Building a D&D Player Character – 301
Back into building a D&D character.
We’ve talked previously about the simplest ways to make a character that doesn’t step on other players toes, that fits into the game, and one that is fun to play.
Next we’ve talked about how you can use the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws to create some back story for your character. This allows you to really start creating a backstory for your character and your role playing. You can review 201 here.
Now we’re onto really delving into the backstory and what makes a good backstory. This will be covered in the final two posts about creating backstory and creating your player character.
When creating a backstory there are a few things that you should be writing into your backstory:
Role Playing Prompts –
This is probably the trickiest one to explain, but basically you are looking to expand upon the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws that you’ve previously created or at this time create those along with your backstory to give you things to role play with. But now you get the chance to really expand upon that. If you have a flaw that you hate all goblins, well, now you can explain why you hate all goblins since they murdered your family and burned down your village. So as you develop your backstory, look to drop in those little tidbits of information to support the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Also, look to add in more role playing elements for you. You can create little pieces of story that are going to give your character a more rich background and more depth to role play with.
A Reason to Adventure –
This one is pretty straight forward. You need a reason to be about adventuring. If you spent your whole life on a farm and you are going to inherit the farm, why are you out adventuring? Or if you are a hermit in the woods who hates people, why are you adventuring? Give yourself a reason to be adventuring, and a reason to keep adventuring. If a bunch of goblins killed off your family and burned down your village, that’s probably a reason to start adventuring to get revenge and also a reason to continue adventuring after you get revenge because you don’t have a place to go back to. It doesn’t have to be that tragic, and with elves or other longer living races, you might adventure just to leave your mark on the world. But use your backstory as your opportunity to create a reason why you are adventuring and why you will continue adventuring with the adventuring party.
Goals/Story Hooks for Your Character
Now, this is partially covered when you create your bonds as they can be things that is your characters goal, but work on adding in some goals and story hooks for your character that the DM is going to be able to use. It doesn’t mean that all of them will be used, but they are things that the DM can use if they want. In our example of wanting to get revenge on the goblins who killed your family, that’s a story hook that the DM can use. If you write that you’ve already taken care of the goblin in your backstory you’ve now closed off that part of your backstory and completed it already. The DM now can’t pull out your hate of goblins, give you the chance to track down the goblins and maybe have a change of heart about goblins as a whole. As a DM, I really appreciate those bits of mystery that people leave in their backstories. In the first season of Dungeons and Flagons, we had a great example of this as Ashley’s character was left somewhere as a young child and all she remembered from it was the stars in the sky. That gives me a ton to play with as a DM.
If you have, especially the first two added into your backstory, you are going to have a character that has a reason to go adventuring and a fun character to play. The last piece really allows you to be more a part of the story and have those story arcs that really focus in on you. If you are a player who wants to sit back and enjoy the story more, having less of those hooks is going to make it so you’re less involved.
Are there other backstory elements that make a good Dungeons and Dragons character? Have you done these while creating characters before?
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