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Game System Resources / Re: D&D Resources
« Last post by thatchickenguy on February 19, 2019, 11:37:56 PM »
Hey guys and girls - be sure to check out DMsGuild for some great resources that help fund a great charity -
https://www.dmsguild.com/featured.php?promotion_id=RAINN-02-19

The sale includes several options, including player options, DM options, low and high level adventures, and a starter pack.

All proceeds from this sale go to RAINN - Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. There is also an option to donate directly if you don't want to purchase any of the content.
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Backstory Workshop / Re: Part 5 discussion
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 09:22:09 PM »
As a final thought on this one: a level 1 or 2character isn't leaving their live behind at the drop of a hat, but a series of escalating "right time, right place" or "you're the only one that can" situations can do a lot to get that character out the door and into the story.
I actually used to run games where I would start everyone off with NPC classes and the story would start as like, how they became adventurers in the first place.  Fun times, but kind of slow going.

To the second point: min/maxing doesn't preclude roleplaying. Everyone wants to be good at their job, and handicapping yourself doesn't make you more interesting. If you hire a plumber, you want someone that is good at it, not someone that has dabbled in plumbing/teaching/assembly line work/auto mechanic/ostrich jockeying/etc.
Ok, I literally laughed out loud at "ostrich jockeying", first of all.

And, I mostly agree with your sentiment here.  I was more saying that a lot of the time, players want to play the absolute best possible arrangement of stats and skills and feats to maximize the effectiveness of their character, and going with a stereotypical character means your backstory then has to fit into that stereotype.  You're locking yourself into a particular type of character path--and that's not bad, I'm just giving ideas on how to broaden out your available character paths to choose from.

I played a dwarven fighter with a backstory of a sailor who used a net and a trident for her main weapons.  Her primary stat was Dexterity, then Constitution, then Intelligence, then Strength.  That is far from a typical "ideal" damage-dealing fighter.  She was a quick-footed crowd-control focused fighter more than a damage dealer and tank.  My main gist was just that you can end up with some seriously cool, atypical characters if you don't try to follow the stereotypical "most effective" version of a class.
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Backstory Workshop / Part 5 discussion
« Last post by Harbinger on February 19, 2019, 04:34:22 PM »
I skimmed through the original posts, and I feel like [Part 5] interests me the most, discussion-wise.

To the fiest point, about characters with community ties... You don't need to kill off everyone your character would care about before they set off on an adventure. In general, a person would need an extremely important reason to just leave.

For me personally, having a wife and children, I wouldn't leave to cross the world for the sake of adventure. But, I would help a neighbor or friend go track an animal they shot. Or help them get their vehicle out of a ditch. For a low level adventurer, these are perfectly acceptable challenges.

As a DM you can weave in story elements that may make characters feel invested in, and obligated to, see the work completed. Say, while tracking a deer, another neighbor is waylaid by goblins and kidnapped. The adventurer just escalated, and most people won't leave their neighbor to their fate.

As a final thought on this one: a level 1 or 2character isn't leaving their live behind at the drop of a hat, but a series of escalating "right time, right place" or "you're the only one that can" situations can do a lot to grt that character out the door and into the story.

_______________________________________

To the second point: min/maxing doesn't preclude roleplaying. Everyone wants to be good at their job, and handicapping yourself doesn't make you more interesting. If you hire a plumber, you want someone that is good at it, not someone that has dabbled in plumbing/teaching/assembly line work/auto mechanic/ostrich jockeying/etc.

A similar idea occurs with adventurers. Classes are abstracts, mostly. A wizard may call themselves a wizard, as there is a lot of in-game baggage thag goes with it. But a rogue can be a scout, spy, thief, acrobat, pirate, etc., and likely wont ever refer to themselves as a "rogue" in character.

A cleric can be a priest, acolyte, servant, faithful, missionary... you get it.

So say you want to make a character that wants to hit stuff really hard with an axe. You'll probably go fighter or barbarian. You'll focus on strength and con, and maybe boost dexterity. You've already min/maxed. Is your character less for having done so? Absolutely not. If you treat your character only as a bundle of numbers, your roleplay will suffer, and the character will fall flat. But if Ungthir, Blade Champion of Gruumsh is a little dumb and unwise because he swings an axe harder than any other half-orc in the village, fine. What you make of the numbers is what's important, not the numbers themselves. BUT, you can't sacrifice the ability to be effective at your role and call it great characterization.
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Backstory Workshop / More Workshop Ideas
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 12:40:25 PM »
I plan on adding a couple of character backstories I've created along with my thought process as I created them.

If you think of anything else that would be helpful for this workshop section, post it here or PM me with your suggestion.

Thanks!
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Backstory Workshop / Help me Obackstory-Wan, you're my only hope!
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 12:17:57 PM »
If you'd like some one-on-one assistance, you can PM one of the admin team, or just post here and we'll get in touch with you to help you out.  =)
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 4]: A Harder History
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 12:07:25 PM »
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.
A Harder History
Humble Beginnings
A fun way to spark interesting backstories is to come up with super menial jobs, and then work out how on earth they went from the temple janitor, or a glass blower, or the guy who lights the streetlamps at dusk, to an adventurer. Coming up with something that has nothing to do with adventuring or adventure-related jobs (thief, soldier, etc) forces you to get creative for how your character stumbled onto the path of the adventurer.

Writing Weaknesses
They say nobody’s perfect, but we all want our characters to be flawless. It is difficult to make a character with genuine flaws in a game where you’re supposed to have all sorts of awesome abilities. The thing is, a game you can beat on the first play through because your character is so awesome… wouldn’t even be fun. Perfect characters in a group game aren’t fun for other players to interact with. They are inherently stale because there is no room for development built in, and nothing lacking that the other characters can fill in for.

Think of some of your favorite people in your life. What are their weaknesses? You still like them despite these weaknesses, right? What about some of your favorite fictional characters? Or even historical ones. Everyone has flaws, so remember to use real examples as inspiration.

Some of the best ‘weaknesses’ I’ve seen come from a single driving emotional flaw that presents in a variety of ways. For example, I made a character once that betrayed some people close to her and robbed them blind. Because of this, she was full of guilt, which resulted in self-hatred. This came out in a variety of ways. She was reckless and self-sacrificing, she drank too much, she was hostile, sarcastic, and refused to smile. She had an unhealthy relationship with money and had a bitter contempt for betrayal… And she was extremely generous and kind to poor people and victims of betrayal. All of those ‘flaws’ were symptoms of a single driving emotion; her guilt.

Trash or Twist the Tropes
Sometimes you want your character to have an element of their backstory that is stereotypically tropey. That’s valid! Still, it may be possible to adjust it into something less tropey than your initial concept.

I do this when I write things that I want to use as inspiration rather than copy directly (like research that requires sources). It’s so easy to accidentally copy something, even when you’re trying to give it your own spin. Broaden it into the simplest conceptual outline you can. Then, without looking at the original content, narrow it down again. This way you retain the bones of the concept, but the actual implementation, the muscle, is your own.

Let’s say you want a character who doesn’t have parents. This is a great way to make your character seem deep and edgy without actually being a deep character, so let’s try to avoid our backstory sounding like an emo kid wrote it. First, broaden this out. Rather than not HAVING parents, let’s broaden this into a nice vague “the parents are not in the picture”. Then it’s time to narrow it back down.

Personally, I scrap the first few ideas that pop into my head as they tend to be very stereotypical and common.

Their parents/family were killed/died in an accident.  Scrapped!

The mother died in childbirth and the father fell ill and died.  Next!

I feel like I’m relying too hard on the theme of ‘they’re dead’ here--see how easy that is to come back to? Let’s try another route. The parents aren’t dead at all, but they’re toxic people and so your character cut ties with them. The character was adopted and only told once they reached adulthood, and maybe although they love their adoptive family, they want to try to find their biological family, too. Maybe they’re from a genuinely happy and emotionally healthy family.

Wait wait wait--what??

That’s allowed?

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
Part 2: Why even write a backstory?
Part 3: Starting off Simple
Part 4: A Harder History <-- You Are Here
Part 5: Expert Mode Epics
Part 6: Bullet-point Backstory
Part 7: A Quick Conclusion
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 7]: A Quick Conclusion
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 12:01:17 PM »
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.
In Conclusion
Pay attention to motivations, goals, flaws, and bonds from real life. Steal snippets from various inspirations. Draw guidance from existing characters, but don’t copy them. Challenge yourself to use very normal themes and humble beginnings. Stretch yourself further, let yourself be inspired. And the best part is that the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. It will always be hard. But as we all know, facing challenges is the only way we level up!

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
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 <-- You Are Here
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 6]: Bullet-Point Backstory
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 11:57:06 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.
Bullet Point Backstory
Here’s a quick bullet list for building some complexity into your character.

Don’t forget the #1 Rule, and don’t forget to provide in-game purpose to your backstory.
  • Pick a concept or theme for your character. Consider unusual combinations!
    • Bubbly CEO, Grumpy Healer, Gossipy Scout, Emotional Soldier, etc
  • Come up with their “bonds”
    • D&D 5E offers suggestions based on your chosen Backstory, but you can invent new ones!
    • Who do they care about?
    • Who cares about them? (Everyone forgets this one.)
    • What places are they attached to?
    • What favors do they owe?
  • Memories
    • What are a few stories your character loves retelling?
    • List some character-defining moments your character remembers
    • What about your character’s biggest moment of embarrassment?
  • Goals/motivations
    • What is your character trying to do right now?
    • Why? What is their longer-term goal?

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
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 <-- You Are Here
Part 7: A Quick Conclusion
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 5]: Expert Mode Epics
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 11:52:53 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.
‘Expert Mode’ Epics
The Happy backstory
If you want a really challenging backstory, this is a great place to start from. It’s easy to give a tabletop character a tragic story that compels them to adventure, and that kind of reasoning makes a lot of sense. But what about the adventurers who just wanted to see the world? Maybe they’re excitedly searching for an item or an heirloom. Maybe they were called to adventure by a greater power. Maybe they signed on to a get-rich-quick scheme!



Do they genuinely miss their family and send letters back and forth? Maybe they are afraid of taking too great of risks because they don’t have nothing to lose. This kind of character can inspire some fantastic downtime campfire discussions. “Hey Winkle, I know you love charging in to battles in a rage, but can you try to be a little more careful? I don’t want to get sent home to my parents in an urn…”

Avoid Min-Maxing
Min-maxing is the art of making your character AMAZINGLY GOOD at the stuff they are good at, and AMAZINGLY BAD at everything else. In my personal experience, the most memorable characters I have ever played and seen played were characters that were not min-maxed.

So why is this important for a backstory? Well, there is usually a specific build path to make a min-maxed character. A cleric of a certain deity. A fighter with a certain weapon. A wizard with a certain type of spell specialty. You get the idea. If you don’t min-max, you uncuff yourself from the “ideal” build path and you open yourself up to vastly wider backstory potential.

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
Part 2: Why even write a backstory?
Part 3: Starting off Simple
Part 4: A Harder History
Part 5: Expert Mode Epics <-- You Are Here
Part 6: Bullet-point Backstory
Part 7: A Quick Conclusion
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 3]: Starting off Simple
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 11:40:23 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.
What can I do?
The following are a few concepts and methods you can keep in mind as you craft your backstory, ROUGHLY sorted into level of challenge. Remember that every single one of these things are guidelines, not rules.

Starting Off Simple
Your backstory should make sense
If your character is low level, they don’t have that much experience under their belt. Many Lvl1 backstories are full of grand adventures and schemes already overcome. (Really? Your character doesn’t even have a decent weapon yet!) Conversely, a soldier who experienced years of battle and has now decided to become an adventurer would probably not be a level one adventurer. It’s unlikely that your character’s trigger to set out adventuring would have happened a century ago; it would have likely happened recently. If your character has always been a loner, what compelled them to work with a group now?

Tried and true, except
If you just want to take your first step forward with writing a better backstory, pick a solid, tried-and-true trope—and just change one little detail about it to make it atypical. For example, let’s take the “My whole village was murdered by an orc tribe” trope. Find a fun way to change this into something new. “My whole village murdered an orc tribe.” Wow, that’s… way different. Maybe your character was sickened and decided they needed to go on a quest seeking redemption for such an unprovoked slaughter. Sounds like a cool backstory for a cleric.

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
Part 2: Why even write a backstory?
Part 3: Starting off Simple <-- You Are Here
Part 4: A Harder History
Part 5: Expert Mode Epics
Part 6: Bullet-point Backstory
Part 7: A Quick Conclusion
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