D&D Backgrounds: Urchin
The Urchin background, more commonly known as my parents are dead and I grew up on the street with no friends so you can’t use them against me background, but that’s a bit wordy to put into a book. It’s the last background that I’ll be doing, as it’s the last one in the players handbook. The urchin background is really one that is built for a rogue as you get stealth and slight of hand. You grew up on the streets, got involved with a gang of thieves and are now trying to get out of that life style. That’s the general straight forward build for an urchin background that a lot of people do.
Everything it gives you really works the best that way. Even your skills such as being able to use a disguise kit really push you towards being a rogue. I think that’s one of the weaknesses of some of these backgrounds, they align too closely with a particular class, and in the case of urchin, I think it’s probably the most glaringly obvious example of a background like that. I personally think the best feature to this background is that you get general knowledge on city planning and layouts. That sounds weird that it is one of the cooler things, but being able to walk into a town, and within a few minutes be able to generally guess the layout, that’s fun.
So what are some non-rogue classes that you can turn into an interesting backstory with this background?
When I was young, I ran away from home to the big city to become part of the circus. It turns out that the circus doesn’t just allow every runaway into their troupe without you having some skill first. I had spent the little money that I’d taken from my parents to get to the city, so I had to start panhandling to try and get money. I must not have been all that good at it because a monastery took pity on me and let me stay at their place. They offered to train me and give me a roof over my head, as long as I continued to earn my way. It was doing some odd jobs around the monastery, and if I wanted more money, I had to continue to panhandle. Soon I’d found my own spot to sleep out in the town and while I stayed working with the monastery for training, I spent my days with the other kids who were earning money on the streets. One day a man came and offered a lot of the kids money to do some work for him. I didn’t really need the extra money and I could always go back to the monastery, so I turned him down. But a lot of kids went with him. He came back a week later and offered the deal again. Then after doing that and getting fewer and fewer takers I saw one of his guards taking kids by force. I realized that the kids he had been taking weren’t coming back either.Now I want to know what has happened to my friends and stop this man.
Alignment: Neutral Good
I was an unwanted child. My parents already had three kids, and apparently I was an accident. I understand why they didn’t want another child, now, thinking back on it. They weren’t able to feed us all, and they had to send out my oldest sibling to work before she was done with her education. I felt like I wasn’t wanted, which I wasn’t, and even though my parents and siblings said that they loved me, I didn’t feel it. I ran away from home, just into the city we were in. I was hopeful that I’d be able to find someone who wanted me. I wasn’t able to do that, so I just hung out and begged for money or scraps of food. It was a horrible lifestyle, but I refused to go back to my family if they really didn’t want me. I heard from other urchins that they had tried to find me for a little bit, but given up assuming I’d been kidnapped. Eventually I felt bad, but instead of going back, I started going to where my oldest sister was a kitchen help. It was a school that taught magic. So I’d sit along the side of the building, listening to my sister work in the kitchen. But then I heard something more interesting. It was a classroom that had it’s windows open near the kitchen. Soon I was sitting under that window learning about the theories of wizardry. I was so curious that I bought a little notebook and started writing down what they were teaching. It took me forever practicing in back alleys, but eventually I was able to cast a spell. One day I realized that my sister hadn’t come to the kitchen for a few days, so I went off to look for my family, just to make sure they were all right. There had been a fire in the poor district of town and their house had burned down, but according to some people they hadn’t been killed. I decided it was time to return home, and I realized how much I missed seeing my sister every day so now I’m looking through the town to find where they might have gone.
Alignment: Neutral Neutral/Chaotic Neutral/Lawful Neutral
The under city is a place that no respectable person goes. Thankfully for everyone, I’m not a respectable person. My horns show that I’ve been demon marked and therefore I am bad. I wasn’t really given a choice in that, people always told me that I was a monster. Things down in the under city are even terrible for me. I don’t get enough food, and I have to scavenge what I can. There was a plague that’s broken out down here before, and I barely escaped with my life. In fact, when I got sick, everyone left me for dead, because the plague always killed. A kind doctor came to me and said that if I were willing to help him in the future, he’d be able to help me. I agreed because I didn’t want to die. I didn’t realize what I had done though. A few months later he came asking me to burn down a temple. Now, I’m not very religious, but burning down a temple seemed like a bad idea. I told him no, but he insisted and my plague came back to me, and I felt my body withering away again. I promised again to help him and burned down the temple that night. Now I need to find a more permanent solution to my illness because I don’t want to do more like that.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
The worst thing that can ever happen to a dwarf is that they are made casteless. It doesn’t happen often because you have to do something very wrong. That’s what I did, something very wrong. I was part of a raiding party out in the mines fighting off a band of Drow who were coming up from the underdark. Things were going poorly for us, but as a dwarf you never leave a comrade behind. I was scared though, so I took off running and left left the four remaining members of my troop fighting. They were able to kill off enough drow to drive them back, but when they came back and found me hiding, my warrior caste was removed and I was sent down into the slums as a casteless. I want to return to where I was before, but you have to do something heroic and I don’t think I can do that on my own.
Alignment: Neutral Good
There are some ideas for playing an urchin who wasn’t a rogue. What have you done for an urchin backstory before? Have you played a character where them being an urchin was an important part of it?
This also wraps up the D&D backgrounds, I hope that you’ve enjoyed them.
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