Source: Xanathars Guide to Everything

The character creation rules in the player's handbook provide all the information you need to define your character in preparation for a life of adventuring. What they don't do is account for all the circumstances that shaped your character during the years between your birth and the start of your career as a member of a class.

What did your character accomplish or experience before deciding to become an adventurer? What were the circumstances of your birth? How large is your family, and what sorts of relationships do you have with your relatives? Which people were the greatest influences on you during your formative years, for better or worse?

To answer these questions and more, you can use the tables and the advice in this section to compose a well-developed backstory for your character-an autobiography of sorts-that you can use to inform how you roleplay the character. Your DM can draw from this material as the campaign proceeds, creating situations and scenarios that build off your previous life experiences.

Ideas, Not Rules

Even though these pages are full of tables and die rolls, they don't make up a rules system-in fact, the opposite is true. You can use as much or as little of this material as you desire, and you can make decisions in any order you want.

For instance, you might not want these tables to help you decide who your parents and siblings are, because that's among the information you've already come up with. But you can still use other parts, such as the section on life events, to provide added depth and detail.

How and When to Use the Tables

If you're comfortable with letting the dice decide a certain fact about your character, go ahead and roll. If not, you can take charge and make the decision, choosing from among the possibilities on a table. Of course, you also have the option of disregarding the result of a die roll if it conflicts with another result. Likewise, if the text instructs you to roll on a table, that's not meant to be taken literally. You can always make your own choice.

Although these tables are meant to augment the step-by-step character creation process in the player's handbook, they don't occupy a specific place in that process. You can use some of them early on-for instance, it's possible to determine your parents and other family members immediately after deciding your character's race-but you could also wait until later in the process. You might prefer to establish more facts about your character's game identity-such as your class, ability scores, and alignment-before supplementing that information with what's offered here.

Section by Section

This material is divided into four sections, each addressing a different aspect of your character's backstory.

Origins. To find out who and where you came from, use the "Origins" section. When you're done, you will have a summary of facts about your parents, your siblings, and the circumstances under which you grew up.

Personal Decisions. After you have selected your character's background and class, use the appropriate tables to determine how you came to make those choices.

Life Events. Your character's existence until now, no matter how brief or uneventful, has been marked by one or more life events-memorable happenings that have had an effect on who you are today.

Supplemental Tables. Your life has intersected with the lives of plenty of other people, all the way from your infancy to today. When a result mentions such a person, you can use the supplemental tables to add needed details-such as race, class, or occupation-to that person. Some tables in the other sections direct you to one or more of the supplemental tables, and you can also use them any other time you see fit.


The usual first step in creating your character's life story is to determine your early circumstances. Who were your parents? Where were you born? Did you have any siblings? Who raised you? You can address these questions by using the following tables.


You had parents, of course, even if they didn't raise you. To determine what you know about these people, use the Parents table. If you want, you can roll separately on the table for your mother and your father. Use the supplemental tables as desired (particularly Class, Occupation, and Alignment) to learn more about your parents.


d100 Parents
1-95 You know who your parents are or were.
96-100 You do not know who your parents were.

Nonhuman Parents. If your character is a half-elf, a half-orc, or a tiefling, you can use one of the tables below to determine the race of each of your parents. When you have a result, randomly determine which part of the result refers to your father and which to your mother.

Half-Elf Parents

d8 Parents
1-5 One parent was an elf and the other was a human
6 One parent was an elf and the other was a half-elf.
7 One parent was a human and the other was a half-elf.
8 Both parents were half-elves.

Half-Orc Parents

d8 Parents
1-3 One parent was an orc and the other was a human.
4-5 One parent was an orc and the other was a half-orc.
6-7 One parent was a human and the other was a half-orc.
8 Both parents were half-orcs.

Tiefling Parents

d8 Parents
1-4 Both parents were humans, their infernal heritage dormant until you came along.
5-6 One parent was a tiefling and the other was a human.
7 One parent was a tiefling and the other was a devil.
8 One parent was a human and the other was a devil.


After establishing your parentage, you can determine where you were born by using the Birthplace table. (Modify the result or roll again if you get a result that's inconsistent with what you know about your parents.) Once you have a result, roll percentile dice. On a roll of 00, a strange event coincided with your birth: the moon briefly turning red, all the milk within a mile spoiling, the water in the area freezing solid in midsummer, all the iron in the home rusting or turning to silver, or some other unusual event of your choice.


d100 Location
1-50 Home
51-55 Home of a family friend
56-63 Home of a healer or midwife
64-65 Carriage, cart, or wagon
66-68 Barn, shed, or other outbuilding
69-70 Cave
71-72 Field
73-74 Forest
75-77 Temple
78 Battlefield
79-80 Alley or street
81-82 Brothel, tavern or inn
83-84 Castle, keep, tower or palace
85 Sewer or rubbish heap
86-88 Among people of a different race
89-91 On board a boat or a ship
92-93 In a prison or in the headquarters of a secret organization
94-95 In a sage's laboratory
96 In the Feywild
97 In the Shadowfell
98 On the Astral Plane or Ethereal Plane
99 On an Inner Plane of your choice
100 On an Outer Plane of your choice


You might be an only child or one of many children. Your siblings could be cherished friends or hated rivals. Roll on the Number of Siblings table to determine how many brothers or sisters you have. If you are a dwarf or an elf, subtract 2 from your roll. Then, roll on the Birth Order table for each sibling to determine that person's age relative to yours (older, younger, or born at the same time).

Occupation. For each sibling of suitable age, roll on the Occupation supplemental table to determine what that person does for a living.

Alignment. You can choose your siblings' alignments or roll on the Alignment supplemental table.
Status. By now, each of your siblings might be alive and well, alive and not so well, in dire straits, or dead. Roll on the Status supplemental table.

Relationship. You can roll on the Relationship supplemental table to determine how your siblings feel about you. They might all have the same attitude toward you, or some might view you differently from how the others do.

Other Details. You can decide any other details you like about each sibling, including gender, personality, and place in the world.

Number of Siblings

d10 Siblings
1-2 None
3-4 1d3
5-6 1d4+1
7-8 1d6+2
9-10 1d8+3

Birth Order

2d6 Birth Order
2 Twin, triplet or quadruplet
3-7 Older
8-12 Younger

Family and Friends

Who raised you, and what was life like for you when you were growing up? You might have been raised by your parents, by relatives, or in an orphanage. Or you could have spent your childhood on the streets of a crowded city with only your fellow runaways and orphans to keep you company.

Use the Family table to determine who raised you. If you know who your parents are but you get a result that does not mention one or both of them, use the Absent Parent table to determine what happened.

Next, refer to the Family Lifestyle table to determine the general circumstances of your upbringing. (Chapter 5 of the player's handbook has more information about lifestyles.) The result on that table includes a number that is applied to your roll on the Childhood Home table, which tells you where you spent your early years. Wrap up this section by using the Childhood Memories table, which tells you how you were treated by other youngsters as you were growing up.

Supplemental Tables. You can roll on the Relationship table to determine how your family members or other important figures in your life feel about you. You can also use the Race, Occupation, and Alignment tables to learn more about the family members or guardians who raised you.


d100 Family
1 None
2 Institution, such as an asylum
3 Temple
4-5 Orphanage
6-7 Guardian
8-15 Paternal or maternal aunt, uncle, or both
16-25 Paternal or maternal grandparent(s)
26-35 Adoptive family (same or different race)
36-55 Single father or stepfather
56-75 Single mother or stepmother
75-100 Mother and father

Absent Parent

d4 Fate
1 Your parent died (roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table).
2 Your parent was imprisoned, enslaved, or otherwise taken away.
3 Your parent abandoned you.
4 Your parent disappeared to an unknown fate.

Family Lifestyle

3d6 Lifestyle*
3 Wretched (-40)
4-5 Squalid (-20)
6-8 Poor (-10)
9-12 Modest (+0)
13-15 Comfortable (+10)
16-17 Wealthy (+20)
18 Aristocratic (+40)

*After making this roll, apply the modifier from the Family-Life table to arrive at the result.

Childhood Home

d100* Home
0 or lower On the streets
1-20 Rundown shack
21-30 No permanent residence
31-40 Encampment or village in the wilderness
41-50 Apartment in a rundown neighborhood
51-70 Small house
71-90 Large house
91-110 Mansion
111 or higher Palace or castle

*After making this roll, apply the modifier from the Family-Life table to arrive at the result.

Childhood Memories

3d6 + Cha mod Memory
1-3 I am still haunted by my childhood, when I was treated badly by my peers.
4-5 I spent most of my childhood alone, with no close friends.
6-8 Others saw me as being different or strange, and so I had few companions.
9-12 I had a few close friends and lived an ordinary childhood.
13-15 I had several friends, and my childhood was generally a happy one.
16-17 I always found it easy to make friends, and I loved being around people.
18-25 Everyone knew who I was, and I had friends everywhere I went.

Personal Decisions

Your character's life takes a particular course depending on the choices you make for the character's background and class.


Roll on the appropriate table in this section as soon as you decide your background, or at any later time if you choose. If a background includes a special decision point, such as a folk hero's defining event or the specialty of a criminal or a sage, it's best to make that determination before using the pertinent table below.


d6 I became an acolyte because…
1 I ran away from home at an early age and found refuge in a temple.
2 My family gave me to a temple, since they were unable or unwilling to care for me.
3 I grew up in a household with strong religious convictions. Entering the service of one or more gods seemed natural.
4 An impassioned sermon struck a chord deep in my soul and moved me to serve the faith.
5 I followed a childhood friend, a respected acquaintance, or someone I loved into religious service.
6 After encountering a true servant of the gods, I was so inspired that I immediately entered the service of a religious group.

Class Training

If you haven't chosen your class yet, do so now, keeping in mind your background and all the other details you have established so far. Once you've made your selection, roll a d6 and find the number you rolled on the appropriate table in this section, which describes how you came to be a member of that class.

The class sections earlier in this chapter have further story suggestions, which you can use in concert with the material here.


d6 I became a barbarian because…
1 My devotion to my people lifted me in battle, making me powerful and dangerous.
2 The spirits of my ancestors called on me to carry out a great task.
3 I lost control in battle one day, and it was as if something else was manipulating my body, forcing it to kill every foe I could reach.
4 I went on a spiritual journey to find myself and instead found a spirit animal to guide, protect, and inspire me.
5 I was struck by lightning and lived. Afterward, I found a new strength within me that let me push beyond my limitations.
6 My anger needed to be channeled into battle, or I risked becoming an indiscriminate killer.

Life Events

No matter how long you've been alive, you have experienced at least one signature event that has markedly influenced your character. Life events include wondrous happenings and tragedies, conflicts and successes, and encounters with the unusual. They can help to explain why your character became an adventurer, and some might still affect your life even after they are long over.

The older a character is, the greater the chance for multiple life events, as shown on the Life Events by Age table. If you have already chosen your character's starting age, see the entry in the Life Events column that corresponds to how old you are. Otherwise, you can roll dice to determine your current age and number of life events randomly.

After you know the number of life events your character has experienced, roll once on the Life Events table for each of them. Many of the results on that table direct you to one of the secondary tables that follow. Once you have determined all of your character's life events, you can arrange them in any chronological order you see fit.

Life Events by Age

d100 Current Age Life Events
01-20 20 years or younger 1
21-59 21-30 years 1d4
60-69 31-40 years 1d6
70-89 41-50 years 1d8
90-99 51-60 years 1d10
00 61 years or older 1d12

Life Events

d100 Event
01-10 You suffered a tragedy. Roll on the Tragedies table.
11-20 You gained a bit of good fortune. Roll on the Boons table.
21-30 You fell in love or got married. If you get this result more than once, you can choose to have a child instead. Work with your DM to determine the identity of your love interest.
31-40 You made an enemy of an adventurer. Roll a d6. An odd number indicates you are to blame for the rift, and an even number indicates you are blameless. Use the supplemental tables and work with your DM to determine this hostile character's identity and the danger this enemy poses to you.
41-50 You made a friend of an adventurer. Use the supplemental tables and work with your DM to add more detail to this friendly character and establish how your friendship began.
51-70 You spent time working in a job related to your background. Start the game with an extra 2d6 gp.
71-75 You met someone important. Use the supplemental tables to determine this character's identity and how this individual feels about you. Work out additional details with your DM as needed to fit this character into your backstory.
76-80 You went on an adventure. Roll on the Adventures table to see what happened to you. Work with your DM to determine the nature of the adventure and the creatures you encountered.
81-85 You had a supernatural experience. Roll on the Supernatural Events table to find out what it was.
86-90 You fought in a battle. Roll on the War table to learn what happened to you. Work with your DM to come up with the reason for the battle and the factions involved. It might have been a small conflict between your community and a band of ores, or it could have been a major battle in a larger war.
91-95 You committed a crime or were wrongly accused of doing so. Roll on the Crime table to determine the nature of the offense and on the Punishment table to see what became of you.
96-99 You encountered something magical. Roll on the Arcane Matters table.
00 Something truly strange happened to you. Roll on the Weird Stuff table.

Secondary Tables

These tables add detail to many of the results on the Life Events table. The tables are in alphabetical order.


d100 Outcome
01-10 You nearly died. You have nasty scars on your body, and you are missing an ear, 1d3 fingers, or 1d4 toes.
11-20 You suffered a grievous injury. Although the wound healed, it still pains you from time to time.
21-30 You were wounded, but in time you fully recovered.
31-40 You contracted a disease while exploring a filthy warren. You recovered from the disease, but you have a persistent cough, pockmarks on your skin, or prematurely gray hair.
41-50 You were poisoned by a trap or a monster. You recovered, but the next time you make a saving throw against poison, you make the saving throw with disadvantage.
51-60 You lost something of sentimental value to you during your adventure. Remove one trinket from your possessions.
61-70 You were terribly frightened by something you encountered and ran away, abandoning your companions to their fate.
71-80 You learned a great deal during your adventure. The next time you make an ability check or a saving throw, you have advantage on the roll.
81-90 You found some treasure on your adventure. You have 2d6 gp left from your share of it.
91-99 You found a considerable amount of treasure on your adventure. You have 1d20 + 50 gp left from your share of it.
00 You came across a common magic item (of the DM’s choice).

Supplemental Tables

The supplemental tables below give you a way to randomly determine characteristics and other facts about individuals who are part of your character’s life. Use these tables when directed to do so by another table, or when you simply want to come up with a piece of information quickly. The tables are in alphabetical order


3d6 Alignment
3 Chaotic evil (50%) or chaotic neutral (50%)
4-5 Lawful evil
6-8 Neutral evil
9-12 Neutral
13-15 Neutral good
16-17 Lawful good (50%) or lawful neutral (50%)
18 Chaotic good (50%) or chaotic neutral (50%)

What’s Next?

When you're finished using these tables, you'll have a collection of facts and notes that — at a minimum — encapsulate what your character has been doing in the world up till now. Sometimes that might be all the information you want, but you don't have to stop there.

By using your creativity to stitch all these bits together into a continuous narrative, you can create a full-fledged autobiography for your character in as little as a few sentences — an excellent example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Did you get a couple of results on the tables that don't outright contradict each other but also don't seem to fit together smoothly? If so, now is your chance to explain what happened to you. For instance, let's say you were born in a castle, but your childhood home was in the wilderness. It could be that your parents traveled from their forest home to seek help from a midwife at the castle when your mother was close to giving birth. Or your parents might have been members of the castle's staff before you were born, but they were released from service soon after you came into the world.

In addition to deepening your own roleplaying experience, your character's history presents your DM with opportunities to weave those elements into the story of the campaign. Any way you look at it, adding definition to your character's pre-adventuring life is time well spent.