View Full Version : Backstory : Do you bother and if you do, what is your best?

2009-11-18, 05:41 PM
I am a REALLY big fan when it comes to creating a compelling back story for my characters, but I have played with quite a few people who, in the zenith of their creation, think that "A half-orc barbarian with a heart of gold" is Shakespearean.

I was wondering what you all thought, and if you had a particularly good one, give it a post. I will start by my favorite character in my history of D&D.

Edward Alphonse Valmonte Trivusky LeBeau III aka "Capitan Fast-Hands LeBeau"
(Homebrew world, 3.5 ruleset)

Edward and his mother, both slaves, were not in possession of their own lives. Marked by a tattoo on their inner wrist, a linked chain, their status was plan, and had them as property for their rest of their mortal lives, and in the case of some cruel masters with arcane talents, some time after that as well.

When their current master, a brute by the name of Halashim, tired of them, he sold them to a merchant from a far away land. During the long sea voyage, a set of sails on the horizon made close to the slave ship. Before the drunken and untrained crew had time to react, the men of the brave Captian Vincent LeBeau has swept onto the ship, slaughtered the slavers, and made to take whatever was not nailed down. While exploring the lower decks in search of more goods, Vincent stumbled upon the slave hold, and a young boy, a dead slaver at his feet, and a pair of shaking, blood covered swords in his hands.

Taking the boy and the rest of the slaves on board, Capitan LeBeau sailed straight for the nearest free city, and let them off, in hopes of finding a new life free from the chains. With a wave, Capitan LeBeau set off back out into the blue waves. A week out, a stowaway was found on board, the young boy, Edward. Impressed by the boys creativity, Vincent let the boy stay on, if he could prove himself in combat against the first mate, Kogash Darkhand.

Needless to say, when the boy awoke, he was back on shore, nursing some bruises in the arms of his dear mother, cradling a note from the Captian, reading simply "When you feel ready, try again."

Years later, and a few more poundings at the hands of Kogash, Edward kept at the studies of the blade, adventuring with a group of friends from the town, wondering who the mysterious visitor occasionally visiting his mother could be.

Years passed again, and one day, Vincent pulled into shore to find a strapping young man waiting for him. With a flurry, Edward not only beat Kogash, but Vincent as well, and then surprised the crew by asking permission to join them. The crew approved, as did Kogash and Vincent.

Proving himself to be a loyal member of the crew, always willing to help out someone in need, Edward continued to impress the Capitan, who, despite his skill, was beginning to show his age. Upon what he felt was his last voyage, Vincent begged Edward to challenge him for control of the ship so he could retire in peace, and live a life on shore. Edward reluctantly accepted, and the two men fought on the deck. Vincent, before the first blow fell, conceded, and presented his sword to Edward, who took it, and at the request of the Capitan, the last name of LeBeau, up into shaky hands and an even shakier heart. The crew let loose a flurry of applause and cheering, and even Kogash swore loyalty to the young man, his new captain.

Now, Capitan Edward "Fasthands" LeBeau and the crew of the ship, Fasthand's Pride, sail the open seas, making their mark on a world of blank paper.

Lemme know what you people think, and sorry if it is a touch TL;DW.


2009-11-18, 05:47 PM
I stink at roleplaying IMHO, so my best is not very good:
Half-orc ranger favored enemy giant
He's mother was from a orc tribe that was forced to take refuge in a human town that his father lived in because of a vicious group of giants. He was born not long after, but at a young age the town was destroyed by the giants. He has since been a warrior without a home.

Yeah, I know I stink at roleplaying.

2009-11-18, 05:51 PM
Rogue 1/Paladin X: He was a minor criminal who was captured with his hand on the purse of a priest of Heironious. Sent to prison, where the priest steadily converted him to worship of the God of Justice. He was attacked by other prisoners for his worship, and they carved a lightning bolt into his chest. They would have killed him, but the divine power of Heironious infused him, allowing him to fight off his attackers and permanently scarring the symbol into his chest. Now he travels the world doing the god's work using his eclectic collection of skills.

2009-11-18, 05:51 PM
I like to make fairly elaborate backstories. Whether they are actually good or not is a different question, but my DM seems to like them.

My current character was an orphan taken in by the state after a long war. After years of torturous scientific experimentation, she had become an immortal Elan imbued with all the powers of fear, meant to be used as a massed shock troop against the nation's enemies. She and her ilk managed to overthrow their opressors, but were quickly scattered across the multiverse. 500 years later, only a handful of these individuals remain, and my character had lost all her memories when she arrived in the campaign world. She has a bitter hatred for institutions that enslave people, though she doesn't know what that is. She's stalked the streets literaly terrifying the wicked to death.

2009-11-18, 05:52 PM
Rogue 1/Paladin X: He was a minor criminal who was captured with his hand on the purse of a priest of Heironious. Sent to prison, where the priest steadily converted him to worship of the God of Justice. He was attacked by other prisoners for his worship, and they carved a lightning bolt into his chest. They would have killed him, but the divine power of Heironious infused him, allowing him to fight off his attackers and permanently scarring the symbol into his chest. Now he travels the world doing the god's work using his eclectic collection of skills.
Man, I liked that character. Like, hardcore. Too bad that game ended horribly thanks to break. :smallannoyed:

2009-11-18, 05:56 PM
Homebrew setting, homebrew Psionicist.

This is the longest back story I've ever done:

Quin's parents were not rich. They had some money, enough to get him an apprenticeship with his Uncle, a Blue Wizard who lived many days travel away. (Enchantment so you don't have to look it up). While in grey robes, he learned the basics of magic. The chants, hand motions, how to clear his mind and prepare his spells but for some reason, he never could get his spells to work quite right. From time to time, he would baffle his instructor by making something happen, something...not quite right: Magic Missile that was much slower and fatter than it was supposed to be, fire that clung to his hands like a Druid's. This went on for some time until his master released him as a lost cause claiming he was unable to teach him the ways of the Arcane.

Rather than shame his family by being prematurely released from apprenticeship Quin went to the city and bought himself a set of red robes. His family was overjoyed and proud of him for completing his internship ahead of time. Knowing that he could not maintain the ruse if he stayed at home Quin packed his things and set off to adventure, hoping one day to make a name for himself and maybe even wrangle his Arcane knowledge into a more appreciable form so he could return home, mostly to show up his family.

He has an older brother who went through his Arcane training several years before Quin did. His older brother also left home, presumable to seek fortune for his family and move them out of their squalid township.

It is my opinion that characters should have SOME KIND of back story, and that should get cleared by the DM, but at the same time, the DM has other things to worry about. It is more than likely he's not going to mind much of any back story if it gets cleared (Short of secretly being the King, or owning half the kingdom or something). Really, it's just a story. That's the way I DM, and our other groups DM operates.

2009-11-18, 06:05 PM
Backstory is something I like to work with the DM on, as they can give me a few details about their campaign world to use, and vice versa.

In the FR campaign, my half-elf paladin Adannaya travels from Waterdeep to Cormyr where her parents left soon after she was born. Her mother was the sister of Baron Alamber, but she eloped with and elf emmissary sent to her brother's court. Later on, her father left her mother and returned to Myth Drannor and Adannaya was adopted by the church. Her mother dying a few months before the campaign began and triggering her journey. There was also a goblin war she was involved in.

Half of this was something I worked on my own, but had a series of convsersation prior to the game with the DM about the noble factor. he was fine with it, to the point where a piece of paper we found that a minion was burning had Baron Alamber on there, along with other nobles.
I was surprised to see it there, so there was no acting when I told the significance of the name to the other players.
Also, a lot of these backstories are natural conclusions to where my character ends up at the moment as well as giving the DM a few hooks.

I have to confess, I use the Creative Casting books to give myself a headstart on backstory then go from there.

2009-11-18, 06:19 PM
I often have a hard time with backstories, since those often require knowledge about the setting world that I typically don't have, or interest myself in very much. What I do find important, however, is a good grasp on personality, motivations and quirks. Many of these get developed as the game goes, of course,but you have to start somewhere, and I don't think it's always relevant to tie them back to some specific past.

2009-11-18, 06:20 PM
One of my characters was the only son of a powerful Evil Wizard, ruling as a tyrant over the land. My character was initiated into the mystic arts, but couldn't understand the arcane texts most of the time. He mastered the occasional spell, but never to his father's satisfaction, and that made him lose confidence that he would ever master others, and some spells just lay beyond his comprehension no matter how hard he tried.

He grew angry, sullen and depressed at his continual failures, but abjectly refused to let them get the best of him. He ran away from home in search of additional arcane texts, thinking that there would be one out there that phrased the concepts in a way he could understand.

But he was destined to fail, because he was actually a Sorcerer.

So to this day (when the campaign ended he was no wiser to his nature), he carries around a spellbook, confounded at the fact that he can't make even the most rudimentary spells work, but can sometimes call up very potent magics if he puts his heart and soul into it.

Not very long or detailed, but I believe elegant in its simplicity.

Dusk Eclipse
2009-11-18, 06:23 PM
Nice Backstory, I has quite a lot of emotion, I like it.

My favorite backstory si for Drake Ignusfang a Gestalf Duskblade/Warlock Half* dragon in an eberron

*Actually quarter-dragon, we watered down the half-dragon template and fluffed it as being the child of a half dragon

His basic backstory is that from the time he was born he was an outcast, trying to get the respect or at least acceptance from his town, he took the mantle of a protector to the town. Eventually with his dutiful and succesful protection he steadiy gained their respect and in some time the admirattion of the towns-people.

Some years later Drake married a werewolf woman named Aurora, eventually they had a daughter who they named Dine; they kept Aurora's and Diane'sl condition from the townspeople knowing they would mistrust them if not attacking them on sight.

One week before Diane's five birthday, Drake an inquisitorial squad from the Church of the Silver Flame came to the town, they came hearing rumors of lycanthropes in the town.
Eventually they came to Drake's house, they took into custody Aurora and Diane for execution.

Drake returned to the town just in time to see the death of his familiy, Drake become blinded by rage and singlehanded burnt down the town to its very foundations and killed all the townspeople including the inquisitorial squad.

Theimages of his family was forever burned into his mind, he then started his own crusade to bring down the church of the silver flame, and he will take anymeans necesary to do that.

Glass Mouse
2009-11-18, 06:35 PM
@gamerkid: Still better than no backstory at all :smallsmile:

Every one of my characters gets a pretty detailed story, otherwise I simply cannot get attached to her (yeah, I always play girls).

My most elaborate is Saromihe Illstra, my drow bard (story originally written in Danish - the spoilered-for-length, englishified version, for your convenience).

Saromihe Illstra was raised in Menzoberranzan, as a more-or-less regular noble girl of one of the minor houses. Youngest of three sisters. (wow, it sounds bad already, doesn't it?)
Her family had a long and (for drow) very unusual tradition for music and bards, a position usually held by the family's men. However, the current bard was getting old, and there didn't appear to be any boys coming. As such, Saromihe had to take our the barding.

She grew up on stories and music. The old bard knew a lot more about the world than the general propaganda-filled drow did, and he taught Saromihe everything. He had even been on the surface once or twice, and his stories didn't quite match with the propaganda she usually heard.
While listening to stories of drow, of dwarves, of illithid, of surface elves, of the sun, while learning broken Common and a few phrases of Elvish, she soon developed a taste for the world outside of Menzoberranzan.

In her family, however, as she grew up, she started to take the position of family diplomat. This would sometimes take her outside of Menzoberranzan, and she loved those trips.
Thus, all was well.

One day, though, a rumor swept over the city. Something was crawling around in the darkness, out there in the Underdark. Something pale-skinned and fair. A surface elf. A group was immediately mobilised, but Saromihe was faster. She gathered a few slaves for protection, then set off into the dark.
Luck was with her, and she stumbled across the elf. It was a male, pale and light-haired, and he would have killed her if she hadn't made her intentions clear.
She wanted to talk. To know all of the surface world from which he came, the sun, his people, everything. In exchange, she would help him out of the Underdark.
He was willing to tell, and she listened. They talked for hours, exchanging stories, lifes, getting lost in the other's world. When they parted, she provided him with a map and some food, and he set off.
She disposed of the slaves, so they wouldn't tell, and resumed life as usual.

This did not please Lolth. Within hours, the house of Illstra fell from grace. Within a few days they discovered this, yet without knowing the cause. In desperation, they sent away Saromihe (who had earlier, in her position as diplomat, been to a nearby city) and a sister, in the hope that this would discourage other houses from attacking.
A vain effort. Shortly after Saromihe's departure, the house and the two sisters were attacked simultanously.
The house fell.
The sisters... got lucky.

Their attacker was a single assasin, and, being the fighter, Saromihe's sister tried facing her. The attacker was stronger, and she was soon pressed. Saromihe, on the other hand, got very lucky. One spell, a weak one, managed to overcome the attackers spell resistance, and in an instant, her attitude changed towards the bard.
Saromihe considered for a moment. Then sent the assasin right back at her sister. A short fight later, and the sister lay cold on the dark stone floor.
This was time for a second thought. She knew the house had to have been attacked, maybe even fallen. She could be adopted among the higher house, become a real noble, power, favor in the eyes of Lolth. On the other hand...
She sent the assasin away ("Run home, run as fast as you can back to your friends"). Then ran in the opposite direction, heading towards the surface.

Her first meeting with the surface was... not bad. She escaped in the middle of night, and the starlight was a puzzling experience.
The next morning, she almost immediatedly ran back to the darkness. Almost.

The beginning was tough. She already suspected this, and her fears were confirmed the first time she neared a town. It was a complete stroke of luck that she even escaped with her life. That night, she snuck back in and stole clothes enough to cover every inch of her skin.
This way, she lived for some time. Sneaking about, becoming fluent in Common, learning the ways of the surface, always in the background, always in the shadows.
At some point, though, she started noticing that some inns had use of... people with her abilities. The usual performers were way below her standard, and the first night she dared to offer her services, she took an entire inn by storm.

It didn't take long before she developed a small reputation. She covered up her body and her face, and she excuses herself with any story that suits her mood - sometimes involving dragons, sometimes curses, sometimes vows.
Saromihe the Faceless, she still travels the surface world.
Over time, she's grown a healthy dose of paranoia, keeping her on edge, always an eye over the shoulder. Knowing full well that everyone would kill her if they ever... knew.

Sometimes, she's still looking for the elf that she talked to in the Underdark. She's not sure what she'll do if she finds him. Kill him? Thank him? Embrace him as the only friend she'd ever be able to find?
She doesn't know.

And still, she hasn't found him.
Instead, she's found a home that suits her. The sunny, hostile, so wonderfully... free... surface world.

Edit: I know there's a lot of "creative" interpretations in here. It's okay, I'm allowed. (Nice DM)

2009-11-18, 07:05 PM
I find it depends on what system I'm playing. In systems that I can craft characters or that require really strong back stories I do far more than systems where I just fill in the blanks.

Vrran’s father was a member of the Tulgarian embassy for Earth. There they facilitated broke travelers, smoothed over inter-species problems, trade and tax issues, answered elementary school kid's letters with questions about their kind, and the like. He was actually born on Earth with two sisters and a runt brother in his litter. His parents took great strides to ensure that their children were brought up in true Tulgarian traditions; camping holidays for the weekend, riding lessons, fencing classes and Sensenet classes about Tulgar. The Tulgarian enclave was in a nicer area. It wasn’t that the buildings weren’t old and dilapidated, but that the whole community watched out for each other. They felt safe letting their children explore all that Earth (well, London anyway) had to offer, believing all of London to be like their neighbourhood.
Vrran was always out and about, popular at school, running around the neighbourhood, at the pool. He knew a lot of people. So it came as no real surprise when Abigail Steward, a very popular last year student asked him for tutoring in Tulgarain even though he was only 14. The lesions were pretty straight forward, until right before the summer holiday, when she seduced him.
Rownya, his oldest sister, killed Abbie in an honour duel. The resulting inquiry made it into the news, expounding into a scandal thanks to typical human sensationalism. “That’s when she said that I was such a pretty puppy I deserved a…a special treat.” To save the honour of the family he demanded to be tried as an adult and accepted the full dishonour of the act. He was forever to be dishonoured and the path of knighthood barred to one of such questionable character.
He was sent away to a monastery to hide the family shame and complete his primary education. The first thing the monks did was to try and beat the monkey out of him. It was about this time that he started affecting a bad Cockney accent. While quite smart enough to understand the lessons, he never really had the discipline to apply himself and unlock the true power his faith. They all knew he wasn’t meant for the clergy, they could never give him the death he needed to assuage his honour.
He joined the Inter Species Confederation Marine Corps at 18. Tulgar are extremely rare in the ISCMC, so he didn’t have to worry about his pariah-hood there. He served well with a mainly human unit as squad medic. Jokingly, someone in the squad started calling him “Bernard”. He responded with inquiries about variable form mecha. He enjoyed the sense of duty, but it never allowed him the moment to die. He was always needed by someone else, so he couldn’t fall.
Then Paraxis conquered Helios III. His family was still there. He has no idea what happened to them. Did they die in the initial bombardments? Were they alive and in the Jeronan PoW camps? Were the tales of the Tulgar death camps true? Had the agreement that allowed the Knights of the Heavy Horse an honourable escape included Tulgar of other worlds? With his status as a non-entity amongst his people he couldn’t just ask someone. It was the not knowing that sucked the most. He requested a delay on his paper work for admittance to force recon and instead be assigned to a Privateer vessel as military advisor.
All of his shirts and armour (except the dress uniform) have an iron on of a broken heart pierced by a broken sword. The dress uniform just has a small broken sword just below the marksman badge.

Personality: His happiness to be in the thick of it disturbed most of his squad mates. He greatly enjoys combat and is quite willing to settle any disagreement through honour duels. He works well in a group, after all you don’t grow up with 9 siblings and expect to be the center of attention, so is more than willing to champion someone else.
His dishonoured status is something of a stickler. While he has found he enjoys the “freedom” to be snarky, followed by a “Whot? I’m a git! Says so wright here, it does!” It’s more often caused by his frustrations at being effectively exiled for something that happened when he was legally still a child. (Tulgar are considered adults at 15.) He’s always had a dry sense of humour, but he tends to express his Hurt through being snide. Most other times he’s quite Chipper and Up Beat. In a moment of genre savvyness he’s decided that if the Universe is testing his mettle this hard, then surely great things are in store for his future. Although he can be snarky about being trustworthy, he's still a freaking Boy Scout.
Maybe his momma just raised him a little too right, maybe he’s naturally just a Doormat, but a woman’s tears are his salty kryptonite. He can not say “no” to any reasonable request from a woman and even unreasonable ones can make him stop and think about it. It extends pretty much to anything with a uterus, regardless of species. Falar aren't always so chivalrous, so he's had to attach an under barrel sonic stunner to nullify enemy female combatants without hurting them.
Yes, tulgar are wolves, in space.
Yes, his rifle is named Abbie.

2009-11-18, 07:06 PM
One of my characters is an elven rogue 5 shadowdancer (variant) 1. She has a slightly over-adventurous background. She was born in an average town on a different continent that is fairly distant and not well known. It is on most maps, but really doesn't draw much attention to itself. Anyway, she was very intelligent, ruthless, and dextrous. due to this, she was given the nickname four-arm sorin, due to how she was twice as dextrous as an average person, and, once in a fight, REALLY got the namesake. Simultaneously, Dayron Friwan gained the nickname Ol' Noarms.
Anyways, she trained and eventually was experienced enough to attempt her master plan. She stole the king's crown and scepter. Unfortunately, she was persued by MANY guards. Stealing a huge handful of scrolls of all sorts in the chase, she got onto an unmanned ship and with a boat feather, floated away. Still being chased by the now entire fleet, she used a special invention of that continent. essentially a spell detinator. It is a fine construct that rolls a negative 100 on a UMD check and, since magic needs presision, the scroll and everything near by goes boom. The enemy now thought she was dead, hit by an unusually reactive fireball.
She went the rest of the way by rowboating. It was only another few miles.
Now with oodles of cash from the jewels, she bought a mansion. Unfortunately, it was owned by a wizard before that. The wizard was a bit kooky and paranoid and, before he died, had animated the whole house, telling it only to awaken if someone other than he opened the door, and in that event to chase that person down.
Now out of cash, she joined an organized crime syndicate. as head of a small trained extraction and intimidation team, she got by. occasionally having to move due to the mansion following her like a noseless hound, she made some allies and enemies. after getting some really great poisons, she entered a contest as an alibi to scope out a new town. One of the five winners, she was put into a group with the other adventurers.

2009-11-18, 07:10 PM
My favorite background is about a Half-elf sorcer by the name of Cai.

Cai grew up in a small fishing village with with her elven mother and human father. Cai was always fascinated with the sea. Before she could walk she was swimming and her parents would take her out to fish. The village depended on the sea and Cai joined her father as soon as her mother would let her go. It was around this time that Cai's magical talent began to bloom. An elderly wizard, who was the chief weather forecaster, took interest in her and helped her devolve control over her skill. Life flew by, a time of nothing but happiness and love. But this could not last.

One morning, she awoke to the cries of the lookout. Dashing outside, her heart filled with dread. A large host of pirates had landed and were assaulting the village. The men from the village were already engaging but they were hopelessly outnumbered. Houses were burning and the cries of battle terrified Cai. But she swallowed her fear and ran down to the beach to help. She laid into the pirates flank with a magical barrage of flame. With her timely arrival, the men were able to rally and began to push the pirates back. But then the pirates mage launched his own attack. The old village wizard managed to block the attack, but was mortally wounded. As the mage began to cast again, Cai desperately thought for a solution. She was already exhausted and had no spells that could hurt the mage. In desperation, she tried to summon a celestial being. But the spell was too powerful and she lost control. A demon from the lower planes was summoned instead, possessing Cai.

When she regained her senses, the demon was gone but it had left a terrible mark. All around her lay dozens of dead pirates and villagers. All were marred by fire or acid or other horrible magical effects. The stench was overwhelming, a putrid mixture of human flesh and brimstone. Sobbing, she backed away from the horror that confronted her. She let out a cry as she tripped over something. When she realized what it was, she cried out in horror and scrambled away. Her mother lay before her, a gaping wound through her chest. Cationic with fear and sorrow, Cai curled into a ball and sobbed for nearly an hour.

She didn't realize that people had approached her until they began whispering. Slowly uncurling, she was confronted with the surviving men from the village. All wore grim expressions, though most were touched with fear. They had their weapons drawn and pointed at her. Fear nearly overwhelmed her again but then one voice she recognized called out her name. Turning to the voice, she saw her father. Tears streaked his weathered face and he called her name again. Finding her voice, she squeaked out her father's name. All the men relaxed slightly as they had feared that the demon was still inside her. Her father related what had transpired.

A black cloud had engulfed her and then demonic magic flavored out from it. Cai strode from the cloud, laughing manically and slaughtering any before her. Upon seeing her the men had fled the battle, but not before nearly half had died. The pirates were massacred, none survived. Cai's mother had been hiding with the woman and children but when she saw the men running she had looked down to the beach and saw her daughter. Instead of being filled with fear for herself, she had ran to her daughter, desperate to do anything to help her. She had grabbed Cai and shouted her name. Upon being touched the demon recoiled violently, sending the mother flying. It had lost it's grip over Cai and was banished once again, but not before sending one last bolt of demonic magic into Cai's mother. That had happened nearly four hours ago. Cai had lain of the beach as if dead the whole time.

By the end, Cai had completely lost all control over her emotions, sobbing bitterly. Before she could speak, accusing words rang out from the surrounding men. Kill her! She is too dangerous. She killed almost half the village! Cai could scarcely comprehend what was happening as fear overwhelmed her senses. At last her father demanded silence. Staring down at her with no pity in his eyes he declared that she was banished from the village on pain of death and that she was no longer a daughter of his. Her pleas fell on deaf ears as her father shouted that she had killed her own mother! How could that be forgivable. Instead he said that the only reason she lived was that her mother had died trying to save her.

Sobbing, Cai blindly fled the village. However, a lone girl on hostile roads will not fare well and she was captured by slavers several days later. She was taken to the nearest port where she was sold onto a pirate ship by the name of Ngaio. The crew quickly learned to avoid her after the first pirate who made unwanted advances ended up dead.

That was years ago. In time she became a powerful sorcerer and able to control the winds. Her years of service earned her some rewards and her freedom. She disliked having the profession of pirate thrust upon her but she saw no other course for her life to take. Haunted by her past, she could never shake the sadness that was set deep in her bones. Eventually, she began to enjoy some parts of her life, the sailing most of all. However, she never did get along with the captain. Then one day...

Count Dravda
2009-11-18, 07:19 PM
Oh, I love writing backstories. I find it helps me flush out a character, knowing how and why he thinks and reacts in every situation. Here's one I recently wrote, and it's one of the darkest ones ever. This is a LG crusader of Heironeous or Pelor, but with an unusual twist for a paladin:

He hadn’t always been this way. Though it seemed as if his torment had lasted for eternity, there had been a time where he didn’t regret drawing each breath. There had been a time when he was happy. It had been her, of course. Beautiful, in every sense of the word. Every time he looked at her, his heart had leapt, each night they were away he dreamed sweet dreams of embracing her, and every time he thought of her he assumed he would spend the rest of his life with her. It couldn’t be any other way.

He was a knight paladin first and foremost, however, and his duty took him away from her for long periods of time. When foreign courtesans smiled at him, and demonic temptresses offered themselves to him, his fidelity was beyond question. And when he returned to her, his sword, shield, and armor lay in a corner, forgotten along with his worries. She kept the darkness at bay that had claimed so many knights paladin before him.

He made enemies, though. When he returned home one fateful day, he sank to his knees in horror: their house lay in flames, and she was nowhere to be found. He swore an oath to find her, to not rest until he had rescued her. With each dead end and each red herring, he fought harder to stave off the horrific thought that she may have been killed already; that he would never see her again in this life.

The truth was far worse. He finally found her, three years later. He had bribed, talked, and sneaked his way into a demon cult’s headquarters. There she lay, crucified to an infernal torture machine, not dead but far worse. For three years, she had been lying there, lashed to the diabolical torture engine that had flayed away every bit of her being. Her death had taken years. Every bit of magic the cultists had ever used had come from an eternity of agony from her soul. She was not dead. She was gone: her eternal being completely erased and blotted out of existence. She had left life screaming his name, and he had never come.

He did not know how long he lay there, cradling her as tears rolled down his face. Minutes? Hours? It was interrupted by the demonic high priest entering the room. In an instant, grief boiled away under the flames of hatred. Forsaking sword and spell, he had killed the priest with his bare hands, screaming obscenities as he throttled the old man and felt his life depart from under his fingertips. He roared until he had bellowed himself hoarse, and cast away the limp carcass like a rag doll.

The remaining cultists had heard the screaming, and stood ready but shaking on the other side of the door. They were not prepared. He thundered through, burning hate having crystallized into terrifying, icy murder.

He killed them all. Tore one’s throat out. Ripped another’s jaw off. Gutted another one, actually ENJOYING watching the life leave his victim’s eyes as he struggled helplessly at the end of a yard of steel. Broke another’s kneecap before slicing his wrists and leaving him to die in a pool of his own blood. Smashed yet another’s skull in against a stone wall. Three now cowered in a corner, begging for mercy, quarter, anything. He barked a note of hideous laughter as they despaired, recognizing no empathy in his eyes: only true alien insanity. He left them hanging from the ceiling by their internal organs.

Their final agonizing screams echoed in his ears as their dark patron approached him. It had engineered the fall of many a noble knight and expected no different from this one. No sooner had the offer left its foul lips before it had been subdued and each of its limbs tied to a frantic horse. The knight whipped them in four different directions and sent the fiend shrieking back to Hell.

He stared morosely at the length of rope in his hands as he tied the familiar knot with the practiced ease of one who has done it many times. He contemplated the resulting noose before untying it with equal precision. It was not the time. There was work yet to be done. No reward awaited his service, no glorious afterlife held any allure to him. All he had left was pain, hatred, and grim determination.

-Count Dravda

2009-11-18, 07:23 PM
Some people can over do backstories though in terms of "awesome", the firts backstory I read for my Star Wars game the player had their character involved in about twenty influential htings in the last ten years. I gave it back to him with red marks all over it.

2009-11-18, 10:39 PM
I bother, but only if I expect it to matter. Some GMs just don't care what the backstory is and I'm not going to waste my time writing for them.

This (http://gm.sagotsky.com/?page_id=166) is the best of my backstories in recent memory. It's 14 pages though, hence the link.

2009-11-18, 11:02 PM
I once used the 3.0 heroes builder guidebook to generate a back story with random rolls. I came out with a gnome refugee living among dwarven refugees in a human city, whos family fled some great evil and was mostly casters who ran the temple. Honestly, with a few tweaks I turned that into something epic.

Shame I never got to play it :(

2009-11-18, 11:14 PM
I'm a fan in general, though too much is a bit... silly.

I've got two great backstories, both for halfling rogues for some reason.

The first is actually a day in the life sort of thing for my baker by day catburgler by night charactor, the second is a more traditional backstory that drew heavily on the setting's history but also, because I never got to use the first one (:smallmad:), featured a halfling baker with roguey skills, this time with less comic relief, reluctant hero feel more retiried PTSD guy who may or may not have multiple personalities. One was the baker, the other James Bond

2009-11-18, 11:15 PM
I think some sort of a background concept is good to have. Even just a vague outline can be enough, especially if it's filled in as you go. Good for bonuses, too... It is possible, however, to go too far. One guy in the first game I ever played wrote out a multiple-page detailed epic story for his character that was just ridiculous. For example: at around 4th level, he singlehandedly defeated a chain devil with nothing but a flare spell and a crossbow, and sometime after that (we were playing at about 15th level, so somewhere lower than that) he (also singlehandedly) defeated an army of red dragons. Literally an army, mind.

I can pretty much count the characters I've had on one hand, so here's a summary of all of them, in chronological order:

Korihel, Half-elf Ranger/Wildrunner. She was conceived when her mother was raped by a human member of a roving group of soldiers. Her tribe was horribly prejudiced against humans, and she and her mother were mostly shunned by everyone. Stories of how horrible humans are were repeated throughout her life (Favoured Enemy: Humans).
One day, they were surprised by a roaming giant. It tore Korihel's mother apart while she watched (Favoured Enemy: Giants).
Cast adrift in the world, she sought her father with intent to wreak revenge for her mother. She discovered him to be a decent man, with a family of his own. He told her of his deep regret for his actions, and explained it (but did not excuse it) by the pressure he had felt by his colleagues.
So, when I was playing her, she was roaming the world with mixed feelings of hate and... well, not-hate for humanity.

Shea, Half-orc Rogue/Catlord. As far as Shea can remember, she was born alone on the streets. She never knew her parents, and has no idea whether they're alive or dead. A few people over the years have taken her in, but inevitably something comes along and they can't look after her anymore, or they don't want to, or she is no longer of use to them, or they are taken away from her. One particularly kind person took her in for several years, and even taught her much about fighting. It was this person who gave her the magical lynxpaw she now treasures. (I can't remember, or never explained, what happened to this person)
She is used to abuse and abandonment, but is good-natured about it all. She is not very clever (Int 8ish), but has a well-developed sense of self preservation (Wis 14+, cowardly streak). She finds her most constant family in stray (and owned) felines, wherever they can be found.

Sar'Pynestae, Tiefling (3/4 elf) non-magical Ranger. Sar'Pynestae's grandfather once sought out the source of various demons that had been infesting his forest. He, and other elf warriors, tracked it down to a Gate to the Hells that had been opened, and employed with great gusto by its inhabitants. They defeated, eventually, the leader of an impending invasion and managed to close the Gate - but not before Sar'Pynestae's grandmother, a succubus tired of the eternal fighting and misery of the Hells, slipped through. She approached the elves in peace, and over time they managed to quell her natural inclination towards Evil to an unsteady middle-ground. At some point, she and Sar's grandfather fell in love, and had several children, ranging from practically elven to almost demonic. One of the more demonic offspring eventually had his own child - Sar'Pynestae, with her bright red hair, pale skin, black and red eyes (think Gambit) and small black billy-goat horns. This daughter, granddaughter to a demon, grew up wild, wholesome and good.
When Sar'Pynestae was in her teens (or the elven equivalent), a marilith searching for conscripts for the Blood Wars came across her, and whisked her away to the Hells. A rescue party, led by her own grandmother, eventually sought her out and brought her home, almost insane from her experiences. Now, she is still Good, but has a short temper that is quick to snap, and if ever she finds herself in the Hells again, there is no telling what it could do to her.*

Kariana Wyrnda, Dwarven Knight. Kariana was a member of the severely conservative and insular kingdom of Hock Barock, which closed down more than a hundred years ago for the completion of a huge secret commission - noone may enter or leave the kingdom's caverns until the commission is complete.
Her brother found a way out, and had even been trading and befriending humans and, most scandalously, elves, the on-again, off-again dire enemies of Hock Barock dwarves. Kariana found out, and finding herself unable to convince him to stop, went along to ensure his safety. When their people discovered them, in an attempt to protect her brother she stepped in and took responsibility for the whole thing. Her punishment was banishment, at least until Hock Barock is opened again (her coat of arms, which I have designed, has the large orange tombstone of "traitor" on it).
Cast from the only home she ever knew, she turned to alcohol more than even dwarves thought healthy. This caused a breakdown between herself and her only friends, and she eventually swore off alcohol entirely. She roamed around the countryside searching for good work and works to keep her occupied and fed until Hock Barock finally opens, and she can go home.
As an aside, she's been turned into an elf via reincarnation. This is going to cause problems. Also her horse drowned.

*Well, actually, there is: She would have a severe breakdown, then rise eerily calm, efficient and in control. Her alignment will change from Chaotic Good to Chaotic Neutral, and her focus will be on sheer survival at all costs - preferably of all her companions, but if sacrificing them will be her only way out, so be it.

2009-11-19, 01:01 AM
Really depends on the campaign.

Some campaigns are like Babylon 5, where Sheridan shows up carrying a pair of massive hooks (the Black Star and Anna), and these are used to advance the plot. I'm perfectly happy doing this. I really liked one backstory I came up with for a hellbred paladin, though I never ended up running that PC.

Others are like Farscape, where Crichton's story basically starts with the pilot episode. I somewhat prefer this type of the game, where my character reacts and grows based on what happens in the campaign. Makes the game seem a bit more meaningful to the PC. The in-game events are the things that shape his goals and apsirations; they are not obstacles to be overcome in pursuit of his pre-existing goals and aspirations. (This is the one drawback I've sometimes seen to heavy backstory; the in-game quests can become an unwelcome diversion from what the PC would rather be doing.) And I just generally prefer my PC to hate drow because of something they did to the party in-game rather than something I decided they had done in the backstory.

2009-11-19, 01:23 AM
Current character to be started on this Sunday:

LG Pally 1-Heironeous

Age of Wurms game, so for those of you who know the beginning it starts in a mining town, think 18XX's company towns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_town). So Vladamir came to this town in hopes of a better life, but got sucked into the spiraling debt that is commonplace in such towns. I'm planning on making this the main part of his back story (only 17) where he grows more and more bitter towards overbearing companies and governments and goes towards Leninism (hence the name).

Small back story, but it is all built for the first few sessions heavily making him into the character I have planned. Although I have no clue on how age of wurms progresses. Hopefully it will work :D

2009-11-19, 01:25 AM
I'm more of a roll-player than a role-player, so I almost never write much of a backstory. Funnily enough the most interesting, compelling, and awesome backstory I have is for a very silly "joke" campaign...

"Gabdalf, the Off-white", Elven Wizard:
Gabdalf was a prodigy spell caster even amongst the elves. His storied career includes single-handledy cloudkilling the entire Orc Army in the Civil Wa...I mean, the great Southern Orc/Northern Humans war, the exploration of the Tomb of Doom, the Return to the Tomb of Doom, the mass genocide of the trolls and their leader, Fuor-chan, the publication of a hundred books, including "Ley-lines and Arcane Flux: Or, why important locations can't be teleported to and how you can bypass this natural law", "The Opti-mages Guide to Being God", "HASTE! And a dozen other battle-winning buff spells", and the creation of dozens of spells and artifacts, such as "Baleful Teleport" and "Summon Scotch".

As a young adventurer, Gabdalf was left emotionally scarred by his journey to Black Watch, a tower filled with unspeakable evil. The party's rogue was drilled into a wall by golems that were utterly immune to magic, even his Orb spells. The cleric was possessed by an evil spirit and killed herself. The samurai, worthless though he was, volunteered to be "party trapfinder" and eventually set off a trap that caused him to vanish. Gabfalf and the fighter heard him screaming for almost half an hour. The fighter was driven mad by the same spirits that killed the cleric, and Gabdalf was forced to Baleful Polymorph him into a less lethal form and run away once his Dispel Magics and orb spells were depleted. Gabdalf was further embittered by the Great War, were he was used as a WMD, and his dealing with the Godfather of the Blue Dragonflight Mafia.

At the age of 900, Gabdalf decided that he was tired of this world. So, he decided to put his life's fortune into an arcane ritual known as "chain-gating", to use an Epic Spell called Genesis to create his own plane. To hit level 21, Gabdalf single-handeldy assassinated the Blue Dragonflight Don Malygnoos using Celerity/Time Stop cheese to out-action him. Gabdalf got about 5 solars into the ritual when Gygax, God of Gaming stopped him. Gary disjunctioned Gabdalf and then drained him to level 2 and locked him in wizard hell for eight long years.

In that eight year span, the Dark Lord Walton came to the land of Evanrhuul and enslaved its people with his army of golems and low, low prices. Even the Gods were powerless to stop Walton's dominion. As a last ditch effort, Chuck Norris pressed Gygax into releasing Gabdalf from his prison. As the last and oldest disciple of the ways of the LogicNinja, Gabdalf may just be civilization's last, best hope against Walton's rollback...and perhaps, through humility and the agony of being an ancient elf stuck at 2nd level, Gabdalf will find redemption for his crimes against nature and game balance.

Akal Saris
2009-11-19, 01:32 AM
Heh...one of my PCs had to write a backstory explaining why his venerable elf binder was still 1st level and 300 years old. He complained that it was much harder than it seemed.

If I recall, it's that he went out adventuring, and his entire party was eaten by a troll, so he ran back to the nearest city and spent the next 150 years traumatized, hiding in his apartment and avoiding the world at large.

2009-11-19, 01:37 AM
Heh...one of my PCs had to write a backstory explaining why his venerable elf binder was still 1st level and 300 years old. He complained that it was much harder than it seemed.

If I recall, it's that he went out adventuring, and his entire party was eaten by a troll, so he ran back to the nearest city and spent the next 150 years traumatized, hiding in his apartment and avoiding the world at large.

I would have had so much fun with explaining how I have been resurrected about 400 times. Each death more slapstick the last, more than likely. It would be a lot of fun to explain that because of this I have absolutely no fear of death, what-so-ever.

2009-11-19, 01:37 AM
Probably my best backstory was a year ago. ( I made it so good partly because I powergamed my chain fighter a little more than my DM wanted)
Each member of the party received a letter stating something along the lines of "Hello, we have heard your name and wish to ask your help. If you are interested, report to Town X and ask for Sheriff R."

My backstory was sent to the DM in the form of a reply letter. Summarized:
Dear Sheriff R,
Thank you for your offer, and I humbly accept. However, I must warn you, I do not believe I am the Joebob of Springfield to whom this letter was addressed.
I was born Danny of Denver in the year X. At age 14 my hometown was attacked by slavers. During the march to their base several escape attempts were made, possibly the most successful led by my father. Certainly the fewest victims were retrieved after taht one, among them the girl I was to marry in a few years.
I was large and strong, so I was sold for a good price to work mines and other hard labor despite my repeated escape attempts. (That was how I justified 1 level in rogue, I was good at picking locks, but not fighting my way out). After about 5 years, I was working in a desert gem mine when some adventurers attacked, among them Joebob of Springfield. During the fight, I crushed my overseers head with a rock before he could join in, while some of the party was enveloped in a mist, when it cleared, both adventurers and slavers were gone (taken to ravenloft is my favorite way to get rid of useless NPCs), and Joebob was dying with sword in his chest.
He told me to take the slaves to an oasis in the desert and wait 2 days, help would come for us, then he died.
We fled (carrying his body) and as promised help came. From them I learned Joebob's name and home. I traveled to his home, seeking his family so I may give them his possessions. I also took his name and adopted his favored weapon (chain). If he lost his life for me, then I would live my life glorifying his. (Was much better phrased originally).
The next part of my backstory was an account of my travels for a year or two. A return home to see if my own family still lived. As well as an encounter with a troll while guarding a caravan, which let me metagame a little when the party was attacked by a troll.
Letter was closed by stating,
If my own aid is unwanted compared to Joebob, I will understand and will not press myself further.
Joebob of Springfield.

And no, we did not speak to a man called Sheriff R, nor were there any towns called Springfield or Denver.

2009-11-19, 01:42 AM
I always have a backstory. One of my favorites was a dwarf who, while fleeing from an undead army ransacking her home, got separated from the rest of the group. Lost in the wilderness, she was eventually set upon by wolves, and cried out to Obad-Hai for help. He did help, by turning her into a wolf herself. And that was my first dwarf druid, using the 3.5 PHB2 shapeshifter variant. She ended up thinking of herself more as a wolf who turns into a dwarf than the other way around.

My absolute favorite I'm not sharing, though. I'm keeping it a secret from my group (only the DM knows), and the last thing I want to do is reveal it too early.

2009-11-19, 01:43 AM
I would have had so much fun with explaining how I have been resurrected about 400 times. Each death more slapstick the last, more than likely. It would be a lot of fun to explain that because of this I have absolutely no fear of death, what-so-ever.

I had a character like that. I imported my favorite UO character into D&D years ago, and when I described him, DM said he sounded like a high level character. If I was to keep the backstory, I had to explain why I was only 3rd level.
Well, his wife was murdered 4 years past, and he kept searching for her killer. However, he tended to die in unexpected ways before he found the guy. So most of my body was still a mishmash of scars from my various deaths.
Chunk out of collarbone? Axe from an orclord.
Oozing ribs and neck pain? Neck broken by vampire necromancer, and eaten by zombies.
Missing 2 ribs on left side? Eaten by a wyvern after being stung. etc

Lord Thurlvin
2009-11-19, 02:14 AM
My Only backstory I've ever made (I'm the DM out of necessity, which doesn't mean I don't enjoy it, but anyway, moving on..,) was this:

Duralzo Lock, Sorcerer 13 (heavy focus on draconic feats)

Durlazo Lock was born out of wedlock, and was left with his father, Ladinoch, high priest of Boccob in the city of Norat. He grew up in the library, fitting into society just fine in spite of his obvious draconic ancestry and the fact he was a sorcerer. He was only a junior member in the church's hierarchy by the time a seemingly unstoppable gnoll army forced his conscription. By this time, his father had died, leaving to Duralzo all of his possessions, the magic items among them the only things that kept Duralzo alive throughout the war. Although he slew many gnolls, there were simply too many, and all surviving human forces were recalled to the capital for the kingdom's last stand. It was here Duralzo would have died, if it were not for the intervention of Sharazahad, a seemingly insane wizard of ridiculous power. Just as an elite gnoll unit had Duralzo pinned down and out of spells, Sharazahad appeared and proceeded to single-handedly wipe out the entire gnoll army. Sharazahad, finding Duralzo interesting, abducted him and placed him in stasis for 500 years, releasing him at the end of this time to travel with another group of adventurers Sharazahad had found interesting. Lacking any reason to stay, since everyone he had ever known was long dead, Duralzo decide to journey with them beyond the lands of his home.
(Even though Duralzo doesn't know this, Sharazahad's placement of Duralzo with this specific group of people is not without an ulterior motive. He's planning on destroying reality and he wants this group to be as powerful as possible so they can "succeed")

2009-11-19, 06:58 AM
I've never really made a character with much of a back story as a player. My first character I'm still playing was an elven wizard that just popped out of nowhere. We didn't know anything about the world (and I guess neither did the DM) but I made something up a few levels later when the DM said he'd give us XP for it (how cynical of me). The other campaign had more of a back story but the group is so large that there's little scope for individual role playing. My character comes from a far away country and is an insufferable swashbuckling coward with pretensions of nobility.

I've probably given most of my significant NPCs back stories that were more detailed as a DM.

The most elaborate one I have made yet is paradoxically for a powergaming dungeoncrawl that will probably only last two or three sessions. It's gestalt, we start at 16th level and my build is really convoluted so I figured I'd have to have a suitable back story explaining that.

My character is the chaotic neutral Halfling Hastefer. He started his life in a primitive Halfling tribe in the wilderness as the son of the tribe's most powerful warrior that derived his power from his lion spirit. He was trained by his father to get in touch with his spirits and to channel his rage in battle but it was not to be since he was neither as hardy nor as strong as his father.
Hastefer was more interested in studying the stars in the clear night sky, collecting every bit of knowledge he could from stories and dancing around the bonfire at night in celebration of a new hunt. While his tribe appreciated the gifts of this unusually charming and astute boy he had to help in feeding his tribe to so he helped in tracking animals and fending of dangerous creatures or enemies. Despite his frailty and his tendency to let his mind wander he was excellent at hitting smaller animals and foes with his daggers and the tribe soon found that his dancing and magic could help in fights that didn't require stealth.
Then the relative peace of his tribe was threatened my mysterious creatures (whom I've yet to determine as a favoured enemy) and new tactics had to be devised to battle them. Hastefer learned to be stealthier and to use his agility to do a little more damage. He even ventured down into the dark caves that were the lairs of the creatures to spy on them. It was on one such solitary mission that he seemed to have no luck finding a trace of them. He ventured deep into their lair to find nothing but tracks leading out. The creatures had evaded him and as he followed their tracks out into the forest he realized they'd been tricked, all the creatures had ventured out and taken a detour around the forest to strike at his tribe from out of the plains where they wouldn't be expected. He hurried back through the forest to his tribe only to find out he was to late. His entire tribe and family had been slaughtered. He searched for survivors but found none before he was spotted and managed to evade them in the forest. Having lost everything he cared for he lived as a hermit in the forest hunting for food with only the companionship of a wolf that he managed to attract (I was thinking about taking the wild cohort feat).
After a year of traveling aimlessly through the wild forests of the world was ambushed by creatures similar to those that destroyed his tribe. He was chased through the forest until he saw a monastery on top of a hill. Out of nowhere appeared some humanoids that jumped on the creatures chasing Hastefer, killing them instantly with their daggers. They were the guardians of the monastery that specialized in fighting evil with their spells and daggers. Tired of the solitude he sought shelter and was granted. The members of the order were moved by his story and impressed by his fighting skills and offered to train him further even if his background was unusual for their particular fighting style. He grasped the basics of their teachings and served as a scout and support for them on their excursion in return. For the first time in his life he came in touch with civilized society when he traveled with them to towns and cities. He had trouble adjusting to those crowded habitats at first but the opportunities for amassing knowledge and studying people of all kinds intrigued him. In one large town he found an institution that specialized in the study of stars and their magic. Since this was one of his childhood fascinations he asked to join as a student and was accepted because of the recommendations of the head of the monastery.
Hastefer was a quick learner even though his eccentricities tried the patience of his teachers and fellow students. He studied the magic of music not by playing sophisticated instruments or singing melodies of mathematical precision but by dancing his primitive tribal dances while chanting. Instead of studying the movements of the stars from the school's observatory tower he ventured out into the forest at night with a few rudimentary instruments. He was often absent for days on end and having a massive wolf following him everywhere didn't sit well with professors that hardly ever left their towers either. Nevertheless he graduated with honours and was grudgingly offered a position at the school. To the relief of many he declined, the discipline and sedentary nature of academia didn't suit his restless soul.
Now with access to more powerful magic than ever he sought to complete his training at the monastery as it was the only thing besides himself and his wolf that he felt he had an obligation to. They gave him a wide berth and he got plenty of opportunities take out his anger on creatures like those that destroyed his life. He continued to accept missions for the order as long as they suited his talents and in-between he wandered in the forest or honed his skills.

...And that's how I justify a Lion Totem Barbarian1/Ranger3/Scout2/Daggerspell Mage1/Scout9//Bard10/Sublime Chord2/Daggerspell Mage4.

2009-11-19, 07:41 AM
Let's see if this one gets any votes...:smallwink:
(Since I don't have the entire written story with me at my office, I'll have to paraphrase, and I'll continue the story into his adventuring career. It will make more sense that way.)

On a night wracked by violent thunderstorms, the Archdemon Morkoth, a horrifyingly powerful Balor, was slain by two saintly heroes, a husband and wife. Unbeknownst to the heroine, she was with child. As the Archdemon died he cursed the child, still in the womb, to be his rebirth. The heroes were confused at first, until the heroine found out she was carrying a child.
The pregnancy continued seemingly normally, until the night of the childbirth. It was again violently storming, seemingly only in the vicinity of the heroine. The labor was horrible, and she dies in childbirth. The father, seeing his child with no mother, seeks out a supposedly kind old druidess living nearby.
The child is raised by the horrible hag, who, through various divination spells, knows of the child's curse. He is fed blood instead of milk as an infant, and has mysterious blackouts where he says and does things that he cannot remember. He hears whispering voices telling him to do things that are vile and worse than evil. Eventually, during one of his blackouts, he slays the horrible hag and comes out of it to find her dead. She was the only family he ever knew, and he killed her. He just knows it.
So some months pass, and the child enters peuberty, he develops a strange connection to eldritch energy, and begins to use his dark powers to survive in the world. After he develops his abilities, a stranger visits him. She is a beautiful woman, with an angelic visage, feathery wings, and is clothed in a gauzy white wrap. They strike a deal, he will use his powers to serve her, and she will lead him to salvation.
(Here's where he becomes an adventurer.)
He still frequently has blackouts, and begins talking, seemingly, to himself, but recieves answers in another voice, from himself. He gains in power, and is later visited by the same angelic woman. She tells him of a book that can rid him of his curse.
He enlists the aid of the rest of the party, but when they find the book, it is an evil thing that will free the demon inside of him. (Of course the demon inside of him already knows this.) He is again visited by the angelic woman, but she is full of wrath, that he has not done as she commanded him. She explodes in a burst of light, and in her place is a Marilith demon. The party slays the demon, and must find a way to rid the world of this book. (Better to have a half-crazy warlock on their hands than a visitation from the Archdemon Morkoth, right?)
But...during the blackouts that he still suffers from, the demon plots his return. It reads the book and, during subsequent blackouts, performs the vile rituals that will free him. During the last ritual, the warlock recovers from the blackout just before the demon speaks the final word. The warlock stops suffering from the blackouts, but still performs actions that he cannot control. (Some game terms here.) Over the course of the next few months (game time), he begins to change, showing signs of a fiendish heritage (slowly gains the abilities and LA of the Half-Fiend template). His actions become more and more evil as he changes more and more...(Never got to finish the campaign, everybody had to move...hazards of military life, I guess.)

EDIT: I have more, if anybody wants to "borrow" them.
This one is a Half-Fiend Human Warlock.

Also available for use:

Half-Elf (Charisma-Based) Rogue (Any)
Halfling Fighter/Rogue/Invisible Blade/Whisperknife (3.5e)
Nymph Cleric of (insert nature diety here) (3.5e)
Human Cleric of Kelemvor (Any)
Dwarven (Underdark-Based) Ranger (Any)
Human Rogue/Wilder (3.5e)

Most of the backstories require DM participation to continue throughout the campaign. Recurring villains, plot hooks, etc.

2009-11-19, 08:24 AM
Backstory? :smallconfused:

Backstory (and the development from generic character #273 into special precious snowflake #5) is something that emerges during play. Pages of backstory is just a waste of time and effort if your PC ends up getting shanked by goblins, or crushed by falling rocks, or gnawed on by giant rats, or...(etc.) and replaced by PC n+1 an hour into the game.

Now shut up and roll, ya pseud! :smallbiggrin:

2009-11-19, 08:29 AM
and replaced by PC n+1 an hour into the game.

For whom I would write another 4 to 5 page backstory!:smalltongue:

2009-11-19, 08:37 AM
I used to do stuff like this, but not any more. Nowadays I sketch in a couple of details and go, and everything else can come out in play. Examples:

Unit 9: Warforged paladin built long ago to be a justice machine. Found sealed in a vault much later by the rest of the party.

Sten Treefeller: A druid who is also a lumberjack. Big on sustainable forestry.

Rabu: Goblin merchant expelled from the goblin undercity for the crime of having too much money. ("How much?" "All of it.")

Funkmaster Flexx: Dwarf bard. Big hair. Not at all sensible.

And so on.

2009-11-19, 08:42 AM
Seriously? Funkmaster Flexx?
Have you ever heard of the famous Gnome bard Metro? (Pun intended...get it...metro-gnome...metronome...HAHHAHAHAhahhahhahhahahahhahaa h...awww...you guys are no fun...):smallwink:

2009-11-19, 09:03 AM
My favorite backstory is one that I did recently.

The group was one of assembled (but depowered) legendary heroes called upon once more by divine power to stop some big world-threatening thing. You know how that sort of thing goes.

Since our heroes were legendary heroes, he required that we write out their legends. So I did just that, really liked the story I wrote, and the character turned out to be one of my favorites.

The character wasn't even that complicated. Just a NG Incarnate, particularly religious as a spiritual leader.

I've since created a backstory for the character's entire culture.

2009-11-19, 10:21 AM
Depends on when I bring them into the campaign and who they're related to/who they know. If I'm using the child of a previous character, I just have to assume how they were raised, and childhood adventures and scandals are brought up as part of roleplaying IC that develop it. If I'm making an entirely new character for an entirely new campaign, I like to have a bit of a base. My drow truenamer was sort of like this, and all I had to do for his backstory was say tell the DM that he's on the run from x city he grew up in, because they didn't recognize truenaming as being true magic or whatever the heck we figured out. He was a drow, he definitely wasn't good or redeemed, he wasn't in the Underdark, and that was all that mattered.

If it's a new character in an ongoing campaign, I'm a little more elaborate because time's been lost to explore their history and develop it through roleplaying IC. My Illusionist was brought in at level 8 or 10 or something; we found him in a northern city, he was broke and homeless, but he used to be a noble. He had ended up broke and homeless because he had been tinkering with forbidden magic and ended up destroying his home and family. Assuming he had been let out of prison or jail or whatever, he had nothing else to do but simple illusions for kids on the street. So we picked him up and took him back with us.

But I'm not about to write an essay on their background before I get them into play... it really is something that should come up IC.

Barbarian MD
2009-11-19, 10:22 AM
Longest backstory I've ever written, which was for an epic level campaign (that never happened). The focus was on story-telling, and recruitment was based on quality of writing and mechanics could be broken based on how well we wrote, so EVERYONE's backstory was thousands of words in length (Just look up Djinn in Tonic's Epic Campaign THREAD [seriously, the recruiting thread(s) ran around 100 pages]). I used to write very short ones, but now it's gotten me into writing longer ones.

Prepare for Wall o' Text: Einuil the Monk

Einuil is a rather odd looking elf, a walking contradiction. His hair is longish and gray, and his face is deeply lined with age. Yet he is as spry as an elf one-third his age, and has the energy to match. He stands 5’ 6” and has bronzed skin from his time outdoors and a powerful build. A deep scar crosses his body--if he were to hold his arms down to his sides, a careful observer would note that the scar continues across both of his arms.

As the Master-Student of his monastery, his robes are the simplest brown, stained with use, flowing and yet tucked in such a way as to not hinder his movements. A belt of horse-hair marks him as an Elder. He carries no weapons, and abhors their use. In fact, he prefers to handle trouble-makers non-lethally whenever possible.

Einuil is the child of Thandion and Faelwen Culithlhûn, elves who immigrated to the kingdom of Karrnath in the year 635, one hundred years before the birth of their only son. His mother was a respected diplomat for a number of years. His father took up trade and established a prominent trading company that handled more than 23 cities throughout the kingdom. When the happy couple were granted a son in the year 735, there was much rejoicing, and Einuil's grandparents even traveled all the way from the elven continent to see him. The happy couple continue to live in the city to this day.

Einuil, for his part, did not enjoy the hustle and bustle of city-life, the lack of direction on the part of Karrnath’s inhabitants, and the lack of a certain “wholeness of heart”. From an early age, he had seen traveling monks venturing into the city, on their way to or from some monastery, muttering about this scroll or that relic or the evil beast of such-and-such.

Peeking out from behind his mother's skirts, little Einuil watched with curious interest as the pair of strange figures walked down the street towards them. One man was young, and yet he was bald! The other, much older and with white hair, seemed young! And they wore such funny clothing--robes and sandles--totally unlike the wear of city-folk. Who could these strange men be? The smiling, laughing pair crossed the paths of the elven family and bowed a little greeting, then continued on their way, laughing and joking about something.

A few minutes later, they passed a second strange sight--an inn in complete disarray. The front window was smashed out, and a man was laying across the hole! Two men were staggering to their feet in the street, and another man was hanging by his belt loop on the wind vane!

Einuil smiled to himself.

So, at the age of 110, his coming of age, he bid his parents goodbye and set out, hoping to find a monastery that would accept such an old (by human standards) initiate. He found a home at the monastery at Unoth-Kar to the west of the city, followers of the Way of Dancing Winds, and immediately embraced the life of a monk-initiate there.

His ability to quickly grasp the Unifying Principles amazed his teachers, and he was raised to a teaching role over the other, younger students. His own teachers admired his work-ethic, as they would rise in the mornings to find him outside in the grounds, already at his duties.

This idyllic life continued for quite some time (845-964YK). Einuil continued to gain more and more measures of success, learning to control his body, his mind, his very nature. He loved life in the monastery, the focus, the opportunity to improve himself. Just as much, he loved farming, growing vegetables and watching things grow and take shape. He loved being able to venture out into the country-side to provide for the monastery’s neighbors or those that came to the stone walls seeking assistance.

With an exhausted, happy sigh, Einuil stands from his work, leaning on the rusty shovel. Surveying the grounds of the monastery garden gives him great satisfaction. He himself had done this, and he was proud of his work, having figured out the art of stone masonry all on his own. The rabbits had been getting into the tomatoes again. Einuil had erected a low stone wall around the gardens to keep them out.

That night he was awoken to the shaking of another monk-initiate. "Elder Justinian wants to see you in the gardens."

Sleepily, Einuil rolled out of bed and struggled into his robes in the dark. He tripped over the cobblestone walkway twice before he reached the gardens, only to find the elder monk squatting upon his wall.

"What is this, Einuil?"

"A wall, master."

"And why is it here, Einuil?"

"To keep the rabbits out, master."

"Why would we want to keep rabbits out, Einuil?"

The message was clear. Einuil toiled throughout the night, painstakingly removing each and every stone from the wall and carting them back to the stream where he had found them. Such lessons no longer felt silly to Einuil.

Then disaster struck, and the shining gem inside Einuil was forged out of the rough, refined in fire. Contained in the monastery were many ancient relics, but two more prized than the rest combined—flutes forged at the dawn of the world. The first: Kyberus, carved from a Dragonshard more inky black than any seen in the world. The second: Eberra, carved from a Dragonshard said to have been broken from the heart of Eberron itself. Their sister instrument, lost to time, was Siberya, a Dragonshard instrument of finely crafted gold. When played together, the three are said to change the destiny of Eberron itself.

The tile roof of the monastery, hideous flames billowing up from it, collapses with a thunderous crash, in harmony with the screams from within. Einuil stands stunned as the beast flies away in the night. A water bucket is thrust into his hand, and he begins to run.

A demon, an unearthly creature from another plane, was drawn to the arcane aura produced by the collection of ancient relics hidden in the temple. Half the monastery was destroyed in the night with the beast’s attack, and the combined arcane might of the eldest monks only served to draw its further wrath. In a single night, the monastery had lost five of its seven eldest leaders, its ancient relics, and any initiate who even dared to step out into the night. The efforts to put out the fires continued into the next day, and the surviving monks were in such shock that a one month period of mourning was necessary for them to even be able to think clearly.

The two surviving elders of the order drew together to determine the best course of recovery. The relics, especially Kyberus and Eberra, must be recovered. Three monks were sent out, the finest young members of their order: the human William, the half-orc Grummash, and the elf Einuil. They were to find and defeat the demon and recover the relics.

Their journey lasted a total of thirty-seven years.

Never wavering in their dedication, William, Grummash, and Einuil crossed the four continents of Eberron, searching for clues. In their journeys they began to achieve fame as their love for the people they encountered and their willingness to share in their burdens was told and re-told.

The dusty trail stretches miles behind the trio as they approach the village square. A woman is weeping over the body of her husband, a knife wound clearly visible in his back and scratches on her face.

Einuil runs ahead of the others and kneels beside her. Feeling no pulse on the dead man, he, too, wails with the woman, feeling her grief as though it were his own.

As they entered their first village, the town council called upon their aid to assist with bandit attacks.

The trio stands before seven men. Einuil speaks loudly to the circle: "You will come with us to stand trial for your misdeeds, sirs!"

A man on the left sneers. Most laugh. All reach for their weapons. It is over before it has even begun. With lightning quick strikes, the monks leap upon the men before they can finish unsheathing their weapons.

Einuil twirls amongst them, dancing between their blows. Slapping his hands together, he stops a blade between his palms while masterfully kicking out behind him, catching the jaw of a man with a mace just before he can bring it down. He twists with his hands, artfully disarming the man before him before bringing his knees up into a backflip-kick. The entire battle is one fluid motion on Einuil's part, never stopping, always flowing from one stance to another, one enemy to the next.

When the dust settles, half of the men are unconscious, the rest have yielded. William bandages one man's broken arm while Grummash ties the rest up and heaves them onto their horses.

Sometimes they would deal with a haunting, sometimes with enemies that prowled the night, and sometimes they would simply help muck out a stable or build a home. Grateful villagers would provide them with a place to sleep in their hay lofts or would invite them into their homes to share a meal. The three heroes considered it all a part of the same quest—in order to achieve their end, they must first prove themselves worthy at heart.

Dear Father and Mother...

As they would journey, Einuil regularly wrote home to his parents. He would ask how they were, how things were with the shop, and keep them informed as to his whereabouts. He loves them deeply, and was glad for the occasional return letter that would find him in his travels.

As any proud parent would, his father submitted his letters to the publisher of a small pamphlet in Karrnath. The publisher is now a very rich man, and (completely unbeknownst to Einuil), his story has become legend. The letters were compiled and edited into a narrative, which was turned into a book, and the book is published in all the cities throughout the world as “Monk of Legend”. Unfortunately (or—more likely—fortunately) for Einuil, the name of the hero monk was changed, for who would want to read about an elf with a name like Einuil? Einuil, for his part, is still unaware of his fame.

A swirling portal stands before them at the rim of an enormous cliff-face in the Ironroot Mountains. Wind whips at their hair, and they can feel the pull of the swirling mass on their robes and even to the very souls. They cannot stop now. Einuil leaps forward, and the other two follow.

After covering the entire world of Eberron, the trail led away from the material plane. Another three years of searching led them to the discovery of a gate to this plane, and—at last—they followed the demon to its very lair.

Einuil tumbles away as the breath of fire singes the edge of his robe, then leaps as the whip follows a hair's-breadth later. William, just behind him, is not so lucky. The whip catches his leg and brings him to his knees, just as another burst of flame roils across the flagstones. The flame disappears just as quickly as it began, and tears well into Einuil's eyes as he sees that there is nothing left of his companion of 24 years.

In desperation, Grummash leaps to the beast's back and hangs on for his life with one hand as he strikes with the other. Seeing his chance, the elven monk jumps forward, crossing the distance in one belief-defying leap, his arm stretched out before him, his fist aimed directly at the beast's heart, Willing with all his might that the abomination die.

It does, as Einuil's sheer force of will kills it.

Victorious, they consecrate the lair. Of the relics, they were able to recover only seven items: a scroll, a staff, an amulet, two books containing the mysteries of their order, and—most importantly—both flutes. There is nothing left of William to bury, but they sprinkle holy water and say prayers for their fallen comrade. When they return home, they will erect a shrine.

Upon returning to the monastery, they were still hailed as heroes. Much time had passed, and many things had changed. The body of elders--restored to its full strength--convened, and the pair were raised to the highest positions in their order: Students. The elders decided at this point that the best course of action would be to separate the flutes, for who knows where the third might be, and what would have happened if the demon had been able to possess it as well.

It was only after their return that anyone thought to tell them what had transpired while they were away from the material plane: the Day of Mourning. Einuil has visited the Mournlands on a number of occasions, trying to learn what transpired there, but to no avail.

The two, Grummash and Einuil, were charged with the further protection of the ancient Dragonshards and asked to found monasteries on separate continents. Grummash, ironically, went to Argonnessen, while Einuil stayed in Khorvaire, founding a monastery deep in the Ironroot Mountains, having established an agreement with both the Kingdom of Karrnath and the Iron Council. The founding of this monastery took place seven years ago, in 1002YK. (The monastery in Argonnessen, in case you were wondering, is quite unique in the make-up of its students.)

Unbeknownst to the Einuil and even the elder monks themselves, the flute that Einuil had recovered, Eberra, was sentient. Einuil had carried it in his belt for over three years before making this discovery, as Eberra had chosen not to reveal its true nature before.


Snapping from his meditation trance, Einuil looks around for the source of the voice. But he is alone, perched atop the highest peak in the Ironroot Mountains, clouds and mist swirling around him in the wind. There is not a soul for miles.

"Einuil." The voice again, stronger, more persistant.

"EINUIL." The flute seems to quiver, tucked in at his waist. Curiously, the aged elf draws the beautifully carved Dragonshard out of its case. A strange desire to play comes over him, and he does.

"My name is EBERRA. I have chosen you. You have proven yourself; I will aid you. We will change the face of Eberron together, for the good and the just and the right and the holy.

Einuil and Eberra have spent many years together now, and a peculiar change has begin to come over the aged monk. Two years ago, Einuil noticed an irritating, itching sensation along his back. Believing himself to be merely sunburned from his nude meditation sessions, he smeared aloe over the itch and continued his normal activities.

Then one evening, as he laid down to sleep, he noticed that he couldn't quite lay flat. Something seemed to be underneath him. Inspecting his bed, he did not notice any lumps, but turning as he did, he caught his reflection in the mirror. Two scaley, white nubs were sprouting from his back.

Frantic with worry, he gave them a closer inspection, twisting every which way to figure out what was going on in the mirror. Finally, using two mirrors and posing all akimbo in a yoga stance, he was able to catch sight of himself for the first time: the nubs were scaley, and he found that he could twitch certain muscles to cause them to move.

Within two weeks, the nubs had become wings: pure white, leathery wings, very much like a dragon's (at least, if Einuil had ever actually seen a dragon, he would know this.)

Over the weeks, more changes began to come over the frightened monk. He discovered himself stronger, faster, and able to think more quickly on his feet. He also, much to his embarrassment, discovered that he was becoming more attractive--his eyes bluer, his white hair took on a glow, and while his wrinkles did not fade, they became somehow even more dignified.

At last, Eberra quietly spoke from its pouch. Eberra wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but it believed itself to be in some way responsible. The magic connection between the flute and the elf was harmonizing, thrumming and pulsing a rhythm between them, and Eberra believed this connection to hold transformative power. Clearly, something was happening, and Einuil and Eberra now both believe that the change taking place further marks Einuil as being chosen for Good.

Einuil continues to write home to his parents, who by now are quite aged and retired.

Recovered the Dragonshard flutes created at the founding of the world.
Achieved great fame in his travels as a Legendary Hero of Good.
Defeated an ancient and vile demon with two other hero monks after leaving the very material plane.
Has become fairly proficient as a musician.
Has a pseudo-biographical work written about his travels that has become a best-seller throughout the world of Eberron.

Continue to protect the flute Eberra from evil
Continue the work of overseeing his monastery and providing for it and its students
Continue to do good in order to purify himself and perhaps attain a measure of divinity (though he would not phrase it quite so) and join the Seat of Heaven.
Has great respect and admiration for his parents' love and marriage--would like to find the same for himself one day.

Writes home to his parents every week
Trains all the time.
Whenever possible, Einuil chooses to deal non-lethal damage.

Kyrill the Half-Orc Were-BearBackstory:

Kirill Medvedyev was once known as Krull Skullsplitter. A half-orc from the far north, his mother was an orc that took part in a raid against human settlements and...took...a human for a sire. Born among the orcs, he knew evil from the start. His brothers were orcs. He trained beside goblins. Dragons commanded his people. A typical day involved killing, pillaging, and torture. He grew to be known as a mighty champion and a leader of a band of orcs known as the Fist of Yurtrus.

All of this changed, however, during an expedition far into the Northern Waste. Krull was the leader of the group that discovered the bears. The bears fought bitterly, and orc and bear alike fell amidst the blood and snow. Finally, only Krull stood standing, facing the Bear Lord. With a mighty swipe of his sword, he cleaved the great beast's head off. He did not, however, escape the battle unscathed. The beast managed to seize his shoulder in its jaws in the battle, and only by tearing the beast's jaws apart did Krull escape. He still wears the scar to this day.

Time passed, the expedition continued, and then the first full moon came...

The camp awoke amidst the screams. Twenty seven of their number lay dead, their throats ripped out with barely a fight. Only three had reached their weapons before death took them. No one saw what happened, only the chilling effects. Fear spread quickly, and murmers of demons and ghosts erupted. However, no further attack followed, and their disquiet only grew.

A month passed, and the party, venturing further into the waste on their expedition, suspected nothing. They had succesfully sacked and razed a human settlement, an encroachment on their land. The day before they had just finished placing the remains on pikes to warn others away. A great feast had followed, and then a night of carousing and sleep. And then terror struck again. This time, thirty-one orcs were killed. This time, no one was even aware until the sun shone on the grizzly scene from hell. The sentries had apparently had their throats ripped out before they could shout an alarm. Corpses lay in their bedrolls, never to awake from their slumber.

More than half their number were dead by this time, supplies were running low, and Krull decided to end the expedition with the hope that they would return alive from this nightmare, before mutiny made the decision for him.

By this time, however, Krull was beginning to grow paranoid. His dreams were troubled, terrible dreams of death and destruction, of rage and fury and orc-death. He feared that he was going crazy. He thought he saw bears in his dreams, that they chased him, taunted him. He would kill one and another would appear, again and again until the pile of dead bears rose so high around him that he lost sight of himself. He tried to hide it, but his companions began to grow nervous around him, watching him out of the corners of their eyes, stroking knife hilts when they spoke with him and received his orders.

The third time, Krull remembered waking from sleep and rising from his bedroll. He bounded (bounded?) on all fours to his second-in-command's tent, and a quick slash ended his life with only a murmer. He did not understand! He held no weapon, and yet Grogg was surely dead. He felt wet stickiness on his face, tasted metallic blood in his mouth. And yet he watched himself, like an outsider to his own body. He reveled in the death, the fury, but he was confused. Why would he kill his friends? He could not control the hate that welled up inside him. He raced around the camp, a frenzied desire to kill the evil that surrounded him. Nothing else existed, except for destroying the evil that he felt until finally, every single orc in the entire company, his proud Band of Yurtrus, was dead. He awoke, naked in the snow, covered in blood, and finally realized what he had become. He wanted to scream, but a part of him seemed to rise up, open wide its maw, and sink its teeth deep into his soul. The pain was so intense, a white heat of fire, that he passed out. He fell into a deep trance, and when he awoke, he was reborn. Krull was dead, something new had taken his place.

For a time, he lost himself in the beast. His life became endless war on the evil of the Northern Wasteland. Somehow, however, an awareness of himself grew, a discovery of personhood. He learned to control the beast, but not the desire to destroy evil. That would never leave him now. His former friends, his companions in battle, became his sworn enemies.

Reasoning through his options, he decided to travel south, to the human settlements, in order to enlist what aid he could find, or else to join a worthy cause. Settlement after settlement turned him away, most with him racing for his life ahead of a mob. He incurred several wounds, including a few bowshots, in his efforts at diplomacy.

Finally, however, he came to a great walled city. The lord there, having been informed of the orc approaching the city alone, reasoned that perhaps something new was afoot.

Three days later, the outcast had a new nation, a new cause, and a new name: Kyrill Medvedyev, Lord of the Bears [it's a Russian semi-translation]. His lord, Nikolai Gregorovich, enlisted Kyrill's aid to rid his kingdom of evil, and Kyrill became legendary among his people.

Berserk Monk
2009-11-19, 10:24 AM
"I like killing stuff and getting gold."

Only backstory I've ever used.

2009-11-19, 10:31 AM
You must play a combat-focused rogue.:smalltongue:

2009-11-19, 10:32 AM
I was once given completely free reign on character design, so I made Samurai-style warforged, which was created as a means of reconciliation between the Japan-equivalent's samurai order and their high-magitech industry.

Yes, I created a Japan-equivalent that combines both current and ancient stereotypes. :smallcool:

Barbarian MD
2009-11-19, 10:42 AM
I think it's more of a PbP thing, but it seems like many DMs on boards want quality backstories as part of the recruitment process, as an example of your ability to write/role-play well.

2009-11-19, 10:47 AM
Primarily PbP, but I require players to bring a backstory, a blank character sheet, dice and a pencil to the first session in a campaign.

Barbarian MD
2009-11-19, 10:49 AM
How do you roll after writing a backstory? It seems like choosing a MAD class before you know you have the dice for it would be risky, at best.

Berserk Monk
2009-11-19, 10:50 AM
You must play a combat-focused rogue.:smalltongue:

Barbarian mostly, but I try to make everything combat focused or nuke-the-crap-out-of-you focused.

2009-11-19, 10:55 AM
I think it's more of a PbP thing, but it seems like many DMs on boards want quality backstories as part of the recruitment process, as an example of your ability to write/role-play well.

Yes, I think this is very true. At a table, a lengthy written backstory is a bit of an imposition: you want a personality for your character and some notes that give him a place in the world and some hooks for the DM to use. On PbP, though, fleshing that out with actual prose is a first proof that you won't make eyeballs bleed with abuse of the language over the course of a game.

As to backstories, it varies, but in general I would come up with at least an explanation of where my character came from and how he came to be where he is, with the skills he has, doing the things he does. That could be very brief ("Bob was born in a small town. He joined up with the guard because he was big and strong and liked swinging a sword. Something happened to sever his ties to the town, so now he's a rootless adventurer because it's profitable.") or quite elaborate. I wouldn't play a character with no history, though. (I did play one where I never got around to writing down the backstory, but I knew the outline of it.)

As to the backstories I've liked the most... well, Maredan's (http://thetangledweb.net/forums/profiler/view_char.php?cid=7394) had just a few simple concepts it was built around but in writing it out it just grew and grew, not becoming any more complicated but simply taking a lot of words to pin down (I needed to take a lord's son and excise him from nobility without actually estranging him from his family). Pawn's (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/profiler/view_char.php?cid=12885) was pretty neat; I rolled a couple of abysmal scores so I decided to put them in to wisdom and charisma and play him as a totally awesome genius warforged who'd suffered brain and/or psychological damage when the Mourning occurred. And Lyanne (http://thetangledweb.net/forums/profiler/view_char.php?cid=2170) is a character whose backstory is pretty much just what I required to produce the particular personality I wanted, and have wanted to resurrect for ages, but haven't come across a suitable game for.

2009-11-19, 10:58 AM
@ Berserk Monk:

Yeah, barbarian works for that too.

And I assign you an alignment of Chaotic Uranium

2009-11-19, 11:02 AM
How do you roll after writing a backstory? It seems like choosing a MAD class before you know you have the dice for it would be risky, at best.

I do this because ability scores in my campaign worlds are generally low, seeing as the average ability score is 10-11, anybody with a 12 or better is considered exceptional. Yes, there are characters with a 12 in their prime requisite (oops, old term). You know what class you want to play before you write your character, so after the character history, roll your 3d6 six times and assign your scores appropriately.

Barbarian MD
2009-11-19, 11:12 AM
Old school. How I miss it in these days of 5d6b3x7.

Of course, I probably sound like a young'un to the people who started by rolling their stats in order...

2009-11-19, 11:13 AM
Usually my best backstories come together one piece at a time.

By far, the most elaborate roleplay character I've everhad started out as just a token Deadpan Snarker with some psychic powers, who lived with his well-meaning but slightly absent-minded uncle.
By the end of the rp, this character had the most extensive, thought-out backstory in the entire forum, with plenty of eldritch forces playing xanatos speed chess against each other, loads of very nasty things happening, and a villain who people have told me was probably their favorite ever. Yes, this rp went on for two or three years, and a lot of other people got involved in it.

My current character started off as just the stereotypical bard that will sleep with anything that walks on two legs, and some things that don't. Over a few months, I've slowly been adding to his background. He left home to avoid being drafted into his kingdom's army, stealing several million gp in family fortune and using every last coin to cover his tracks. He's now on the run from this kingdom as well as his own father, who is a Sorcerer/Ranger and would get along famously with a certain female paladin.

2009-11-19, 11:20 AM
Old school. How I miss it in these days of 5d6b3x7.


I don't speak Latin, but I'm pretty sure that this is some form of curse upon your children. And yes, I'm OLD. (25 years experience at DnD.)

Heyheyheyhey....I hear those jokes about my age and speaking Latin...:smalltongue:

2009-11-19, 11:30 AM
The problem is, of all the campaigns I've played in so far, none of them have actually made any use of a character's backstory in any real manner. It's been the "Why are you willing to risk your life rather than get a normal job" excuse, and that's about it. None of my GMs have really used any player's backstory. The only ones who use it are the other players, and then only as an attention whoring tool. (Not in a "let's play our characters" sort of way, but a "let's spend an hour dealing with my special needs" sort of way. I'm glad your character is a risk-taker and loves to gamble, but I don't want to take 30 min. of our time away every time we roll into a new village and you want to go shoot dice at the local pub. That sort of thing.)

Barbarian MD
2009-11-19, 11:37 AM
I wasn't sure if you were joking or not, but I'll supply an explanation, just in case:

Old days: roll for strength, 3d6.

Less-old days: roll 3d6, six times, pick which one to make strength

New days: roll 5d6, pick the best three of those, six times, and then pick which one to make strength.

Newest days: roll 5d6b3, but THEN, can re-roll if you don't like the results up to two additional times! (basically, an 16-18 in every stat)

2009-11-19, 11:38 AM
@ Hal:
That's funny. As a DM, I use people's backstories to find reasons as to why they would be interested in a certain adventure path (you know, "plot hooks"). Plus, I spend an equal amount of time exploring people's backstories during "downtime" (you know, the block of time that starts after they return to the town, and ends when they pick up the next plot hook). Usally, I spend about 30 minutes per session working somebody's backstory, and I rotate it fairly throughout the group. This week, player X gets some time, next week player Y, oops this week we're mid-adventure so next week will be player Z's time, etc.

No, not kidding. I started rolling 3d6 in order, but I prefer 3d6 arranged to suit.

2009-11-19, 11:43 AM
For a 4E one-shot a few months ago, I had a Kobold Avenger (multiclassed to Rogue, with Shadow Assassin Paragoth Path) whose backstory was that, after this (http://4chan.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/3038348/images/1227335089780.png) happened to him, he decided it was Avandra, goddess of luck, who had intervened to spare him, and thereafter used his thiefly upbringing to become a crusader for her.

I'm still pretty fond of that one.

Totally Guy
2009-11-19, 12:21 PM
My best backstory was written for my nWoD Vampire....'s secret lair.

I told a story of how the lair was constructed in the 50s and why, how it's owner's failed his evil scheme, details of its dark secret, how the dark secret was misinterpreted, the need for a steward to look after the place. Then my Vampire character turned up and became the new steward to protect the world from the dark secter that was misinterpreted.

I figured that it was a good explanation of his relationship with the lair.

But then one of the other players started getting nosy and uncovered the dark secret. And it was amazing.

2009-11-19, 01:19 PM
I always bother. I feel like I'm not doing something right if I don't have a good backstory. My favorite is my Scales of War character, Leto the Magnificent (self-styled). I joined at third level, totally new to 4e, after several years of not playing at all, with no idea of what had happened or what was going on, so I created a half-elf sorceror with total amnesia, a major superiority complex, and serious short-term memory issues (which creates a ready excuse anytime an ally gets caught in an area attack or I roll poorly :smallsmile:). A little ways in, she discovered/was jolted into remembering what happened: her husband (a paladin) and one of the other party members (a Daeva cleric) were the leaders of the church of Bahamut in Overlook, trying to drag the Nine Bells out of the filth and squalor and general nastiness that had categorized it for so long, which got them on the bad side of the folks who wanted it to stay that way. The cleric was attacked and killed on a trip to another temple, and my character and her family (they had four-year-old twins and her parents were visiting) were attacked at their house just outside the city in the middle of the night. As far as the citizens/church goers knew, they had vanished. All that, except the makeup of my sorceror's family, was the DM's invention/plot hook, which I just loved beyond all reason.

Leto credits Corellon for helping her drag her mangled self to Brindol, where she lapsed into a coma in which she remained for around 18 months. When she woke she had no memory of anything, save her first name. She spent several months in physical therapy, relearning how to do things like walk, feed herself, and control her power, and then set off for a monastary near Overlook, hoping to find someone with some knowledge about memory loss. She met up with the party there. A week or so later they arrived back in Overlook, where she and the cleric headed to the Temple of Bahamut, and learned all that stuff I just typed. So now she has a dead family and a serious grudge against the platinum dragon for allowing something so awful to happen to them in addition to a major superiority complex and serious short-term memory issues.

There's also the young human rogue/street urchin, the bastard child of a dead prostitute and the Fallcrest Lord Warden, who joined the party while she was running from her sadistic half-brother and his street gang, but it looks like that campaign isn't going to continue because the DM is moving, boo. I've also played a half-elf fighter some years ago who had rejected her elven heritage, esp. worshipping Corellon, after the unpleasant circumstances surrounding her conception were revealed to her. The DM worked in a plot arc for her to slowly make peace with her past and come back to her faith.

I love backstory to a degree which is almost embarassing, and I love when PC backstories intersect; I feel like it really helps to create a sense of why these people are adventuring together. My rogue was familiar with the Tiefling who started the adventuring party because she was involved in a raid on a trade caravan which he was in charge of guarding. :smalltongue: That party also has a bard who was friendly with her while they were both growing up in Fallcrest.

2009-11-19, 02:26 PM
I always bother. I feel like I'm not doing something right if I don't have a good backstory. My favorite is my Scales of War character, Leto the Magnificent (self-styled). I joined at third level, totally new to 4e, after several years of not playing at all, with no idea of what had happened or what was going on, so I created a half-elf sorceror with total amnesia, a major superiority complex, and serious short-term memory issues (which creates a ready excuse anytime an ally gets caught in an area attack or I roll poorly :smallsmile:). A little ways in, she discovered/was jolted into remembering what happened: her husband (a paladin) and one of the other party members (a Daeva cleric) were the leaders of the church of Bahamut in Overlook, trying to drag the Nine Bells out of the filth and squalor and general nastiness that had categorized it for so long, which got them on the bad side of the folks who wanted it to stay that way. The cleric was attacked and killed on a trip to another temple, and my character and her family (they had four-year-old twins and her parents were visiting) were attacked at their house just outside the city in the middle of the night. As far as the citizens/church goers knew, they had vanished. All that, except the makeup of my sorceror's family, was the DM's invention/plot hook, which I just loved beyond all reason.

Leto credits Corellon for helping her drag her mangled self to Brindol, where she lapsed into a coma in which she remained for around 18 months. When she woke she had no memory of anything, save her first name. She spent several months in physical therapy, relearning how to do things like walk, feed herself, and control her power, and then set off for a monastary near Overlook, hoping to find someone with some knowledge about memory loss. She met up with the party there. A week or so later they arrived back in Overlook, where she and the cleric headed to the Temple of Bahamut, and learned all that stuff I just typed. So now she has a dead family and a serious grudge against the platinum dragon for allowing something so awful to happen to them in addition to a major superiority complex and serious short-term memory issues.

There's also the young human rogue/street urchin, the bastard child of a dead prostitute and the Fallcrest Lord Warden, who joined the party while she was running from her sadistic half-brother and his street gang, but it looks like that campaign isn't going to continue because the DM is moving, boo. I've also played a half-elf fighter some years ago who had rejected her elven heritage, esp. worshipping Corellon, after the unpleasant circumstances surrounding her conception were revealed to her. The DM worked in a plot arc for her to slowly make peace with her past and come back to her faith.

I love backstory to a degree which is almost embarassing, and I love when PC backstories intersect; I feel like it really helps to create a sense of why these people are adventuring together. My rogue was familiar with the Tiefling who started the adventuring party because she was involved in a raid on a trade caravan which he was in charge of guarding. :smalltongue: That party also has a bard who was friendly with her while they were both growing up in Fallcrest.

Oh, I get it...Leto, like the Duke of Caladan...:smallwink:

2009-11-19, 02:43 PM
Old school. How I miss it in these days of 5d6b3x7.

Of course, I probably sound like a young'un to the people who started by rolling their stats in order...

For a 3.5 game once, my DM had us roll 4d6w3, reroll 6's. Of course, it was a silly campaign. Still one of my favorites, though.

Edit: Oh yeah! Backstories.

My two most-detailed backstories were both for gnomes. One was a gnome bard, and one was for a gnome bard//wizard gestalt.

For the gnome bard I prepared journal entries detailing a somewhat scattered, incomplete (and sometimes false) biography. It was interjected with dialogue between him and someone else, outside of the journal. I didn't have a general backstory, just these entries.

For the bard//wizard, I had a general backstory detailing how his parents wanted him to be a wizard, but he preferred hanging out with the bards. Eventually he tried to figure out how music could be magical, and how everything was interconnected. He also wrote books, so throughout the backstory I had quotes from them.

2009-11-19, 04:39 PM
Oh, I get it...Leto, like the Duke of Caladan...:smallwink:

Ya know, I was not actually familiar with that. I named her for the mother of Apollo and Artemis. :smallbiggrin:

2009-11-19, 05:00 PM
I always make it a point to type out huge backstories for my characters - usually after a session or two, once I've gotten a feel for what makes them tick.

Alex was born to a human father and an elven mother – her father, James Guinness, ran a tavern in a small port town where adventurers would often meet. Her mother, Lainathiel Lintu, was one such adventurer, an artful fencer who took to the barkeep’s dry sense of humor. After repeated visits, the two eventually wed, and Lainathiel gave up her life of adventuring to help James with the tavern. After some time, they conceived a daughter, whom they named Alexandra.

However, all was not well – after some time, while Alex was still very young, James noticed that not all was right with his elven spouse. As the years went by, Lainathiel grew mournful with wanderlust, torn between her yearning for her old life of adventure and the love she had for her family. James, sensing her sadness, urged her to go on another adventure with her old group of comrades (who had all become close family friends and regular customers), reassuring her that he’d be fine handling the tavern and caring for Alex on his own while she was away.

Unfortunately, with heavy hearts, Lainathiel’s comrades eventually returned without her, clutching her swords in grief – she had lost her life on the journey. They returned the blades to her husband and offered their condolences. Grief stricken, James continued to work the bar and raise Alex on his own. Alex had little memory of her mother, but knew her well through the many stories her mother’s party shared with her.

As Alex grew up, she became increasingly fascinated with the tales of adventure the various travelers told, and when she was not busy helping her father run the tavern she was eagerly listening to stories of intrigue from far-away lands. She idolized these adventurers, and practiced her sword fighting techniques in her free time, inspired by the tales of her mother, whose grace with a blade had no equal. She would also often pilfer meaningless trinkets of no value from the bar’s patrons as a way of remembering them, keeping them in a small box in her room.

As Alex got older and began to mature into a woman, her lust for adventure was unwavering, despite her humble job helping her father run the tavern. Unfortunately, as her half-elven beauty grew, she began to attract the eye of unsavory types at the tavern, and was the unwilling recipient of more than one unpleasant gesture as she continued to mingle with the adventurers – never anything serious, but still enough to make her rather uncomfortable. Beginning to develop a somewhat distant demeanor and an automatic aversion to being touched, but unwilling to separate herself from the adventurers and their stories, she took to disguising herself as a boy when visiting with the tavern’s patrons. This worked beautifully, as she was no longer the subject of any surly bargoers’ affections, nor was she ever dismissed because of her gender. As time went on, her skill at disguise became greater and greater, until hardly anyone knew that the young lass who worked the tavern and the young lad who loved stories of adventure were the same person.

Soon after Alex came of age (having the dubious honor of reaching womanhood and manhood simultaneously, as her father joked), she announced to her father that her yearning for adventure and excitement had become too great, and that she would be leaving the tavern to pursue her fortune. Concerned for her safety, James initially refused, but as he saw his daughter’s sadness grow, he realized how much like her mother she had grown to be; the world was dangerous, but he knew that to keep her locked away with naught but dreams and stories would be worse than death for her. With his eyes full of tears, he presented his daughter with his late wife’s swords, still as sharp and detailed as they were the day they first met, and released her daughter into the world with the promise that she one day return with her own story, a story greater than any she had ever heard.

Taking up the maiden name of her mother, under her constructed identity as a young man (as not to receive any special treatment from others), Alex Lintu ventured into the world in search of adventure.

2009-11-19, 05:14 PM
Vasily Oskarovish was born to Marta and Oskar Ebramovish in the foothills of the Mountains of Orysis. They lived a few miles outside of a local village, where Oskar would sell the meat and pelts of the animals he trapped the rough terrain between their home and the nearby mountains.

Vasily was the apple of his father's eye. Marta's pregnancy had been difficult, and the rigors of childhood left her barren. Oskar didn't care. He had his son, and that was all that mattered.

Vasily trapped his first animal at the age of six. His fingers weren't yet up to setting the jaws on a spring trap, and he wasn't yet tall enough for a conventional snare, but a simple box trap was enough to get him his first rabbit. Oskar was as proud as he had ever been. He was prouder still when Vasily didn't even flinch as Oskar taught him how to skin his catch.

For a while, the three were happy together. Marta insisted that Vasily receive some schooling, but their home was too far from the local town for him to travel every day. She made arrangements with a local priest to have him teach the boy to read and write, and to do simple sums. It was hardly the education offered by a seminary, but it was enough. Oskar taught the boy the family trade. By the age of ten Vasily was trapping animals at nearly the rate of his father. The additional productivity brought the family a little financial security, enough even to put some money away for future emergencies.

The happiness ended in during the fourteenth winter of Vasily's life. Oskar went out one morning into the morning frost. A day later, Vasily began to worry, but decided that his father must have gone up into the mountains for pelts that would bring more money. He decided to wait. The next day his father did not return, but Vasily did nothing. His father had left for days at a time before, and though he would usually tell his family where he was going, he sometimes did not.

The next day Vasily set out in search of his father. He went to all the game trails they normally set traps upon, and found nothing. He went to the local hot springs, where animals would stop to drink in the winter and that was a good source of meat even in the dead of winter. There was no sign of his father. He looked in all of the nooks and crannies of the mountain foothills where beasts took shelter against the onslaught of winter weather. None showed signs that a human had been anywhere near them.

Vasily spent the next three days looking for signs of his father. The wind had long since erased Oskar's tracks in the snow, but Vasily used every trick he had been taught to find where his father had gone. His efforts were fruitless. A week after Oskar vanished a snowstorm ended any chance that he might be found. Vasily wanted to search anyhow, and only stayed at home when Marta demanded that he stay home, and emphasized her desires with a frying pan. When the priest arrived the next day to see to Vasily’s studies a short ceremony was held in Oskar’s memory, and the family tried to move on.

Vasily was a good tracker, but he was not as skilled as his father. He was able to trap enough to feed himself and his mother, but it was a hand-to-mouth existence. The family’s savings slowly dwindled as other expenses appeared. Medicine for when winter brought sickness. Replacement traps for those that wore out and broke. Maintenance to maintain their home to keep it from falling into ruin. These and dozens of other things sapped the family funds.

They held out for nearly three years. Finally Marta became ill, and the local healer’s fees were more than Vasily could afford. Even with the meager remains of the family savings he was still forced to pawn the best of his father’s traps, a masterful spring-jawed trap that had never once failed. The writing was plainly on the wall.

The local smith had agreed to purchase the trap. Vasily traveled into town to make the deal. As he was walking through the town square a poster caught his eye.

“You kingdom needs you!” it called, in large block-print letters.

“Adventurers required! Excellent pay!”

It was as though Vasily’s prayers had been answered. He was tough, he knew. Bullies had tried to pick on him a few times when he’d gone into town to sell the fruits of his labors. No bully had ever tried it twice. He knew more about survival than anyone he had ever known short of his father. A lifetime of dealing with trapped and frantic animals had left him with an excellent idea of how to handle himself in dangerous situations.

He sold the trap, bought the medicine his mother needed, and returned home. He told his mother his plans. Her face, already pallid, went as white as snow.

“You will not,” she ordered, coughing weakly, “I forbid it.”

“Mama,” he said, “I must.”

“You WILL NOT.” She repeated, giving him a cold stare despite her condition.

Vasily’s jaw set. He might have his father’s talents, but when push came to shove he had his mother’s stubbornness.

“I must, and I will,” he said. “I will tend to you until you are well, and then I will go to the recruiter.”

This was a not a request. This was a statement of fact. Marta could see the set of her son’s jaw and the stubborn gleam in his eye. She began to sob.

Vasily had left a week for his mother’s treatment. He assumed that there would be some discussion about his future during that time. He was wrong. Marta stayed silent the entire week before he left, refusing to so much as greet him. Her responses to him were no more than a series of nods and grunts, enough to answer yes or no questions but nothing more. Finally, seven days after he returned with the medicine, she was well enough to be on her own. Vasily simply slung on a pack with as few possessions as he felt his mother could spare, and he left.

I'm sort of partial to the background I wrote for Vasily, the Ranger I'm playing in the core-only version of the Altab campaign. Background spoilered above.

2009-11-19, 05:23 PM
I try to make a cool, intricate backstory for my characters. However, when the campaign starts, I find out that it's actually pretty shallow and dull compared to everybody else's :smallfrown:

I'm getting better at it though :smallsmile:

2009-11-19, 06:00 PM
Honestly... it really depends on how inspired I get for the character, and if a long backstory fits them. That said, I have more characters with longish backgrounds than without. Two examples, for those not afraid of lots of text.

Tyrielle (http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AR7bGdDdzhyrZGd4MjU3MnpfOGQ0cWM1emh0&hl=en)

Asharra (http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0ATTLvjo_a3n4ZGd6N3E4OXhfMmNkY2NybQ&hl=en)

Both were made for pbp games that, sadly, didn't last. I'd love to play them both again. :smallfrown:

2009-11-19, 06:05 PM
Here is the best one I have ever come up with, the unfortunate part about her is that every campaign Ive gotten her into has ended up collapsing very early on. Some of my shortest stories have had the longest campaign life.

Zarabeth started her life as an exotic dancer; however unlike all of the pampered and defenseless girls of the “trade”, she was more than willing to defend herself, as any of her clients found out when they tried to take unwanted liberties with her. She kept at least one dagger hidden in each one of her boots, and even had taken martial arts training, making her dangerous even in unarmed combat.

“Are you free for a dance?”
Zarabeth did not even have to turn to know who was talking to her. That nasally tone of voice could belong to no one else but Kravchuk, a small time local merchant who had recently become smitten with her. He tipped poorly, his hands were far too frisky, and he went on and on about how poorly his wife treated him, how corrupt the local police and council were, and in general how bad his life was. All in that voice that Zarabeth had learned to despise.
“Actually, my shift is just ended, Kravy”, she replied. “I’d dance for you, really I would, but Petrus, his rules are very strict about that, I can’t take another appointment right now. It’s not fair to the girls who are just starting their shift. Come back tomorrow, I’m starting just after supper.”
Zarabeth turned to walk out of the club, hoping against hope that she was rid of him. Luck was not with her on this night, however.
“Can I at least walk you home?” he was practically begging. “The streets aren’t safe, even this early in the evening and I wouldn’t want you to come to some harm.”
Zarabeth sighed inwardly, rolling her eyes as her back was to him. Kravchuk was so ineffective with that ceremonial dagger he was so proud of, she was likely far more able to defend herself than he was.
“Fine” she sighed. “But just as far as my door, Kravy. You know I don’t date outside the club.”
Kravchuk was practically beaming as she turned to face him. Already she was regretting her decision, she would have to listen to his voice for at least half an hour, and the look on his face told her he was up to no good.
Zarabeth walked in silence, only half listening to Kravchuk alternately complaining about some new apple tax that the council was planning to adopt and how the new constable on patrol in his shop’s area was taking so much more in “protection” money from him. Zarabeth half hoped that the drain on Kravchuk’s money would somehow reduce the number of visits he would make to the club, but doubted she would be that lucky.
As they turned down the side alley that lead to her apartment, Zarabeth felt the grab on her arm that she had expected would be coming.
“I want you, Zarabeth” he said as he dragged her to his body. “More than you can ever know.”
Zarabeth twisted easily out of his grasp, “I should have known there was more to this than chivalry” she replied. “Get out of my sight, and don’t come slinking around the club looking for me anymore”
Kravchuk merely laughed as he brandished his dagger, clearly thinking she would surrender to save her skin. Zarabeth would have laughed in return at his clumsy lack of skill, but resisted the urge, hoping that this could end without bloodshed. She produced her own dagger, seemingly out of nowhere and leveled it at him. “Don’t make that mistake” she warned, “Turn around now, and I’ll forget this ever happened.”
“You think you can take me?” he boasted, “I’m going to enjoy this almost as much as I will when I take you, right here and now.” He rushed forward, hoping to take her down by his bulk alone.
With a deft move, Zarabeth sidestepped him easily, and for good measure, gave him a slice down the forearm, hoping that the warning shot would cool his attitude. Instead, it seemed only enrage him, and he turned on her, attempting to grapple her to the ground. Zarabeth struggled, trying to get free, but he somehow managed to keep a grip on her, tugging at her clothes and trying to knock the dagger from her grasp. Zarabeth finally twisted free and took a step back, with an oath “Don’t force me to kill you Kravchuk, because I will, I swear it.”
Kravchuk replied with a snarl, rushing forward with his dagger in hand. Zarabeth tried to dodge again, but he was on her too quickly. Without thinking, she thrust her own dagger, hoping just to keep him at bay. There was a sudden warm wetness on her hand, and Kravchuk’s face suddenly took on an ashen look, mixed with pain. Zarabeth stepped back with a shocked look on her face, and Kravchuk slipped to the ground, clutching at his chest. With a shock, Zarabeth suddenly realized that her life had changed forever.

Unfortunately, one of her more insistent clients eventually would not take “no” or her warnings for an answer, and in a protracted dispute one night outside the club, Zarabeth had ended up having to kill him after he attempted to assault her. Knowing that the word of a dancer would not be believed in any court, she had to leave town, and quickly.

Zarabeth knew she had to act quickly. There wouldn’t even be time for her to return to her apartment, nor could she risk being seen with blood on her hands and clothes. The patrols would find Kravchuk’s body in short order, and there would be plenty of witnesses who had seen her leave the club with him. She knew there was only one place she could go, and she headed there as fast as she could.
Alatair was signing off the last of his paperwork, when he caught a glimpse of someone out of the corner of his eye. Nodding to the last driver, he went to investigate, warily coming around the corner of the last wagon in his caravan. He was shocked to see Zarabeth, covered in blood with her clothes half torn off.
“What in the world happened to you” he asked, “You look a fright.”
“I had a run in with a merchant named Kravchuk” she replied, “and he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Alatair, I know you don’t have any real reason to trust me, you don’t know me, you just met me in a club and had some dances, but I need help. No one is going to believe that this was self defense, but I have to get out of town. I swear this was an accident and self defense, and I’ll do anything if you can smuggle me out in your caravan. You’ve already had last inspection so I can sneak into a wagon, and I really need this.”
Alatair was not one to make rash decisions, but Zarabeth was in luck. It just so happened that Alatair had done some dealings with Kravchuk himself in this last trade mission, and he had already had formed just as negative an opinion of him as Zarabeth had. He didn’t know for sure that Zarabeth was trustable, but he knew Kravchuk wasn’t.
“Get in that one there” he motioned with his finger. “It’s my own personal wagon, and won’t be checked again. You can find a change of clothes in there, and I’ll bring some water for you clean yourself up.”

Fortunately for her, she had danced the previous night for a merchant, who had mentioned he was leaving town with his caravan the next day, and she was able to track him down. He agreed to let her accompany the caravan and she was able to slip out of town before the authorities caught up with her.

Zarabeth finished her last ‘cool down’ stretch of her routine. Truth be told, she had no idea if the town they were headed to would have a club she would be able to dance in, for that matter, she didn’t even know what town they were going to. All that she knew was it was not where she came from. And that was what mattered most. And being a dancer was what she was. If not in a club, she would just have to figure something else out. She always had and she always would.
Looking around, Zarabeth noticed one of the caravan guards, a woman she vaguely knew to be Elinon, watching her. Zarabeth was used to the men of the caravan watching her practicing her routines but this was the first time she had seen Elinon watching. As she began to towel the sweat from her body, she approached her.
“I’ve never seen someone move through dance routines quite as fast as you do” she said. “And up until now, I’ve never come across someone more flexible than me. What’s your name?”
“Zarabeh Sanitar” she answered, finishing up with towel, “And yours?”
“Elinon Domar” she said with a smile, “And I happen to be a bit of a dancer myself. In fact, believe it or not, I even use my dancing to protect myself in battle. I’d love to do some training with you, maybe I could show you some new moves, because I know I can learn from you.”

At first, Zarabeth didnt mingle with any of the caravan people or guards, but she did attract the interest of one of the caravan guardians, a woman named Elinon. Elinon was a battle dancer, and she noticed Zarabeth practicing her routine one day. The two of them struck up a friendship, connected by their dancing skills, and began training together. Zarabeth taught Elinon some new moves to use in her dancing, and Elinon taught Zarabeth how to use her dance skills in battle as she did. By the end of the trip, Zarabeth had mastered the basic arts of being a battle dancer and ended up joining the party, taking up the life of an adventurer.
At this point, Zarabeth’s training was taken over by the leader of the group, a warrior named Alleron. Under his tutelage, Zarabeth was able to refine her skills, and begin to develop her own style. Taking advantage of the fact that her dexterity outweighed her strength, Alleron trained her to be a finesse fighter, relying on quick, darting attacks. When she began to show an aptitude with the short sword, the ranger in the group undertook training her in the art of two-weapon fighting.

”How many more of them are coming?” screeched Clylious. “We’re going to be overrun. You have to do something.”
Zarabeth tried to ignore Clylious, concentrating on watching the gnolls. She had never seen so many of the beasts together, and despite Clylious being hysterical about the situation, she had to admit that he might be right. Her swords were ready in her hands, and she shifted to the balls of her feet, preparing to go into her defensive dance routine. She might not be able to take enough of them down to survive, but she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
From behind her, Zarabeth heard some chanting coming from Clylious. She had never seen the sorcerer in action, truth be told, she had never really seen any magic in her life, but she just hoped that the sorcerer would be able to do something.
Zarabeth was just tensing for her first attack, when the tingle struck her body. With a shock, she suddenly realized that the sorcerer has cast his spell on her. What sort of treachery was he up to? Then the magic took hold. To Zarabeth, the world seemed to slow down. As she tried to understand what was happening to her, another spell and then another was cast on her. She felt as if she was on top of the world. The gnolls were moving as if they were stuck in molasses. She charged the battle, body parts flying as her blade flashed. The gnolls could not touch her, their weapons either totally missed the mark or seemed to bounce off some arcane guard that moved with her in the fight, and then they fell to the deadly slice of her blade. With a shock, Zarabeth was suddenly staring around, the bodies of the gnolls littered the field, and none more were present. The rest of her party was just staring at her.

The next change in Zarabeth’s career came on a mission where the party had been hired to escort a sorcerer named Clylious. Zarabeth’s role in this mission was to guard Clylious personally in the case of an attack, and to make sure no monster got close enough to harm him. The mission had barely started when the party was attacked by a large group of gnolls, and Zarabeth promptly took up her position beside him. However, due to the number of gnolls, Clylious immediately thought that the ogres would be able to get at him, and started casting combat-buff spells on Zarabeth, something that she had never experienced before. Zarabeth promptly became a fighting machine, and waded into the thick of the battle and ended up slaughtering over half the gnoll party single handedly.

However the magic triggered an unexpected, secondary effect. Somewhere, in Zarabeth’s ancestry, there had been a sorcerer, and whatever gene carried the power was awoken by the magic that Clylious had used on her. Zarabeth’s power in sorcery was raw and untrained, but for the rest of the travel, Clylious trained her in the art, and she eventually managed to harness the power and use it properly.

Zarabeth’s arcane shield snapped just into place as the ogre’s club came whistling down, and bounced off of it. She laughed as the brutish beast stared stupidly at what had just happened to him, and then danced lightly to his left, stabbing quickly with both of her swords. The ogre roared in pain as bright blood welled out of the twin marks, and swung his club in a huge arc. Once again, Zarabeth’s shield deflected the blows, frustrating the ogre to no end, and leaving him open to another set of her darting blows. The ogre staggered back, trying to measure where Zarabeth was going next and where her shield was, while Zarabeth took the opportunity to whisper another spell into her blade. Driving forward once she was finished, Zarabeth trusted to her shield to protect her, while her magic guided her blade. Both spells did their job, the ogres club swinging wide of the mark, while her true strike blade rammed home in the ogre’s chest, piercing his heart and finishing him off.
“Magic can be many things” Clylious remarked, as Zarabeth wiped her blade clean of blood on the ogre’s tunic. “You use yours as an augment to fighting. There’s a discipline for that, a ‘school’ if you will, they call themselves Abjurant Champions. Of course, if I’m not mistaken, they have rigorous standards for admission, but you probably just qualify, or might with just a touch more training.”
“Where can I join such a school?” Zarabeth replied as she rummaged through the sack the ogre had dropped. “And seeing as my last group disbanded, that’s another problem.”
“Your old group feared your new found fascination with magic” said Clylious. “You may find more of that as you continue in life. While they are fine with the magic imbued in weapons or armour, the actual wielding of magic makes them uncomfortable. You need a group that is already used to seeing magic used.”
“And do you know of such a group that would accept us?” Zarabeth asked, as she discarded the ogre pack.
“Us?..no, no, there is no us” Clylious replied. “The adventuring life is not one I would chose, I am too old for this sort of thing, and not cut out for battling monsters and such. I far prefer contemplative research and quiet study, as opposed to battling creatures bent on making me their supper.”
“Too old my foot” Zarabeth joked, “You don’t seem to be too old at night, at least that I’ve seen.”
“I feed off your..’enthusiasm’..my dear, but that’s something entirely different. My taste for adventures doesn’t run the same way as yours. But there is one group that I know of that might suit your fancy, and they would be able to help you join the school as well. King Kalizar sponsors all sorts of treasure hunters and Im sure there would be a group for you

And so Zarabeth joined the with one of these groups.