The hermit background in 5e is one of the most popular backgrounds because it’s versatile and can fit a wide variety of character concepts. Whether you’re looking to play an escaped criminal, a reclusive wizard, or a mystic healer, the hermit background has you covered.
In this article, we take a closer look at what makes the hermit background so special.
Hermit Background 5e—Who are the Hermits?
Hermits live a life of seclusion. Perhaps you grew up in a remote monastery or the isolated hut of a druid. Maybe you were a child on a farm in the wilderness when your parents were killed and you were forced to grow up alone, learning to be self-sufficient in mind and body.
Regardless of the exact nature of your hermit existence, you grew to appreciate the solitary life. You found a love for quiet seclusion without the nuisance of city noise or nagging neighbors to distract you. You came to know yourself and the world because you had no one else.
Hermit 5e Bonuses
- Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Religion
- Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism kit
- Languages: One of your choice
- Equipment: A winter blanket, an herbalism kit, a scroll case stuffed with notes from your prayers or studies, one set of common clothes, and 5 gold pieces
Your Life of Seclusion as a Hermit
Why or how did you end up living far from civilization? Was it your choice or a life altering event that was outside of your control? And why did you end your life of seclusion to rejoin civilized society? Was that your choice or did someone or something make the choice for you?
Work with your DM to come up with a reason for and description of your life of seclusion. Or if you want to put the decision to fate, roll a d8 and choose from the list below.
Hermit 5e Life of Seclusion Table (d8)
1—I was searching for spiritual enlightenment.
2—I was partaking of communal living in accordance with the dictates of a religious order.
3—I was exiled for a crime I didn’t commit.
4—I retreated from society after a life-altering event.
5—I needed a quiet place to work on my art, literature, music, or manifesto.
6—I needed to commune with nature, far from civilization.
7—I was the caretaker of an ancient ruin or relic.
8—I was a pilgrim in search of a person, place, or relic of spiritual significance.
Hermit 5e Suggested Characteristics
Are you a hermit who loves the secluded life? Does it drive you crazy not having anyone to talk to? Do you hate the isolation and wish to be back in civilization?
Whether or not you want a life of solitude, the solitary life shapes your personality and worldview. Work with your DM to come up with personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, or get wild and roll those dice to select from the lists of suggested characteristics below.
Personality Trait (d8)
1—I’ve been isolated for so long that I rarely speak, preferring gestures and the occasional grunt.
2—I am utterly serene, even in the face of disaster.
3—The leader of my community had something wise to say on every topic, and I am eager to share that wisdom.
4—I feel tremendous empathy for all who suffer.
5—I’m oblivious to etiquette and social expectations.
6—I connect everything that happens to me to a grand, cosmic plan.
7—I often get lost in my own thoughts and contemplation, becoming oblivious to my surroundings.
8—I am working on a grand philosophical theory and love sharing my ideas.
1—Greater Good. My gifts are meant to be shared with all, not used for my own benefit. (Good)
2—Logic. Emotions must not cloud our sense of what is right and true, or our logical thinking. (Lawful)
3—Free Thinking. Inquiry and curiosity are the pillars of progress. (Chaotic)
4—Power. Solitude and contemplation are paths toward mystical or magical power. (Evil)
5—Live and Let Live. Meddling in the affairs of others only causes trouble. (Neutral)
6—Self-Knowledge. If you know yourself, there’s nothing left to know. (Any)
1—Nothing is more important than the other members of my hermitage, order, or association.
2—I entered seclusion to hide from the ones who might still be hunting me. I must someday confront them.
3—I’m still seeking the enlightenment I pursued in my seclusion, and it still eludes me.
4—I entered seclusion because I loved someone I could not have.
5—Should my discovery come to light, it could bring ruin to the world.
6—My isolation gave me great insight into a great evil that only I can destroy.
1—Now that I’ve returned to the world, I enjoy its delights a little too much.
2—I harbor dark, bloodthirsty thoughts that my isolation and meditation failed to quell.
3—I am dogmatic in my thoughts and philosophy.
4—I let my need to win arguments overshadow friendships and harmony.
5—I’d risk too much to uncover a lost bit of knowledge.
6—I like keeping secrets and won’t share them with anyone.
Hermit Background 5e Feature: Discovery
Your time in isolation granted you access to a unique and powerful discovery. Is it a secret of spiritual significance? Did living near an ancient ruin provide you with insight into a grand philosophical theory? Did your sheltered community have a wise and holy person who guided you to spiritual enlightenment?
Maybe you discovered an artifact or document which could rewrite history. Were you exiled? What if you uncovered information to use as blackmail against the individual or group that exiled you in the first place?
Talk to your DM about the exact nature of your discovery as well as how it might impact the campaign.
Variant Hermit: Other Hermits
The hermit background in 5e describes an isolated, ruminative way of life. So if you’re looking for other reclusive backgrounds, take a look at the outlander, acolyte, or charlatan backgrounds.
The outlander represents someone who grew up in a communal living situation away from civilization and lived off the land. Outlanders know the wilderness like the back of their hands.
The acolyte background is a good choice if you’re looking for a more religious direction for your character. Acolytes spend most of their lives serving in a temple to a specific god or pantheon of gods.
Lastly, the charlatan is suited for characters who return to civilization claiming to be snake oil salesman or a holy man (or any other con you want to come up with).
Hermit Background 5e—Tips to Roleplay
Most races in Dungeons and Dragons are social creatures. Parents raise their children and families live in communities. Being surrounded by people of your kind teaches you social skills specific to your race and your community. If you are isolated from others, who teaches you the social skills necessary to have a meaningful conversation? How do you learn what is appropriate behavior and what is inappropriate?
Alternatively, let’s say you left civilization behind to isolate yourself. Remember that social skills are skills. That is to say, if you don’t practice a skill, it deteriorates. So if you have no one to talk to for several years, your conversational skills will be worse for wear by the time you rejoin civilization.
On the flip side, spending your formative years away from society leads you to develop in other ways. If you grew up in the wilderness you might feel tremendous empathy for animals and nature as a whole. If you grew up in a remote monastery you might have a mystical or magical power that most have never seen or heard of before.
What do you think about the 5e hermit background? Is there anything you’d add or change? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!