Marine Background 5e: Shape the Adventurer You Will Become!

Last Updated on February 1, 2023

The high seas, piracy, and naval combat are the kinds of stories that RPG gamers love to use to fill their worlds. While 5e isn’t made with the sole intention of depicting these stories, there are plenty of backgrounds, subclasses, and character options that can make this a reality for you. Today, we’re looking at one of these options, the Marine Background.

Marine Quick Info

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Survival

Tool Proficiencies: Vehicles (Land and Water)

Languages: None

Equipment: A dagger that belonged to a fallen comrade, a folded rag emblazoned with the symbol of your ship or company, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a pouch containing 10gp

Feature: Steady

You can move twice the normal amount of time (up to 16 hours) each day before being subject to the effect of a forced march. Additionally, you can automatically find a safe route to land a boat on shore, provided such a route exists.

What Is the Marine Background in 5e?

The marine background is a sort of cross between the sailor and soldier backgrounds, providing the groundwork for a character who has experienced the hardships of war at sea. Such a backstory provides a lot of groundwork for building a character.

Marines are really straightforward. They’re members of a military force recruited and trained for naval operations. The exciting part comes in once you consider the life details that can come along with that in a fantasy setting.

In the Forgotten Realms or any D&D world, marines can end up facing off against krakens, tritons, pirates, serpents, and so much more. Settings with archipelagos, distant continents, or even just a particularly long coast rely on navies and the marines that fill them to protect the lay people from harm and ensure safe trade routes are being maintained.

A marine carries all of this responsibility on their shoulders, and for better or worse, it will shape the adventurer they are yet to become.

Hardships Endured by Marines

Hardships are an important part of the marine background. Some event from your past has become a driving factor in your life. Whatever this hardship was, it helped to form your morals and many pieces of your personality that you still carry today.

The marine comes with a d6 table for hardships, which you can roll on below.

As you can see, these aren’t fully fleshed-out backstories. Instead, they provide some sort of big plot point that you can work to elaborate on if you want a more detailed character history. 

You by no means are restricted to these options either. Knowing what we know about marines, there are a lot of terrible things they could’ve faced. 

A hardship can also easily become a story beat that ties your character into the world around them if you let it. Talk to your DM, and see if there are any ways you can connect the hardship you want to use with major story elements or world elements from the game you’re about to play.

From there, all sorts of things become possible. You might spark an idea for your DM to invent a group of pirates in the setting, they might create a scenario where you faced off against some important monster, or they might decide to give you some seafaring allies.

Marine Characteristics

On top of the backstory foundations, backgrounds also give us a set of characteristics to use in our roleplay. These can be extremely useful whenever we find ourselves in the midst of a difficult situation.

When deciding on our adventurer’s characteristics, we can choose options from the list, roll a die to determine them randomly, or we can even create our own options. Let’s look at those suggested characteristics now.

The best part of these characteristics is that they can all be tied to your specific hardship. You get to decide why your character acts in the way that they do. 

While backgrounds might not play a huge mechanical role in D&D 5e, they can have a large impact on your roleplaying if you let them. With the marine, you can forge a character who’s endured a life of tough decisions at sea, and you can use that to guide you through the rest of your game.

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