The Story Before the Story

Dungeons and Dragons is a collaborative experience. What many players don’t realize is that the collaboration begins before you even sit down at the table for the first time.  I’m talking about your character’s backstory.  The backstory is the way you interact with the game world before you even roll your first die.  It decides your character’s place before you even sit down at the table.  Here are some tips, from a long time player and DM, on how to make the best of your backstory.

  • Give your DM something.  The best backstories I’ve had players give me gave me nice juicy hooks I could use later in the game.  They give me enemies and NPCs to bring out when I want to add some personal depth to the story.
  • Don’t get too complicated.  While it is good to give your DM some nice things to use, it’s not good to make a thousand year history leading up to this very moment.  It’s not a bad idea to have an idea of these things, but, you don’t need to have the complete unabridged life and times of every member of your clan.  That’s too much.
  • Don’t be afraid of relationships between PCs.  I remember when I was playing a campaign with two of my best friends, who are now engaged; she and I decided that our elven characters would be engaged.  They were in an arranged marriage.  It added a whole new dimension to the party dynamic.
  • Those party relationships don’t have to be sunny and great.  In literature, there’s always the classic tale of enemies, forced to work together for a common goal.  Think of how fulfilling this could be at your table.

The most important thing to remember with your backstory is that you don’t have to do it on your own.  Remember, a great backstory can lead to a great campaign.


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