A master of the macabre, the sinister mage delves deep into the dark arts of death magic. With a single gesture, they can command legions of undead minions to do their bidding, harnessing the power of death itself to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.
Cloaked in dark robes and surrounded by the stench of decay, the necromancer is a truly fearsome sight to behold. With their powers of necromancy, they can manipulate the very essence of life and death, unleashing deadly curses and raising the dead to fight once more.
Necromancers in Dungeons and Dragons can be achieved from multiple classes; even clerics and druids are able to dabble in the dark magics of undeath. The four classes that can act as true necromancers are Wizards, Clerics, Druids, and Paladins. Most of these require some specialization to achieve, either through subclasses or specific spell and necromancer item choices.
One aspect that many fail to consider is the choice of background for future necromancers. In this article, we aim to show you some of the best background options for your necromancer.
The Noble background for necromancers
Most kingdoms in Dungeons and Dragons consider necromancy to be a curse on the lands and forbid its use by law. Gaining access to any remaining artifacts or tomes of necromancy can be exceptionally difficult for most commoners, but nobles, with the use of money, charm, and power, can obtain these relics easily.
Access to forbidden magic
The noble background can offer an easy explanation as to how you gained access to such forbidden magics or how you had the time and coin to afford to learn and use them with few repercussions. Even the cleric and paladin who gain their powers from their deities can thematically work with this background. Clerics and Paladins have to have some source of money to be able to focus on their study of the divine, and the noble background offers that explanation.
Aside from being a background that can explain how your powers of necromancy were obtained, it also offers two skill proficiencies, one with the history skill and one with the persuasion skill.
These skills are not universally great for necromancers but useful to have in all games and characters. History is a common skill proficiency amongst wizards, clerics, and paladins and can even be used with your necromancy to uncover secrets hidden within a corpse. Persuasion is a skill that helps convince people of anything that you need.
For obvious reasons, a character who uses illegal magic should at least have some way to explain themselves and not get arrested just by existing. Persuasion is also a charisma skill, which works well for paladins who often have high charisma scores.
You also gain a new language option and proficiency with a gaming set. Nothing interesting, but always useful to have. Being a noble also offers access to normally inaccessible places, which is a must-have for most necromancers seeking corpses in any city.
|Access to Forbidden Magic||As a noble, you have the means to obtain relics and tomes of necromancy that are normally inaccessible to commoners.|
|Skill Proficiencies||You gain proficiency in the history skill, which can be used to uncover secrets hidden within corpses, and the persuasion skill, which helps you convince people of anything you need.|
|Background for Clerics and Paladins||The noble background offers an explanation for how clerics and paladins have the money to focus on their studies and gain their powers from their deities.|
|Legal Defense||The persuasion skill can be used to explain the use of illegal magic and avoid arrest.|
|Language and Gaming Set Proficiency||You gain proficiency in a new language and a gaming set, which can be useful in a variety of situations.|
|Access to Inaccessible Places||As a noble, you have access to places that are normally inaccessible to commoners, making it easier to find corpses for necromancy.|
Clerics and paladins already serve as acolytes to their gods, and many druids share this trait as well. Much like the aforementioned classes, many necromancers gain their powers from deities who bestow upon them a small amount of their dark powers.
Acolyte is a background for those who follow a certain god or pantheon of gods and either act for them or gain their powers from them.
Insight and religion skills
By choosing this background, you gain proficiency with the insight and religion skills. The insight skill is generally useful for any character, but it does not offer necromancers any more utility than it does for any other class. Religion is a particularly valuable proficiency, especially if you pick acolyte as your background. Picking acolyte as your background also assumes that you either serve or have served gods at some point in your life.
With this proficiency, you can recall information related to these deities more easily or even directly ask for their help in certain situations. Since two of the four classes that can effectively use necromancy already require some sort of divine involvement, this background makes perfect sense and is a solid choice.
Acolyte also offers two new languages of your choice, more than most other backgrounds, making it an excellent choice for campaigns that run for a long time and through vastly different lands where these languages can be of use.
|Description||Background for those who follow a god or pantheon, and either act for them or gain their powers from them. Many necromancers gain their powers from deities.|
|Skills||Insight and religion|
|Benefits||With religion proficiency, recall info on deities and directly ask for their help. Good for classes that require divine involvement.|
|Languages||Two new languages of your choice. Great for long campaigns in different lands.|
Sage Necromancer background
Access to Magic
The one thing that any necromancer needs to be an actual necromancer in Dungeons and Dragons is access to magic, more specifically, the Animate Dead spell. Sages spend years of their lives studying and learning about the universe while improving their magical abilities. This deep study could have easily resulted in uncovering ancient scrolls of necromancy that allowed the creation of your character.
Useful for All Four Classes
This background also works thematically for all four of the classes; studying and learning about the world can be done for multiple different reasons. Wizards generally seek knowledge for power, druids aim to learn about nature to better protect it and be one with it, and clerics and paladins already study as part of their divine rituals, although their study is more focused on prayers.
Proficiencies with Arcana and History Skills
With the Sage background, you gain proficiency with the arcana and history skills, two intelligence-based skills that can be useful for most necromancers even if their intelligence score is not particularly high. Arcana should be a standard proficiency for most spellcasters, as it provides knowledge of magic and a better understanding of it. Necromancers who delve into the unknown territories of magic will need this skill to be as best as it can be to safeguard against any potential dangers that can arise from their own magic.
Languages and Items for Writing
A background based on knowledge also offers two new languages of your choice and a set of items used for writing your findings and research. Having two additional languages in addition to those you get from your race is useful for all characters.
Overall, the Sage background offers a simple yet useful set of benefits to all necromancers.
|Access to Magic||Sages spend years studying and learning about the universe, which could result in uncovering ancient scrolls of necromancy that allow the creation of the necromancer character.|
|Useful for All Four Classes||The background thematically works for all four classes (wizards, druids, clerics, and paladins) as studying and learning about the world can be done for multiple reasons.|
|Proficiencies with Arcana and History Skills||The background provides proficiency in the arcana and history skills, two intelligence-based skills that can be useful for most necromancers.|
|Languages and Items for Writing||The background offers two new languages of the player’s choice and a set of items used for writing findings and research, which can be useful for all characters.|
Cloistered Scholar background
With necromancy being a forbidden art, studying and mastering it should be done in secret. The Cloistered Scholar is exactly that: a person who spent most of their time studying in secret from the outside world. This background is a perfect match for necromancers, at least thematically.
With the background, you gain proficiency in the history skill, and you get to choose a second proficiency from arcana, nature, and religion. The history skill is a good proficiency, and it can offer multiple benefits to a necromancer aside from knowing the lore of the world. But the choice of skill proficiencies is amazing; these three choices cover the four classes perfectly.
- Arcana is a standard choice for wizards who possess high intelligence and the highest amount of spells and knowledge of magic.
- Nature is the thing druids are known for, and it is even useful for necromancy since it can help you track and find dead bodies or create deadly poisons easier.
- Religion is the whole character of clerics and paladins since they are both priests of sorts.
Having these three amazing choices for skill proficiencies alone puts the Cloistered Scholar background amongst the best backgrounds.
The background also offers two extra languages, which is another benefit that you can choose how to use based on the world and your character. These proficiencies solidify the Cloistered Scholar background in the top 3 picks for most players who want to create a great necromancer with deep knowledge of the dark arts.
|Background Name||Cloistered Scholar|
|Thematic Fit||Perfect match for necromancers thematically since studying and mastering necromancy should be done in secret.|
|Skill Proficiencies||History skill proficiency and a choice of either arcana, nature, or religion skill proficiency.|
|Arcana||Standard choice for wizards who possess high intelligence and knowledge of magic.|
|Nature||Useful for necromancy since it can help track and find dead bodies or create deadly poisons easier.|
|Religion||Characteristic of clerics and paladins since they are both priests of sorts.|
|Additional Benefits||Two extra language proficiencies, which can be chosen based on the world and the character.|
Many joke about necromancers being just healers but always late, but that’s not too far from the truth. A majority of the classes that can be effective necromancers have healing capabilities. The druid, cleric, and paladin all serve as supports to the party in one way or another, and even the wizard can offer utility to help the party.
The hermit background can aid in both your necromancy and support capabilities, keeping your class’s character strong for necromancy and team play.
With the hermit background, you gain proficiency in the medicine and religion skills; medicine is a skill proficiency that can find great use in a character who messes around with corpses on a daily basis. Religion might seem useless, but even for wizards and druids, it can be useful since the use of dark magics often goes against most gods. A high religion skill can at least keep them neutral to you and not curse your soul to eternal damnation.
The background also offers proficiency with the herbalism kit and an extra language. Extra languages are always useful, but the proficiency with the herbalism kit by itself is amazing. Herbalism kits are most commonly used to make healing potions.
Since clerics, druids, and paladins have to lose their supportive capabilities to focus on necromancy, being able to make healing potions for the party is one way to keep up both support and necromancy roles that you wish to achieve. The items that come with the background don’t include anything interesting aside from the herbalism kit.
Hermit is a background that can work for all four classes able to necromance quite well and offers use to both yourself and your party.
|Hermit Background for Necromancers|
|Skill Proficiencies||Medicine, Religion|
|Additional Benefits||Proficiency with herbalism kit, extra language|
|Uses of Skill Proficiencies||Medicine useful for handling corpses, Religion useful for avoiding divine wrath|
|Uses of Additional Benefits||Herbalism kit useful for making healing potions|
|Suitable for Which Classes||Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Wizard|
|Benefits for Necromancy and Support Capabilities||Allows for both support and necromancy roles|