Whether this is your first or your hundredth time rolling up a character for a new roleplaying game campaign, coming up with a compelling backstory can be tough.
Maybe you’ve spent a ton of time trying to come up with a character, but you still end up bored with them or worry that they’re one-dimensional. Or perhaps you have the basics down and want to take your characters to the next level. The following steps will help you write a killer character backstory, one that will get you excited about your character, provide cues to roleplay them, and give the gamemaster (GM) tools to enrich the campaign in a way that engages and excites you.
Step 1: Ground Your Character in the Campaign Setting
Before you can begin creating, you need to fuel your creativity. Now is your chance to settle down with the rulebooks or source material for the setting and enjoy them. (Yes, this is permission to rewatch the show/movies or reread the books!) And if your GM is building a world from scratch, she’ll likely be more than happy to tell you all about her original setting if you ask.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the world, examine which world details strike you as coolest. What do you want to know more about? Is there a remote monastery devoted to a mysterious deity that piques your interest, or is there an interesting settlement that you think would be an intriguing hometown for a character? Make a list of the setting elements—people, places, artifacts, prophecies, etc.—that you might want to incorporate into your character’s backstory. Next, brainstorm how they could have influenced your character. It’s okay if you come up with a couple of different concepts.