Video Games

All Baldur’s Gate 3 Character Backgrounds, Explained

Character Backgrounds in Baldur's Gate 3 Explained
Image via Larian Studios.

Those who haven’t dabbled in Dungeons & Dragons will likely be unfamiliar with character backgrounds and how they work. While Baldur’s Gate 3 borrows heavily from the 5th Edition of the famous table-top RPG and bends and breaks the rules to fit a video game better, character backgrounds remain largely unchanged except for the fact that there’s fewer. 

If you opt to create a new character rather than use one of the Origin characters, you’ll select one of 11 backgrounds that will dictate much of how you’ll engage with the world, including special quests, proficiency in certain skills that affect how you interact with NPCs and the environment, and ways to gain inspiration points. 

Inspiration points allow you to re-roll any ability check you’ve failed, and as you can only have four at any given time, are immensely valuable. A character with the Folk Hero background, for example, will receive an inspiration point for saving an NPC from goblins, while a Guild Artisan will receive one for reforging a powerful weapon. These points can then be used if you fail to persuade guards to stand down without a fight; essentially, you have another shot at any ability check in the game.

Do note that classes and races also provide skill proficiency, and they generally do not stack. Having Athletics from both your race and background does not make any Athletics checks more likely to succeed. Proficiency bonuses increase based on your character level instead. You can find out more about skills and proficiency in this guide.

Finally, you’ll have access to specific quests and dialogue options based on your background. A Noble and a Criminal lived very different lives, after all, and can interact with their sort of people much easier.

All Backgrounds to Choose From in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)

The descriptions of each of the backgrounds in the game will help to give you an idea of what actions will net you inspiration:

Acolyte: You have spent your life in service to a temple, learning sacred rites and providing sacrifices to the god or gods you worship. Serving the gods and discovering their sacred works will guide you to greatness. (Insight and Religion proficiency)

Charlatan: You’re an expert in manipulation, prone to exaggeration and more than happy to profit from it. Bending the truth and turning allies against each other will bring you success down the road. (Deception and Sleight of Hand proficiency)

Criminal: You have a history of breaking the law and surviving by leveraging less-than-legal connections. Profiting from criminal enterprise will lead to greater opportunities in the future. (Deception and Stealth proficiency)

Entertainer: You live to sway and subvert your audience, engaging common crowds and high society alike. Preserving art and bringing joy to the hapless and downtrodden heightens your charismatic aura. (Acrobatics and Performance proficiency)

Folk Hero: You’re a champion of the common people, challenging tyrants and monsters to protect the helpless. Saving innocents in imminent danger will make your legend grow. (Animal Handling and Survival proficiency)

Guild Artisan: Your skill in a particular craft has earned you membership in a mercantile guild, offering privileges and protection while engaging in your art. Repairing and discovering rare crafts will bring new inspiration. (Insight and Persuasion proficiency)

Noble: You were raised in a family among the social elite, accustomed to power and privilege. Accumulating renown, power, and loyalty will raise your status. (History and Persuasion proficiency)

Outlander: You grew up in the wilds, learning to survive far from the comforts of civilization. Surviving unusual hazards of the wild will enhance your prowess and understanding. (Athletics and Survival proficiency)

Sage: You are curious and well-read, with an unending thirst for knowledge. Learning about the rare lore of the world will inspire you to put this knowledge to greater purpose. (Arcana and History proficiency)

Soldier: You are trained in battlefield tactics and combat, having served in a militia, mercenary company, or officer corps. Show smart tactics and bravery on the battlefield to enhance your prowess. (Athletics and Intimidation proficiency)

Urchin: After surviving a childhood on the streets, you know how to make the most out of very little. Using your street smarts bolsters your spirit for the journey ahead. (Sleight of Hand and Stealth proficiency)

Astarion, a possible party member with a Noble background, in Baldur’s Gate 3.

As all backgrounds have ample opportunity to gain inspiration points, it’s best to choose whichever background fits the character you want to roleplay as best, unless you really want to min-max the most skill proficiencies possible. Do note that your party members also come equipped with backgrounds, such as Astarion being a Noble, so if you go with a Criminal background and Astarion is in your party, he can take care of any high-society dialogue you might encounter.

With all this in mind, you’re ready to choose your background in Baldur’s Gate 3—the first, and perhaps easiest step of character creation. What follows is selecting your class, for which we have detailed guides on all 12, including the differences between a Fighter and a Barbarian, and the daunting task of choosing ability scores

About the author

Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.