Today we're back with a look at the Folk Hero background for D&D 5e.
What is it?
Folk Heroes are the voice and hands of the people. The champion of the peasants and the lower classes. They exemplify humble origins leading in to heroic lives. They are destined for greatness, though they certainly do not start with it.
How can my class use it?
Really, any class can make use of the Folk Hero background. It doesn't seem particularly designed for any one class, though the fact that the background skills are animal handling and survival does mean it overlaps with classes like the Ranger, so pairing the two might have some increased versatility due to the overlap rule. Likewise, Druids might find themselves in a similar boat. That said, ever player class has their place in rustic village life, which is what this background seems to suggest. Paladins, Fighters, and Barbarians no doubt serve as protectors of their community, if they are engaged in the work of their class and not some other profession (which is entirely possible, given that the background does grant proficiency with artisan's tools and land vehicles, as well as proficiency with survival- which all suggest working as a rural craftsmen, wagoneer, or farmer/rancher/herder.) Rogues can easily serve in a sort of "Robin Hood" role for the community, acting in secret to further the interests of the people against the oppression of the nobility. Monks and Clerics no doubt tend to the spiritual needs of a community, and Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks all do well in dealing with mystical and magical things on behalf of the community, as well as weaving spells should the need arise.
Why should I use it?
For one thing, proficiency with land vehicles is a part of this background, and it isn't exactly common elsewhere. If you expect to be using these often in your campaign, it might be worth a grab. The Rustic Hospitality feature is the main selling point I think. It states that you can find shelter among commoners pretty much anywhere, and there are commoners pretty much anywhere in the world anyway, barring isolated wilderness. It also stipulates that they will shelter you from the law, which makes this great for characters who perform criminal or illegal acts. Though the commoners who shelter you will not risk their lives on your behalf, it still essentiall provides a sort of safehouse whenever and where-ever you need, especially if you are stealthy enough to hide properly, which again, makes this a great choice for criminal characters.
What if I play a system other than D&D?
There's still plenty of potential here. At it's core, the goal of the Folk Hero is to be a champion of the common man. Think about how your character can use their skills and abilities to help the little guy, preferably at the expense of powerful and selfish elites. Running Robin Hood-esque schemes to hurt the wealthy and benefit the impoverished is a good place to start, but there are plenty of other great examples. Firefly is a pretty good idea of what one might expect here. The crew of the "Serenity" may ultimately be out for theirselves (the party), but they do try to help those who need it, and don't particularly care for the powerful Alliance. Folk Heroes tend to (but not always) exemplify less-than-lawful alignments, since it is often systematic oppression that keeps the people down and in need of a hero in the first place. Approaching the background with a conception of freedom and equality is always a great place to start when trying to paint oneself as a folk hero.
I hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the content by Digital & Dice. Until next time…Game on Internets!
- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.