forum D&D character ideas
Started by @Fantasy-Illy!

people_alt 68 followers


I know this isn't the D&D chat, but that one doesn't get looked at often.
I'm having trouble with background story for my character. I want it to be tragic. There's a lot of creative people on here so I figured someone might be able to help me out. I want her to have some kind of curse or just a really messed up or sad story.

@im-with-stoopid pets

Ok, here's some general tips that I've been using for my characters' tragic backstories, because there's nothing more fun than torturing the little guys in my head.

Don't Default to Death. - Nowadays, it's kind of cliché for tragic characters to have some kind of death in their backstory. Whether it be their parents, mentors, entire family, it doesn't have the same effect as it used to. If you decide to make death a major part of your character's backstory, consider how it would effect them in the present. That way, it's less of a sympathy beg, and it makes your character more believable.

Make the Backstory Matter. - The backstory is the main thing that makes your character who they are, and those events don't happen in a vacuum. Make sure it actually effects their personality, motivation, fears, weaknesses, etc. Maybe some tragedy made them paranoid that they'd be next? Maybe they're motivated to train so they can get revenge on their parents' killers? Maybe some event gave them survivor's guilt?

Don't Overdo It. - I get it, tormenting the little people in our heads is fun. But at the same time, there's a fine line between "this character is really unfortunate" and "this character is tragedy incarnate." Try to balance out the good and the bad in their backstory. For example, maybe a character was backstabbed by someone they trusted. To balance that out with some good, maybe said character has very few friends that they still do trust.

Just some guidelines I try to apply to my dweebs- typing this off the top of my head, so I'm probably forgetting something. I'll reply again if I remember anything else. Good luck with your character! :D

Deleted user

I have some tips!!

  • For background, it's tempting to default to "Haunted One" (in which the character is severely frightened, or "haunted" by something that has happened to them) for this kind of backstory. Using something like "Soldier" (if their background includes war, training, etc,, could fit with a character traumatized by violence toward others or themself, maybe haunted by their actions) or "Acolyte" (Related to religion, in which your character might have been convinced that they must be overly concerned about sin, or see the world in black and white.) Any background can relate to a variety of complications, so I encourage you to branch out!

  • Don't make the past the focal point of their character. Being reminded of the past or something haunting the character every so often will be more jarring than being reminded of their past every session. This isn't to say that they shouldn't be wary of things that remind them of it- in fact, that might be ingrained into their behavior- but that it should be part of the character, not the entire character.

  • Limit what they share with other characters. Most people are not 100% willing to explain or bring up something that haunts them, even if they're speaking to someone they trust. If you want other characters to know, they shouldn't all find out in one beat.

  • If you want, choose a few specific things that remind them of the event. A design or symbol? An animal? A phrase or word? A weapon? A feature (ie; blue eyes, a scar, jewelry)? A habit? A song or sound? There are infinite possibilities. Also, keep in mind that this can frighten or comfort the character.

That's all I have at the moment, I hope this is helpful :) sorry if it's a little disorganized or confusing, I can explain if needed haha