It's been a while since I've covered one of the backgrounds, so today we're getting back into the habit of that. We're jumping right back into it with the Noble.
What is it?
A Noble is someone born to a high station of birth. They are members of aristocracy or royalty, and they wield political and social power and influence. They may be born with rights and privileges over and above the common folk, and they often exercise these rights and privileges.
How can my class use it?
Barbarians, Druids, and Rangers have sort of a wild feel to them that doesn't exactly mesh the best with a Noble conceptually. You could easily be an exile or the relative of a clan chief of some kind though, so there's certainly a place for it. Aesthetically, I love seeing Paladins and Clerics as Nobles. The morality of following a good-aligned deity leads to a nobility of action that can be mirrored by a character's nobility of birth, so I'm all about the symbolism there. Sorcerers are also fun picks, because of the emphasis on bloodlines for both nobility and sorcerous heritage. Combining the two really evokes a feel of a character who was born into a destiny of greatness. Rogues and Warlocks share a niche for something really neat in a Noble as well. I feel that they both lend towards more unscrupulous habits of nobility. Bargaining with a patron for power, or utilizing criminal contacts as a noble seem to be rather unsavory practices and hint at possibly corruption and abuse of station. Wizards require lots of time in rest and study, and so are well accustomed to the life of luxury and leisure that a Noble can enjoy. Fighters can receive the best training available and be groomed for swordsmanship or other combat skills largely as a product of the wealth and influence of nobility, and it is often encouraged, as many knighthoods are linked to nobility. Bards Nobles are also quite interesting, as their time in court leads well into them picking up many skills to dabble in and having a penchant for song and entertainment, or diplomacy and discussion. Monks somewhat fall flat from this, being renunciants and ascetics mostly, but a Noble being sent off to a monastery isn't impossible, nor is a Noble who renounces their worldliness in favor of meditation and contemplation.
Why should I use it?
Nobles are quite robust, and I don't really see any particular class as leaning towards or away from it moreso tan another. I'll start by saying that the Noble does get the most gold out of any starting background, with a whopping 25gp bonus. At first level, this isn't inconsequential, and makes it a useful choice in and of itself. The Position of privilege feature is also really useful in that it smooths over a lot of interactions. It can get your foot in the door with a local noble, and for an adventuring party looking for an employer, that can be huge. Likewise, the feature stipulates that you are to be accommodated by the common folk as well, since most are going to respect your higher social standing. The Retainers variant is also really good, and just downright fun, because who doesn't like bossing around NPCs?
What if I play a system other than D&D?
As always, this is fine, and the idea works in other places. What matters most is having a position of influence over the common folk. You should have some form of social privilege and power. In a science fiction setting, perhaps you are the relative of a wealthy CEO. In a modern setting, you might be a political functionary. Just find your way to the top of the social ladder and leverage this for superiority.
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.