Yeah, but what’s he like?

Turn of a Friendly Die: WISH 13: Character Backgrounds

How do you like to build character backgrounds? Do you think they are important or not? Do you prefer to write an elaborate background, or fill in later? Do you find character quizzes like the one in the ADRPG or related exercises like the round of questions in Everway character development to be useful?

I tend to build character backgrounds in pieces, grabbing bits from here and there in my head. I think they’re important as a concept, but I’ve had as much success with a very sketchy idea that turned into a detailed persona as I have with a very detailed background. Perhaps more: I think that with a very detailed background you can end up writing yourself into a corner that conflicts with the game you’re going to be playing in. I’d rather write a few short things that give a sense of personality with only a few hints of actual history (more of less, seasoned to taste, depending on the campaign).
I’ve had the most initial fun with “this is the character, and this is his ‘bit'”. If that works, you can fill in the depth as you play.
I don’t particularly care for character quizzes as a player, although they are interesting enough if they aren’t going for more detail than I’m comfortable with defining at that point. I’ve never done the Everyway QnA thing (all the players, pregame, ask each other questions, in character, which should be answered truthfully, but may or may not be known In Character once the actual campaign begins), but it seems as though it might be an interesting exercise IF you were playing the right kind of game.
IF. Big if.

One comment

  1. I’m not a big fan of filling out quizzes..I prefer to surprise my GMs occasionally and giving them a heads up on what color underwear my character has takes away the fun.
    They can help solidify the character in the players mind when you fill them out, but take away flexibility as the game goes on IMO.

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