Haunted One Background 5E

Hello adventurers! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the 26th episode of our background series. Today we’re going to be taking a look at the haunted one dnd 5e background.

Which is really interesting not just because of the description or because of the feature but for a couple of other reasons. Firstly it’s the only background added in the curse of strahd adventurer. If you haven’t checked out our dnd backgrounds full list yet would you like to then please click on the link.

So odds are if you’re just a player and you don’t DM you’re likely not going to know this is a thing. It is cool and it is a cult favorite in some sense a lot of people like using it. Another thing that makes it rather unique and different from every other background we’ve covered is something in its mechanics.

It kind of set a precedent for a heavily debated point in the dnd community. Some dm’s rule use this particular background to make a certain ruling. We’ll kind of talk about it when we discuss the mechanics. However when this was released it was it led to some really interesting conversations.

I don’t want to say there was a lot of controversy surrounding it because it really wasn’t the background’s pretty simple to understand. But it give some more fuel to another art. Anyways i’ll talk about it more in a little bit. Let’s dive into its description.


In dnd backgrounds you’re haunted by something which is so terrible which even you can not dare to speak with/of it. Of course you might have tried to bury it and run away from it to no avail. So whatever this thing is that haunts you can not be slain by a sword or banished with a spell.

Like a shadow it might come to you on the specific wall besides you, also a bloodcurdling nightmare, a memory which is refuse to die, or even a demonic whisper in the dark.

Actually the burden has been taken its toll, isolating you from most of the people and also making you query your sanity. But you must make sure to find a good way to overcome it before you destroyed by it.

What a description! Let me tell you out of all the adventure path modules i’ve had to run an adventures league curse of strahd is one of my all time favorites. It’s written really well, it’s not the most intuitive module although it’s pretty good and i just really love all the descriptions from it. This is certainly no exception, a lot of effort was placed into this. Now let’s move on to its mechanics.


Under skill proficiencies you can choose two from among arcana, investigation, religion or survival. Under languages choose two, one of which is exotic. So exotic languages if you’re not super familiar and it might genuinely be worth doing a separate article on languages altogether.

Things you’re really not gonna know like abyssal, celestial, deep speech, draconic, infernal, primordial, sylvan or undercommon like odds are yeah they’re. Not really commonly spoken anywhere in the overworld at least so yeah not going to run into him a whole lot and this is the precedent that was set.

So for the longest time certainly in the PHB everyone would pick exotic languages when it said pick two of any languages and some dms had a problem with it like there’s no way you’d be able to speak this, because this this and this and my game world this this and this and i led to a lot of player dm friction.

In my opinion it was kind of a needless argument to have if they could understand some stuff cool, i don’t particularly care it doesn’t affect how i run my games but there are dm’s out there who put a lot of effort into planning and if you can read abyssal and you can decipher the text almost immediately.

It kind of throws a monkey wrench into their grand plan. In any case a lot of people will cite this background as saying listen if one of them was exotic it would tell you, it could be exotic. So you get to pick from the common list. I don’t know, i’ve always aired in just letting players kind of do whatever at least in terms of character creation.

If i feel like they’re abusing it as a mechanic, you can always curse items so if you read this without permission you take like 1d8 psychic damage something like that right! I stand hold to the conviction that there are far more tools in the dms toolbox than there will ever be in any player’s toolbox just flat out.

In any case, that aside under equipment…you get a monster hunters pack, a set of common clothes and one trinket of special importance in addition to one silver piece. Which really makes this the poorest out of all of them. Which is kind of interesting when you think about it.

  • Skill Proficiencies: Choose two of Arcana, Investigation, Religion, or Survival
  • Tool Proficiencies: None
  • Languages: Choose one exotic language (Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Draconic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan, or Undercommon)
  • Equipment: Monster hunter’s pack, set of common clothes, one trinket of special significance 1sp.

The monster hunters pack if you’re not super familiar…it includes a chest, crowbar, hammer, three wooden stakes, a holy symbol, a flask of holy waters, set of manticals, steel mirror and a flask of oil tinderbox and three torches.

Which is quite a bit of stuff which would explain the one is silver piece dip but you know whatever take from that which you will. Now let’s move on to its feature which is one of the coolest sounding features in the game as of yet. We’re talking about heart of darkness and it has described below.

Feature: Heart of Darkness

Those whoever look straight into your eyes able to see which you had faces unimaginable horror and which you aren’t stranger to the darkness. Even though they might have fear you and the commoners would extend you each and every courtesy and also do their utmost to help you. But unless until you’ve shown your self for being a danger to them, they will take up their arms to fight alongside you, should you find yourself facing an enemy alone?

Feature: Harrowing Event

Actually, your life was like a tragedy before you became an adventurer such as your path in life had defined by a dark moment, one fateful decision, or one tragedy. Basically, at present you do feel a darkness is threatening to consume you, and of course you have fear there may be no hope of escape. You can select a harrowing event which haunts you, or you can roll one on the below mentioned harrowing event table.

D10Harrowing Event
1A monster that slaughtered dozens of innocent people spared your life, and you don’t know why.
2You were born under a dark star. You can feel it watching you, coldly and distantly. Sometimes it beckons you in the dead of night.
3An apparition that has haunted your family for generations now haunts you. You don’t know what it wants, and it won’t leave you alone.
4Your family has a history of practicing the dark arts. You dabbled once and felt something horrible clutch at your soul, whereupon you fled in terror.
5An oni took your sibling one cold, dark night, and you were unable to stop it.
6You were cursed with lycanthropy and later cured. You are now haunted by the innocents you slaughtered.
7A hag kidnapped and raised you. You escaped, but the hag still has a magical hold over you and fills your mind with evil thoughts.
8You opened an eldritch tome and saw things unfit for a sane mind. You burned the book, but its words and images are burned into your psyche.
9A fiend possessed you as a child. You were locked away but escaped. The fiend is still inside you, but now you try to keep it locked away.
10You did terrible things to avenge the murder of someone you loved. You became a monster, and it haunts your waking dreams.

Now this is really interesting in terms of features because it on a glance looks very similar to a lot of the stuff we’ve covered but it has the opposite kind of drawback to it. For example if you look at a clan crafter or the acolyte most of the shelter related background features, you’ll notice that they specify that the individuals won’t directly put themselves at risk right!

However this one makes them put themselves at risk. It’s very interesting stuff and it could have drawbacks of its own variety for example if a father were to defend you only to die in the process there’s a good chance that this family might not view you so favorably right! and that could lead to some interesting implications along the way.

But this is certainly one of the stronger features we’ve covered so far. It’s almost kind of the inverse to the folk hero feature which is interesting, it does make sense given the overall context and flavor of this background. Now let’s move on to some suggested characteristics here.

Suggested Characteristics

Sometimes you might need to live with the terror those are haunt you that’s why you’ve learnt to live with them. Of course you’re a survivor, from those who can be very much protective of those who bring light into your darkened life.

Personality Traits

For personality trait i went with ” I put no trust in divine beings.”

D8Personality Trait
1I don't run from evil. Evil runs from me.
2I like to read and memorize poetry. It keeps me calm and brings me fleeting moments of happiness.
3I spend money freely and live life to the fullest, knowing that tomorrow I might die.
4I live for the thrill of the hunt.
5I don’t talk about the thing that torments me. I’d rather not burden others with my curse.
6I expect danger around every corner.
7I refuse to become a victim, and I will not allow others to be victimized.
8I put no trust in divine beings.


Under ideal i put ” I’ll stop the spirits that haunt me or die trying and this really applies to any alignment.”

1Selflessness. I try to help those in need, no matter what the personal cost. (Good)
2Determination. I’ll stop the spirits that haunt me or die trying. (Any)
3Greater Good. I kill monsters to make the world a safer place, and to exorcise my own demons. (Good)
4Freedom. I have a dark calling that puts me above the law. (Chaotic)
5Logic. I like to know my enemy’s capabilities and weaknesses before rushing into battle. (Lawful)
6Destruction. I’m a monster that destroys other monsters, and anything else that gets in my way. (Evil)


Under Bond “There’s an evil in me, i can feel it. it must never be set free.”

1I keep my thoughts and discoveries in a journal. My journal is my legacy.
2I would sacrifice my life and my soul to protect the innocent.
3My torment drove away the person I love. I strive to win back the love I’ve lost.
4A terrible guilt consumes me. I hope that I can find redemption through my actions.
5There’s evil in me, I can feel it. It must never be set free.
6I have a child to protect. I must make the world a safer place for them.


Under flaw ” I talk to spirits that no one else can see.”

D6Haunted One
1I have certain rituals that I must follow every day. I can never break them.
2I assume the worst in people.
3I feel no compassion for the dead. They’re the lucky ones.
4I have an addiction.
5I am a purveyor of doom and gloom who lives in a world without hope.
6I talk to spirits that no one else can see.

I really like all of the options in the suggested characteristics area. I think a lot of them are really flavorful and a lot of them really do lend to some interesting plot hooks. For this character the overall story i was going for for was

You had a childhood friend who worshipped whatever god and you met them along a battlefield by which they were seemingly possessed by said deity and were able to do great things turn the tide of battle all that good stuff,

but as a direct result of that, the holy power or celestial power that they had to use and ended up burning out their body and they ended up dying in more or less a vein from where you stand and since that day you kind of look at everything in shades of gray,

Slightly towards the darker end almost a nihilistic viewpoint and you can kind of see your old friend from time to time in spirit form, kind of watching over you and communicating with you and stuff like that.” It’s very interesting, i just think there’s a lot you can do with it. That being said, let’s move on to my personal thoughts here.

You can also read the mercenary veteran 5e if you need so.


If you can’t tell i really like the haunted one! I think it’s great. All topics aside regarding its languages, it’s a very very strong. Being able to choose your proficiencies make it incredibly adaptable to cover whatever blind spot bots your class has. The ability to pick two language and one of them is saying it’s exotic is really good if you’re planning on playing a more high level campaign with more of those celestial elements.

Under equipment, the monsters pack is great. The biggest drawback is that one silver piece you have but you know what at early game odds are your party will be able to compensate and with your feature you won’t have to worry about lodging too too much.

The features overall is fantastic like truly. The ability to gain shelter and food is in of itself not terrible but the ability to also get random allies when you’re perceived to be alone is super great as well. Especially when you’re in a pinch.

Looking at all the characteristics, there’s really so much you could do with this…this is however a background based on trauma so that might pigeonhole you in terms of role play a little bit, but it’ll give your character a long way to go so there’s a bountiful opportunities for character development.

Wrap Up

That being said, let me know what you think of the haunted one down beneath in the comments section. Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments or concerns you have regarding it. That being said, i hope you all have a great day and as always happy adventuring everyone.

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