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How to create interesting PC

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There's plenty of guide on how to optimize character for most damage or utility but very few on to write a background story. Playing a rogue wearing dark cloth who is an orphan is boring.

Even orphan had parents who died for a reason, had jobs, relatives, you get adoptives parents,... but let say you do have parents, are they farmers, merchants or minor nobility.
A son of farmers may go an adventure to get coins to help his family, he may wear the chain mail of his grandfather who was in a war, and spent a week cleaning the rust from that armor, the son of a noble may be the third child with no inheritance coming so he turn to adventure, but a brand new armor his family paid for.

Or his parents dies and he suspect his elder brother to have murders them. The farmer son may have a brother who was conscripted in some Lord's war and never seen again, is he dead? captured and sold as slave? turn mercenary and don't care about his family?

A character should have a past, a present and a future goal.

A wizard usually have a teacher or mentor who taught you the basic. A cleric should have a temple local or not where she learned. Even urchin growing up in the street have gang they ran with, contacts like fence. All kind of informations that make you character alive, and open way to role play for you and the DM or more interesting plot hook.

- Your younger sister tell you that the farm where you grow was attack by goblins and your family need help
- A mentor or teacher ask your help, (or is missing) is better then just some random wizard you never hear from before.
- The assassin you beat in battle, offer information on your brother and the dead of your parents if you let him go.

What you should not do, with a level 1 character is tell how you were captain of the King's honor guard, the greatest swordman of the continent or a god who lost his powers, you are level 1 barely a notch over normal peoples.

The world is as wide as your imagination, let it go wild and have fun

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  1. GavinRuneblade's Avatar
    Very good points.

    Also I will add two cautions: First, that creating a character with TOO much backstory is very similar to making one who is supposed to be too high level like the greatest swordsman or the deity examples. Someone who has already been through a whole life's worth of experiences not only is expected to be higher than 1st level, but also doesn't have room to grow. You need enough details that you can understand who you are and why you make the decisions you do and how those things are different from the other players. Two PCs might make the same decisions every time, but if your character makes the decision for a totally different reason, it will still be interesting. And you need to be going somewhere as a character in the game. You want the story to help tell you how your character changes over time. The adventure you're playing needs to be your biggest story, not the history you wrote up alone without the other people at the table.

    Second, don't make the same character every time. That really gets boring and uninteresting.
  2. RolePlay's Avatar
    These are great suggestions and a topic that I think highlights one of the best opportunities to improve FG's role-playing experience!

    Thanks for kicking this off! I hope more people have suggestions for us newbies on how to improve the depth and richness of our characters.

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