DnD 5E Dimir Operative Background

Hello adventurers! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the 14th episode in our background series. Today we’re going over a rather interesting one, may i introduce you to the new and improved the dimir operative background 5e which is found in the guild masters’ guide to ravnica and this background more or less completely replaced the charlatan at most people’s tables.

I’ve seen a couple comments regarding the guild master’s guide to ravnica backgrounds of which this is one and how they’re kind of overpowered relative to a lot of the others. This is a very clear example of why a lot of people have that impression and why that is the prevailing narrative. But before you take a look at it’s description we like to share our backgrounds for d&d page so check them after this article if you would like to.

Description

You’re a spy. The secrets and the misinformation are your stock in a trade only. You do skulk in a various shadows, infiltrate other guilds, and even steal the most precious secrets, however whether they’re written either in locked journals or they may hidden away in someone’s mind.

Even you might not be aware of all different types of reasons that behind of the missions that you carry out. But sometimes a mission’s sole purpose is for concealing the motivation behind of another strike performed within a different part of the city, of simply for spreading fear.

Al though, as a part of your covert work for a House Dimir, you would also maintain a false identity like a member of another guild. You can also select your secondary guild or else roll for determining it randomly.

Of course this secondary guild membership may determines a portion of your starting equipment and even is also where the most of your contacts come from. Anyway, you infiltrate your secondary guild in order to learn its secrets and keep tabs on its activities, or probably undermine it from within.

Very cool stuff! Absolutely amazing sounding description. let’s take a look at their extended spell lists.

Feature: Dimir Guild Spells

Prerequisite: Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature

For your sake, the spells on this Dimir Guild spells table have been added to a spell list of your spellcasting class (but If you are a multiclass character with multiple spell lists, then these spells are added to all of them.)

Spell List

As cantrips they gain encoded thoughts and mage hand. In addition to their current first level spells they also gain access to disguise self and sleep which are certainly very useful. Second level spells they gain detect thoughts and pass without trace, Third level they gain gaseous form, meld into stone and nondetection. At 4th level they gain arcane eye and freedom of movement and at fifth level they gain a modify memory.

Spell LevelSpells
Cantripencode thoughts, mage hand
1stdisguise self, sleep
2nddetect thoughts, pass without trace
3rdgaseous form, meld into stone, nondetection
4tharcane eye, freedom of movement
5thmodify memory

Of course your magic is meant to be a subtle and undetectable, but of course it might be pull the shadows or the clouds of the mist around you as you cast your spells. However, by using the encode thoughts cantrip which is mentioned below, you could turn a creature’s thoughts (including your own) into a thought strand which others could potentially read, share, or even steal. All these thought strands are treated like the valuable currency among the Dimir.

Needless to say there’s certainly a theme here, a lot of it has to do with stealth and reading people’s minds which is certainly two things any spy would benefit greatly from, not to mention just sounds super cool! These are all really good spells as well. In terms of notable ones pass without trace is great. So is sleep for that matter!

Gaseous form was absolutely fantastic and meld into stone makes for some absolutely amazing role play moments. Very cool stuff overall and of course modify memory just it’s a messy spell. In any case let’s quickly move on here to its mechanics.

Mechanics

Under skill proficiencies i doubt you will be surprised to realize its deception and stealth. Which are arguably two of the best skills in the game to have. Under toll proficiencies you can access to the disguise kit and under languages you gain access to one of your choice.

The equipment here is rather interesting. So you gain the dimir insignia which makes it so you can gain access to the guild and they know who you are. You also gain access to three small knives and dark colored common clothes. This is where it gets interesting however.

You also gain the starting equipment of any background described in this playlist for your secondary guild. This is kind of one of those things your DM might need to build the world in a certain way to accommodate this.

  • Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Stealth
  • Tool Proficiencies: Disguise kit
  • Language Proficiencies: One of your choice
  • Equipment: A Dimir insignia, three small knives, a set of dark-colored common clothes, and the starting equipment of the background described in this chapter for your secondary guild

It’s really plausible for any of the background we’ve covered so far to become part of a guild in one form or another. Whether or not it’s a sports association or a magic university or something of those lines you can kind of weasel your way in there and gain whatever equipment they also have access to.

Which is pretty cool overall! and that’s where you get your gold amount from stuff like that. In any case let’s move on to its feature.

Now much like the charlatan the dimir operative has access to false identity as well and if you’ve read our article on the charlatan you’ll know that i believe this feature is arguably the best in the game. Depending on the world you’re living in and how much of a rural versus urban environment you’re dealing with and if there’s any metropolis is kicking around.

Feature: False Identity

As per this false identity feature, you own more than one identity. Basically, the one you wear most of the time shall make you appear for being a member of a guild other than the House Dimir. Of course you have the documentation, established acquaintences, and even it disguises which allow you to assume that specific persona and it fits into the secondary guild. But whenever you select, you can drop this particular identity and also blend into a guildless masses of the city.

Probably, it considers why you’re embedded in a secondary guild. Of course you can create a story with your DM, that is inspired by rolling on either following table or choosing a reason that suits for you.

d6Assignment
1Impersonate an individual to gather information from that individual's contacts and associates.
2Make sure that a particular person (not a main antagonist) at an adventure site doesn't survive the encounter with the characters.
3Make sure that a particular person (not the main villain) survives the adventure.
4Get information from the main villain by magically extracting the villain's dying thoughts.
5Plant evidence to steer the other adventurers away from the true villain.
6Get information to a Dimir agent who is embedded in the adventure location.

Its really interesting and it does beg the question, if you can do this with one identity what’s to stop you from doing it with multiple. The biggest drawback to the dimir operative relative to the charlatan is the lack of a forgery kit. However that’s a relatively small hurdle to overcome when it comes to falsifying information.

You could always kind of cheap out and use magic to do it, alternatively you could always just pay another forger to give you another identity in addition to your own. It really is interesting, it’s still one of my all-time favorite features and it does beg the question if you assume the identity of a another background, do you also gain their feature as your own as well.

I used shelter of the faithful in my example with the charlatan but it would likely apply to most other backgrounds with a couple noble exceptions like maybe athlete for example would be kind of hard to fake something like that.

Although still doable, it might require a little bit more effort maybe some subplots along the way and maybe that’s the best way of handling this from a dungeon master’s perspective. Now let’s move on to some suggested characteristics.

As with most of the guild master’s guide to ravnica backgrounds they’re really well done, i really do like it overall guild master’s guide ravnica provides quite arguably some of the best backgrounds. Not only from the mechanical perspective but from a favor perspective as well and this is really no exception.

Suggested Characteristics

It is skilled at the infiltration, disguise, and deception, members of House Dimir appear inscrutable. Of course your true personality and the ideals might have never been into manifest, or they might mark you like a quirky member of your secondary guild.

Personality Trait

For the personality trait, just for the example i went with “I’m good at hiding my true thoughts and feelings.” Which alongside false identity makes a ton of sense.

d8Personality Trait
1I'm good at hiding my true thoughts and feelings.
2When I'm in doubt about revealing something, I assume it's a secret, and I don't share it.
3I like to sound mysterious, because wisdom hidden grows deeper with time.
4I have no patience with people who get in my way.
5I love hearing about other people's nightmares.
6Combat is meant to be quick, clean, and one-sided.
7I like to stick to the shadows.
8I never show my anger. I just plot my revenge.

Ideals

Under ideal “Control. I like pulling the strings and this will put you a tick towards that lawful direction.”

d6Ideals
1Guild: My guild is all that really matters. (Any)
2Control: I like pulling the strings. (Lawful)
3Secrets: I collect secrets and never reveal them. (Any)
4Knowledge: I want to know as much as I can about this city and how it works. (Any)
5Independence: I value the freedom to pursue my own goals without interference. (Chaotic)
6Nihilism: I don't believe in anything, and anyone who does is a fool. (Neutral)

Bond

Under Bond  “I discovered a secret i can’t let anyone else uncover including my guild superiors.”

d6Bond
1I discovered a secret I can't let anyone else uncover-including my guild superiors.
2I formed a close friendship or romance with someone in the guild I'm infiltrating.
3The Dimir agent who recruited me was unmasked and killed. My revenge on the killers will be thorough and painful.
4I spend as much time as I can in the Ismeri Library because I'm certain an information hub operates behind its facade. I want its secrets!
5I'm utterly loyal to my superior in the guild, more than to the guild or its guildmaster.
6Someone has discovered my true identity.

Flaw

For the flaw “I have a trouble trusting anyone but myself.”

d6Flaw
1I like secrets so much that I'm reluctant to share details of a plan even with those who need to know.
2I would let my friends die rather than reveal my true identity.
3I have trouble trusting anyone but myself.
4I have a particular vice that puts all my secrets at risk if I'm not careful.
5I'm pretty sure I've done something horrible that I can't remember because of the guild's mind magic.
6I put too much trust in the people who give me orders.

All of these synergize really well and provide some relatively interesting party moments. With this particular setup, it’s up to you the dungeon master and your fellow party members irl how far you want to take this. I don’t recommend lying to party members at the table out of character, in character it’s a little different it might be worth having that discussion in advance.

Just be like hey! my characters are really secretive dude, would you like me to clarify what the truth is after the fact when we’re talking normally or would you prefer i keep it a secret from you even an irl and then just tell the dungeon master kind of what’s going on or even have a conversation with them in advance.

Ultimately just be courteous to the other people at the table and remember it’s a group co-op game it’s not really a single player thing, although i have heard tale of it being possible but for the most part you’re gonna be playing in a group. In any case it’s really good. Now let’s get to my personal thoughts on it.

Thoughts

I feel very similar to the dimir operative as i do to the charlatan which shouldn’t be too too surprising. It’s just really really good, one of the best backgrounds of the game from mechanical angle at least. There’s a lot you can do with it as well from a dungeon masters perspective for example if the party starts to make a lot of sloppy choices there might be the risk of one of your secret identities being uncovered and thwarted.

And there’s always the argument to be made that if you don’t provide a substantial alibis or give enough life to your false identities. They’ll fold in on themselves relatively quickly as well. So some up keep is required a good way to prevent this from getting overwhelmingly good is to assign a gold value to that like take a look at the lifestyle, the false identity would be doing multiply it by two and then assign that daily cost to the player or the party as a whole depending on if everyone’s benefiting from it.

That might be the best way to kind of make it so there’s more resource management involved with this particular feature. However outside of that looking at its mechanics really strong, does a lack the forgery kit but whatever it is what it is. Getting skill proficiencies, tool proficienciencies and languages all in one. As well as additional equipment plus really whatever other equipment you want is also really really good.

Overall i think it’s fantastic. I know why a lot of dms dislike the ravnica backgrounds however personally i still feel as though there are way more tools in the dms toolbox than there will ever be in any individual players.

Final Words:

That being said, let me know what you think down beneath in the comment section, Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, potential plot hooks or experiences of your own you’ve had. In any case i hope you have a great day and as always happy adventuring everyone.

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