Author Topic: Backstory Workshop [Part 1]: My own backstory  (Read 53 times)

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Offline Otter

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Backstory Workshop [Part 1]: My own backstory
« on: February 19, 2019, 11:00:05 AM »
This is original content is written my me.  If you would like to use it elsewhere, please quote me and link back to this post.
I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs (mostly D&D) for 15 years, since I was in college. For the first several years that I played, I would only play rogues, and only play the Robin Hood type of rogue. (Chaotic good, didn’t actually steal or break laws unless it was for a good cause, sharp wit, only attacked from range.)

Then I found myself persuaded into joining a “Vampire: The Requiem” larp. For those of you who are unfamiliar with VtR and/or larps; you can’t really play a ‘good guy’ in VtR. You are a classic vampire (NOT A SPARKLY ABOMBINATION). Your character is corrupt and evil by default. It’s not ‘if’; it’s ‘how’ and ‘how much’. A larp is a basically improv acting within the bounds of a tabletop game.

The GM was offering a tantalizing amount of bonus XP for filling roles--enough to tempt me out of my shy, spotlight-avoiding archetype and into a political powerhouse character that terrified the heck out of me for the first few months. I had a rare, lifechanging experience with that character; through her, I discovered I had an actual spine. That was my first big step in backstory development; being forced out of my comfort zone and playing a character opposite of my personality.

After that, I found myself wanting to actively avoid my favorite character type. Having been forced so far out of my comfort zone made me want to play other kinds of characters. Could they be as exciting? Could I play them as well, or better? With the door now wide open, there was so much that felt that much less frightening.

Then I read an article discussing how so many backstories have a sad background. I realized I did that exact same thing, even with my expanded comfort level with other character types. It was such a simple way to get a character adventuring, and it doesn’t require much complexity, so I hadn’t even really thought about it.



So of course, I was determined to step even further out of my comfort zone. I wanted to make backstories that weren’t tragic or sad. I wanted to explore why would someone choose to go adventuring if they weren’t pushed to out of tragedy and a burning desire for revenge. Since sad and tragic backgrounds tend to be tropey, my entire rule of thumb became “Avoid Tropey Backgrounds”.

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory <-- You Are Here
Part 2: Why even write a backstory?
Part 3: Starting off Simple
Part 4: A Harder History
Part 5: Expert Mode Epics
Part 6: Bullet-point Backstory
Part 7: A Quick Conclusion
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 12:13:02 PM by Otter »
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