Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae

Creator of Burn the Tavern Down.
Bringing Creativity Back to Gaming.

BTTD #39: I’ve Got Your Back(story)

Friends,

I’ve been there when you are trying to come up with a backstory for a character and your mind is as blank as a fresh whiteboard.

And you come up with, “My parents died and I had to strike out on my own to learn the skills to survive this harsh world.” Congrats. That’s Batman.

We feel we need these epic storylines for our character because of the realm they live in. Keep it simple—like Frodo simple.

Or if we are running a game, we stumble to come up with an NPC’s backstory because we’ve done it so often and they all start to blend in together.

So here are ten backstories for you to grab, steal and change when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons. Some involve class and some involve race—and some are just generic so you can boop put them into your campaign. Let’s get started. (And yeah, I’m adding little graphics to my newsletter—look at me being all fancy.)

  1. The reason you hiked it out of town was simple. Your dad was a gambling addict—and the not-so-friendly gambling organization came to collect. Maybe they put your family in “servitude” until the debt was paid. You have 3 months to pay them back.
  2. Your town was over-run with orcs during the Red Famine. You and some others in your town made it out, but not many.
  3. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth—until your parents got pinched for massive slave trade. You managed to secure some money before that happened. You changed your name, appearance and got to a magic academy to wait it all out and found a talent for magic.
  4. You were always the curious one in the family: how high could you climb, how fast could you run—the rooftops of your city became your playground and you always felt more comfortable there.
  5. A cleric saved your life when the plague came through and you left with her.
  6. A basilisk ravaged your town and you’ve recently been returned to flesh. Two hundred years have passed and everything is so new. Now that you’ve been stone, you have a special bond with it.
  7. Blacksmithing runs in your family’s veins and you are searching for unique metals to bring home, even plans or designs. Your grandmother is working on a grand design and has a special list of unique items for you to grab, no matter what the cost.
  8. You have been given a metal key—it’s your birthright. When examined it radiates magic, but appears to have no function except opening a door. Eventually in your travels, you are hunted for the key.
  9. As a sorcerer, you made a (ahem) not great deal with a Patron. You and eleven others of you made the deal as invaders ravaged your town. Together you destroyed the invaders, but now your Patron wants you to eliminate the others (It’s a bit Highlander, but you get the idea.)
  10. You grew up with a bow because your family lived sequested in the woods. Your father was guarding something. One day you woke up and your family was gone, your father’s ring placed on your chest while you slept.

Things I’m Digging Right Now

Just finished the book The Warehouse about how if Amazon tripled its size, and got its hands in the government, what would that look like. Fiction. I just loved it.

I’m burning through Ozark on Netflix. Let me tell you that I was a doubter, and by episode three, I was hooked.

I’m finishing up Line of Duty (Season 1-4 on Hulu). A British police drama about police corruption. A phrase I love is “bent copper!”

I’m starting Red Rising this week and hope to have that wrapped up. You know, since. . . (makes gesture out the window.)

Patreon members are getting the first (beta) chapter of my book, The Compass Girls and writing goodies.

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