FG College Times: The Importance of Character Backgrounds
This week, let’s talk about character backgrounds. Your character is an extension of yourself, and when you play in a game, you will inhabit your character’s personality when you role play. Picking a background for your character is the first step of breathing life into that character, so choose your background carefully, and think of how you will make this character real.
If you dream it, you can be it. Did you choose the hermit? Why did you live alone? Were you exiled from your village? If you chose the noble background, tell where your character came from. Are they a snobby person due to their wealth, or do they help others do not have the monetary means that they have? Are you an Outlander? Did you homestead? Were you a guide? Perhaps your character is an Entertainer. What kind of instrument do they play? Perhaps your character is extremely wise and loved books. The Researcher background would fit this perfectly. The possibilities are endless with how you can mold your character.
To flesh out your character, you will want to add your background on your “Notes” tab on your character sheet. This is something that only you and the DM can see, so what you choose to reveal or not reveal about your background to the other players in your game is up to you.
Coming up with a reason for your background
Why did you become an adventurer? Was it wanderlust? Was your hometown thrust into war and you escaped with the clothes on your back, and now you seek revenge against those that attacked your homeland? Were you wrongly accused of some crime and forced to flee for your life or be thrown in jail for a crime you didn’t commit?
When you are in-game, think “What would my character do in this situation?” Is your character much like your real-life persona? Or did you choose a character that is the polar opposite of yourself? Whatever the choice may be, make sure to always think of how your character would act in any given situation.
A good example of this is if you are a ranger with a “favored enemy” of goblins, be sure that if you come upon goblins, you are sure to go out of your way to defeat them.
An example from my own experience
Here is a personal example of this that I experienced when playing a game. I was playing a ranger, and my “favored enemy” was orcs. In the game I was playing had the storyline that orcs were being blamed for an assassination in the town. The people went out of their way to attack the orcs unfairly, it turned out. My character saw some of this discrimination against the race, and I had to either play my character as she was written, “hating orcs,” or go with my personal feelings that these orcs were being mistreated. As much as I hated doing it, I had to go with my character’s feelings, even though my real-life self was hating the way I was acting.
I hope this helps you think of some ways in which you can bring your character alive with your background and the story that you develop. Do you have a subject you’d like me to cover in the “FG College Times?” Send me an email to LadyShel and hopefully we will cover your topic suggestion in an upcoming article.