DnD 5E Marine Background

Hello adventurers of all shapes and sizes! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the 34th episode of our background series. Now today we have a pretty unique one in store for us, in the way that not a lot of people are going to know about it ahhh we’re going to be talking about the Marine today.

The reason not a lot of people are going to know about it is it is one of the four backgrounds that was released in the ghosts of a saltmarsh adventure module and for whatever reason every metric i’ve looked at puts ghosts of saltmarsh towards one of the least popular adventurers.

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I’ve read through it one and a half times i guess and i like it. It doesn’t really fit my particular style of DM’ing all that well but it’s not a bad module. So if you have any ideas on why that might be, let me know down beneath. In any case the marines pretty cool and i have no doubt that a handful of you will see it as being pretty noteworth. In any case let’s move on to his description.


You’re usually trained for the upcoming battles on different forms of sandy beaches and rocky shores. Al though you have already been started the famous midnight rides from the swift ships whose names evoke terror in your adversaries hearts. Do you know what is your second home…the water yes the water is your second home and also the rain your shelter, and the crashing waves your battle cry.

So it sounds pretty damn sweet overall what a sense of imagery ghost of saltmarsh is kind of written in this kind of a way so it makes sense within the confines of the adventure module but it really stands out in terms of a lot of the other descriptions, maybe with the exception of the other ghosts of saltmarsh and maybe even the haunted one from the curse of straw campaign. In any case let’s move on to its mechanics here.


  • Skill Proficiencies: Under skill proficiencies you will gain access to both Athletics, Survival. Which means this is one of the few backgrounds that offer athletics as a skill proficiency. I think we’ve covered three so far one of them is the athlete and i forgot what the other one is off the top of my head.
  • Tool Proficiencies: Under tool proficiencies you’ll get Vehicles of land & water which is super useful and something that a lot dms don’t like to bring up but in any case there you go. You’re not really restricted by any vehicles as well i mean i guess air vehicles but not a lot of campaigns use them but in any case let’s move on to some equipment here.
  • Equipment: You have a sentimental dagger one that maybe belonged to a fallen comrade, a folded rag emblazoned with the symbol of your ship or company, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10gp which puts you in line with that average.
  • Languages: None

Very good stuff overall there’s just a lot of flavor you can pull from. Although mechanically it kind of does come down to the campaign when you’re talking about how viable this is. I think proficiency in water and land vehicles is super excellent but a lot of my campaigns involve traveling to far-off places. So i don’t know mileage might vary depending on the campaign certainly worth talking with your DM about. Now let’s move on to it’s feature here. This one is called steady.


You’re always capable of moving twice the normal amount of time (it’s almost up to 16 hours) each day before being the subject for the effect of a forced march ( you can see “Travel Pace” in chapter 8 of the Player’s Handbook). But in an addition to this you have a chance to automatically, find a safest route for landing a boat on shore, that is provided such a route exists.

Now what is a forest march you may ask…..great question, not a lot of DMs are even aware this is a thing personally i’ve never had to use it before and i’m only loosely familiar with it. So it assumes that parties can travel up to eight hours a day. If you go past the eight hours a day mark though you start to run into some problems and that’s what forced marching is where you extend past eight hours.

So for every hour you go past eight hours you make a constitution saving throw. The DC is 10 plus one for each hour past eight hours and on a failed saving throw you suffer one level of exhaustion for fail. It’s really interesting because it comes down to what kind of a pace you’re going at.

So if you’re going at a fast pace you’re gonna be able to clock in at about four miles per hour a normal pace is about three miles an hour and a slow pace is two miles an hour and they each have their individual penalties and bonuses. We’re not going to get too too far into what movement is for a background article of course.

But all you need to know is this could potentially save you from eating exhaustion, especially if you’re planning on traveling a long distances which is really great. And the ability to find a safe spot on a route is amazing. Notice how it doesn’t really say that you’re only safe from environmental effects it basically just says you’re safe. Which is really great stuff if you’re in a pirate themed campaign especially and you have to circumnavigate treacherous waters. Really interesting stuff.


Hardship Endured

In your past the hardship has forged you into an unstoppable living weapon. However this type of hardship is more essential to you and of course is at the heart of a personal philosophy or even the ethos that guides your actions more frequently. On the following table you can roll in order to determine this hardship or select one that best fits your character.

1You hid underwater to avoid detection by enemies and held your breath for an extremely long time. Just before you would have died, you had a revelation about your existence.
2 You spent months enduring thirst, starvation, and torture at the hands of your enemy, but you never broke
3You enabled the escape of your fellow soldiers, but at great cost to yourself. Some of your past comrades may think you're dead.
4No reasonable explanation can explain how you survived a particular battle. Every arrow and bolt missed you. You slew scores of enemies single-handedly and led your comrades to victory.
5For days, you hid in the bilge of an enemy ship, surviving on brackish water and foolhardy rats. At the right moment, you crept up to the deck and took over the ship on your own.
6You carried an injured marine for miles to avoid capture and death.

Suggested Characteristics

In most cases the marines are looked up to by the other part of soldiers and also respected by their superiors. Of course they are veteran warriors those who never lose composure on the battlefield except in few cases. Of course the Marines those who leave the service which is tend to work as mercenaries, but also their combat experience shall make them excellent adventurers. Even though they are self-reliant, marines tend to operate best in groups, valuing camaraderie and the companionship of like-minded individuals.

Personality Trait

For the perosnality trait “i speak rarely but me in every word i say.”

d8Personality Trait
1I speak rarely but mean every word I say.
2I laugh loudly and see the humor in stressful situations.
3I prefer to solve problems without violence, but I finish fights decisively.
4I enjoy being out in nature; poor weather never sours my mood.
5I am dependable.
6I am always working on some project or other.
7I become cantankerous and quiet in the rain.
8When the sea is within my sight, my mood is jovial and optimistic.


For the ideal “Teamwork: Success depends on cooperation and communication and that will put you towards the good alignment.”

1Teamwork. Success depends on cooperation and communication. (Good)
2Code. The marines' code provides a solution for every problem, and following it is imperative. (Lawful)
3Embracing. Life is messy. Throwing yourself into the worst of it is necessary to get the job done. (Chaotic)
4Might. The strong train so that they might rule those who are weak. (Evil)
5Bravery. To act when others quake in fear- this is the essence of the warrior. (Any)
6Perseverance. No injury or obstacle can turn me from my goal. (Any)


Under bond “I face the danger and evil to offset an unredeemable act in my past.” Which sets yourself up for redemption arcs which is always really good stuff.

1I face danger and evil to offset an unredeemable act in my past.
2I. Will. Finish. The. Job.
3I must set an example of hope for those who have given up.
4I'm searching for a fellow marine captured by an elusive enemy.
5Fear leads to tyranny, and both must be eradicated.
6My commander betrayed my unit, and I will have revenge.


Under flaw “I grow combative and unpredictable when i drink.” Which is just a pretty cool thing if you’re once again in that pirate themed campaign and makes a lot of sense and would likely lead to some interesting altercations as your party kind of progressed through the story.

1I grow combative and unpredictable when I drink.
2I find civilian life difficult and struggle to say the right thing in social situations.
3My intensity can drive others away.
4I hold grudges and have difficulty forgiving others.
5I become irrational when innocent people are hurt.
6I sometimes stay up all night listening to the ghosts of my fallen enemies.

Let me know what you think in terms of the characteristics. The ghost of saltmasrsh has some pretty interesting ideas for them but i don’t know i think there’s a lot of cool and interesting pirates throughout history you could kind of pull from if you needed to or even just look to the one piece franchise for any sense of inspiration there. In any case let’s move on to my personal thoughts.


I really like it overall, the description is really cool. To the right person having that proficiency in athletics is great. The ability to be proficienct and essentially most vehicles you’re going to run into throughout the campaign is super useful in its own right and a really neglected part of 5E in general i find, no one really talks about vehicles and under the feature it’s really good if you’re planning on covering long distances or if there’s any element of time being an urgent factor. Really good and of course the ability to do it safely is even more important.


That being said, let me know what you think of the marine down beneath in the comment section. Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments, or concerns you have regarding it and of course drop any ideas, cool inspiration or stories of your own and down there as well. That being said, i hope you all have a great day and as always happy adventuring.

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