Character Background and Concept


Character Background and Concept

I don’t expect you to write any kind of lengthy background story for your character. I would like you to thoroughly read the general background story that I wrote for the campaign, and think about it. Consider how this setting and these events have shaped your character. I wouldn’t normally be quite so heavy-handed with telling players where they came from, and particularly narrating their characters’ specific situation, feelings, and choices prior to the game. But I wanted this game to begin with a tightly-focused story, and for your characters to all come in with a very strong common background and shared motivations. I would like you all to feel invested into the campaign and your own roles in it, right from the beginning.

I’d like you to buy in to this story and the themes of the campaign. Dig into it, think about it, own it. Craft your own character concept and be creative, but base it on what I’ve provided as a foundation. I want the fluff of your races, classes, backgrounds, paragon paths, epic destinies, alignments, and the setting to matter in actual play, to be taken into account both by you as players, and myself as DM. I want to heavily reward roleplaying and in-character choices. But I’d like you to buy in, to accept that the setting and back-story I’ve come up with is where your character comes from, and affects who your character is.

Think about your early life. If you’re the sole Shardmind or other construct in the campaign, and perhaps spent a very long time dormant or drifting. Who were your parents? Did you live among your own race, or elsewhere? What trade did you learn growing up? Did you travel around, or stay in one place? How were you different from the people around you, from your own relatives, from your own race? How were you the same? What did you want from your life, what were your goals, who did you want to be? Did you have friends, had you started your own family? Were you a loner, or a valued member of your society?

Think about how things began to change, and what that meant for your character. How did the strange and terrible changes in the people of the World affect you? What did you lose when the World changed? Were you afraid, or excited, determined to do something, or apathetic about it all?

Think about the years of training and learning, becoming unbelievably strong and knowledgeable, working hard and living with this new family. How did you change and grow during those years? What did you think about it all? Consider your origins, and how the person you once were interacted with this whole new life and the entirely new person you were turning into.

Consider this, so that you can act on it in-game. This can be more than merely an exercise in rolling dice and adding up numbers. You can play the role of a character born from your own creativity, in an unfolding story of fantasy adventure. The things that happen in game can matter to your character, and to all of us as a group of players, more than just pieces being pushed around on a board, more than just winning and losing. This is Dungeons and Dragons, not a board game, not a computer game. Let’s take advantage of the imaginative elements of this type of game!

This is our story, our game. I’ve just set the stage for you. Now its your turn to create.

I don’t need you to write a bunch of stuff for me. No one has to write any big stories or anything. You certainly can, and you will be rewarded for it, but I’m not asking for anything like that.

I would like the answers to a few questions, though. One sentence should suffice, or perhaps two. A short paragraph, at the most. Although you can write more, as much as you like. As will be the case with any sort of creative input you make to the game, the more extra effort you put in, the more you’ll be rewarded. But I’m only asking for brief answers from you. All of these questions are directed at your character, of course. “You” in these questions means your character, not you as a player. You don’t need to answer them “in-character”, you can just answer them about your character. (Feel free to include any out-of-character interests, motivations, or information relevant to the game as well, though, if you want to.)

1. How old are you?

2. Where did you grow up?
A larger village, a smaller one, a tiny tribe in the mountains, the Elven forest? Did you live among a certain race, your own or another? Were you raised by your own parents, or others?

3. What did you do before the war? If you were alive before then.

4. Who is important to you or what?

5. What is your true desire?
What do you want? Do you have goals, do you have a mission, a quest, a dream? What did you want before things changed, and what do you want now? How has it changed? How is it the same? Who do you want to be, and what do you want to see accomplished? Perhaps you have just one great, overriding wish, or maybe you have many desires. What drives you?

6. What is your inspiration?
Where do you draw your inner strength from? Is it your heritage, your upbringing, the memory of loved ones, your connection to nature, your devotion to your deity, the fellowship of your comrades-in-arms, Avalokiteshvara herself, stories of old, a personal code of honor, a burning hatred or love, or something else entirely? What gives you courage, what fires you up, what makes you feel like you can take on anything, what rouses you to great deeds, what impels you toward your heroic destiny?

7. What is your true desire?
What do you want? Do you have goals, do you have a mission, a quest, a dream? What did you want before things changed, and what do you want now? How has it changed? How is it the same? Who do you want to be, and what do you want to see accomplished? Perhaps you have just one great, overriding wish, or maybe you have many desires. What drives you?

8. What is your secret? If you have one.
There is something about you that no one knows. Perhaps you know it, and have not shared it. Or perhaps even you aren’t aware of it. This can be anything, but it should be something meaningful and important. Something that the discovery of would alter others’ perception of you, or your perception of yourself, or both. Be creative. It can be a big secret, or a fairly small one, something horrible or something wonderful. The key is that it’s a secret, and that’s either because you don’t know it, or you do and you have a reason you’ve chosen to hide it from everyone.

9. What is your fear?
It can be something tangible, or intangible. But there is something that you fear, deep down. Perhaps you’re well aware of it, and freely admit it. Perhaps you keep it suppressed, don’t even realize it, or deny it. Maybe it’s a mild nervousness, or maybe it’s an outright terror. It can be a circumstance, or a concept, a type of loss, a future fate, a physical thing, or a lack of something. Whatever you can think of. Of course, there could be more than one, if you wish.

10. What else do I need to know about you?
Tell me one more important thing about yourself that isn’t already covered by one of these questions. Some facet of your personality, some general theme or concept that describes you, some important event or relationship or possession or quirk. Something else that says, “This is who I am, this is what matters to me or what I’m about” that hasn’t already been answered. Some detail of your persona that perhaps doesn’t quite fit into the previous categories. Expand on this as much as you want, I’m very interested in what you’ve come up with.


Taken from Black Seas of Infinity Campaign Page.

Character Background and Concept

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