Pentiment: What Background Should You Choose?

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.

by Matthew Kevin Mitchell

Are you wondering what background you should choose in Pentiment? You will pick new backgrounds during every Act. This background will determine your knowledge in certain areas, affecting your ability to interact with objects like flowers and pets and hold conversations with NPCs. If you play Pentiment again, you will realize how each background works in tandem with the different choices of the game. Some, however, are more useful than others, depending on what type of playthrough you are looking for. Here is everything you need to know about choosing a background.

What Background Should You Choose in Pentiment?

Your chosen backgrounds will influence the available dialogue choices, how you can interact with certain items like books, and the overall story in the game. You cannot change your chosen backgrounds, so make 100% certain you are happy with your choices. I will provide you with my thoughts on the usefulness of each background, but this shouldn’t be the final word. Depending on how you want the story to progress and what you think is most important is what matters.

Act 1

After leaving Gertner’s house, you will pick your first set of background options in your first interaction with Big Jorg.


You need to pick where you spent your Wanderjahre:

  • Basel: I found this background to be the least useful of the three, but it will still work if you pick it.
  • Flanders: I was able to use Flanders to understand a decent amount of the game. You can understand several translations in a couple of languages.
  • Italy: I found this to be the most useful location for your Wanderjahre. Since Tassing is located in the Roman Empire, it has the most use with the various residents and visitors.

You need to pick what your hobbies during Wanderjhre were:

  • Hedonist: If you want to flirt with the residents of Tassing and see some wickedly funny moments with the nuns at the abbey, I would suggest picking this background.
  • Craftsman: Craftsman lets you analyze the different works of art and structures in the game. It opens up some good dialogue choices since art is another main theme of Pentiment.
  • Bookworm: This background helps you connect with the more royal NPCs and some of the abbey folks. Most of the peasants do not know how to read, though.
  • Rapscallion: This is another background to pick if you want to see some funny moments in the game. You can get yourself into trouble with it as well.
  • Businessman: I didn’t see many positives or negatives with this background.

While traveling to the Scriptorium, you will pick your second set of backgrounds during your talk with Baron Lorenz.


You need to pick what you studied during university:

  • Theology: This background helps you relate to all of the residents since religion is such a huge theme of the game.
  • Imperial Law: I found this background didn’t help as much as you would think and caused more annoyance with NPCs.
  • Medicine: This opens up a lot of dialogue choices but doesn’t change much of the story.

You need to pick your two favorite subjects during university:

  • Latinist: This background helps you understand and read different books, sayings, and paintings
  • Logician: The background helps you understand complex puzzles and topics throughout the game.
  • Orator: The Orator background helps the most with dialogue checks as most NPCs respect it and will give a big positive boost towards passing.
  • Occultist: This is one of my favorites because it unlocks some great flavor to the game, though it is wholly unnecessary.
  • Heavens and Earth: This is the best background I found during my playthroughs. It allows you to solve the Volvelle puzzle in one go and has the most positive dialogue results.

I found the following background choices for Act 1 the most beneficial:

  • Italy
  • Bookworm
  • Latinist
  • Heavens and Earth

Act 2

You will pick one background that details how you spent the last seven years away from Tassing.


The country you did all of your work in is:

  • Poland
  • England
  • France
  • Aragon

Your choice of country provides you with more language knowledge. Act 2 has several options for speaking with visitors and investigating the murder. I’ve found that England and France were the two most beneficial.

Act 3

You will pick your last three backgrounds at the start of Act 3 while talking to the twins.


You need to pick your specialty is:

  • Polyglot: You will be a jack of all trades and a master of none regarding your ability to read different languages. You will need to make certain choices to get help from others if this is chosen.
  • Volksbucher: You will be able to relate more to the townsfolk of Tassing, which plays an important part in Act 3.
  • Reformation:

You need to pick your personality traits:

  • Barbs: I found this put up too many walls with NPCs, then broke down.
  • Flirt: This is another flavor background. Without spoiling too much of the story, you can flirt and have funny moments with the other half of Tassing’s population.
  • Haggle: this is by far the second most useful background, as I could unlock a handful of dialogue checks and achievements using it.
  • Snoop: With being a murder mystery, I thought snooping would be a good background, but Act 3 isn’t so much about investigating as the other Acts.

You need to pick your skills:

  • Tinker: I thought this background would be cooler than what it ended up being. It has its uses, but there are alternatives, so it is unnecessary.
  • Domestics: You will struggle with your purpose during Act 3, and this will determine what path you will go down.
  • Bookkeeping: This helps with some dialogue options but is the least useful of the three options overall.

I found the following background choices for Act 3 the most beneficial:

  • Polyglot
  • Haggle
  • Domestics

Pentiment is available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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