New 5E Background: Woodsman (Greyhawk)

Here is the first in what may well turn into a series of new material for D&D 5th edition, specifically with a Greyhawkian twist. But I’m sure enterprising DMs could always adapt it to other settings.

Background: Woodsman

You were born and raised in the deep forest, as have your
fathers and mothers for generations before you. You know the ways of the wood;
the sounds of the birds, insects, and animals are like a trumpeter’s call to
you; you can sense when something isn’t right in the forest.

As a woodsman, you are more rough-hewn and straightforward
than your city-dwelling cousins, but not so unaware of civilization as to count
as an outlander. Generally speaking, woodsmen will resent the
efforts of the states which neighbor their homelands to bring them under
control, but in some cases the people of the forest will welcome such
protection, especially in areas that are themselves under threat from worse
powers than human kings. 
Skill proficiencies:
Athletics, Survival
Tool proficiencies: Herbalism
kit, woodcarver’s tools
Equipment: A set
of traveler’s clothes, a handaxe, a hunting trap, and
a small pouch with 10 gp.

Not all forests are the same, and so too not all woodsmen
are alike. The traits associated with the various major forests of the Flanaess are generalizations, naturally, but will apply in
a great number of cases. Woodsmen will also often have a general camaraderie
amongst one another, regardless of which forest fastness they call home; a
shared bewilderment as to how others don’t know that the outer bark of a birch
tree is waterproof and can be used to create an improvised canteen, and similar
bits of lore that are known to every child back home.
I am from the Adri forest. I dislike folk from the Great
Kingdom as a rule.
I am from the Celadon forest. I will be inclined to drive away
or kill any outlaws or bandits I come across.
I am from the Dim forest. I am well disposed towards elves.
I am from the Gamboge forest. I tend to trust Nyrond and its citizens more than the Palish.
I am from the Gnarley forest. I
resent any who would claim suzerainty over my home.
I am from the Grandwood forest. I
dislike Medegians as a rule.
I am from the Phostwood/Nutherwood. Bandits of any stripe are my foe.
I am from the Rieuwood. I dislike
folk from South Province.
I am from the Vesve forest. Orcs,
hobgoblins, and anyone serving Iuz will not find a
friend in me.
I am from the Welkwood. I am
inclined to trust elves and gnomes, but have a stronger-than-normal dislike
of humanoids.
Feature: Woodsense

When you are in a woodland, you can use the subtle cues and
clues of the forest to sense the presence of monsters, humanoids, and other
creatures which are not naturally forest-dwellers, or which are non-subtle
predators such as dragons. Whenever you make a Wisdom (perception) check in a
wooded setting, you are considered to be proficient in the skill.


Growing up in the fastness of a vast woodland leaves a
definite mark on anyone. Woodsmen will tend to be mistrustful of outsiders and
those they consider “too civilized”, but are downright clannish when it comes
to those with whom they are familiar.

Personality Trait
I rarely speak unless I’m asked a direct question, and even
then, I don’t say much.
I am gregarious and love to hear tales of the wide world
beyond the forest.
Animals you can trust. People, not so much.
I once saw a dryad in the deep woods. I’ve spent the time
since trying to find her again.
I’m constantly doing bird calls. Most of the time I don’t even
realize I’m doing it.
I collect bits of civilized luxuries, even if I don’t always
know what they’re for.
I think civilized city ways are foolish and effete, and will
take any opportunity to point that out.
I am always polite to city folk, because I think they’re
somehow better than I am.
Freedom. Every man
is his own king, and the woods are their common realm. (Chaotic)
Solidarity. All of
the forest-folk should band together for the common good. (Good)
Balance. Life in
the forest shows that all things happen in cycles; birth and death, summer
and winter, fortune and ill-luck. I take everything in stride, knowing that
it won’t last. (Neutral)
Everything I do, I do so that my family and I can survive another season.
Adventure. There’s
a huge world beyond the verge of the forest, and I want to see all of it.
Greed. There are
wolves in the wood that take what they want. I am one of them. (Evil)
I’ll protect my home forest no matter the cost.
I’ll do whatever I can to stop the retreat of the boundaries
of the forest.
All the forest folk are my friends.
As a woodsman I understand the need for logging. But
clear-cutting whole acres at a time is wrong, and I’ll take revenge against
those who did that to my home forest.
I once went on a legendary hunt with my friends, and we formed
a lifelong bond on the trip.
I follow the Old Faith and will give up anything to aid it or
those who follow it.
Bathing is for city-folk.
I’m overly trusting of wood elves.
I’m overly trusting of gnomes.
I think I understand elvish ways much better than I actually
I don’t really know how to deal with other people.
I feel anxious when I’m not under a canopy of greenery.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

2 thoughts on “New 5E Background: Woodsman (Greyhawk)

  1. Perhaps its the writing, or just simply the banner at the top of the page?
    I don't know.
    No, actually I do: I read this and I feel like I'm reading it out of the old boxed set. It makes me want to try 5th Ed. in Greyhawk. It's reading something from someone I trust with Greyhawkery.

    Good to see you again, Joseph 🙂

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