Lommán’s Bonanza of Backgrounds: Gymnosophist

“He that is proud of the rustling of his silks…laughs at the ratling of his fetters.”
-Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State

Adult Material

The following material contains sexual material, and may not be appropriate for all groups and/or players. Please do not use this material in a game without approval from the GM as well as the other players.

Playtest Version

This material is still in the process of being playtested. It is fully usable as written, but may be refined or changed in later versions. As always, this content should only be used with GM permission.


While militant and knightly orders get the most prestige, the faithful of many deities have many other forms of holy orders as well. You are a member of an order whose oaths (be they permanent or renewed every so many years) involve an unusual form of asceticism—in particular a vow against wearing clothing. Depending on the faith and order, this may be a sign of humility and willingness to serve the community in exchange for basic needs, it may be a lascivious dedication to a deity of lust, or possibly you are pursuing a mystical set of mystery traditions designed to commune with a mysterious power. Perhaps members of your order usually spend their time working in festhalls, maybe they spend their days chanting prayers in the town square in exchange for free will donations, or they may even offer physical labor for those who need assistance in exchange for some food and a dry place to sleep. Your vocation may be a commonplace thing for worshipers of your faith, it may be a strange splinter order based out of a particular monastery, or it may just be a peculiar side position within the normal hierarchy of your religion. Whatever the particular details of your sect and the theological reasons for your practices, you are recognized as a mendicant holy person of some persuasion and can count on at least a bare minimum of support from those wishing to receive blessings or education in your faith.
    Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, Religion
    Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools or musical instrument
    Languages: One of your choice
    Equipment: An accessory which signifies your holy order or vocation (usually a piece of jewelry, a tattoo, body paint applied in a particular design, or the like), a holy symbol, a blanket, a sack containing trade goods worth 5 gp (received from a member of the faithful), and a pouch containing 5 gp

Feature: Alms

Whenever you are near farms, villages, cities, forts, or other settled areas, you are able to find a believer in your (or a like-minded) faith who will provide you (as well as your companions if it would not be a burden) with shelter, food, and drink in exchange for some religious service. The nature of the service depend on the particular practices and tenets of your religious order, but may involve labor (skilled or unskilled), performing blessings or rituals, instruction, or other practices of your particular sect. In poor areas or ones where your faith is outlawed or unheard of, you might only be provided with a Poor lifestyle, but in areas where the faith is prestigious, you might receive up to a comfortable lifestyle. Furthermore, in any place where your faith is not outlawed, you have special religious immunity to laws regarding nakedness or public indecency.

Suggested Characteristics

Most gymnosophists are accustomed to a relatively quiet life despite always being the subject of at least mild curiosity from lay people. Some find their oaths quite natural to practice, while others must continually suppress their embarrassment. A few may even be practicing the oaths for a span of time as a form of atonement for a violation of their faiths practices or a life of vice (by their deity’s standards) prior to conversion.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I am quite eager to provide my variety of religious education to any who are willing (and also anyone too polite to say no).
2 I spend a great deal of my free time performing rites and rituals that may seem unusual to those outside of my order.
3 I enjoy using cryptic metaphors and parables.
4 Life should be enjoyed as much as possible, not only when feasts or luxurious celebrations make it easy.
5 Not everyone can travel to a festhall, so I try to bring the festhall with me, on some small scale.
6 I proselytize simply by demonstrating my strength and endurance for the benefit a community. Some will inevitably seek to emulate my success.
7 Education should be person to person. Books are only good for business ledgers and spells.
8 I try my best to seem serene regardless of the situation.


d6 Ideal
1 Ascetism. By avoiding reliance upon material comforts, I toughen myself up for the challenges of the world.
2 Honor. My oaths are a code I live by. The spirit of them is just as important as the words.
3 Hedonism. The world needs joy. And novelty. And pleasure. And excitement. And, of course, relief.
4 Charity. I rely upon the charity of strangers to remind myself of the importance of being charitable to strangers in return.
5 Enlightenment. I am a student of sublime disciplines, working to purify and perfect myself.
6 Aspiration. I strive to be an exemplar of my vocation, like the saints whose path I am following.


d6 Bond
1 I aim to prove that just because the sworn nude clergy of my deity usually stick to temples and monasteries doesn’t mean we can’t strike out to defeat evil in the world too.
2 I conquer my natural vanity and arrogance by following my vows of humility and being of service to those in need.
3 The temple where I learned has nothing more to show me, so I have gone adventuring to train myself further and bring new teachings back to them.
4 The deities of joy, beauty, and pleasure need champions in the world just as much as those of justice and honor.
5 I seek to live up to the example of the visionary who taught me, and someday pass the practices on to others so that her teachings spread.
6 I serve a fertility deity by venturing forth to provide children to those willing faithful (and converts) who have no partner or who struggle to conceive.


d6 Flaw
1 I don’t carry alcohol or other intoxicants, but when they are offered, I tend to overindulge.
2 I am prone to self-doubt and sometimes when feeling insecure, I will act rashly to prove my worth.
3 I am very self-important, thinking myself superior because of my constant dedication to my principles.
4 Being the subject of flattery or flirtation often distracts me from whatever tasks I am supposed to be doing.
5 I don’t like staying in the same place for too long. I say it’s because I don’t wish to impose unduly, but really I just like novelty.
6 Since I don’t often earn or spend money, I’m bad at judging how much is a reasonable amount for an object or service.

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System Reference Document 5.1 Copyright 2016, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell, Chris Sims, and Steve Townshend, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Lommán’s Bonanza of Backgrounds: Gymnosophist Copyright 2021, Malachite Idol; Author Patrick Johnson.