Anthropologist (5e Background)

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You have always been fascinated by other cultures, from the most ancient and primeval lost lands to the most modern civilizations. By studying other cultures, customs, philosophies, laws, rituals, religious beliefs, languages, and art, you have learned how tribes, empires, and all forms of society in between craft their own destinies and doom. This knowledge came to you not only through books and scrolls, but also through firsthand observation – by visiting far-flung settlements and exploring local histories and customs.

When making an anthropologist, consider how your character developed this interest in others. Usually, anthropologists have to be good at interacting with people of all cultures, so being a withdrawn misanthrope really doesn't fit the bill. Anthropologists are good at field work, like conducting ethnographies. They are also slow to judge, and good at gathering information and making inferences about the subjects of their study. Sometimes you may be ore interested in specifically the language of a culture, or maybe its history.

Alternatively, forensic anthropologists are those who study the structure of bones. They are highly intellectual individuals that can piece together a skull from pieces, and also discern special things about a persons identity from their skeletal remains. This profession can invite stigma, as it closely deals with the dead. Fascination with bones overall is also not usually welcomed.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Religion

Languages: Two languages of your choice

Equipment: A leather-bound diary, a bottle of ink, a quill, a set of traveler's clothes, one trinket of special significance from a culture of your study, and a pouch containing 10 gp


Anthropologists study a wide variety of cultures and subjects. A specialization helps better define what you have studied and perhaps what you know of your world and the locale.

d6 Specialization
1 Biological Anthropology
2 Cultural Anthropology
3 Linguistics
4 Archaeology

Feature: Cultural Chameleon[edit]

Before becoming an adventurer, you spent much of your adult life away from your homeland, living among people different from your kin. You came to understand these foreign cultures and the ways of their people, who eventually treated you as one of their own. One culture had more of an influence on you than any other, shaping your beliefs and customs. Choose a race whose culture you've adopted. You are considered a friend to the race by their major groups, and they will be willing to help you out, so long as it does not conflict with their own interests or endanger their own.

Alternate Feature: Eye for Bone[edit]

You have adept eyes and senses for bones as an anthropologist. From skeletal remains, you can determine creature type, sex and age of the deceased.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

Anthropologists leave behind the societies into which they were born to discover what life ls like in other parts of the world. They seek to see how other races and civilizations survive – or why they did not. Some anthropologists are driven by intellectual curiosity, while others want the fame and recognition that comes with being the first to discover a new people, a lost tribe, or the truth about an ancient empire's downfall.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I prefer the company of those who aren't like me, including people of other races.
2 I'm a stickler when it comes to observing proper etiquette and local customs.
3 I would rather observe than meddle.
4 By living among violent people, I have become desensitized to violence.
5 I would risk life and limb to discover a new culture or unravel the secrets of a dead one.
6 When I arrive at a new settlement for the first time, I must learn all its customs.
7 I ask more questions than I give answers.
8 When I want to know something, everything else takes a back seat.
d6 Ideal
1 Discovery. I want to be the first person to discover a lost culture. (Any)
2 Distance. One must not interfere with the affairs of another culture – even one in need of aid. (Lawful)
3 Knowledge. By understanding other races and cultures, we learn to understand ourselves. (Any)
4 Power. Common people crave strong leadership, and I do my utmost to provide it. (Lawful)
5 Protection. I must do everything possible to save a society facing extinction. (Good)
6 Indifference. Life is cruel. What's the point in saving people if they're going to die anyway? (Chaotic)
d6 Bond
1 My mentor gave me a journal filled with lore and wisdom. Losing it would devastate me.
2 Having lived among the people of a primeval tribe or clan, I long to return and see how they are faring
3 Years ago, tragedy struck the members of an isolated society I befriended, and I will honor them.
4 I want to learn more about a particular humanoid culture that fascinates me.
5 I seek to avenge a clan, tribe, kingdom, or empire that was wiped out.
6 I have a trinket that I believe is the key to finding a long-lost society.
d6 Flaw
1 Boats make me seasick.
2 I talk to myself, and I don't make friends easily.
3 I believe that I'm intellectually superior to people from other cultures and have much to teach them.
4 I've picked up some unpleasant habits from living among races such as goblins, lizardfolk, or orcs.
5 I complain about everything.
6 I sometimes get ahead of myself.

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