Friday Night Dungeons: The Character Background vs. The Backstory


This week’s entry is not a very long one, but it does not make it any less important. One of the aspects of Tabletop RPG’s is building a memorable character. One of the best ways to do it, is to have a character that has a background and back story. To many people there isn’t much of a difference, but there actually is! Let me elaborate  a little more:

Character  Background: Usually the character background is for your character sheet. Unless you are given a whole page for background info, it’s better that you keep it short. Backgrounds are great to have when introducing your character for the first time. Having the short version is always good for the other players to get a feel of what kind of character you have and how we expect you as the player to act.

Character backgrounds are great for GM’s to learn about the character really quick. It’s also great for those players that are no good with RPing, that having a character background helps in the process of building a great character. Many times, character backgrounds, make the player able to transfer easily into a new character.

The Backstory: Usually, it’s best to build a character from scratch and build the character’s whole life story. This usually takes a little longer and you have to answer a lot more questions than just the basic motivations. If the player knows the basic setting and general set up, they usually can do some building around the location. In a lot RPG’s, the setting is very local. In doing such, characters usually have an easier time to build characters back stories through local locations and companies.

The back story will always be longer. Usually back stories should be at least one page in length if not longer depending on the player. Back stories usually will be fleshed out, including the character’s education, family story and their life story. Many RPGers usually make small stories using their characters. Sometimes, these characters end up in official publishing by RPG companies like Paizo, (Pathfinder)  Wizards of The Coast (D&D) and even Blizzard, (WoW) have all taken original works from writers who just created new characters. So sometimes it pays to build a long story.

Whatever you decide, having a story to tell about your character, helps build your character to the next level. And who knows? It may work to your advantage.

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