You’ve rolled your character’s stats up, assigned all the skill points, and picked the starting gear. But now you’re left with a big question: how do you actually play your character? That’s where D&D bonds come in!
In this article, we’re taking an in-depth look at D&D bonds – one of the aspects of building a character with personality. Read on for bonds lists, homebrew ideas, and find out how bonds can tie your character into the party, game, and story with your friends!
What Are DnD Character Bonds?
Character bonds in D&D tie your character to your game’s story via their background and character history. For example, bonds might be relationships with other characters, history with particular locations in the world, or defining events in your character’s life.
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The Players Handbook describes bonds like so:
Bonds represent a character’s connections to people, places, and events in the world. They tie you to things from your background. They might inspire you to heights of heroism, or lead you to act against your own best interests if they are threatened. They can work very much like ideals, driving a character’s motivations and goals.Page 125, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.
What you pick for your character’s bond may answer questions like:
- To what place or environment does your character feel a special connection?
- What is your character’s most treasured possession?
- For whom would your character face down monsters, warlords, or even gods?
When you are creating a character for your DnD game, in addition to stats, spells, and so on, you will choose four aspects that help create your character’s personality – personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bonds.
How Do Bonds Work in DnD?
DnD bonds work like personality traits or motivations, so they’re all about character flavor and roleplay. No dice rolls or mathematical calculations necessary!
If ability scores, saves, and skill bonuses are your character’s frame or skeleton, then traits like bonds are the flesh and blood.
How Many Bonds Should a Character Have in D&D?
During character creation, choose one bond to begin with. Multiple bonds are allowed in DnD, but we suggest starting simple. You always can gain new bonds in your adventures!
What Are Good DnD Bonds?
A good DnD bond is one that helps tie your character into the story. What that means for your game is entirely unique!
Because in D&D you’re creating a story together with friends, the best way to pick a bond is to talk with your DM and other players about it. This way, even if the player characters all meet as strangers, you’re all working together from the get-go to make a cohesive party and plot.
How to Choose a Bond for Your Character
Here are a few questions you might ask about your character and bond when brainstorming ideas.
- Is the bond related to your PC’s past, profession, social life?
- Is it a place, thing, or person/people?
- Is it thematically appropriate? (ex: the nuns who raised a Cleric) Or, unexpected? (ex: a half-orc’s childhood teddy bear)
Want to go beyond the Player’s Handbook options? Keep reading further down for info on homebrewing your own bonds and some imaginative examples.
DnD 5e Bonds by Background
Chapter 4 of the Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook has a big list of backgrounds for you to pick from like Criminal, Outlander, and Noble. Each background includes a table with six bonds to pick from.
With this table, you can randomize it by rolling a d6 and recording the matching bond. Or, simply choose the most appropriate option.
Here are all the bond tables for each background.
Acolyte may be a fitting background for a character raised in a temple/monastery, or by a religious order. Consider it for classes like Clerics, Warlocks, Paladins, Monks, or Druids.
|1||I would die to recover an ancient relic of my faith that was lost long ago.|
|2||I will someday get revenge on the corrupt temple hierarchy who branded me a heretic.|
|3||I owe my life to the priest who took me in when my parents died.|
|4||Everything I do is for the common people.|
|5||I will do anything to protect the temple where I served.|
|6||I seek to preserve a sacred text that my enemies consider heretical and seek to destroy.|
Take a look at the Charlatan for a character that has a quick tongue, quicker wit, and the heart of a con man. Charismatic classes like Bards, Rogues, and Sorcerers fit perfectly.
|1||I fleeced the wrong person and must work to ensure that this individual never crosses paths with me or those I care about.|
|2||I owe everything to my mentor – a horrible person who’s probably rotting in jail somewhere.|
|3||Somewhere out there, I have a child who doesn’t know me. I’m making the world better for him or her.|
|4||I come from a noble family, and one day I’ll reclaim my lands and title from those who stole them from me.|
|5||A powerful person killed someone I love. Some day soon, I’ll have my revenge.|
|6||I swindled and ruined a person who didn’t deserve it. I seek to atone for my misdeeds but might never be able to forgive myself.|
A Criminal is someone with current or past ties to illegal activity or organized crime. It’s a natural fit for Rogues, Fighters, or Bards but could add some spice to any class. Perhaps your Wizard is so good at illusions because of her history as a bank robber!
|1||I’m trying to pay off an old debt I owe to a generous benefactor.|
|2||My ill-gotten gains go to support my family.|
|3||Something important was taken from me, and I aim to steal it back.|
|4||I will become the greatest thief that ever lived.|
|5||I’m guilty of a terrible crime. I hope I can redeem myself for it|
|6||Someone I loved died because of I mistake I made. That will never happen again.|
The Entertainer is a character that lives, eats, and breathes art. Whatever the discipline, from dancing to beat poetry, an Entertainer wants to share it with the world! Bards are the obvious match, but it could also fit well for Sorcerers, Warlocks, Wizards, or even Rogues.
|1||My instrument is my most treasured possession, and it reminds me of someone I love.|
|2||Someone stole my precious instrument, and someday I’ll get it back.|
|3||I want to be famous, whatever it takes|
|4||I idolize a hero of the old tales and measure my deeds against that person’s.|
|5||I will do anything to prove myself superior to my hated rival.|
|6||I would do anything for the other members of my old troupe.|
Folk Hero Bonds
If great power & destiny were bestowed upon your character of humble origins, he may be a Folk Hero. The farmer called to the life of a Paladin after her village is ransacked by evil cultists. A mighty Warlock who was raised from squalor by his Patron. This background makes a great origin for any class!
|1||I have a family, but l have no idea where they are. One day, I hope to see them again.|
|2||I worked the land, I love the land, and I will protect the land.|
|3||A proud noble once gave me a horrible beating, and I will take my revenge on any bully I encounter.|
|4||My tools are symbols of my past life, and I carry them so that I will never forget my roots.|
|5||I protect those who cannot protect themselves.|
|6||I wish my childhood sweetheart had come with me to pursue my destiny|
Guild Artisan Bonds
The Guild Aritisan is a character who has or does work as a skilled craftsperson within a guild. It can be a great choice for Wizards and Bards.
|1||The workshop where I learned my trade is the most important place in the world to me.|
|2||I created a great work for someone, and then found them unworthy to receive it. I’m still looking for someone worthy.|
|3||I owe my guild a great debt for forging me into the person I am today.|
|4||I pursue wealth to secure someone’s love.|
|5||One day I will return to my guild and prove that I am the greatest artisan of them all.|
|6||I will get revenge on the evil forces that destroyed my place of business and ruined my livelihood.|
A character that has lived a formative part of their life in voluntary seclusion may fit the Hermit. This background is complementary for Druids, Clerics, Monks, and Rangers or more with a bit of creativity. Maybe your Barbarian became a Hermit to learn to control his rage without endangering others.
|1||Nothing is more important than the other members of my hermitage, order, or association.|
|2||I entered seclusion to hide from the ones who might still be hunting me. I must someday confront them.|
|3||I’m still seeking the enlightenment I pursued in my seclusion, and it still eludes me.|
|4||I entered seclusion because I loved someone I could not have.|
|5||Should my discovery come to light, it could bring ruin to the world.|
|6||My isolation gave me great insight into a great evil that only I can destroy.|
A Noble is a person from an influential, wealthy, or land owning family. Any class can come from a Noble background. Is your PC still rich and powerful? Have they forsaken it, had their birthright stolen, or gambled it all away? You decide!
|1||I will face any challenge to win the approval of my family.|
|2||My house’s alliance with another noble family must be sustained at all costs.|
|3||Nothing is more important than the other members of my family.|
|4||I am in love with the heir of a family that my family despises.|
|5||My loyalty to my sovereign is unwavering.|
|6||The common folk must see me as a hero of the people.|
The Outlander has spent a good portion of her life in the wilderness, or away from large populations. This could speak to a tribal or nomadic family, being raised in a commune, or even a career as a highway robber! Outlander works well for Druids, Rangers, Barbarians, and more.
|1||My family, clan, or tribe is the most important thing in my life, even when they are far from me.|
|2||An injury to the unspoiled wilderness of my home is an injury to me.|
|3||I will bring terrible wrath down on the evildoers who destroyed my homeland.|
|4||I am the last of my tribe, and it is up to me to ensure their names enter legend.|
|5||I suffer awful visions of a coming disaster and will do anything to prevent it.|
|6||It is my duty to provide children to sustain my tribe.|
A character who prizes knowledge, lore, and exploration of the mysteries of the multiverse may have a Sage background. Clerics, Druids, Wizards, Monks, Warlocks, and even Paladins can find a lot of good character building opportunity here.
|1||It is my duty to protect my students.|
|2||I have an ancient text that holds terrible secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands.|
|3||I work to preserve a library, university, scriptorium, or monastery.|
|4||My life’s work is a series of tomes related to a specific field of lore.|
|5||I’ve been searching my whole life for the answer to a certain question.|
|6||I sold my soul for knowledge. I hope to do great deeds and win it back.|
Whether naval officer, pirate, or fisherman the Sailor background means your character has spent a significant part of their life at sea. You can find a way to work this into most classes, but Fighters and Rogues make excellent candidates.
|1||I’m loyal to my captain first, everything else second.|
|2||The ship is most important – crewmates and captains come and go.|
|3||I’ll always remember my first ship.|
|4||In a harbor town, I have a paramour whose eyes nearly stole me from the sea.|
|5||I was cheated out of my fair share of the profits, and I want to get my due.|
|6||Ruthless pirates murdered my captain and crewmates, plundered our ship, and left me to die. Vengeance will be mine.|
The Soldier is a player character that has lived a martial life. Physical classes like Fighter, Paladin, Monk, and Ranger are a good fit for origins as a Soldier. But the class options are endless, so don’t discount the warsinger Bard, intelligence agent Rogue, or mercenary Sorcerer!
|1||I would still lay down my life for the people I served with.|
|2||Someone saved my life on the battlefield. To this day, I will never leave a friend behind.|
|3||My honor is my life.|
|4||I’ll never forget the crushing defeat my company suffered or the enemies who dealt it.|
|5||Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.|
|6||I fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.|
The Urchin is a character who comes from hardship & poverty. Perhaps he grew up on the cruel streets of a bustling city, or hopped from barn to barn in the countryside.
Though a natural choice for classes that specialize in survival (Rogues, Rangers, Druids), the Urchin who finds great powers within has all kinds of rich character development options!
|1||My town or city is my home, and I’ll fight to defend it.|
|2||I sponsor an orphanage to keep others from enduring what I was forced to endure.|
|3||I owe my survival to another urchin who taught me to live on the streets.|
|4||I owe a debt I can never repay to the person who took pity on me.|
|5||I escaped my life of poverty by robbing an important person, and I’m wanted for it.|
|6||No one else should have to endure the hardships I’ve been through.|
Homebrew DnD Bonds
Alternatively, you can always make up your own D&D bonds instead of choosing from the Players Handbook!
And don’t forget to talk to your Dungeon Master about homebrewed traits before implementing them in your game. They may get great ideas for the story, or have constructive criticism to help you tweak your bond.
Below are some homebrew DnD bonds to get your creative juices flowing!
- My parents are supportive and loving, but I don’t want them to worry about me. To protect them, I am often vague about my adventuring life.
- I was raised in a huge, family circus and always surrounded by sisters, cousins, uncles, and friends. They taught me the value of hard work, self-reliance, and teamwork… but privacy was hard to come by.
- The most important person in the world to me died when I was too young and inexperienced to stop it. I won’t let that happen again.
- Finding my teacher saved my life. Before meeting them I was on a dark path that likely would have led to my untimely demise.
- Finding my student changed my life. My order/beliefs had become hollow, but I gained deeper understanding and passion for living when I had someone to guide in their own journey.
- I’m in love with my best friend, and have been for years. But I don’t know how to tell him/her yet.
- I took refuge in a marsh or swamp for a time. I know its foliage, fauna, and murky waters better than any city’s streets.
- I’ve spent much of my life on the water, and the sea is my home. I don’t enjoy being on solid ground for long periods.
- I’m a city kid, born and bred. There’s nowhere like my streets. It’s a cruel and hard place… but I’m the only one who’s allowed to insult it!
- My old temple is where my heart is. The stone walls and belfries are my retreat, the place of calm & repose that I return to when the chaos of the outside world becomes too much.
- I once met a deity in disguise on the material plane. It changed my life completely, for good or ill.
- I gave up soldiering after a contentious war or exceptionally bloody battle. No one should ever have to see what I’ve seen, or do what I’ve done.
- I grew up with a loving family, plenty to eat, and good social opportunities… but painfully bored. Meeting a group of monster hunters inspired me to take up the adventuring life!
- I’ve already lived once. Now I have a second chance to do things differently.
- The love of my life went missing under mysterious circumstances, but my friends & family don’t (won’t?) believe my suspicions.
- I painstakingly hand-bound my own spellbook and fill it will all my magical research.
- This sacred weapon once wielded by my deity has been passed down through my temple. And now that it has come to me, it is my duty to use it wisely.
- I am tracking a fell beast across the land to destroy it. And I’m so intent on my goal that the line between hunter and hunted sometimes blurs.
- I have a good luck talisman. With my lucky charm in my pocket, everything is sunshine and rainbows!
- I was raised on a farm and have an affinity for/skill with a particular type of animal. Ex: horses, goats, geese.
- I always wear a piece of jewelry. It was given to me by a relative who has since passed away. I treasure it, but do not understand the runes/symbols inscribed upon it.
You can also agree on some bonds with your other PCs before your first session. Pre-existing party bonds can take some of the weight off improving all your interactions, and cooperatively weaving your character stories together can be loads of fun!
Here are a few examples:
- ____ is my relative/family. (can be adopted too!)
- ____ did/does business with my family or guild.
- ____ is a close friend.
- ____ survived a deadly monster encounter with me. (like a dragon burning a town)
- ____ apprenticed/trained/went to school with me.
- ____’s family and mine are part of a centuries long feud.
- ____ were/are romantically involved. (puppy love, old married couple, exes who are great friends!)
- ____ and I used to belong to opposing rival crime syndicates.
- ____ saved my life in the wilderness.
- ____ escaped captivity with me.
- ____ was with me when an important item was stolen from me.
- ____ owes my patron/deity a debt.
- ____ and I are practically joined at the hip.
- ____ is like a little sister/brother to me.
- ____ is like an older sibling, always watching out for me.
- ____ and I share a secret that no one else knows.
- ____ knew my parents well.
- Food. I’m an insatiable epicurean – I’ve tried every food imaginable. And if I come across one I haven’t, let no beholder stand in my way of a new culinary experience!
- I was raised by wolves. As a result, I like dogs more than people and often ignore humanoids if a canid is available – I’d rather conduct business with the inn’s St. Bernard instead of the barkeep.
- I have a collection that is my pride and joy… maybe verging into obsession. I’m an expert on the subject. Ex: pins, exotic cheeses, snails, monster scat.
Conclusion: DnD Bonds
How do you figure out what motivates your character? What they would fight to protect? What inspires them to great deeds of good or evil? DnD bonds, that’s how!
And now that you have a better understanding of how to build and include your character in the game using D&D traits like bonds, you’ll be weaving your own daring tales of adventure, friendship, and cheese in no time.
And, how about strengthening your IRL bond with your DM by getting them a little DM gift?
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