Exploring the Soldier Background

The soldier background is one of the most iconic and popular options available to players in Dungeons and Dragons. This background represents characters who have military training and experience, and it can provide players with a wide range of benefits and abilities to use in their adventures. Whether you want to create a character who is a battle-hardened veteran, a newly minted recruit, or a former mercenary, the soldier background can help you bring your vision to life. In this article, we’ll explore the soldier background in detail, looking at the skills, equipment, and features it provides and how they can be used to create a memorable and effective character.


Soldiers in D&D

In D&D, a soldier is a character who has been trained and experienced in military service. This training can come from a variety of sources, including standing armies, mercenary companies, or even rebellious factions. Soldiers are typically physically fit and skilled in combat and often have experience working as part of a team or unit. Soldiers can be found in all corners of the D&D world, serving in armies, guarding cities or caravans, or fighting against tyrannical rulers or dark forces. They may also have retired from military service and become adventurers, using their training and experience to seek fortune and fame.

Some examples of adventurers with the soldier background include:

  • A human fighter who served in the royal army before being discharged after a battle left them with a permanent injury. They now seek to make a name for themselves as an adventurer and to regain some of the glory they lost.
  • A dwarf cleric who served as a chaplain in their clan’s army, providing spiritual guidance to soldiers on the front lines. They have since left the army and use their divine powers to protect their friends and allies.
  • A half-elf rogue who worked as a scout and spy for a mercenary company before striking out on their own. They are skilled in reconnaissance and infiltration and use their training to gather information and pull off daring heists.
  • A tiefling paladin who was conscripted into an army that was fighting against demonic forces. They discovered their divine powers during a battle and have since dedicated themselves to eradicating evil wherever they find it, drawing on their experience as a soldier to help them in their quest.

The soldier background provides players with a way to represent their character’s military experience and training, and it can provide a wealth of benefits and abilities to help them in their adventures. Whether you want to play a grizzled veteran or a fresh-faced recruit, the soldier background can help you create a character who is ready to face any challenge.

Military Specialties

The Soldier background’s Specialty feature offers players a chance to further develop their character’s backstory and personality by selecting a specialty that fits their character’s military experience. These specialties provide a framework for players to imagine what their character’s role might have been in the military and how that experience might have shaped their worldview and behavior.

For example, a character who served as a medic might have a strong sense of compassion and be driven to heal others but also have a deep-seated fear of seeing others injured or killed. Alternatively, a character who served as a scout might be independent and resourceful, but also prone to taking risks and underestimating danger. These specialties can help players to consider how their character might respond to different situations and how they might interact with other characters in the party.

In addition, the Soldier background also offers players the opportunity to choose their character’s rank and describe their unit and their relationship with their fellow soldiers. These details can further flesh out a character’s backstory and personality, providing context for their military experience and potentially influencing their behavior and attitudes in certain situations. Overall, the Soldier background’s specialties and other features provide players with rich tools to create a dynamic and interesting character with a well-developed backstory.


Soldier Feature: Military Rank

The Soldier background feature, Military Rank, provides players with a tangible benefit in the form of a higher social standing and more authority within military or similar organizations. The rank selected by the player should be reflective of their character’s experience and should make sense given their backstory and military service. A character with a high rank will likely be respected and obeyed by lower-ranking soldiers and may be able to call on the support of their former comrades if needed.

In addition to the rank, players can also describe their character’s unit and their relationship with their fellow soldiers. This can be a valuable tool for roleplaying and character development, as it provides context for the character’s military experience and helps to flesh out their personality and behavior. A player might describe their character’s unit as a tight-knit group of soldiers who have been through thick and thin together, or as a dysfunctional group with rivalries and animosities.

Overall, the Military Rank feature provides players with a useful tool for roleplaying and social interaction in the game world. By selecting a rank and describing their character’s unit and relationships with fellow soldiers, players can further develop their character’s backstory and personality and potentially gain advantages in certain situations.


Customizing Your Soldier

The Soldier background grants proficiency in Athletics and Intimidation, reflecting their physical training and experience in combat. Additionally, soldiers also gain proficiency with one type of gaming set, such as playing cards or dice, which represents the pastime of soldiers during downtime. However, players can choose to swap out one or both of these proficiencies with other options more appropriate for their character concept. For example, a soldier with a background in medicine could choose to have proficiency in Medicine instead of Athletics or Intimidation.

In addition to the standard starting equipment granted to all characters, soldiers start with a rank insignia, a trophy taken from a fallen enemy, a set of bone dice or deck of cards used for gambling, and a small pouch of coins obtained through their military service. These items can be adjusted to fit the character’s backstory and personality. For example, the rank insignia could be a badge of honor for a particularly heroic action, while the trophy could be a keepsake from a lost comrade.

Suggested Specialties

The Soldier background in Dungeons and Dragons provides a diverse range of specialties that allow for a character’s unique military background to shine through in gameplay. From scouts to medics, each specialty presents a different experience that can be applied to a variety of character classes. Whether your character is a barbarian who served as a shock trooper, a cleric who acted as a field medic, or a rogue who was a skilled scout, the Soldier background offers the opportunity to create a character with a well-defined and intriguing backstory. In this list, we will explore 3-5 new possible specialties for each of the 13 character classes, providing inspiration for players looking to create a unique Soldier character.


Artillery Specialist, Siege Engineer, Field Medic


Mercenary, Scout, Siege Specialist


Battle Medic, War Reporter, Propagandist


Chaplain, Battle Chaplain, Hospitaler


Guerrilla Fighter, Jungle Tracker, Wilderness Scout


Cavalryman, Tactician, Special Forces


Ninja, Assassin, Martial Artist


Crusader, Inquisitor, Templar


Sniper, Tracker, Survivalist


Saboteur, Spy, Infiltrator


Artillery Specialist, Battle Mage


Battle Mage, Cultist, Demonic Pactmaker


Battle Mage, Siege Mage, Field Medic


  • The soldier background is a versatile choice for any character who has a military background or experience.
  • The soldier background features a unique Background Feature, Military Rank, that can be used to gain the respect and obedience of other soldiers and officials.
  • Soldiers can specialize in different types of combat and tactics, such as Cavalry, Infantry, or Medic, which can help flesh out a character’s backstory and combat style.
  • Soldiers come with skill and tool proficiencies in Athletics and Intimidation, and a gaming set proficiency that can be swapped out for another tool proficiency.
  • Soldiers come equipped with a set of standard gear, but the equipment can be customized to fit the character’s backstory and preferences.

If you would like the full details of this background for use in your games, you can find it in the Player’s Handbook.

About The Author

Justin Dixon
Justin Dixonhttps://help-action.com/
Dix has been playing D&D for over 7 years and has been a professional dungeon master for about 3 years. He has been a featured author in multiple releases from Grim Press including Creatures of the Underdark and soon The Goblins of Beetle Hollow from Crumbling Keep. He has worked with the acclaimed pop-up tavern Orcs! Orcs! Orcs! He is the producer for the Help Action podcast and played Amelia Whiteheart on the live play podcast The Swordcast Adventures.

More on this topic



Popular stories