How To Write A Good Backstory
Tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPG) can teach a lot about building characters, events, places, and worlds. This game genre is a form of collaborative storytelling in which players work together to create an evolving and immersive story. There isn’t a limit to creativity and experimentation as you can explore different scenarios, settings and styles.
A backstory is the backbone of your character. How did they grew up to become the person they are today? This also means understanding the way this past can influence the present and the future. Creating a good backstory helps you portray your character, and it is also great for your gamemaster to incorporate it into the campaign!
First and foremost: a good backstory doesn’t mean a long backstory. In fact, preparing a long backstory be quite a burden for your gamemaster, and hard for both of you to keep everything in check. Your backstory should be comprehensive, yes, but also simple. Try following these steps:
- Go by the book: If you don’t have anything at all for us to build upon, you should try first following each step in the official book to make a foundation, then we flair it up.
- Keep it short: Backstories aren’t complete biographies. Focus on the most impactful events because they’re likely to be relevant to the story, ultra-specific information will most likely go to waste.
- Find out why: Give your character ambitions, desires and goals, otherwise they’re just a fancy NPC. Why did you join the party? Is there something else you’re seeking?
- Don’t wander off: Every character should be related to the campaign. If you create a character with a backstory that is unrelated to the plot, you’ll be isolated and lost. How are you involved?
- Timeline your biography: Divide your backstory into different age groups: child, teenager and adult. Don’t write about every single year of their lifes, create the most important moments of each age.
- Think of relationships: Relationships are yours and everyone else’s attachment to the world, to the plot. Write about their parents, siblings, friends, mentors, pupils, acquaintances, enemies, etc.
- Make it dramatic: No, you don’t need to be an orphan whose parents were brutally murdered, but being the most average of Joes ain’t exactly better. What makes them anxious, fearful, and hopeful?
- Interview your character: Pretend you’re doing a deep-dive interview with your character, and lead theconversation as you would with another person. The answers might be elucidating!
Should you create a good backstory? Yes, because backstories are what makes your character memorable and unique, and not ability or skill values. Hopefully you can roleplay your character and tell their stories with these tips. Have fun!