It's been a little while since I've made a post on my background series, so I feel I'm about due for that. Fortunately, we have the Sage background up next, so there's quite a bit to talk about here.
What is it?
You are a scholar. An academic. Somebody who has devoted their time and efforts to intense study and the accumulation of knowledge and lore. You're probably an intellectual of some kind, and you know a great deal of things, usually about one specific subject in particular, but sometimes you're just broadly well educated. This is a good background for someone with formal schooling, especially if they took well to it.
How can my class use it?
This background works very well for scholarly and studious characters, so Wizards are a natural fit for it. Likewise, if you're a religious scholar or theologian of some kind, this might work well for a Cleric. A record-keeping Monk also sounds really interesting and believable. Bards are also natural collectors of lore and history, so this works pretty well for them too. Barbarians and Druids are less obvious choices for the class, but you could easily have a tribal lorekeeper or skald of some kind. Fighters and Rangers are not what immediately come to mind for this background, but an argument can be made for a strategist-type of Fighter who has a formal military education from an academy or tutor, and a Ranger who researches the lore of the creatures they hunt to best figure out their behaviors and weaknesses might be sufficiently studious to qualify. Rogues and Paladins seem less well-suited for this background, but as with all things, if you can find an aspect of their training that would require intense study, there might be something worthwhile here. Perhaps a Paladin who is taught of the ideology behind his code and takes on a bit of a philosopher role, or maybe a Rogue who wants to research the history of the items she steals so that she can establish their authenticity as antiques of greater value. Sorcerers and Warlocks might seek out a grater understanding of their powers, and so delve into the study arcane lore. They may not be required to study in the same way as a Wizard, but they can still benefit from greater knowledge and understanding.
Why should I use it?
The Sage background actually provides some pretty robust benefits. The skills provided by default are Arcana and history. These are two knowledge skills that are pretty useful for interacting with the world at large in a meaningful way, and if you already get them by means of your class or elsewhere (as is common for someone like a Wizard, which tends to favor this background) then you can replace them for whatever else due to the redundancy. Further, you gain two languages from this background. While you don't end up with any tool or vehicle proficiencies, having extra languages is incredibly useful for an adventurer. As long as you aren't concerned with your character doing a bit of crafting on the side or something, this is a solid pick. And let's not forget the feature for this background. Researcher is especially good, as long as the DM isn't trying to actively block you from using it. Essentially if you don't know the answer to an in-game question, and have access to a library, you can mostly just have your question answered with a little bit of time and access to the right resources. Which is great if you're the kind of person who likes to plan or investigate things.
What if I play a system other than D&D?
We can make that work. The core of the Sage is that you're a scholar of some kind. If you're playing in a traditional fantasy setting, just go for someone who is educated and knowledgeable. If you're playing in something modern or science-fiction, try to set up your character as either someone with a degree and significant education, or someone actively engaged in education. Or as some sort of autodidact savant. You're the resident educated person. It is your job to know things. Embrace that, and you won't be far from the mark of what it means to be a Sage.
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.