG)
Tool Proficiencies: Any one musical instrument or gaming set of your choice, likely something native to your homeland
Languages: Any one of your choice
Equipment: One set of traveler’s clothes, any one musical instrument or gaming set you are proficient with, poorly wrought maps from your homeland that depict where you are in Faerûn, a small piece of jewelry worth 10 gp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship, and a pouch containing 5 gp
Feature: All Eyes on You
Even in a world populated by elves, dwarves, dragonfolk, and goblins, you stick out like a sore thumb. Whether it’s your clothing, mannerisms, physical appearance, or the way you talk, it takes no more than a cursory glance to pick you out of a crowd of locals.
Wherever you go, common folk and nobles alike find their eyes drawn to you. This can be a nuisance if you’re trying to avoid any unwelcome attention, but your exotic nature also garners the interest of scholars, local nobles, and anyone else hungry to know more about far-off lands.
You can leverage your singular nature in order to open doors which might remain closed to those born in these parts. Lords, scholars, priests, and merchants (among others) might all be interested in learning more about your homeland, for one reason or another.
When you choose the Far Traveler background, the first and most important thing to decide is where your character is originally from.
Depending on the campaign setting where your game takes place, you could choose one of hundreds of locations that exist throughout established D&D worlds, like the desert empires of Mulhorand, the fabled elven islands of Evermeet, or even the Underdark.
Whether you’re playing in an established setting or your dungeon master’s homebrew world, talk to your DM when you create your character.
Not only will they appreciate the opportunity to share some of the extensive lore about a community of crystalline frog demon worshippers halfway round the world they spent all weekend writing instead of prepping for this week’s session, but any chance to tie your character into the cultural and historic context of your campaign is going to enhance your game.
You also get to choose exactly why you’re here, which could be tied up with your identity back home.
Whether you want to play a diplomat looking to curry favor with a far off empire, a Marco Polo-type looking to open trade routes with your world’s equivalent of Ghengis Khan (who could be a bog standard warlord or, if you want to get real weird with it, should definitely be a beholder), you can choose from (or roll a d6 on) the table below, or make up your own reason for coming all this way.
|d6||Why Are You Here?|
Not going to lie, the Sightseer option gives me huge Twoflower vibes from The Color of Magic. Also, the luggage is 100% a pet mimic. *scribbles frantically in notebook* Looks like I have some new NPCs to add to the ol’ encounter table.
When you pick the Far Traveler background, either choose or randomly determine characteristics like your personality quirks, bonds, ideals, and flaws using the tables below.
While totally optional, these entries can help flesh out your character’s backstory and reasons for taking up the adventuring life.
As a Far Traveler, these options are a great way to figure out exactly how to play up the differences between your character and the lands they travel through.
|1||I have different assumptions from those around me concerning personal space, blithely invading others’ space in innocence, or reacting to ignorant invasion of my own.|
|2||I have my own ideas about what is and is not food, and I find the eating habits of those around me fascinating, confusing, or revolting.|
|3||I have a strong code of honor or sense of propriety that others don’t comprehend.|
|4||I express affection or contempt in ways that are unfamiliar to others.|
|5||I begin or end my day with small traditional rituals that are unfamiliar to those around me.|
|6||Sarcasm and insults are my weapons of choice.|
|1||Open. I have much to learn from the kindly folk I meet along my way. (Good)|
|2||Reserved. As someone new to these strange lands, I am cautious and respectful in my dealings. (Lawful)|
|3||Adventure. I’m far from home, and everything is strange and wonderful! (Chaotic)|
|4||Cunning. Though I may not know their ways, neither do they know mine, which can be to my advantage. (Evil)|
|5||Inquisitive. Everything is new, but I have a thirst to learn. (Neutral)|
|6||Suspicious. I must be careful, for I have no way of telling friend from foe here. (Any)|
|1||So long as I have this token from my homeland, I can face any adversity in this strange land.|
|2||The gods of my people are a comfort to me so far from home.|
|3||I hold no greater cause than my service to my people.|
|4||My freedom is my most precious possession. I’ll never let anyone take it from me again.|
|5||I’m fascinated by the beauty and wonder of this new land.|
|6||Though I had no choice, I lament having to leave my loved one(s) behind. I hope to see them again one day.|
|1||I am secretly (or not so secretly) convinced of the superiority of my own culture over that of this foreign land.|
|2||I pretend not to understand the local language in order to avoid interactions I would rather not have.|
|3||I have a weakness for the new intoxicants and other pleasures of this land.|
|4||I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.|
|5||I consider the adherents of other gods to be deluded innocents at best, or ignorant fools at worst.|
|6||I have a weakness for the exotic beauty of the people of these lands.|
“You’re Not From Round ‘Ere, are ye?”
Roleplaying a Far Traveler is an opportunity for tonnes of fun. Also, I would recommend this background wholeheartedly to newer players, as hiding behind your character’s ignorance of the place in which the game takes place is a great way to work any teething problems at the table into your character.
There are so many interesting ways to make a Far Traveler, and virtually no limit on how weird you’re allowed to get with it.
Why be a diplomat from a far off medieval kingdom when you could be THE HERALD OF H’AW LEEWOUDT, a chosen harbinger of some dread god that dwells in a nearby pocket dimension, sent to this place to convert enough of its people to his faith to bring him into the world (if you’re a cleric), or just to steal as much finely baked bread as possible (THIS IS A GOOD BAKE, MARY. H’AW LEEWOUDT APPROVES THIS OFFERING. NO SOGGY BOTTOM HERE) and throw it through a small, bread-sized portal to the eldritch realm of darkness beyond. Insert some joke about being here to prove yourself.
Whatever direction you choose to take, the Far Traveler background is an amazing way to justify bringing all your weirdest, most wonderful character concepts to the table in a fashion that (probably) won’t irritate the other players and your long-suffering DM.
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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.