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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 2]: Why even write a backstory?
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 11:35:25 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.
The #1 Rule for Character Creation
Let’s establish this rule upfront:
Quote
The game is not all about you. TTRPGs are group games.
Your character’s backstory should not inhibit the group’s enjoyment of the game.

That means, if you want to make a potentially troublesome character, run it by your group FIRST. It will usually mean:
  • Avoid ‘loners’ who refuse to work with the group
  • Avoid scoundrels who steal other party members’ items or stab them in the middle of the night
  • Avoid the “I’m just playing my character’s alignment” chaotic neutral character who randomly kills NPCs and gets the party into trouble
  • This list is not conclusive--there are plenty of other ways to make a troublesome character

Don’t be ‘that person’. You might have fun with that character, but it can ruin it for everyone else.

Why write a backstory at all?
Before we get into the ‘how’, let’s start with the ‘why’. A good backstory makes your character memorable. You won’t be the zillionth kid whose family was killed by orcs or ended up as an urchin taken in out of the blackness of the Thieves’ Guild’s heart.

More importantly—consider this rule #2—a backstory has game-related purpose. It gives the other players and the GM ways to connect themselves and the world with your character on an emotional level rather than just feeling like the D&D equivalent of drinking buddies. (If there’s no adventure going on, there’s not really any reason for you to remain connected with the party.) For many groups, this just gets hand-waved, but it doesn’t make for a compelling character or group dynamic.



Establish your Backstory Goals
Even a very basic backstory helps you and the GM tie your character to the world. YOU have a backstory, don’t you? You have friends, loved ones, cherished memories, favorite stories. Your character didn’t magically appear out of the void, either. What have they done with their life? What has been important to them so far? You have people you have invested time in, cared about (or hated), stories you re-tell time and time again. So should your character!
  • Establish the character's personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, motivations and goals
    • This way you won’t have to determine them on the fly (or forget to do so)
    • It gives you established and soundly-reasoned reactions to various cues
  • Establish secrets the character wants to hide
    • It could be as simple as ‘they don’t give toothy smiles because they’re embarrassed about their crooked teeth’, to ‘they accidentally killed someone they cared about in a fit of rage’
  • Tie the character to the world
    • This helps the GM bring in aspects to the story that YOUR character specifically cares about, like personal goals and quests
  • Give the character a reason to be adventuring
    • Because that’s what all of this is about, right?

Part 0: The Introduction
Part 1: My own backstory
Part 2: Why even write a backstory? <-- You Are Here
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
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 1]: My own backstory
« Last post by Otter 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
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Backstory Workshop / Backstory Workshop [Part 0]: Building a Better Backstory
« Last post by Otter on February 19, 2019, 10:42:33 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.

Spoiler: Disclaimer • show
We will be using a good deal of D&D 5E terminology in this discussion, partly because it is one of the most common tabletop RPGs, and because they did a great job in coming up with a great way to generate quick but robust backstories with 5E. Most of the implementation is translatable to any tabletop system.

Writing a good backstory is hard, even when you’re good at it. Hashing out the math for buying all the skills and feats feels like the easy part. Besides, crafting backstories can be time consuming, and you just want to get to playing! It is so easy to skimp on (or skip!) the personality and history for a character and just go with something easy.

Sometimes this is just because you don’t know where to start, or where to go. If you want to improve at your backstory game, if you feel like you just need some guidance, well friends, you’re in the right place.


Part 0: The Introduction <-- You Are Here
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
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General Board Information / Re: Loot Lottery - Win swag for being a consistent member
« Last post by Otter on February 08, 2019, 12:50:56 AM »
Here is an example of a simple commission one could expect:

Artwork by Sarn Elyren
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: [Pathfinder] Crypt Of The Everflame [5/5|3]
« Last post by xdisk on February 05, 2019, 12:55:45 AM »
Thaddeus waited while the metal ingot was heating in his forge. Well, his *father’s* forge, but someday, it might be his. The glow of the forge was the only light in the dark workshop, perfect for a Dwarf to forge in, just like they do in the Dwarven Kingdoms, or so he had been told. He wondered what it was to be so deep underground that sunlight was a myth. One day he’d make the trip to his father’s homeland.

He worked the metal, shaping the ingot into a hammer. He would be ‘coming of age’ as the humans like to put it. It felt hollow, he had lived for as long as many of the humans in the village, and yet while they have children of their own, he was still little more than a ‘boy’ in his father’s eyes, and prone to making horrible, rushed mistakes, as his father liked to point out on his workmanship.

“You put too much force *here* and not enough *there*!”  “The shape’s all wrong, do it again!” and “You’ve made such a mess of this piece I doubt it can be melted down back into an ingot!”

Thaddeus knew his workmanship was second only to his father, and that he had been at, or even surpassed any other human smiths in the area, but still his father wouldn’t let up. Thaddeus spent three days at the forge, hammering away, attempting to perfect his craft. His father, Thygus, barged in, ale in hand and heavy on his breath. Thaddeus, his arm weak, was startled, and dropped his hammer, right on his foot. His father hasn’t stopped calling him Hammertoe ever since.

Thaddeus shook the memory away. He was a much better craftsman now, and he worked diligently on his new warhammer. A gleaming shield was already forged and waited for engraving.

Soon, he would come of age, and he could leave this place, and the name “Hammertoe” behind him.
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: [Pathfinder] Crypt Of The Everflame [5/5|3]
« Last post by Otter on February 03, 2019, 09:16:01 PM »
Grats! I'll pop this into your main game area.  =)
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: [Pathfinder] Crypt Of The Everflame [5/5|3]
« Last post by Daros on February 03, 2019, 02:28:09 PM »
@Otter  All full.
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: [Pathfinder] Crypt Of The Everflame [4/5|3]
« Last post by monkeysbadhabit on February 01, 2019, 05:30:22 PM »
Hi! I'm friend's with Soulcougher73. I'd like to join the game as well if the last spot has not been filled.
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: Crypt Of The Everflame Character Creation Thread
« Last post by soulcougher73 on February 01, 2019, 03:49:35 PM »
Also to get some clarity. When we take a drawback we get an additional trait. So in total we would have 3 traits and 1 drawback? Do you care if we take traits that are campaign traits from other campaigns at all? It doesnt look like Everflame has any campaign specific traits.
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Crypt Of The Everflame / Re: OOC For Crypt Of The Everflame
« Last post by Daros on February 01, 2019, 03:34:40 PM »
https://discord.gg/z4ypw5g

Here's the invite link for discord. It's probably the easiest way to get ahold of me as well most of the time.

@Lifeat78
@kona
@xdisk
@soulcougher73
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