Dungeons & Dragons' Strixhaven Backgrounds Are 'Most Powerful Backgrounds in Game'

Several new character backgrounds being introduced in the next Dungeons & Dragons book are the most powerful backgrounds ever added to the game. Next month, Wizards of the Coast will publish Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, a new D&D rulebook that details the magical school of Strixhaven that was introduced earlier this year in Magic: The Gathering. Included in the book are new character backgrounds for players to use when playing a campaign set in Strixhaven, which will grant players access to a limited list of spells themed around one of Strixhaven's five colleges. Speaking with Todd Kenrick in a video posted earlier this week, D&D senior rules designer Jeremy Crawford confirmed that these backgrounds are likely the most powerful to ever be added to Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition rules.

In the video, Crawford noted that the backgrounds include both the usual features (proficiencies, extra languages, etc.) as well as access to the Strixhaven Initiate feat, which opens up access to one of five limited lists of spells regardless of their base class or subclass. "These backgrounds are special in [that] they're giving you a feat", Crawford said in the video. "Players will wonder, 'Wow, did we just make the most powerful backgrounds in the game and what were we thinking?' In fact, yes, they are now the best backgrounds in the game, and that's on purpose." Players usually can add a feat in place of an Ability Score Increase when leveling up a character. The Variant Human race also allows players to take a feat when creating a character. 

Crawford noted that the backgrounds with feats continued a trend of providing "something extra" in D&D campaign setting books featuring Magic: The Gathering worlds, something that was started with bonus features for joining a Ravnica guild in Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica and continued with the Piety system seen in Mythic Odysseys of Theros. Crawford also added that "Strixhaven Initiate" was designed as a feat in order to give players the option to pick a different background from outside of the book or to allow DMs the option of starting a higher level Strixhaven campaign. You can check out the full video detailing these new backgrounds and character options below: 

While the Strixhaven Initiate backgrounds are deliberately powerful, they come with a likely caveat. The backgrounds themselves are meant to be used in Strixhaven campaigns and at least some DMs will want allow to take those backgrounds when crafting a character outside of that specific world. Although Strixhaven can be placed into any wider campaign setting, it might not make sense for a Strixhaven student to be going on extended quests with a group of adventurers instead of pursuing their magical education. 

We'll find out more about these backgrounds when Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is released on December 5th.