Five-Minute Backstories

2007 August 20
by Stupid Ranger

As Vanir described earlier, your game will be so much more interesting and enjoyable if your character is something other than a set of numbers on a piece of paper. And while there are those who enjoy creating genealogies, childhood memories and character portraits, not everyone has that kind of time. When you need to quickly generate a backstory, try these quick tips:

#1: Family – this is an easy one: decide the kind of family environment in which your character grew up. Did you have a loving mother and father who raised you fairly with your other siblings? Were you an only child because your mother died during childbirth? Maybe you were orphaned and never knew your family. Your family background can give you quick insight into why your character started adventuring.

#2: Career – you as a player have probably already what class you are playing, but why did your character choose this profession? Determining why your character chose that career can help you develop goals quickly. Did you become a cleric because you feel the need to eradicate all undead? Or maybe you’re a fighter because you were drafted into the town militia, but you’ve always wanted to study magic; now you have a goal to cross-class.

#3: One More Thing – give your character a little bit of color with just one unique characteristic. Develop a personality; do you interact well with others, or would you prefer if everyone just left you alone? Add a distinguishing feature: scar, birthmark, unusual hair color, something that sets you apart from everyone else in town. Create just one tiny story: you inherited your grandfather’s traveling cloak when you told your family you were setting off on your own adventure, or you learned to speak elven from one of the town elders who had been a bard and was well-versed in the language. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but adding just one extra detail can help make your character seem a bit more real.

With these few little details gained from your five minutes of thought, you should have enough to at least get your feet wet with your new character. Just remember to fill in the rest of the details as you go!

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