[RPG] Do languages from backgrounds stack with base racial languages, or override them


Hermit, Outlander, Sage, etc. all get a language trait from choosing that background. However, it's not made clear whether these languages stack with the languages that races provide, or replace them.

For example, a character playing as an Elf will get the following languages:

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Elvish.

Alternatively, in the Outlander background:

Languages: One of your choice

Say a player was playing an Elf with an Outlander background. Which takes precedence? Racial over background, background over racial, or do they stack and happily coexist in a trilingual level 1 elf?

Best Answer

A background gives you extra languages, on top of the ones you know from your race

As per the basic rules (emphasis mine):

A background gives your character a background feature (a general benefit) and proficiency in two skills, and it might also give you additional languages or proficiency with certain kinds of tools.

When you choose a background, you add the features it grants to your existing traits. Your Outlander Elf should know three languages - common, Elvish, and another of your choice.