Writing Your Character’s Background
To submit your background, click here.
At this point, you have probably gone through the rules, chosen a race and class, made a name for your character and chosen your starting skills. You are now almost ready to bring your character to the world of Realms of Adventure and try your hand at being a hero, villain or somewhere in between. Your class and race will help to determine costuming and your skills will determine what types of abilities your new character possesses. You have chosen a name for your character so you know how to introduce yourself once the game starts. Once you start interacting with people however you may find yourself having difficulty finding in game things to discuss. That is where a character background comes in.
If someone were to ask you questions about yourself there would be a whole host of things for you to talk about. You would be able to share details such as where you were born, how many siblings you have, what types of activities you like and dislike as well as many others. People would also pick up certain details about you based on your demeanor, sense of humor, habits etc. The same things should be true of your character. In order for others to see your character as an interesting, living, breathing part of the world he must have certain characteristics. Unless you have amnesia it’s fairly boring to talk to someone who doesn’t know anything about themselves. Of course there are certain parts of your background you may wish to hide from others, but that is what makes the character real.
Your background is important because it gives people in game a reason to talk to you and allows you to get into the mindset of your character for the weekend. The best thing to do is to provide details about your character that others can ask you about. Think about the basics of your character’s background as well as the extraordinary events. Think about what shaped your character into the person he is today. How did your character learn his skills? These are all important things to consider.
In writing your background it is a tool not only for other players but for the plot writers as well. One of the most exciting aspects of a live action role-playing game is not just simple interaction with the world, but the realization that events that are taking place around you are taking place because of you. Do you have an enemy who might show up looking for you? Did you steal a horse and money from a merchant in a neighboring kingdom and now bounty hunters are on your trail? Will your parents stop into town for a visit? Some of your favorite moments will be ones that would never occur without your character being there. When writing your background, give the plot team things they can use. Give details as above, but don’t be afraid to leave loose ends and hooks that our plot team can use to write exciting plots for you and your friends! Was your family wiped out by a group of soldiers and the only thing you remember is their leader had a tattoo? Were you separated by your family at birth and been trying to reunite with them? Try to leave hooks but make sure you write in a way that you can recognize them if they are presented to you in game. (i.e. Did the man who killed your father have a tattoo on his left cheek?)
The basic thing to remember about your background is the more you put into your character the more you will get back. The more you give the plot team, the more they can give you! By providing an interesting detailed character background, the team will be able to write stories for the weekend for you to participate in in addition to the normal plots running in a given weekend. If your background is very weak or nonexistent this cannot be done. Length of the history need not necessarily be a consideration. If you can write an interesting background in a page or two, go for it. Writing a ten page story that is bland, pointless and without hooks won’t get you much either. A concise, well written, easy to understand, open story is best. When you are finished you can e-mail the story to us. Try to use MS Word or a simple Text file. Avoid using fancy fonts and small type.
Lastly, keep in mind that it is FAR easier for the plot team to write interesting stories for you when you pre-register! If we know you are coming to an event we will be able to plan for it and hopefully give you personal plot. If we are not sure if you will be at the game we may not write intricate plot for you for that weekend since we are not sure if you will be there to enjoy it!
– How old is your character? Most times you will probably want to play a character that is the same age as you, but you may want to try someone older or younger. This can be a challenging role-playing experience, but before doing it make sure you think you can make it believable. If you put a streak of white dye in your hair it won’t necessarily clue someone in that you are supposed to be 70 years old.
– Where is your character from? Are you a nomad from Al’Hazir? A traveling Gypsy? An Amazon from the island of Rythos? One of the first questions people will ask you is where you are from. Being able to answer this question and talk about your homeland will make your character more real.
– What is your character’s family like? Is your family still alive? Do you speak to them on occasion? Do they approve of your life decisions? Did you grow up poor or middle class? Were you separated from them? Are you seeking to reunite with them? Learn the truth behind their death or disappearance? Do you have a small family or a large one?
– What was your character’s childhood like? Were your formative years happy? Sad? Did you grow up in a Solinarian orphanage? Did you have many friends? Were you a quiet kid? Were you bullied?
– What sort of education did your character receive? Where did you learn your skills? Were you a blacksmith’s apprentice? A farmer? Son of a guardsman? Were you (or are you still) good at what you learned? Were you a slow study? Were you bored with the life of a farmer? Did you have any significant role-models?
– What sort of exposure did your character have to others? Does your character have experience dealing with other races? Other cultures? Other religions? Has your character always wanted to see a pixie?
– What does your character believe in? Does your character follow a deity? Does your character believe in upholding the law? Sowing anarchy? Themself? Others?
– Why did you leave home and come to the frontier? What are your goals? What do you want to do here? Are you tracking down an enemy? Seeking fortune and glory? Running from your past? Running away from home? Seeking entertainment? Did Goblinoids destroy your village? Were you part of a caravan that arrived in town?
– What are your character’s morals like? Has he ever killed someone? Does he find killing easy or difficult? Is he a psychopath? A pacifist? Will you lie, cheat or steal? What circumstances would drive you to do these things? Would you sell out your friends and companions? Would you leave a wounded comrade behind so that you could escape? Will you defend your beliefs strongly? Would your character die for what they believed in? Do you have a code of honor? If so what is it?
– What does your character like/love? Strong ale? Gambling? Fighting? Stealing? The solitude of the forest? An old flame?
– What does your character dislike/hate? Wine? Thieves? Necromancers? Despoilers of the forest? A woman who scorned him? Orcs?
– What is your character afraid of? Dying? Being left behind? Being poor? Goblins?
– What are your character’s strengths? Is he courageous? Intelligent? Good at merchanting?
– What are your character’s weaknesses? Can he not resist a bribe? Can he not say no to a pretty lady that requests help? Is he incapable of lying? Does he obsess over money? Is he drawn to shiny objects? Is he unlucky? Indecisive? Does he not know when to keep his mouth shut?
– Where does your character see themselves in the future? A great warrior? A master thief? Head of the mages guild in a major town? A noble?
– Are you arriving alone? Did you walk into town on your own or with friends? It is fine to write your background and tie it in with your friends who also come to the game as long as it’s plausible. If you envision yourselves as an adventuring party and will be hanging out together anyway, you may as well consider this option. It is just important to remember 2 things: 1. Make sure that it makes sense within the scope of your characters and backgrounds & 2. If you know each other out of game it will be more challenging to stay in character. Try to separate the two and not start talking about your trip to Taco Bell before the game or the movie you saw the weekend before. This ruins the atmosphere we try so hard to create. You may also write in people who have already been coming to our game so long as you consult with them and the plot team before doing so.
THINGS TO AVOID!
– Backgrounds Including Rape, Incest or Molestation. We are not quite sure why, but often players are drawn to writing stories that include these topics. At best these are unsettling and could prove disruptive or very upsetting to people at the game. This is a fantasy game, but we believe that these topics go beyond the realm of good taste and are something that the plot team will not write about, even if vaguely veiled. Additionally we do not wish to have to ask any cast members to portray a rapist or a said victim under ANY circumstances. Be very careful of these things and avoid them whenever you can. These are serious incidents that happen to people in real life and there is no need for people to discuss these things when they play Realms of Adventure. If you are a Half-orc character and you were the product of an Orc raid on a village that is all that needs to be said. Do not elaborate any more on the topic of rape. Any backgrounds that are graphic or descriptive on the above topics will be rejected.
– Noble Titles or Birth; Inheritance, Items. This seems to be one that comes up a lot. If you were a noble and had more money than anyone could imagine why would you be adventuring? This basically comes down to a simple question, “Does my background grant my character anything that will give me power over other players solely based on what I have written?” If the answer is yes, take it out. We try to keep all starting characters on an even playing field. If your background gives you advantages outside that scope by including noble title, fabulous wealth, magic items and the like it will be rejected for you to revise. You could write your background to say you once had a magic item that was stolen and you quest to get it back, but this must all be done in game. The ONLY time this rule is flexible is if the plot team determines that the background is exceptional, the game could benefit from it and it fits into the world.
– Strange Racial Combinations. Do not present a character that is Half Pixie, Half Dwarf or anything similar. These types of characters can present a logistical nightmare, and for this reason we ask that the only half-breed characters allowed in game are Half-Orcs and Half-Elves, both of which are described in the rules. The ruling is that only Humans may breed with these two races and other combinations are not possible.
– Making Yourself a Moving Target. Do not make it so that every bounty hunter and thrill seeker in the world is looking for you for some convoluted “misunderstanding” that you yourself may not fully understand or be aware of. This is a guaranteed way to get your character permanently killed in a short period of time. Having an enemy is great. Having multiple enemies is fine. But if you make yourself too unpopular survival of the character is unlikely.
– Ripping Off Your Story. It is ok to draw from books and movies for inspiration but do not carbon copy your character history from a character that already exists.
– Leaving No Room to Expand. Always leave the plot team room to expand your story, fill in details and make it interesting for you!
– Making Yourself a Major Player. When writing a background, do not try to make yourself a master thief, paladin, advisor to the king, son of a great well known hero or the like. This damages the credibility of yourself and the game. If you start with 55 (or 60) character points and try to pass yourself off as a master wizard it will be seen for what it is, silly. You will have plenty of time to earn skills, titles, respect and fame (or infamy) while playing the game.