Saturday, February 7, 2009

Character Background

On the blog
Legends in Their Own Mind, there was a discussion today about using a character's background. I have been mulling some thoughts on a similar idea, namely, how much background is too much background? The campaign I am working towards would feature people who have absolutely zero exposure to any kind off p&p RPGs. I am already planning on making a pool of pregen characters for them to choose their starting character from, but I'm struggling with how much background to go into for the characters. I am leaving the choice of alignmen up to the players, but should I just use a bare bones place of birth, age, little background model, or go into a little more detail? In my head, all the pregens I'm making are connected in some way, so that if characters die, I can just have them choose one of the other pregens to drop in if they want to, rather than rolling a new character. However, as such, I envision some character traits or "roleplaying hooks" when creating these characters, that the players may find constricting, or useless. So, how much is too much?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting question. Here are some right back at'cha:

    How familiar are your players with the tropes of fantasy? People with none might be happy with minimal background, so they can just get to playing, but folks who've read lots of fantasy might have more fun with "veteran of the Second Goblin Wars" or "Durin, son of Balin, Brewmaster under the Shadowstone". But even they probably don't need more than a hint that encourages their own imaginations.

    How many of your players are women? Yeah, ok, I'm going to put a toe where angels fear to tread, but in my experience, it makes a difference. Most, though not all, guys couldn't care less about their family or background. They're more interested in forging their own legends. Most, though not all, gals will be interested in the relationships their characters already have, and if any of those people are nearby, they will seek to exploit those relationships! This goes doubly true for players who don't have experience with RPGs. It's only natural for them to think, "Hey, Grampa was alive when the Temple of Elemental Evil was sacked. Maybe he remembers something about those days." This can be a powerful resource for you, if you take advantage of it, but I've seen lots of DMs get caught flat-footed by this, or react as if it were cheating of some sort.

    - Brian