Knight Background 5e: Nobility Has REAL Benefits

The Knights of the Round Table. The Knights Templar. The Knights who say NEE!

The role of the knight is one we all know and love. A chivalrous warrior who serves a noble cause, or maybe even nobility itself. In a game full of dungeons, dragons, and all sorts of mythical creatures, of course, knights are going to show up.

Luckily for you, you don’t even have to be decked out in plate armor to take on this title. When you’re building your character you can choose the Knight background and go on your merry way from there.

Knight Background

Skill Proficiencies: History, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a signet ring, a scroll of pedigree, and a purse containing 25 gp, (optional: 

Characteristics: The PHB presents us with a variety of options for personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bonds that we can use to roleplay our character. Choose some of the options presented or roll on the tables below.

Feature: Retainer: You have access to three retainers loyal to your family. They do not fight for you, but they can perform mundane tasks. Two of these are commoners, but one is a noble that serves as your squire.

What is a Knight in 5e?

In 5e, a knight is a variant of the noble background. This background puts you at one of the lowest titles of nobility, but allows you to gain some of the benefits of nobility without being noble-born.

Knighthood is provided to people who achieve great accomplishments in service to their country, kingdom, or some aspect of a ruling party. That’s a “real world fact” for you, and naturally, it applies to the worlds of D&D as well. While “kingdoms” may come in many different forms, each has some form of a noble warrior that serves the people and the “crown”.

Even in our world, the term knight is only representative of one culture. The roman legionnaires, Aztec eagle warriors, and Japanese samurais all fit the description this background tends to represent.

In D&D, your knight character is someone who has already done something to achieve the status of knighthood. That something is entirely up to you and your DM. Just remember that a 1st-level character probably hasn’t singlehandedly slain a dragon.

What is the Knight of the Order background in 5e?

While the “knight” background is a vague background based on a knight’s ties to nobility, there is actually an entirely different background called Knight of the Order. These knights are much more similar to soldiers, and belong to a specific order of knights.

These orders can be religious or civic in nature, but the concept of what makes a knight stays largely the same. For more on that, check out our article for the Knight of the Order background.

This background allows you to really explore what it means to be a knight. Sure, you can play a paladin or an echo knight with this background and lean all the way in.

In reality, though, your knight can be anything from a fighter to a warlock, since there aren’t any class restrictions on backgrounds. 

Knightly Characteristics

Every background comes with a set of characteristics that provide you the skeleton of your character’s roleplay. Since the knight is a variant of the noble background and not its own unique choice, the available options are just those provided by the noble background.

Below, I’ve thrown some characteristics that you can use as alternate options. These are just traits which I believe more accurately represent a character that earned a noble title.

Personality Traits

  • Nobility means little to me beyond the battles it brings me to.
  • I was a squire to one of the bravest knights in all the lands, now I seek to carry on his legacy.
  • I gave up my claim to the crown so I can truly serve my people.

Ideals

  • Service. All that I do is at the command of a higher calling.
  • Loyalty. The people fighting at my side matter the most to me.
  • Lifestyle. Being a knight brings me riches, lovers, and a lifestyle most would kill for. I’m definitely one of the “most.”

Bonds

  • Small villages like the one I grew up in hold a dear place in my heart, and I will destroy anyone that threatens them.
  • Being a knight is just a stepping stone to a higher, more respected title. 
  • I have been charged with a holy quest.

Flaws

  • I have no understanding of what it means to be a peasant.
  • I take what I want, it is my right.
  • I can’t take a life, not even if the lives of those I care about depend on it.