May 18, 2008
I need help in making a really good background for a character(in general). And wondering if someone can help me, by givin advice or an outline, in makin almost a story of history for a character.
Feb 14, 2008
Best thing to do is start with a Gm conversation. Ask what kinds of things you can and can't do in the history of the character.
Then, choose what class your character comes from.
Is he a high born noble? Was he the son of a sheapard or a swine heard?
Answer questions about his family. Are they alive? Were they all killed my some mysterious figure whom you have dedicated your life to tracking down and getting your revenge on?
Think about your favorite fantasy novels, look what they do in the first chapeter in establishing who the main character is before he starts his quest, and do the like. Try not to use major NPCs, like Elminster in FR, in your BG and make sure if your family are anything more than basic merchants you ahve the GM's permission. Then, when making the character make it something that fits the history you wrote. Don't make a barbarian that is related to some major trading house or noble family, or a Wizard that is a dandy who was raised by ork barbarians.
Oh, and if you have a GM that tends to kill off PCs often, you can do as I do and make then one of 7-8 kids in the family so that you can have a reasonable excuse to have someone come to find out what happened to his brother when your first character dies, or feel honor bound to help finish the quest that thier sister started.
Fist step. Figure out what you want to play, then bend the rules around your thought of your character.
Give us a simple things to start with and we will try and get the ball rolling for you.
Aug 19, 2007
Well, there's two ways of making a character..
1.) Write a character background and then choose appropriate classes/feats/skills to get the game mechanics as close to the character as possible.
2.) Stat out a character sheet, and then reverse-engineer the character's personality and history from the mechanics.
In the simplest terms, working out the details that you don't yet know about your character is a matter of taking what you *do* know about them, and for each and every detail, ask... Why?
Some questions you'll want to answer about the character are...
- If you know what your character's personality is going to be like, why are they the type of person that they are?
Did the events of their past make then cold and cynical? If so, is it because they experienced tragedy or loss at a young age, or did they head out into the wide world and just eventually get worn down into disillusionment?
If they're cheerful and determined, is it because of or in spite of what's happened in their life?
- What started your character in the adventuring life?
This is possibly one of the most important things to ask yourself, since the events of their life before they became an adventurer are what lead up to them making the choice to become one.
Were they seeking a better life?
If so, then better than what? The grinding boredom and labor of the farm? The endless marching and low pay of the military? Abject poverty of the streets?
If they're not looking for greener pastures, what do they seek? Knowledge? Power? Thrills? Gold?
- How did your character come to be the alignment that they've chosen for themselves?
For example, their tendency towards law or chaos could be a result of their strict upbringing and their parents' rigid belief in the necessity of order, the freespirited and individualistic upbringing of a travelling clan, or a rebellion against either of those. A troubled youth may lead to the path of evil, or perhaps they were just born bad. Did something specific happen to cause them to adopt their current views? Is the way they feel now the way they've always felt, or has something changed them on some deeper level?
If you're coming at the character from a list of stats, first look at the race.
Does the race live a particular lifestyle? Does the race naturally or culturally lean toward a certain alignment or class? Does their culture have strict rules of social or political heirarchy? Are certain social groups, occupations, or character classes seen as preferrable or undesireable by the race/culture? Is everyone given basic instruction in swordplay or magic? What does the charracter's race or culture think of the attitudes or class choices made by the character? Is the character a typical member or his race or is he an adventurer because he didn't fit in with his people?
Now look at your ability scores.
Any score in an ability that's under 9 or over 12 means that the character is noticeably better or worse than most of the people around him. This will affect the way those people treat him or her.
Decide if this attention was positive or negative - if the character has high stats in an ability that's prized by his or her race/culture, then they've probably grown up with a high opinion of themselves because they've been treated well by others.
If their race or culture is indifferent, or just doesn't apply much meaning, to an ability then that stat may merely influence how their family and peers view the charcter according to the stats that they do care about.
If the race or culture looks down on someone for a certain particularly low or high score in an ability, it will negatively influence their treatment of the character, possibly causing that character social problems and possibly some emotional damage.
The combination of one or more high or low scores will give definite clues as to how the character's original society and culture viewed them. Are the character's scores in line with a typical example of someone of his race, or is he a charismatic orc, a clutzy elf, or a sickly dwarf?
For example, a high Str would be admired by a barbarian people, and Wis and Cha are universally looked upon with varying degrees of favor. However, the lack of Wis or Cha would not gain as much negative attention as a lack of Str in that barbarian tribe. Physical attributes would be prized, and the lack of them would cause negative reactions. In more civilized areas, Int and Cha (and the lack thereof) would play a larger role, with physical attributes being less important.
Now look at the character's class.
Is it an unusual choice for his race or culture? If so, then what led to the character making that choice? Obviously, his abilities will influence the classes he chooses to take, but how did the character come to decide that he would make use of his natural gifts and inclinations - who or what caused him to make up his mind? What outside influences forced his hand? Was he conscripted into the military? Shanghaied into a thieves' guild? Did he recieve a religious calling from his deity?
Alignment can determine some of the character's backstory.
What circumstances would cause a person of their race to develop their particular alignment?
If their alignment varies wildly from that of the place where they grew up or the people that raised them, there will generally be a reason or whole set of reasons for it.
Why would a person of their race and alignment choose the classes/feats/weapons/etc. that they've adopted?
Perhaps they become a monk because they were Lawful, or perhaps they become lawful because they trained as a monk. They may feel it was their duty to follow family tradition and train as a mage, or did they become an assassin out of spite and because they enjoyed the infamy and shame it brought upon their family.
Weapons, gear and feats may be indicative of the character's past.
When, how and where did the character learn or acquire their weapons and the feats they have? Elves are proficient with the rapier and the longbow - weapon finesse or point blank shot would be taught as part of the style of training they recieved in these weapons. Were you vehemently determined to succeed in your arcane studies? The spell penetration feat is the result of all the extra hours spent practicing to enforce your superior will on your targets.
Was your sword a gift from a tutor, or a family heirloom? Did you pry it from the cold, stiff hand of the first man you ever killed?
In general, whether you're working to stat out a character concept, or working up a story for a stat block, the most important thing to do is decide what the major points of the character are - an event in their life, a style of combat, a race/class combo, whatever - and then come up with a reason for one of those main points.
Once you establish a starting point, some vague idea or random detail, you can extrapolate the rest of the details by comparing that one starting point to another point of the character and asking, how do I draw a line from point A to point B.
Say I want to play a character that's dashing and charming, and a little bit on the naughty side. Elves are supposed to be handsome and carefree, so I choose to be an elf. They also get to play with rapiers, which fits the character well.
I roll my ability scores, and get some good rolls. I decide to put my highest scores in Dex and Cha. The character's graceful and charming, and I decide that this will be how he gets through life, living by his wits and his whims.
It occurs to me that he does this because he's never really been forced to finish anything he's started. So he's probably picked up the basics of a lot of different skills. Since fighting takes discipline and training, and sneaking around takes practice, I decide he's not going to be a swashbuckler or a rogue. Beguiler, then. He's lazy, so his Str and Con aren't particularly great, but he is clever, so his Int is good. He never learns from his mistakes though, so we'll say he has a low wisdom score.
We'll say his alignment is Chaotic Neutral, because he's not particularly concerned with anyone but himself.
So far, I've determined that he's graceful and charming, but somewhat lazy. He gets by using his magic and charm with as little effort as possible. What sort of person would have the free time to develop a wide range of skills - particularly social skills? Well, he's an elf, so he could easily have spent a hundred years or so just sitting around. But would an elf living in an elven society turn out lazy and spoiled? We'll say he's the son of a well-to-do textile merchant living in a human city, and thus never had to actually do anything to get by. We'll say that fencing with his rapier and manipulating people were the only two things he's ever stuck with in his life, because he really didn't have to work too hard at them.
So now he's a CN Beguiler who was born into a merchant family, and grew up as a spoiled rich-kid, always indulged and never punished. He picked up his skills from tutors, trying new things to keep himself entertained and get what he wanted. He also figured out how to manipulate people by watching his parents while they conducted business and scialized at parties.
What caused him to leave home? He's lazy and spoiled, so it wouldn't be by choice. Unless something happened to keep him from getting something he wanted. We'll say that he ran off when his father finally made him take a position in the family business - he was embezzling funds from the company to live above his means, and his father found him out. In a fit of spite after being yelled at by his father, he used his magic and charm to empty all the gold from the company's accounts and took off to a foreign city to live the high life.
Now wanted by the law in his home city, he eventually ran out of money and found himself deep in debt. So he took to using his magic and skills to become a con artist, living off the generosity and gullibility of acquaintances. Eventually he was forced to leave the city with assassins on his heels, and took to the road.
So now he adventures when necessary to acquire more gold, and when not adventuring he poses as a travelling representative of a well-connected mercantile concern, making money by roping "investors" into phony business deals.
And there's a character background.:D
You can see how picking a couple basic points and fleshing out a few details about how they relate to each other can quickly build a framework for a character's backstory.
I am the Magic Man.
(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)
I am the Lawnmower Man.
(I AM GOD HERE!)
I am the Skull God.
(Koo Koo Ka Choo)
There are reasons they call me Mad...