Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Character Prompt – Rune Layout

Creating a character is a difficult process. No matter if it’s for a book, ttrpg, video game, or LARP. You have to think about their past, present, and future and their goals, ambitions, and overall attitude. Developing a character is a fun and engaging process that requires a bit of brainstorming and critical thinking. We’ve talked about using prompts to create a story with tarot cards in a previous post. This time, we’re using runes to build a character by using the Runic V layout.

The Runic V Layout

  1. What influenced your character in the past?
    • The top left rune is Dagaz. It represents day, awakening, and new hope. The rune symbolizes discovering new insights, something unknown, or a fresh idea.
  2. What is influencing your character in the present?
    • The next rune, Kenaz, is associated with knowledge and the quest for truth. It is represented by learning one’s true and full potential.
  3. What is a future goal for your character?
    • Raidho represents the character’s personal journey. It symbolizes growth and movement towards control and rationality. The character may wish to learn who they are and who they want to become.
  4. How to achieve that goal?
    • Pertho symbolizes something hidden and is often represented by good omens, unexpected surprises, and forces of change. This could be a mysterious or dangerous challenge your character does not wish to take part in but must overcome in order to grow.
  5. What is your character’s attitude?
    • Jera is assocaited with patience, seasons, and waiting. To reach your goal will require time and understanding and you may not be ready to accept that. You’re character may be quick to take action or take their time.
  6. What problem stands in their way?
    • Mannaz is represented by humankind and humanity. Other associations include reflection, planning, analysis, and self potential. The struggle coud be caused by another person or even within yourself. The actions of another or your own could prevent you from reaching your goal.
  7. How to overcome the problem?
    • Algiz is represented by spirit guides, protection, divinity, and a teacher. It symbolizes going beyond yourself to connect with something spiritual or finding your higher self.

gnome
D&D / TTRPGs, Indie Feature, Storytelling Tips

“Let it Be Gnome” – Our Interview with a Gnome Expert

We chatted with James about his fun and quirky website “Let it Be Gnome”


James is fascinated by all things gnome-related and also a fan of gaming which makes D&D a particularly fascinating experience. He has a website all about gnomes which includes an in-depth look at gnomes in D&D. We talked with him about the website, as well as any helpful tips he has for role-playing a gnome in D&D!

Your website is a lot of fun! What gave you this idea to have a hub of information centered on Gnomes?

“I have always had an interest in gnomes but when I wanted to find out more about them on the internet there seemed to be a lack of information on them so I thought that I would help people by giving them more info! I love how quirky they are and that there is a wide and diverse history to them that many people seem to be unaware of and I hope to make them more informed.”

What do you like about the way that D&D portrays Gnomes?

“I love how they are not depicted in the stereotypical image of a gnome but that they have made them more humanlike but still used some of their known characteristics such as their eccentric sense of humor (one of my favorites!) and inquisitiveness. Some of the D&D gnome artwork that I have seen online is simply incredible and really breathes a lot of life into the mythology of gnomes beyond that which is in the mainstream such as the beard, hat, big boots and belly.”

What is your favorite D&D Gnome subrace?

“Mine is the Forest Gnome as I love their boldness and ability to take risks. I always find myself drawn to others that like to change things in big ways and feel that Forest Gnomes are subrace of gnomes that are most likely to do this.”

If you were to roleplay a Gnome character in D&D, what would they be like?

“They would be a fearless, swashbuckling hero! I love Forest Gnomes and how they are bold and enjoy taking risks and my gnome would be of this subrace and have experiences that others would talk about for generations. This gnome would have a talent for art and when not engaging in exciting adventures would spend their time creating original works of art that they would work on in their charmingly designed home in the woods. This penchant for art and creativity would also rear its head during battle when they would use their ability to cast creative illusions on their enemies.”

Your list of Gnome names is very impressive! What do you think goes into a good Gnomish-sounding name?

“I like a gnome name which is something that you would not expect but, after getting to know the name and the gnome, it somehow fits. I think that something like “Lutliten Twistwhistle” is a great example of this as it does not really bring up any images for me, but I think it would fit a mysterious, generally fun character such as a gnome.”

Truthfully we don’t see a lot of Gnome protagonists in fantasy settings. Why do you think this is?

“Their popularity seems to change from year to year and so I think that this is part of the reason and I also think that it is because they have generally been changed, at least in the mainstream, into this comedic character that people have as statues in their gardens and yards. I think this means that people just see them as something to make people laugh but, as D&D shows, they can have a lot more depth than this.”

However, I think that in recent years we have seen some movies based around gnomes and I think that people growing up having watched these movies who then go on to make their own fantasy stories will use this experience to make feature them as the protagonist.

What is the most interesting Gnome fact you’ve come across?

“The Noggin Clontith/youve been gnomed.wmv gnome meme video has been viewed over 14.5 million times on YouTube!”


You can check out the fun site “Let it Be Gnome” via this link!


Feywild
Bardic Inspiration, D&D / TTRPGs, News, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

Bardic Inspiration: Music for the Feywild and other Nature Themes

We list some of the best songs to use while you and your players explore the Feywild in Dungeons & Dragons.


Dungeons & Dragons released its latest book, Wild Beyond the Witchlight. It’s all about the mysterious and wonderful plane known as the Feywild. While it may sound like a fantastical place to visit, it’s not all fairies and unicorns and not all of them are kind. There are also sinister creatures that fight over control of the Feywild and those who live there.

The Feywild

The Feywild is ruled by creatures called archfey; incredibly powerful spellcasters or tricksters who may be good or evil. It’s a land of enchantment, nature, and mystical creatures. You’ll find hags, giants, walking and talking trees and plants, pixies, rabbitfolk, and many other animals now able to speak.

So, what music would work best for a setting such as the Feywild? We’ve got a few of our favorites all on Spotify.

Feywild Music

“Deku Palace” is for those wild and crazy nights in the Feywild. It also works well as an introduction for characters getting there. Maybe they’re at a party that gets a bit out of hand and something pulls them there. Perhaps an archfey casts dancing magic upon the party and they are forced to dance to the beat, or it serves as the backdrop of a magnificent tree castle.

“Gruntilda’s Lair” from Banjo-Kazooie is all about the main antagonist, a witch/hag. As hags can be found in the Feywild it’s fitting for meeting a hag who may or may not be evil.

“Dalentarth” from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is practically made for the Feywild. The game is set in a world that is similar to the chaotic plane. It’s full of archfey, unique creatures, and magical artifacts that fit in nicely with any campaign set in the Feywild.

The entire soundtrack pairs nicely with the overall Feywild theme.

With that being the case, we also suggest “Alabastra”. It goes well with meeting mysterious people or entering a dark and spooky area such as a corrupted forest or hag’s lair.

“Faren’s Flier” from Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is great for describing areas of the Feywild the party is about to visit. It can also make for a great backdrop to traveling.

Sticking with Guild Wars, “Auric Wilds” is one we use quite often for traversing dense jungles or overgrown ruins.

In related Dungeons & Dragons news, the “Future of D&D” panel at this year’s D&D Celebration revealed a look at what’s next for D&D. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, is a collection of an assortment of art, stats, and upgraded information regarding monsters, creatures, and more. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse releases in January 2022.

D&D is also working on a brand new set releasing in 2024.

roleplaying
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips

Top Tips to Improve your Roleplaying

We take a look at excellent ways to improve your TTRPG roleplaying skills!


For those of us that enjoy roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons and other TTRPG’s, being in-character is a thrilling and fun experience. But if you are new to the craft, or are feeling daunted by other players’ talents at the table, don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of ways to help you not only improve, but also feel more confident in yourself and in your delivery of the character. After all, you are the vessel through which their story is being told, and we know you want to do them justice.

Expand Your Knowledge of Their Life

A great way to improve your roleplaying is to expand your knowledge of the character. After all, you can’t act out what you don’t understand. Even if these things never come up in-game, it all contributes to the decisions your character makes, how they react to situations, and their personality.

Take time to write down things about their life. We definitely recommend using any of those fun online questionnaires you find about characters. These ask a variety of questions that will have you thinking creatively about your character.

Be In-Character Outside of the Game

We cannot recommend enough how much being in-character outside of our D&D game has improved our roleplaying. Try to spend some time as them while doing tasks around the house. If you are with another player in the game, try just having an in-character conversation. It’s amazing how much their voice develops when you can be them in casual situations.

DriveThruRPG.com

Add Some Narration to Your Character

Dialogue drives a story, as does the lack of something to say by a character in a situation. But when you are at the table, it can also be extremely beneficial to narrate your character’s current emotional state. This helps bring a full-body experience into your roleplaying. Try things like:

“They just sit huddled in the corner and don’t look at anybody.”

“They start stomping back and forth across the room and muttering under their breath.”

“They fidget in anxiety and keep glancing over their shoulder.”

Allow Yourself to Be Open

The final piece of advice we have is to allow yourself to be open. Being vulnerable as yourself and as your character will bring your roleplaying far. But this is where having a trusted table you play with is vitally important. Whether you play as part of a big group or are in a single-player campaign, you must surround yourself with like-minded, kind people who want the same thing you want from the game. If someone else is being open and raw with their character’s emotions at the table, it will make it all the easier for you to rise to that level, as well.


Progressing Story
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

A Handy Guide to Progressing the Narrative in Your Story

Plot is important to keep the narrative moving. We discuss ways you can push forward the story to keep readers, viewers, and players engaged.


There have been times when we watch a movie or play a game where the plot just bogs down. It may not pull us out of the immersion but it can make things a little less fun and interesting. Stories should constantly be developing and shifting. It’s what makes them captivating and intriguing.

As fantasy authors, we fell in love with Lord of the Rings. While watching Fellowship for the thousandth time the other day we noticed ways the movie progresses the story. There is always something else that happens to advance the plot. We’re not talking about how Frodo has to take the ring to Mordor. It’s deeper than that.

It’s in the moments where the crebain from Dunland arrive and the party is forced to take cover. Or when the Fellowship must choose between going over the pass of Caradhras, through the Gap of Rohan, or into the Mines of Moria. There are multiple examples in the films that constantly usher the narrative forward. Without these moments, the story falls flat. It would just be a montage of the main characters traveling from point A to point B.

Beginning – End

Having a starting point and an endpoint should be the first things you come up with. Knowing where you want your story to go will help you fill out everything in the middle. This works for novels, movies, Dungeons & Dragons, and comics.

Like with Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power has returned and found itself in the hands of a hobbit. The main characters learn it must be destroyed within the fires of Mt. Doom where it was created.

Everything in the middle is where you develop characters and introduce obstacles. These can be summed up as encounters.

roleplaying

Encounters, Encounters, Encounters

When you think about structuring a story like a game of D&D it makes it a bit more simple. Encounters are designed to challenge characters. They can range from social interactions, combat, and travel. One of the most important factors of an encounter is it should always advance the plot.

For example. In the Two Towers when the refugees are traveling to Helm’s Deep the caravan is attacked by orcs and wargs. It lets the viewer and characters know Sauron is watching them. He knows their plans and is actively trying to stop them. If it were just some random orc attack it wouldn’t mean much for the story. If that were the case it would be an inconvenience and readers wouldn’t connect with it.

Every encounter your characters come across should revolve around the story. Whether it lets the characters know the enemy is onto them or reveals a detail about a character, plot thread, or villain.

Lore Driven

Encounters are also great ways to introduce lore. If you’re writing a book, it makes more sense to tell a streamlined story without filler or fluff. But there are times when even the best of novels introduce threads that lead nowhere. It’s best to avoid these altogether so you don’t leave your viewers confused.

This can best be summed up with random encounter tables in D&D. They have their place but we’re not big fans of them. If you do end up using a random encounter table make sure it is connected to your story. It could be connected to a character, NPC, or the overarching plot.

We’ll pull an example from our fantasy series Thread of Souls. In book two Ash & Thunder, a few characters find themselves in ancient elven ruins. Brought there by Jade’s brother to investigate a strange creature.

“As they turned into another room, they pulled up short and stifled surprised gasps. Curled in the far corner was a giant spider. The size of a horse, it was clearly dead and had been for some time. The torchlight cast its twisted shadow three times as big on the wall behind it. “Yuck,” Heron shivered.

“I have never seen one so big!” Skar gasped. “I am going to take one of its hairs.” He shuffled over, already getting out a pouch. Artemis glanced sidelong at Jade. “Do you get big spiders in Oceala?” The Druid stared at the dead creature, perplexed. “Well, no. But come to think of it . . . It has been awhile since I’ve seen a spider.” “One this size?” Unolé clarified. Jade shook her head, chewing on her lip in consideration. “No, any spiders.”

The missing spiders are the driving force of our story. Instead of delving into some unknown ruin, this reveal makes the story feel much more connected. While other characters may have known this information, Jade and the others just learned it.

In the case of the mysterious creature, it helps paint a better picture of the Deep Hollows where the spiders have the largest presence.

Here are some quick ways you can advance the plot:

  • Notes, Records, or Ledgers
  • Character Monologue
  • Characters Discover Information
  • An Enemy Tracks the Characters
  • An Enemy Becomes an Ally / Vice Versa
  • An Obstacle Presents an Opportunity

Moana Dungeons and Dragons
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Moana is a D&D Ranger Whose Favorite Enemy is Celestials

We discuss Moana and how the movie presents one of the best ways to build a ranger with a favored enemy as a celestial.

We watched Moana for the first time this weekend. We liked it a lot and saw a lot of similarities to Dungeons & Dragons character classes. One in particular; the ranger. There seems to be a lot of criticism for the way rangers are designed in Fifth Edition. They are more than just ranged fighters with bows and animal companions. Moana, for example, is a ranger. But instead of hunting beasts or dragons she went a different path and took celestial as her favored enemy.

Celestials aren’t the first and probably aren’t even a thought when considering a favored enemy for rangers. One of our first D&D characters was a duergar ranger who just so happens to have chosen celestials as her favored enemy. We saw a lot of similarities between Moana and our ranger while watching the movie and it inspired us to write this article.

Moana = Ranger

Rangers in D&D are nimble, agile, and versatile. Moana ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a ranger. She would much rather explore the ocean than stay cooped up inside a town; she is a creative and strategic fighter and wields an ore with expert precision, and she tracks down multiple celestials in the movie. If you want to go one step further, she even has a chicken animal companion.

Celestials as a Favored Enemy in D&D

Celestials may be an unorthodox creature for rangers to track but the decision can open up such a wide array of story possibilities. Taking Moana as an example, your ranger’s story could revolve around them searching for a celestial being to end a catastrophic event. But like the movie, make sure the ranger is the hero in the end. Dungeon masters should make sure to always make the hero of the story be the character.

Another example could have the ranger hunting down celestials who do wrong. Ones that may hurt or harm people, lands, or animals. Or the ranger could be searching for a celestial to fight a god directly like in our dark fantasy series Thread of Souls.

“All three of them turned to Ruuda, who stood with her arms crossed and an uncomfortable expression on her face.

“And you, little one?” Xidime asked. “Do you have no questions about your own life?” Ruuda was silent for so long Taliesin didn’t think she was going to answer. But the smile never left Xidime’s face, as if the woman knew what was already on her mind. And when Ruuda spoke, it was with a much darker tone than Taliesin had heard from her before.

“I need to kill a god.”

Wash and Unolé stared at her with wide eyes. Xidime chuckled. “I don’t like talk of gods, Dark Dwarf. But to kill one, well, I will see if I can help. I must warn you all that my magic is . . . unusual. But I will get you the answers you seek so long as you trust me. You will not be harmed. The rituals will be under control.”

It’s also quite unexpected for any dungeon master to hear the fact that your character’s favored enemy is celestials. We once played a game with B. Dave Walters. He was appalled my ranger would simply look at a planetar and be like “come here, you great blue bastard!”


You can read more about Ruuda in our book series Thread of Souls.

Dragon Age
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Video Games, Writing Tips

How Adding A Neutral Party can Enhance your Story

We look to series like Dragon Age and Pirates of the Caribbean see how adding a third neutral party can help you tell more engaging stories

It’s typical storytelling to follow the protagonist versus the antagonist. But what if there was a third party introduced to the mix? One that got in the way of both others. One with their own agenda. How would that change a story? We’ll use Dragon Age and Pirates of the Caribbean as examples of how you can use a third party to develop your story.

Story Example

The next Dragon Age game may be a ways off but the stories and characters of Thedas span more than just video games. There are several novels and comic books you can sink into until the fourth game’s release. The most recent comic being Dragon Age: Dark Fortress.

SPOILER WARNING: Content may spoil events from the games. You have been warned. We will avoid major spoilers.

Dark Fortress follows fan-favorite character Fenris as he hunts down the son of his former master Danarius. Throughout the three-issue run, we learn that Tevinter mages are creating another powerful warrior like Fenris. It’s something the Qunari aren’t huge fans of either so they show up to put an end to it. Fenris teams up with characters from previous comics and they work together to track down the mages.

Towards the end of the run, events collide and the three groups end up facing off against one another. It’s a story that is familiar to the Dragon Age series and plays out many times throughout. Yet it never feels overused: Quanri vs

Things are going rather well for the protagonist when all of the sudden, the Qunari arrive and they have to rethink their strategy.

How You Can Adapt it

It’s an example that can be used in Dungeons & Dragons or any TTRPG or novel for that matter. It is a great way to increase tension and build lore in your world as well. Your characters may think they are the only ones hunting down a specific enemy, item, or person but what if they weren’t? Perhaps a third party shows up at inconvenient moments to get in their way. Plots like this are a great way to develop your story and add suspense and action to the mix.

Just when the characters think they’ve got the upper hand, the third party comes in and trips them up. This third group can be evil, good, or neutral. Their motivations can vary from stopping the other two parties, stopping one party, or just adding a little chaos.

Take the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie for example. On Stranger Tides follows Spanish and English soldiers as they search for the Fountain of Youth. The third party consists of Jack Sparrow and the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The climax sees English troops fighting the pirates over control of the fountain before Spanish soldiers arrive and destroy it. After their task is done, they just walk away without fighting anyone.

Introducing a third party to the story can change the flow of the narrative. It’s interesting, adds detail to your world, and gives your payers a reason to think of new ways to handle situations. Although, don’t overdo it.

So, give it a shot the next time your characters are after the BBEG or magical artifact. You never know how it will change your story and keep everyone on their toes.

Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips

How to Use the Emotion Wheel to Tell Better Stories

We discuss how reading and referencing the Emotion Wheel can enhance your character and story building.


Perhaps you have seen the Emotion Wheel pictured online? This large colorful wheel starts with six “basic” emotions and then gets more and more specific with the next two rings in the wheel. It was created by late psychologist Robert Plutchik. It was made to help people better understand and verbalize their own emotions. But it also has great applications for storytellers. Whether your focus is on writing a story or roleplaying a character, looking at the Emotion Wheel has tremendous benefits.



Writing Better Characters

This Emotion Wheel can be a great benefit to your writing. Consulting this helps to understand the complexities of personalities, emotions, and reactions to situations. Use it to build more believable villains, to craft stronger character motivations, and to ensure your story is character-driven instead of plot-driven. Let’s use some examples from our own Thread of Souls book:

  • After pirate Sen’s capture in Book 1, we see great fear in him in Book 2. Fear of interplanar travel and associations. If we look at Fear on the list, we can move to the next ring. Sen is feeling Scared. Why is he scared? What is the base? We look at the final outer ring. Sen feels Helpless. Helpless that a Dragonborn as big and strong as he can still be imprisoned and tortured.
  • Healer Taliesin is feeling Sad about crossing the priestesses that rule his city which caused them to punish him. What is the root of his Sadness? The next ring clarifies that he is feeling Despair. Why is he feeling Despair? The final ring can clarify that he’s feeling Powerless. Powerless at the oppressive matriarchal system that governs his city.

Roleplaying Characters

If you enjoy D&D or other TTRPG’s, you are asked to fully become your character each game session. Now if your playing style is just to snack and roll dice while not being story-invested, that is fine. We hope you found a group who plays that style. But as we saw from our D&D survey, most people that play are emotionally-driven and insightful. And to avoid being the person who simply shrugs decisions off with “That’s what my character would do”, we can have a better understanding of actually why.

When thinking about your character between games, consult the Emotion Wheel to help interpret their actions last game, as well as what they are planning next game. For example, if your character is feeling Joy, what is the source of that Joy? Are they feeling Satisfied or Amused? If your character is Angry, what is the root cause? Are they Frustrated or Jealous? Knowing what goes on inside your character will help guide your actions next game. And help you bring a more authentic experience to the table.

LARPs RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips

D&D Live 2021 – A Recap for Storytellers

We look over the two days of fun for D&D Live 2021 and what we as storytellers can take away from it.


We look forward every year to D&D Live. While the pandemic has changed its format, it is still good fun and filled with interesting stories. We love to hear these small, often humor-filled one shot games, as well as learn about new products that may be of interest to us as storytellers. Let’s take a look at the highlights!

The New Books

This D&D Live talked about three of their new books coming out. Depending on the styles of stories you prefer, you can benefit from any number of these.

The big announcement was Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. Fizban is a much-loved character from the Dragonlance book series. This book focuses on a variety of dragons, expanding the types, the lore, and even offers more subraces of Dragonborn. It explains the creation of the Material Plane in terms of draconic powers. We were a fan of that since the lore in our world of Thread of Souls talks about dragon lairs leading to the creation of swamps, deserts, and mountains prior to the events of the Day of Sealing. This book is great for anyone that loves dragons and wants more of them in their stories.

Click the photo to go to Amazon’s pre-order page

They also discussed two recently revealed books. The first is The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. Do you like creepy carnival vibes? Things that look whimsical but are actually disturbing? This book is for you. It is centered on the plane known as the Feywild and expands the lore around that greatly. As fans of all the different planes in D&D, we definitely like books like this!

Click the photo to go to Amazon’s pre-order page

The final book is a mix of D&D and Magic: the Gathering in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. Let your magical student dreams come to life! You can balance classes, extracurricular activities, cliques, and adventures in this supplemental guide. This one caught our attention most of all and we will definitely be purchasing it when it becomes available.

Click the photo to go to Amazon’s pre-order page

The Games

There were a bunch of fun games throughout the two days. Our focus here is going to be on what storytellers can learn about running games, role-playing, and telling stories from each of these.

The Lost Odyssey: Last Light Table – This game was DM’d by Kate Welch and had Jack Black, Reggie Watts, Lauren Lapkus, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and Tiffany Haddish all playing. This game was a good demonstration that you don’t need a complex storyline or a lot of seriousness to play a fun oneshot. As always, Kate Welch does great in rolling with the antics of energetic new players to keep the story going forward while also allowing them to goof off.

The Chaos Carnival Table – DM’d by Aabria Iyengar with players Xavier Woods, Ember Moon, Mace, and Tyler Breeze. A mix of the creepy and spontaneous, this game showed you can have silly characters thrust into very dark situations and it still works. Aabria’s character voices are always a pleasure to listen to as she is a great actor.

The Fluffybonks and Guzzleshucks Table – DM’d by Amy Vorpahl with players DrLupo, Negaoryx, Ify Nwadiwe, Kevin Pereira, Adam Sessler, and Fiona Nova. Venturing into the depraved world of the Feywild, this story was a good example of how a very diverse cast of characters – some being quite silly and others being quite serious – can still come together to drive plot forward. Amy rolled with multiple “delays” to speed up the story and keep things on track within the time limit gracefully, a great lesson on DM’ing.

The Palace of the Vampire Queen Table – DM’d by B. Dave Walters with players Patton Oswalt, Nicke Peine, Marisa Baram, Allyson Snyder, and Jacob Houston. We have played in B. Dave’s games before and what we love best about his storytelling style is that he has a way of making non-combat situations feel tense, dynamic, and that there is plenty to do. This was the case in this game centered around a ballroom-esque invitation to a palace where things were more than they seemed.

Beadle & Grimm’s Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! Table – DM’d by Jon Ciccolini with Bill Rehor, the players were Seth Green, B. Dave Walters, Deborah Ann Wohl, and Xander Jeanneret. A benefit for the charities that money was raised for across these two days, this game was a good example that it is okay to offer difficult situations and kill characters if the story calls for it.


Summary

All in all, this was another fun D&D Live event that shares of love of stories, of ever-growing worlds, and of helpful products and tools so you can continue to tell what is in your heart.


character
Character Tips, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

How to Write a Character Backstory

We look at the must-have’s for a good character backstory, as well as how not to get overwhelmed!


When you are writing your character backstory, it can be easy to stare at a blank page and wonder how to even approach it. Character lives are complex, after all. And how do you condense all this information into a quick-read format? We’ve got an easy guide here for you to follow to help create all your characters! While this is more specifically aimed at D&D and other TTRPG’s, these can easily be applied to any character creation.

What You Absolutely Must Know About Your Character

There are core tenants that make up every character and help shape them. There are also key pieces of information that will help drive plot forward during a D&D game. When you sit down to write your character’s background, follow this list:

  • Where they grew up.
    • Was it a city or a rural environment? Was it coastal, snowy, mountainous? Was it a center of activity or a slower pace of life? All these things help shape how your character perceives the world.
  • Childhood
    • Some core childhood questions to answer are: Did they have friends? Was their family wealthy or poor? What did they do for fun?
  • Positive Relationships
    • Make note of any good relationships they had in their life, whether it be family, friends, a mentor, or other figure.
  • Neutral Relationships
    • Is there anyone important that had a small association with?
  • Negative Relationships
    • Is there someone they hate? Someone they wronged? Someone who would rather see them dead?
  • Personality Traits and Flaws
    • Make a very small list of some key points of their personality and key flaws. Don’t overdo it. A lot of this will flesh itself out once you are really inside the character.
  • Open-Ended Conflict
    • The most important thing to include is open-ended conflict. Something that can be resolved as the story plays itself out. Something that can come back to hurt the character. Did your character make a mistake? Run away from something? Leave something unfinished? All these are great starting points.

How Not to Get Overwhelmed

All that information above can seem like a lot to tackle. But don’t get overwhelmed! There is one simple rule that will help you not feel lost in this character creation. You might not like it, but here it is.

Keep the backstory to 1-2 pages.

Do not go over that. Truly understanding the character often means simplicity. Break down the core of all that information above into its simplest formats. Don’t add in unnecessary details. Don’t add in dialogue. Don’t go on “side quests”. Keep it simple so you can focus on the soul of your character.


Examples

We are going to take the list above and offer examples. These are all characters from our epic fantasy Thread of Souls book series. If you are still lost on how to narrow down this information, check these out!

  • Where did Unole grow up?
    • The empire’s capital city in the plains. It’s very busy and diverse.
  • What was Ruuda’s childhood like?
    • The youngest of 12 siblings. Her family is middle-class. She had a small number of friends. She liked to play pranks on her siblings and help with the family business.
  • What were Sen’s positive relationships?
    • Sen had a girlfriend that he’s since lost track of, but he very much loved her. He admires his former pirate captain “the Baroness” and is still loyal to her.
  • What were Artemis’ neutral relationships?
    • She knew a variety of soldiers and Rangers during her time in the war.
  • What were Taliesin’s negative relationships?
    • Taliesin crossed the line of acceptable behavior for his station with the ruling priestesses of his city, so he has angered all of them.
  • What are Jasita’s personality traits and flaws?
    • Jasita is studious, dedicated, curious, and soft-spoken. She is socially awkward and often reads people’s minds to try and understand them, which makes people angry with her.
  • What is Jade’s open-ended conflict?
    • Wild Elf Jade is wanted in the Elven capital city because she crossed racial lines and became romantic with a High Elf. She hasn’t returned to the city since.