Smuggler Background 5E

Hello adventurers ! welcome to our official dnd website and thank you so much for encouraging us to write more content on backgrounds this is our 48th episode of our series. For as long as there has been stuff, there have been people who have been telling you not to have certain stuff and so long as that has been a thing there have been people who have been telling you that they can get you the stuff that other people don’t want you to have.

That is what this background is. We’re talking about the smuggler and this is our last background found in the ghosts of saltmarsh adventure module and it’s probably the most useful as far as i can tell.

In any case before we dive right on in, if you haven’t checked out other backgrounds yet and you would like to check all of them then click right here. In any case let’s dive right into the smuggler 5e by first taking a look at its description.


Smuggler dnd background on a particular rickety barge, you would be carried a hundred longswords in the fish barrels right past the dock master’s oblivious lackeys. You have been paddled a riverboat which is filled with the stolen elven wine under a gaze of the moon and it sold for twice of its value in the morning time. So, in your more charitable times, you have been transported the innocents out of the war zones or else they helped guide herd animals in order to safety on the burning river banks.

This is really cool stuff! I like it lots of flavor, there’s a lot of things you can do with a smuggler that’ll make you either evil, good somewhere in between or something more akin to a mercenary for hire. Now let’s dive into its mechanics here.


You have skill proficiencies in both athletics and deception which are both super great and super useful. Especially if you don’t gain them through your class or race i suppose. Under tool proficiency is you’re only proficient in water vehicles, it’s a little sad it doesn’t get more than one proficiency but there it is. It makes up with its feature.

  • Skill Proficiencies Athletics, Deception
  • Tool Proficiencies Vehicles (water)
  • Equipment A fancy leather vest or a pair of leather boots, a set of common clothes, and a leather pouch with 15 gp

Under equipment you gain a fancy leather vest or a pair of leather boots, a set of common clothes and a leather pouch with 15gp. Getting you that five extra gold. Very nice stuff. Now let’s move on to its feature.This one is called down low.

Feature: Down Low

You’re an acquainted with the network of different types of smugglers those who are interesting to help you out of the critical situations. While within a specific town, city, or even someother similarly sized community (DM’s discretion), you and also your companions could be stay for free of cost in the various safe houses. The safe houses are provide a poor lifestyle. Anyway, while it has been staying at the safest house that you could select to keep your presense (and that of your companions) a secret.

I actually really really like down low. For reasons i might not be super obvious at first. Firstly free room and board always a great stuff, super nice. Secondary it’s not directly a tie or attached to any particular guild at least it might not be.

Usually safe houses are kind of shared. So if in your world that’s what you’re running it with this is pretty damn useful and the ability to keep your presence a secret, super nice as well that’s something that a lot of the other backgrounds or features don’t really give you. Like the acolyte for example be a member of that community firstly and you have to represent them in good faith.

So it does kind of pigeonhole you where this leaves you wide open. In addition to that having these connections with smugglers is not only a great opportunity for questing but it’s also a potentially lucrative profession. Not to mention if you are searching for something very specific. You might require a smuggler to go and get it for you and pay them whatever and it takes 1d6 plus however many days based off of its rarity to actually get to you.

Something to that effect would be really interesting and a cool gameplay mechanic that wouldn’t be too too hard to set up. That being said if you have any ideas on how to potentially take more benefit out of this feature let me know down beneath in the comment section. That being said, let’s go over some suggested characteristics here.

Suggested Characteristics

In general cases, the smugglers do give value a survival, and even then profit too, above the other things. So, from them one could a specific part of the larger organization, or it might be run a small smuggling vessel of their own. The Smuggler in dnd live the lies that they have been told, and of course they have a natural ability inorder to recall all of the falsehoods and half-truths they have ever spouted too.

Personality Traits

Under personality trait “I think of everything in terms of monetary value.”

d8Personality Traits
1I love being on the water but hate fishing.
2I think of everything in terms of monetary value.
3I never stop smiling.
4Nothing rattles me; I have a lie for every occasion.
5I love gold but won't cheat a friend.
6I enjoy doing things others believe to be impossible.
7I become wistful when I see the sun rise over the ocean.
8I am no common criminal; I am a mastermind.


Under ideal “Wealth: Heaps of coins in a secure vault is all that i dream of and that applies to any alignment.”

1Wealth Heaps of coins in a secure vault is all I dream of. (Any)
2Smuggler's Code I uphold the unwritten rules of the smugglers, who do not cheat one another or directly harm innocents. (Lawful)
3All for a Coin I'll do nearly anything if it means I turn a profit. (Evil)
4Peace and Prosperity I smuggle only to achieve a greater goal that benefits my community. (Good)
5People For all my many lies, I place a high value on friendship. (Any)
6Daring I am most happy when risking everything. (Any)


Under bond “I intend to become the leader of the network of smugglers that i belong to.”

1My vessel was stolen from me, and I burn with the desire to recover it.
2I intend to become the leader of the network of smugglers that I belong to.
3I owe a debt that cannot be repaid in gold.
4After one last job, I will retire from the business.
5I was tricked by a fellow smuggler who stole something precious from me. I will find that thief.
6I give most of my profits to a charitable cause, and I don't like to brag about it.


Under flaw “I tend to assess my relationships in terms of profit and loss.”

1Lying is reflexive, and I sometimes engage in it without realizing.
2I tend to assess my relationships in terms of profit and loss.
3I believe everyone has a price and am cynical toward those who present themselves as virtuous.
4I struggle to trust the words of others.
5Few people know the real me.
6Though I act charming, I feel nothing for others and don't know what friendship is.

I really do like this particular set because it provides a couple necessary things. Firstly motivation, motivated by coin..great! Why are you motivated by coin because you want to become the leader of the network that you belong to. Really cool stuff, so money is usually their incentive but their goals go far beyond that.

In addition to money they’re likely going to need to curry favor with enough of the members of that particular network for them to get behind you when the time comes or maybe you’re going to need to complete certain difficult jobs in order to prove that you are a better leader than whoever is in currently in charge. There’s a lot of stuff you could do and i really like it. Now let’s move on to my personal thoughts here.


Overall i like the smuggler quite a bit. I think it’s quite arguably the most useful background contained in the ghosts of salt marsh adventure and it’s the one that i can see being the most popular amongst the dnd community. Hopefully this article will help more people be aware of its existence and be able to extend further.

That being said, taking a look at its mechanics…it does leave a lot to be desired. If i was a dm i’d likely swap that water vehicle proficiency out with something else or give them proficiency in both water and land vehicles that’d be another way you can kind of balance this out. Maybe giving them a language instead could work out too, i don’t know kind of depends on the DM.

But its feature is relatively good, gets my creative gears turning for sure and i get the feeling a lot of dungeon masters are going to feel the same way about it. The characteristics really nice, you might have gotten into the smuggling profession for noble reasons.

Like a smuggler might have saved you and your family from a tyrannical king and you studied under him so you could do the same for others and that way you’d likely get along with a lot of the grinners.

Really cool stuff! there’s always the potential to encounter more factions as you work your way up the smuggler chain and potentially establish diplomatic relationships with multiple different groups. There’s just a lot you could go with once again really gets my creative gears turning.

Claim to Fame

Each and every smuggler has that specific one tale which sets them apart from different common criminals. By the wits, sailing skill, or a silver tongue, you lived to tell the story – and of course you can tell it frequently. Anyhow, you can roll on the below mentioned table in order to determine all of your claims or else select one that best fits for your character.

1Spirit of the Whale: You smuggled stolen dwarven spirits in the body of a dead whale being pulled behind a fishing boat. When you delivered the goods, the corpse suddenly exploded, sending whale meat and whiskey bottles for half a mile.
2Cart and Sword: You drove a cart filled with stolen art through the middle of a battlefield while singing sea shanties to confuse the combatants.
3The Recruit: You enlisted in another nation's navy for the purpose of smuggling stolen jewels to a distant port. You attained a minor rank before disappearing from the navy and making your way here.
4River of Shadows: Your riverboat accidentally slipped through the veil into the Shadowfell for several hours. While you were there, you sold some stolen dragonborn artifacts before returning to this plane and paddling home.
5Gold-Hearted: You agreed to transport a family escaping a war. The baby began to cry at a checkpoint, and you gave the guards all your gold to let you pass. The family never found out about this gesture.
6Playing Both Sides: You once smuggled crates of crossbow bolts and bundles of arrows, each destined for an opposing side in a regional war, at the same time. The buyers arrived within moments of each other but did not discover your trickery.

That being said! let me know what you think of the smuggler down beneath in the comments section. Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, ideas or even stories of your own. That being said, i hope you all have a great day and as always happy adventuring everyone.

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