Astronomer Background for D&D 5E

“and as they shine from the heavens, they reveal the magnificent power within. Each and every star reveals the secrets they have withheld over a thousand lifetimes. Seemingly fixed, they watch over this world and all others. Their power surpasses all understanding.”

But one seeks to understand. The astronomer spends years studying the stars to slowly pull back the mysterious curtain of the universe. Now, you can play an astronomer in D&D with a brand new background.

Background Details

You spent years studying the stars. Visiting observatories allowed you to gaze through telescopes and chart the heavens above. You know the stars as you know your hometown.

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Nature

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: An abacus, a quill, a spy glass, the coordinates of a star that’s disappeared, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp.

Feature: Cosmic Awareness

You know the patterns of celestial objects, like moons and stars. Given any two of the following, you can accurately figure out the third:

  • The date of the observation
  • The location of the observer
  • The position of celestial objects in the sky

Suggested Characteristics

Astronomers are defined by their vast knowledge and perfectionist tendencies. Devoted to understanding the cosmos, an astronomer values truth highly — sometimes in its own right, sometimes as a means toward other ideals.

d8 Personality Trait

1 I use polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition.

2 I’ve read every book in the world’s greatest libraries — or I like to boast that I have.

3 I’m used to helping out those who aren’t as smart as I am, and I patiently explain anything and everything to others.

4 There’s nothing I like more than a good mystery.

5 I’m willing to listen to every side of an argument before I make my own judgment.

6 I … speak … slowly … when talking … to idiots, … which … almost … everyone … is … compared … to me.

7 I am horribly, horribly awkward in social situations.

8 I’m convinced that people are always trying to steal my secrets.

d6 Ideal

1 Knowledge. The path to power and self-improvement is through knowledge. (Neutral)

2 Beauty. What is beautiful points us beyond itself toward what is true. (Good)

3 Logic. Emotions must not cloud our logical thinking. (Lawful)

4 No Limits. Nothing should fetter the infinite possibility inherent in all existence. (Chaotic)

5 Power. Knowledge is the path to power and domination. (Evil)

6 Self-Improvement. The goal of a life of study is the betterment of oneself. (Any)

d6 Bond

1 I protect the location of a powerful telescope for fear of what it might reveal.

2 I have an ancient text that holds terrible secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands.

3 I work to preserve a library, university, scriptorium, or observatory.

4 My life’s work is a series of tomes related to a specific area of astronomy.

5 I’ve been searching my whole life for the answer to a certain question.

6 I sold my soul for knowledge. I hope to do great deeds and win it back.

d6 Flaw

1 I am easily distracted by the promise of information.

2 Most people scream and run when they see an aberration. I long to see something from out of this universe.

3 Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization.

4 I overlook obvious solutions in favor of complicated ones.

5 I speak without really thinking through my words, invariably insulting others.

6 I can’t keep a secret to save my life, or anyone else’s.

Using the Background Feature

There are countless ways to use the Cosmic Awareness background feature. Here are some examples:

  • Simple example: You are trying to find the location of a cult. An escaped hostage doesn’t recall where the cave was. But after your inquiry, she recalls the position of the moon. And she knows she escaped one week ago. That’s enough for you. You know approximately where this cave must be.
  • Complex example: You are questioning a murder suspect. He states that he was in the neighboring village during the murder so it couldn’t be him. During his testimony, he spills detail after detail to help his alibi. Until he talks about the crescent moon. You know enough to know that it would have been a new moon. When you expose his lie, the rest of his story begins to fall apart.

The background is available on D&D Beyond:

https://www.dndbeyond.com/backgrounds/158284-astronomer

Bonus: It pairs well with the Circle of Stars druid.

👋 My name is Kirk. I’m an adventure designer and map maker. Most of my maps are available for commercial use. Check them out at https://ko-fi.com/phd20