5e Background for the Summerlands: Farmer/ Fisher

Nothing says “summer” like fishing and farming. There are a few homebrew backgrounds for farmers and fishers out there on the web, but I wanted one that put them together and made sense in the Summerlands. This is part of my series of summer posts inspired by the June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM. poorfish

Background: Fisher/ Farmer

You come from the backbone of the Summerlands: fishing the coasts, farming the fertile valleys, or working a small forest plot. Members of all Summerlands races farm or fish, in ways that make sense in their environment, from the coastal fisheries of the sea kin to the mountain steppe farming of the aarakocra. Even the tunder, who own no land, may work the land on behalf of others. Farming and fishing happen year-round in the Summerlands, and the fruits of your labor have always been plenty. Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Nature Tool Proficiencies: One tool set (choose carpenter’s tools, mason’s tools, or navigator’s tools), vehicles (choose land or water) Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools (one of your choice) or navigator’s tools and fishing tackle, a set of common clothes, rowboat or cart and draft animal, and a belt containing 10 gp


You were raised in a profession, either working the land or pulling sustenance from the sea. You parents were experienced in this craft and they trained you in it from an early age. While you left that life behind, some part of you will always think of yourself as one of the following. You can roll on the table below or choose the one that best fits your character.

d6 Profession
1 Fisher
2 Kelp farmer
3 Grasslands farmer
4 Forest farmer
5 Hunter-gatherer
6 Farmer of the steppes

Feature: Connected to the Land

Your success as a farmer or fisher relied on your ability to pay attention to the natural world. You can read the signs in the sky and the behavior of animals around you to accurately predict natural weather patterns up to 24 hours in advance. In addition, you have worked closely with one type of land long enough that you know its secrets. Choose one land type (coast, forest, grassland, hill/ mountain, or swamp). When you forage, you can find food and water for yourself and up to five other people each day.

Suggested Characteristics

You have a saying for every occasion, drawing from the folk wisdom of your family, and you tend to connect ideas and behaviors to the natural world. When describing a plan, you might use metaphors related to the growing season or piloting a boat. You have a strong appreciation for people who work with their hands, even though you no longer do, or you may feel a sense of superiority at having left that life behind.

d8 Personality trait
1 I left home to prove that I could do great things, and I am determined to show my worth.
2 I prefer to let my actions speak for me, and use as few words as possible.
3 I connect everything that happens to the behavior of plants and animals in some way; it helps me to make sense of the world.
4 I left home because I craved more adventure and couldn’t wait to leave the simply life behind.
5 Although I am an adventurer now, I long to return to the life I left behind.
6 Someone or something took my family’s farm or boat, and I have vowed to win it back, and to protect others from the same deprivation.
7 I carry a variety of seeds or maps with me, and am always looking to add to my collection.
8 I consider myself to be above my past, and try to hide my rustic origins.
d6 Ideal
1 Respect. Without respect for the land, companions, or crew, nothing can grow. (Good)
2 Community. We are only as successful as the society we create together. (Lawful)
3 Freedom. Give me my piece of land or sea, and I can do anything with it, on my own. (Chaotic)
4 Greed. Whoever controls the food supply, wields the power. (Evil)
5 Nature. If we live in harmony with the world around us, it will care for us as we care for it. (Neutral)
6 Aspiration. My family taught me the value of putting my back into whatever work I do, and nothing is more important to me. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 My ship is more than a tool – it is my home and my closest friend.
2 I worked the land and I will protect and care for others who do the same.
3 I carry the tools of my past life with me, and look for ways to use them.
4 Predators of all kinds are a threat, and I will protect civilization from them.
5 I left family and home behind, but I miss them and dedicate myself to protecting others’ families and homes.
6 My family lost everything in a violent attack, and no one will ever take anything from my by force, again.
d6 Flaw
1 I fly into a rage whenever someone belittles people who work the land, and seeing them abused angers me even more.
2 The distinction between a ship and boat is extremely important to me, and if someone can’t tell the difference, I lose respect for them.
3 I look down on the common folk, because they remind me of what I could have been.
4 I still consider the affairs of nobility and dragons beyond my ability to comprehend.
5 I refuse to let other people do my work for me.
6 People who have never worked with their hands in the dirt or the sea are divorced from the realities of the world, and are inherently untrustworthy.

Hacking the Farmer/Fisher

While some parts of this background are built for the Summerlands, for the most part it is portable. In the same vein as “folk hero,” this is someone earthy who cares about the relationships between the people and the land and sea. At the same time, the purpose of backgrounds is to provide stories for adventure, not reasons to avoid it. You’re not a “farmer,” you’re an ex-farmer. That’s an important distinction. Why did you leave that life behind? A lot of the background elements should be built to invite stories: “my family were killed by sahuagin,” or “the reven wars destroyed my farm” are good beginnings. Disasters like that could happen on any world, not just this one. This background also has a little more choice. I could have made “farmer” a variant fisher, or the other way around, but the variants only change the feature – they don’t impact the bonds and ideals, and it seemed important to integrate those.

Next time: Coastal allies and antagonists of the Summerlands


3 responses to “5e Background for the Summerlands: Farmer/ Fisher

  1. Hi DJ,

    Great description of the peasant worker. These are the people who feed a community, but also make such a fine example of the “folk hero”. A certain Tatooine farmboy made a good example of this trope.

    As you noted on Tales of a GM, your article makes a neat companion piece to my own submission about rural summer festivals:


    Thanks for taking part in the Summerlands Blog Carnival


  2. Pingback: Summerland: An Overview » Tales of a GM

  3. Pingback: Summerlands Recap and New Directions | Dungeon Hacking

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