Infirmities (5A)

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Infirmities for use with the Invalid background.

Strange Signs, [[Signs of the Supernatural (5A)|Signs of the Supernatural], and Infirmities are all about disadvantages and compensations you can get from backgrounds.


You are addicted to a recreational drug like alcohol. This is a cinematic adaptation of addiction. Don't push this to where it becomes uncomfortable and check with other players they are ok with this theme.

  • You are able to function normally in combat and similar stressful situations. Whenever you are not in danger, you suffer the Poisoned condition, either from the effects of your addiction, or from withdrawal.
  • Your addiction can be recognized with a Wisdom (Medicine) check against your passive Charisma (Deception). Any Charisma skill used against you that involves your addiction has advantage.
  • Your addiction doubles your living expenses.
  • The thing you are addicted to has no effect on you, and you are immune to further addiction of any kind.
  • Your blood is mildly toxic. Creatures cannot drink your blood and you are immune to drugs, poison, and parasitic infection.


This explores the consequences of prejudice. It should only be selected if all players are comfortable with it.

You suffer from some obvious and frightening medical condition that can never be cured. This need not be leprosy, it can be any horrid-looking ailment. This condition is not contagious or debilitating, but looks obviously unhealthy. Most NPCs have a hostile attitude to you and harass you or treat you as if you weren't there. They will not provide you services or lodging at any price. The hostile attitude only applies to you; your companions are not affected, and might even impress others by their benevolence in being willing to be around you. You gain proficiency in Survival and are immune to disease.


You cannot use or benefit from the Help action. You must always attempt saving throws against all spells, even those cast by allies. Allies wishing to cast spells with a range of touch on you must make attack rolls as if you were an enemy. You are immune to the Charm condition and are never surprised.

Blind Eye

You are blind in one eye. Halve the range of any weapon or spell you use. You see invisible creatures and objects within 30 ft. as if they were visible.


You permanently suffer the Deafened condition. You have learned to lip-read any language you know as long as you can see the speaker and is within 30 ft.


You cannot speak in more than a whisper. You cannot make yourself understood to a creature more than 5 ft. away or be heard at all beyond 15 ft. This restricts your social interactions and the range of spells that require targets to hear you, but also makes it easy for you to cast spells without being noticed.

Hook Hand

One of your hands is severed and has been replaced with a hook. You cannot wield a weapon in this hand or use a two-handed weapon, but you can do the following with the hook.

  • You can satisfy the somatic components of spells and the hook hand counts as a spell focus for all classes.
  • You can use the hook hand reload a one-handed weapon with the ammunition property held in your other hand.
  • You can use the hook as melee weapon that does 1d4 slashing damage and has the finesse quality. You can use a bonus action to attack with your hook hand.
  • You can make a Strength (Athletics) check to grapple as a bonus action.


You carry a prodigious infestation of vermin such as worms, lice, and ticks. This infestation is obvious and disgusting, making others fear to be near you and barring you entrance to most civilized places. Any creature that ends their turn adjacent to you takes 1 poison damage. This damage increases to 1d4 at level 5, 1d8 at level 11, and 1d12 at level 17.

Crippled Arms

Your arms are severed or useless. You have trained your feet to overcome these limitations, when you are prone you can use your feet as if they were hands. You do not suffer disadvantage or give disadvantage on attack rolls when prone. You learn the Mage Hand cantrip and can cast it using your normal spellcasting ability. If you are not a spellcaster, use Dexterity as the spellcasting ability of your Mage Hand.


Your legs are maimed or paralyzed. You need a wheelchair or similar conveyance to move around. Double the movement penalties for difficult ground. You suffer disadvantage on most Acrobatics and Athletics checks, as determined by the DM. Your steady position increases the range of any ranged attack or spell you use by half (+50%).


You have a leg injury that reduces your land speed to 20 ft. This speed cannot be reduced by encumbrance or armor. You are immune to caltrops, Grease spells, and similar floor hazards.

Missing Leg

You cannot walk without using a crutch, and even then your land speed is halved. If you do not constantly use one arm to hold yourself upright when standing, you fall prone. You have developed your upper-body muscles to compensate, gaining a +2 bonus to Strength.