On 5e Backgrounds: Gravedigger

The dead need burying and you are the pariah to do it.
Skill Proficiency Intelligence (History), Intelligence (Religion);
Tool Proficiency: Gravedigger's Tools (Proficiency bonus applies to speed at digging and earth engineering)
Equipment: Spade, Shovel, Pick, Mattock, 10 Iron Spikes, Common clothes, Leather bag with 25 gp and a gold ring (30 gp), Human skull, Pipe


You're familiar with death, dying, and the dead. You gain advantage on any saves versus any fear effects caused by the undead.

Suggested Characteristics

You are not liked. Grave diggers are considered unclean, and even in socieities where they aren't a lower caste, they aren't trusted. Who knows if one will exhume the body of the loved one to steal their possessions. Being ignored and treated badly may have formed a large part of your personality.

d8 Personality

  1. I like dead things better than living things. My pet skull is a better conversationalist than most people.
  2. There is beauty in death and adventuring has more death than gravedigging.
  3. I'm happy and free, living so near death has made me wish to be alive while I live.
  4. I aspire to be more like the dead while alive than the living. From my flat affect to my morbid smell, I put people off.
  5. I know I'm a vampire, but nobody seems to believe me.
  6. I like to keep my identity hidden, lest people discover my true profession. I always cover my face and body.
  7. I'm pretty sure the dead know I've stole some of their secrets and them or their servants are after me.
  8. Working around the dead so long, it's hard to be bothered by most of the living. I'm always calm in a crisis.

d6 Ideal

  1. Prudish: I feel the living are indecent, and not respectful enough of the gods. (Lawful)
  2. Proselytizing: I know the truth about life and wish to save as many souls as possible (Good)
  3. Eccentric: I don't believe in conforming to expectations, I've always been a little odd. (Chaos)
  4. Cautious: I'm not interested in being dead yet. (Unaligned)
  5. Power-Hungry: I want to unlock the secrets of death to overcome it and live forever. (Evil)
  6. Good-Hearted: I want to make the world a safer place against the ever constant threat of death. (Good)

d6 Bond

  1. I found a relic among the dead, and I believe it has strange powers.
  2. I know a secret of the dead and I must never reveal it.
  3. I'm going to gain respect for grave-diggers everywhere.
  4. I want to learn how to command and control the dead.
  5. My wife died, and I'm going to figure out how to bring her back.
  6. I know the location of an ancient tomb.

d6 Flaw

  1. I was caught stealing from a grave and now am an outlaw.
  2. You are hated and a pariah for being a gravedigger.
  3. I tell it like it is, always tell the truth, and never hold my tounge.
  4. I'm mute, my tongue removed in a hate crime.
  5. I have strong, difficult to control urges near a dead body.
  6. I often feel euphoric or depressed and am prone to fits of giggling, crying jags, and manic episodes.

OSR Package
Running a B/X game? Give these advantages instead of proficiency and features. You can also give these bonuses if running a 5e game using 3d6 for character generation.
  • Gain a +1 to Strength. You can wield a shovel as a melee weapon that does 1d8 damage and is bludgeoning or slashing damage.

Like these backgrounds I wrote? I collected them in a Pay What You Want .pdf, and affordable hard copy!

Hack & Slash Compendium I at RPGnow for 3.99!
Hack & Slash Compendium I at Lulu in affordable print! (7.99$)

Hack & Slash 
FollowGoogle +NewsletterSupport


  1. Great stuff, although i'm not a fan of mechanical benefits for the features of backgrounds - i'd much rather they introduce NPC's to aid or hinder or benefits when interacting with NPCs or exploring.

    Here's a quote from the coastal wizzards on custom BG's "Background features should avoid strict mechanical benefits, such as a bonus to a check or to attacks. Instead, the best features are ones that open up new options for roleplaying, exploring, and otherwise interacting with the world."

    1. Do you have a link to that?

    2. Here you go mate : http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/here-comes-player%E2%80%99s-handbook

      Hows about this for the Gravediggers feature? "You're familiar with death, dying, and the dead. Often people dealing with grief and loss turn to you for solace or advice"

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...