Stories from the Mists – Gothic-themed Character Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition

While many have heard the story of the troubled monster hunter, there are other heroes that struggle against deadly foes and unspeakable evils as well.  These unsung champions of the light do all they can to keep all hope from being extinguished in a dark and desolate world.  Not all heroes are born from myth and legend.  Many are souls who have faced great adversity, pushing them into impossible odds.  Those souls have either become broken or are seeking ways to prevent them from collapsing under pressure.  Whatever the cause, they have witnessed terrible things that pose a grave threat to them, as well as others.  Perhaps the conflict isn’t so much external as very much internal.  These troubled heroes seek retribution, redemption, truth and understanding.

In endless realms where mad lords and mysterious mists survey and control all, hope is all one has.  Without it, one simply cannot live.  And those who cannot hope anymore will likely be consumed.  Many have tried, but many have fallen to the darkness as well.  How will you fare differently?

Author’s Note:  In celebration of Curse of Strahd, I wanted to make some backgrounds with a distinctly Gothic theme to them.  Sampling from history and literature, here’s 3 new ones!  Of course, you could easily reflavor my Researcher and Lost One backgrounds from the Fey post into something more gothic with ease.  Also, I truly love the Haunted One background quite a bit!  It’s why I referenced it in my first sentence, hehe.



The Reluctant Monster.

 Blasphemy, Creature, Monster, Beast, Vile Thing.  I have heard all of these things.  To the others, I am a grotesque abomination violating all they hold sacred.  My existence is one of pain, but perhaps there is more to just dwelling in darkness.

Skill Proficiency.  Intimidation, Stealth

Tool Proficiency.  Disguise Kit

Languages.  One of choice

Equipment.  Cloaking Rags, Keepsake from a friend, Supplies for making Warnings, Basic Survival supplies, 14 GP

Origin of Terror.  There’s a reason you are feared among many, beyond superstitions and lack of knowledge.

  1. My kind has preyed on others out of need for sustenance, hatred, or bloodlust.
  2. I was cursed for a horrific deed, my current form is symbolic of it.
  3. My rash reactions to curious onlookers resulted in their injury or death.
  4. I became a cautionary tale for “he who fights monsters” after a quest when awry.
  5. I have bested almost anyone who has opposed me.  Many others have fallen, except me.  Perhaps I’m literally the last of my kind for countless miles.
  6. Something about myself is decried as heretical, tainted or generally reviled in general.

Feature.  Feared Legend – Your name is one filled with notoriety and fear.  Among your homeland, locals quake at your mention.  In fact, legends about you have likely spread onward to other lands.  What you do with this mythology is up to you, whether you seek to break it or exploit it.

Personality Traits.

  1. Few realize how intellectual I am.  I love to study, given how I’m often alone to my own devices.
  2. Isolation and hatred have left me in a perpetually dour and grim demeanor.  While not outwardly hostile, I tend to be bitter and humorless.
  3. The only way to keep from going mad is occupying myself with thoughts and actions that make me happy.  I try to keep my space full of things I’ve come to enjoy.
  4. I realize the next “friend” I meet could very well be another attempt at killing me.
  5. The only thing I hate more than bigoted people are others like me, who are the cause of those stories in the first place.
  6. I’ll find a way to be accepted by someone, even if it kills me.
  7. The world is hateful and seeks to destroy that which it can’t understand.  Staying hidden and acting from a distance is for the best.
  8. I’ve become numb to ignorance and hatred.  After experiencing truly awful things, pettiness and cruelty don’t hurt me.


  1. Watcher in the Shadows.  Instead of a monster, I’ll give them a lawless hero in the dark to seek out their problems.  Perhaps they’ll think the hero can slay their monster. (Chaotic)
  2. Subversion.  I’ll do all I can to become a champion for the very people who have spread harmful stories about me.  I’ll either become a hero for them or die as a martyr for the greater good. (Good)
  3. Violence.  For years they’ve feared me attacking them, so let’s give them something to actually fear.  They will regret their transgressions against me. (Evil)
  4. Negotiation.  I’m tired of the violence and ignorance wherever I go. I want to encourage rationality and compromise, not panic.  (Lawful)
  5. Drifting.  I’m willing to move around and find a new place to dwell, so long as I’m left alone.  I don’t want to be involved with such fear and paranoid anymore. (Neutral)
  6. Facade.  I’ll keep up this act as the monster, so long as it’s helpful for me.  (Any)


  1. I seek to find others of my kind, perhaps I’m not a lone freak in this world.
  2. Persecution and discrimination must be fought, lest the darkness play us against each other.
  3. I don’t care what happens to those who spread harmful lies about me.
  4. This is all punishment for my misdoings in the past, I will find a way to reconcile my damned soul.
  5. Despite our differences, I find myself falling in love with one of them.  I doubt they will ever accept me.
  6. I can always fall back on my contacts to help remind me that I’m not a monster.
  7. My previous attempts at integrating lead to my partner and our crossbreed hybrid child being killed.
  8. I must stop the source of my monstrous power from taking hold of others, whether out of noble intent or selfishness.


  1. I feel that I have no choice but to become the very terror that others fear.
  2. Someday, I’ll find a way to make them into what I am.  Whether it’s through occult rituals, dark magick, super-science or simply spreading my own curse; I’ll make them know what it’s like.
  3. Those who hate me are the real monsters and deserve punishment.  I’ll decide proper means of retribution.
  4. Try as I may with disguising myself, it’s not hard to pick out some flaw about me: size, odor, supernatural presence, etc.  I sometimes have to go to extremes, such as mutilation or disfigurement, in order to suppress those aspects of me.
  5. They’re jealous because all of them are less than me!  I am superior to such ignorance filth.
  6. I have barricaded and sheltered myself from mainstream society for so long, I’m not sure how to properly communicate with others.

The Romantic Hero.

I am far more complex than many adventurous folk give me credit for.  I have far more depth than the noble crusader or the dungeon delving treasure hunter.  Allow me to travel with you and I can inform you of not only myself, but the world as a whole.

Skill Proficiency.  Deception, Persuasion

Languages.  Two of choice

Equipment.  Fine clothing, common clothing, philosophical books, 10 GP

Feature.  Passion and Daring! – You are driven by the desire to act boldly and not be held back by your many flaws.  Your arrogance, charm and determination have resulted in you making many friends and enemies alike.  People within your social circle are more likely to provide safe shelter or favors for you, while your enemies conspire to take you down for at least the most petty of reasons.

Personality Traits.

  1. Live out your desires through your philosophies and truths.  Don’t let other philosophies deter you or convince you otherwise.
  2. My charms and sense of magnetism encourages me to be the center of social and romantic attention, if I can help it.
  3. Maintaining a sharp intellect and a sharper sense of cunning is a must in this world.
  4. One way or another, I know how to make sure that I have an audience when I need one.
  5. I’d sooner trust myself than I would put much trust in anyone else.
  6. The thrill of the moment is much more appealing than investing time in a something dull and long term.
  7. Too many restrictions on one’s life destroys a personality.
  8. Just as I’m quick to register and analyze an environment around me, I’m just as quick to make a comment on it.


  1. Elitism.  If someone can’t appreciate me for my abilities and beliefs, they’re not worth my time.  (Neutral)
  2. Redemption.  I’ve made a lot of horrible decisions and I’ll probably make more, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on trying to do the right thing.  (Good)
  3. Cooperation. As much as the status quo can be depressing, working with authority is a good ego and status booster.  (Lawful)
  4. Rebellion.  I’ll rebel against anyone who goes against my methods.  (Chaotic)
  5. Hedonism.  Even if the world doesn’t care about my passions and goals in life, I’ll do whatever I can to see them through.  (Any)
  6. Wrath.  Those who dare oppose me deserve to be struck down, especially to bolster my image.  (Evil)


  1. As much as I pretend to believe otherwise, I’d be little without my friends and supporters.
  2. A belief is only as strong as one’s ability to pursue it.
  3. If I have to sacrifice myself to make a stand for what I believe in, so be it!
  4. Misery breeds company.  From my discontent, I have made like-minded friends who only wish to strike at all that’s wrong with our world.
  5. I sense absolute darkness within me.  As much as I love to indulge myself, I fear what happens when I go too far.
  6. The hard times I’ve fallen on are temporary.  With my drive, I can easily lift myself from this rut.


  1. I get caught up on personal injustices and my own failings to the point it overtly affects me.
  2. I’ll compromise my personal integrity if it means asserting my personality.
  3. I tend to be more horribly blunt or crass than I am approachable or likeable.  In fact, I can be horribly offensive when I’m making observations.
  4. I have an issue with squandering good deeds on subsequent misdoings and bad habits.
  5. My emotionally sensitive tendencies make me a bit unstable or horribly irritable.  I also like to brood a lot.
  6. I’m afraid my past mistakes will catch up with me… and I have plenty of evidence to suggest they will very soon.

The Mad Wanderer.

 Haunting voices and dreadful events cloud me greatly.  Some consider me insane, but I’m all the wiser.  Atonement, devotion or suppression of guilt is all I truly need to move on with my life.  However, a fascination with the macabre and bizarre has none the less been a danger to me.

Skill Proficiency.  Two of the Following: Arcana, Religion or Survival

Tool Proficiency.  One Artisan Tool of choice (Alternatively, ignore this to gain another language.)

Languages.  One language of choice

Equipment. Lantern, 5 candles, tinderbox, ink bottle, quell, diary book, a dark omen related to your mental anguish, a set of common clothes, a pouch with 10 GP in it.

Feature.  Meddling with Madness –  Through your great struggles, you’ve made a network of people both good and bad.  Depending on your situation, you may have people you seek counsel with.  Your network might have divine motivations or be scholars of mystic arts.  Perhaps you communicate with a group of frustrated artists, using their craft to lament their angst.

Personality Traits.

  1. It’s best that I hide much of what I’ve learned from others.  I don’t want to risk breaking them.
  2. The sins of the past must be resolved, even if those who have caused them are long dead.
  3. I use creativity as a means of feeling better.
  4. Attempting to stay upbeat is my means of combating my personal issues.
  5. It’s hard for me to stay in one place for too long, it’s best for me to keep mobile and keep active.
  6. It burns me up inside to see others suffer as I do/did.
  7. I’m skeptical of new opportunities, at risk of falling for something dangerous.
  8. I keep my friends close and my enemies closer, it’s hard to know who to trust.


  1. Retribution. Those who cannot understand my plight deserve my wrath.  (Evil)
  2. Protection.  I do what I can to make sure the public is blissfully ignorant of dark truths, for their own good. (Lawful)
  3. Perseverance.  I’d rather take action against the darkness than waste away in despair.  We must move on from mourning.  (Neutral)
  4. Isolation.  I want to keep to myself to ensure that I face my vices and demons alone. (Chaotic)
  5. Revelation.  All of my friends and family should be made aware of what’s going on, lest they fall to the darkness.  (Any)
  6. Champion.  I’ll protect and free someone who risks being dragged into the darkness like I was, while keeping others away from it. (Good)


  1. There are still dark truths out there that should be unveiled.
  2. I look for anyone who can clear my family name of their horrible sins, lest the souls of those they wronged continue to haunt me.
  3. I belong to a secret society as a means of comfort and belonging.  Many of my cohorts are depraved and mad, but I believe this group is for the best.
  4. I refuse to find new companions, friends, another chance at love or whatever until I can move on from previous loss.
  5. My work showcases the dark trappings of my soul.  The public can observe and draw their own conclusions, but they must never know the whole truth.
  6. Don’t mourn too much for the deceased, they were lucky enough to break free of pain.


  1. I can’t sleep anymore, as I only see unspeakable things when I try.  I don’t care if I’m always tired, they’ll never have my mind!
  2. I refuse to move on from grief and/or guilt.  In fact, it overtakes me to an extent.  It manifests into things that aren’t/shouldn’t be there at times.
  3. I’m so emotionally drained and battered that I don’t really care what happens to anyone else at this point.
  4. I have a habit of dwelling on the worst aspects of a place if I stay there for too long.
  5. I urgently wait for a long lost love who is more than likely dead or has moved on.
  6. I don’t feel like I’ve purged negativity from my soul unless I express it in a less traditional manner.  The results can be disturbing.

The Investigator.

Truth be told, I’ve never been very altruistic or interested in good causes.  That said, I’m still a firm believer in order and rule putting wrongdoers in their place.  I’ll take your case, but only because I believe that society exists on the very principles that criminals hate.

Skills. Investigation, Insight

Tool Proficiency. Detective Tools, Thieves Tools

Equipment. Credential and Certification documents, a Set of Common Clothes, Ink pen, Bottle of Ink, a Small Book detailing mysteries and uncovered information, Detective’s Tools

Feature.  Eyes All Around – You are greatly trusted by numerous locals, following the many cases you’ve been on.  They are more likely to aid you in an investigation.  While on a case or tracking someone or something down, you know reliable sources of information, as long as you’re familiar with the area you’re in.

Personality Traits

  1. To let a case slip between my fingers is wholly unacceptable.
  2. I’ll go out of my way to ensure my client receives the closure they need.
  3. I refuse to come across as a comfortable and lovable personality, lest people take my work less seriously.
  4. Honesty is the best means of getting your work done.
  5. Just finding a potential victim alive is its own reward.
  6. A wry sense of humor helps to keep me sane.
  7. I always finish what I start, no matter how controversial.
  8. I’ll do whatever I can to keep my friends out of personal business.


  1. Service.  I took up this job in hopes of improving peoples’ lives above all.  (Good)
  2. Justice.  Society would crumble if I didn’t do what I could to solve its ills.  (Lawful)
  3. Vigilantism.  The state and its police are corrupt, so I could do a better job! (Chaotic)
  4. Power Grab.  Think of the amount of power and fear I can amass from my position! (Evil)
  5. Hard Work.  It’s a job like any other and someone has to do it. (Neutral)
  6. Action.  I’m tired of others being attacked and abused without action being taken. (Any)


  1. Despite my many shortcomings and failures, I still have a close network of allies to encourage me to continue my craft.
  2. My family has a history of working within government or within law.  In a sense, I’m the odd rebel.
  3. An equally obsessive rival keeps me on my feet, usually belittling me along the way.
  4. I prefer working alone, I’ve already lost quite a few good people who wanted to work alongside me.
  5. After making a lot of trouble for myself, I’m making an effort to keep matters from getting worse.
  6. Attractive faces and friendly smiles have had a history of swaying me one way or another.


  1. I fear my arch-nemesis striking against me, when I least expect it.
  2. I’m easily bribed and willing to let some cases slip.
  3. I’ve failed numerous cases in the past and am actively seeking to rebuild my reputation.
  4. I have heavy biases for or against various groups, greatly skewing the results of a case.
  5. Sometimes my passions get the best of me while I’m on the job.
  6. A couple cases in particular have proved quite traumatic, I’m in the process of recovery.

NEW ITEM – Detective’s Tools – 50 GP, 2 lbs: An assortment of supplies dedicated to surveying and sampling evidence.  Items like containers, swabs, utensils like tweezers, a pair of gloves, small magnifying glass and the like are not uncommon.

Art Credit:  Jeff Easley – I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill, Bernie Wrightson – Frankenstein’s Monster, Portrait of Beau Brummell, Spirit Photography, Sidney Paget – Sherlock Holmes

Also, big thanks to Tribality for inspiring the Investigator background to begin with!

Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.


Author: Doctor Necrotic

Hobbyist, amateur writer/screenwriter, wannabe-philosopher, music fan, history lover, cinemaphile, gamer, reviewer, and more. I'm a 30 year old hodgepodge of jobs and interests. My current projects on WordPress creating a wide variety of content for various tabletop roleplaying games, even showcasing published content here as well. When I have the time, I also create editorials and reviews spanning various bits of popular culture. I hope you take a moment to check my content out and maybe tell me what you think.

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