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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > Backgrounds  > Backgrounds For Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Animal Trainer)
D&D 5e

Backgrounds For Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Animal Trainer)

D&D 5eWelcome to Nerdarchy as we explore creating custom backgrounds for D&D 5e.Backgrounds are one one of the most innovative additions to this iteration of the game.

They combine role-playing elements and game mechanics right in a characters core concept. The inspiration mechanic is also tied to a characters bonds and flaws.

First let me start off by saying this is something I found very challenging.

Not because it’s hard to mechanically put together a playable background for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, but because the Player’s Handbook just does such a great job of covering a ton of backgrounds that can be molded into many different concepts.

I’ve got two ideas to play with hear the animal trainer and a mentalist.  Animal trainer doesn’t easily fit into any of the other backgrounds as far as I can see. While our mentalist is going to be a variant on the Charlton background. I’ll cover the mentalist in a future article.

New D&D 5e Backgrounds

Animal Trainer

Chances are you feel more comfortable among the wild things than people. You have spent a great deal of time working with animals either mundane or exotic. Whether you train them for entertainment, hunting, war, or work you are adept at getting animals to do what you want. You could of grown up on a farm, the circus, or working the kennels of a nobleman’s estate.

Skill Proficiencies: Handle Animal, Intimidate

Tool Proficiencies: Vehicles (land)

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A whistle, a whip, common clothes, sack or pouch of animal treats, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Feature: Beast Master

Domestic animals are always friendly towards unless they are trained to be hostile. You can always identify an animal’s purpose if they’ve been trained for a specific task. Animal trainers are in high demand you can usually find work on a nobleman’s estate or at local farm at a modest wage plus shelter and meals.

Personality traits

1. I’d rather be around animals than people.

2. I tend to communicate with grunts, gestures, and body language using as few words as possible. I also respond to these more than a person’s words.

3. I always address and acknowledge animals before I do people.

4. I consider my friends and family my pack and treat them as such.

5. I’m always looking for animal or beast haven’t encounter yet with hopes of learning about and then taming it.

6. The smell of animals often accompanies me.

7. I respect strength and power over words and thinking.

8. My scars from tooth and claw are badges of honor.


1. Dominance. Lesser beings are to be controlled and bent to my will. (Evil)

2. Guidance. It’s all about helping others reach their full potential. (Good)

3. The Pack. One for all and all for one. We help each other. (Lawful)

4. Acceptance. We should accept our place in the world. After all there can only be one Alpha or pack leader. (Neutral)

5. Thrill Seeker. It’s only when we are in danger that we truly feel alive. (Chaotic)

6. Bonding. Only by gaining understanding of other beings on a deep primal level can we truly understand ourselves. (Any)


1. I care more about animals than I do people.

2. My family has trained animals for the same employer (carnival, farm, noble house) for generations and I will never forget them.

3. I consider my family and friends part of my pack and I would die for them.

4. I consider the animals I train to be my children.

5. I protect and stand up for animals, because they have no voice of their own.

6. The natural order is the strong rule over the weak I strive to be the strongest.


1.  I rather die than submit to another.

2. I once murdered a man for mistreating one of the animals I trained. No one knows.

3. A lord and his son I served mistreated his dogs so I set his whole kennel free and I let his son take the blame. I’m OK with it.

4. I accidentally caused the death of animal under my care and I’ll never forgive myself.

5. I have no patience for people.

6. Animals are more trust worthy than people so I always side with them 1st.

My first attempt at a background for D&D 5E comes to an end.

Feel free to chime in with your comments below. Is this a critical hit or fumble?

Until next time “Stay Nerdy”


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david friant

My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.


  • Andrés Ruiz
    March 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Damn dave!!! You did it again!!! It feels SO GANGREL that I can't resist to play it. Now I have a storm of characters in my head racing for this background!!

  • Alex Maxwell
    March 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I would have powered up a bit and replaced proficiency with land vehicles, with whip weapon proficiency. I know there isn't another background that uses a weapon , but I think its thematic.

  • David Friant
    March 6, 2015 at 4:52 am

    Agree it is thematic to use the whip that's why I gave it to them with their equipment. They can still use with prof bonus. Plus any martial character will be prof as well as bards I believe. I kind of have OCD balance issues.

  • David Friant
    March 6, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Awesome to hear. I'm glad you like it.

  • Stuart Ralphson
    March 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Love it and bonds it rode in on but could do with a "pouch of animal rations" for less aggressive animal training as well

  • David Friant
    March 8, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I agree and thought about about. Just didn't get in there. I think I'll edit it in.

  • Edward Jay Harington
    June 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    The one thing I think I don't like about it is that it's very…how do I put it…"fantasy hippie". There's nothing really wrong with the idea of someone playing the animal lover who just doesn't "get" people, but there's no options here for playing it the other way. At least in the Bonds/Flaws/Etc… I would have liked to see at least a few sprinkled in for someone doing it not because they love animals, but because they just genuinely want/enjoy the ability to make animals do what they want. Maybe a poorly trained dog mauled their baby brother, and so they're now one of the strictest and harshest trainers in the land, because they know how dangerous animals can be, and feel they must be kept in check, for instance.

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