Adding Backstory to your PLAYERS Characters as a GM

Adding Backstory to your PLAYERS Characters as a GM

hello my name is guy and you’re watching
how to be a great GM today we’re looking at adding backstory to your players
characters. why would we want to add backstory to our players characters
isn’t that their job quite simply the answer is no you’re missing out on a
great opportunity if you are the dungeon master and you don’t do this why why is
this so important let’s jump into it when we add backstory we are effectively
adding to the narrative of our players characters and in doing so we are
creating a world that is real to the player character and that invests the
player as well you’re suddenly saying your character’s backstory that you
wrote out I’m adding a little bit to it but we’re not going to add in a complete
story that belongs to the player it’s a collective that we are involved in here
a narrative collective so we’ve got to make sure that what we are adding in
allows for collective addition not just us adding in and entire chapter in this
poor pcs life so we start by saying what actually happened what is it that we
want to add into this backstory to effectively create a quest the quests
that are going to come out of these kinds of things of adding a new
character backstory is quite literally going to be exploring an aspect of this
individual so that we as the game master so that the players and their characters
learn a little bit more about the character that they’re on a journey with
these are great adventures to add to your campaign in between the main event
it builds a whole lot of things and principally it tells the players I as
the game ask to respect your character and your story and I want to make sure
that you feel as if you’re part of my game because my game includes parts of
you sounds weird but how do we do this so we look at the attitude of the PCs
that’s an important thing too understand is if the PCs are angry all
the time what was the reason for that anger their back story might hint at it
their back story might say they were raised by slavers and so oh you’re angry
because you’re allowed to be you have a horrid horrid background that could be
one it could also not be included in the back story so there’s something that you
could look at you know your PC is always argumentative where did that come from
what inspired that let’s go find out and you can now create this or start to
create this back story that’s going to lead us into learning more about the
character we then need to decide on what type of quest is this going to lead us
to is it a Thornton quest is it a discovery quest as a delivery Quest
wasn’t a collecting quest as you can see the whole idea is that if one pcs
backstory is a war ting backstory where they have to go and stop an ancient evil
uncle who was around when they were young and has now taken control of the
family farm that’s a swatting adventure on the other hand it could be a case of
you remember your aunt that you were so fond of she’s died and you need to come
to town to collect her heirlooms that belong to the family it’s a collection
adventure where of course they get there they collect the things but on route
they’re attacked by assassins there’s a dragon that gets involved
what are these heirlooms that they are collecting this this is a very
interesting story if it’s delivery well there’s other options that we can go
with there and of course of its discovery who or what is behind whatever
is happening etc understand your players as well it’s important to realize that
your players might not like this tampering they might not like you adding
in the fact that in the characters backstory there was this diabolical act
they might go well my character would never do that my character doesn’t do
that and so we turn to holes create this event what what what what I’m going to
try and point to this now what is their attitude where did that come from what’s
the type of adventure understand the play and then we create holes within
the narrative so we don’t explain the narrative specifically we don’t say here
is your story we allow the PCs to tell us the story and this is how we do it yeah we had holes we had holes in
everything we couldn’t understand where why who done it why they do it what was
their name the idea of leaving holes in a backstory is specifically so that the
player can start to incorporate it into their own story remember this is
collaboration this isn’t just you dictating what happened in the past
sorry in the past the idea here’s that when you create the backstory you say
things like this happened 25 years ago when you were doing what let the player
fill in the details I was working as a farmer I was a detective with a bad
accent whatever they want the coal is to let them fill in that detail so what
happens is suddenly you’re a little seed of 25 years ago the player now takes it
and internalizes it alternatively if you just say 25 years ago when you were
working as a detective the player is gonna go well I don’t think I would have
had to be a detective I don’t think what I mean does in other words all you are
doing is laying down moments and opportunities for the player to fill in
the details let them give you the color you just provide them the base I think
it’s pretty simple but make sure you don’t overprescribe
25 years ago was you were doing X you were then involved in Y and that caused
this to happen what was this what was Y and what was X that’s for the player to
find out I hope that makes sense okay so we’ve got this this space
starting to happen what’s next next is that we need to know who else knows so
the PC is now starting to develop this background the player is starting to
think how can I incorporate this idea with that idea how can I move forward
now we need to give a name there must be something if the players background says
they were raised in isolation inventor name but you need to insert some names
and if necessary give those names to the player the player doesn’t have the names
in their backstory certainly do that be aware that if the player has a long-lost
lover in their backstory and you want to use that lovers that lover in the
adventure make sure that the player is happy with that and then add a family
member always add a family family members are brilliant they come from all
over the place everybody had to be born at some point everybody had a maker an
original creator go and draw on that those creators might have had brothers
or sisters or step brothers or aunts or uncles or hell even the postman’s wives
sisters brothers uncles aunt daughter who was the secretary to the family
might know the character you can build a link somehow into the character so make
it a family member why add a family member it makes it personal it tells the
players this is not necessarily something that can be ignored or trifled
with this is important or should be important to your character and this is
not plot related necessarily it’s unlikely I mean sure maybe the character
that live one of the characters is the lead hero in the story in which case
family might be used all the time but generally speaking when family are
involved this is now a personal story and then determine the intent so if it
is a swatting adventure is their family member trying to do something taking
over the family farm reinvesting in a new starship all those kinds of things
is their intent good or is it bad is it maybe they don’t have an intent if it is
a collection or a discovery or even a delivery what if the players are
delivering their own family member player characters own family member into
a dangerous situation or they have been found that they’re in
a dangerous situation and they must now be saved from that so it depends what is
the intent what is the entire purpose behind it but family is important well
of course family is important lot of players are not gonna have family in
their backstory they’re gonna literally just pretend they didn’t even exist or
they all died that doesn’t mean you can’t include family in your little
backstory that you’re creating in your plot a long-lost aunt a person of
interest from there from from some distant part I was the old man who used
to take your father’s dogs for walks and we were this close yes I met him twice
once bringing the dogs back one once bringing them in you know that kind of
stuff when you when you you can find anything and create anything if you just
think about all the characters got they were raised by wolves and they never met
nobody well that’s fine because the wolf is now the main reason for the entire
little Side Story use that the wolf died 20 years ago everyone was killed I am
alone well maybe there was a tree oh I used to watch you as a boy you were the
wolves there all right now I was so tired but I was there i watch you from a
distance I love you I don’t know where that came from but you can drive through
you get my point okay so the idea is that we are building this narrative the
last thing that we need to add is the outcome what happens if there is no
action if the PCs just they just don’t they
don’t care they don’t follow through the adventure runs in the background and you
don’t ever have to worry about adding these kinds of backstory adventure
quests into your game ever again and perhaps it’s time to look for new
players as well I know that sounds harsh but if the players are not interested
and they only want to solve the problem because that’s the problem and all that
that backstory stuff is just too emo nonsense namby-pamby wishy-washy
digitally nonsense then you as the dungeon master or the game master are
perhaps not being allowed to explore your full creative potential because of
this limited focus so if they don’t do anything but they don’t do anything
because they can’t in actual game your aren’t on the fifth moon of wherever it
needs to be rescued we’re on the other side of the galaxy and our ship is
broken that’s on you GM you should have made sure that when
you’re introducing this new quest it is achievable by the characters within the
space of time that they have allocated and that is the important thing
you must allocate time in your plot for the pieces to take action time is always
going to be on your side you control the speed at which everything happens so if
the players feel like they can’t leave the main plot because in five days time
the world is gonna end it don’t matter what kind of story you’re putting into
this background character development story they ain’t gonna do it because
saving the world is more important however if you’ve painted yourself into
a corner and you said the world is gonna end five days if you don’t fix it it’s
all it’s all done and then you want to have this backstory moment it’s as
simple as pie to have some other organization caused a delay the PCs find
some kind of bad guy who reports that it there’s been a delay because some other
organization attacked the bosses forces and
we’ve got to regroup or the device is no longer operational and it’s gonna take
him a couple days eh it makes a PCS feel like the world is living and breathing
be it buys them some time see it allows you to add in the complication to your
story who’s this other organization that caused a delay all those kinds of things
should be playing in your mind so that you can give the PCs enough time to go
up and do these side quests having said that you need to watch out if they run
out of time there need to be consequences if you don’t do this your
game is going to feel exceptionally overbearing to the players I know I do
this all the time I literally got to one point where a player turned to me and
said there are so many quests that need to be done now there I don’t know which
one to choose and you don’t want that you don’t want them to have to to choose
between one or the other unless it’s a specific setup you’re going for but
generally speaking you want the players to be able to go on each quest think of
it in terms of time management on your behalf and it’s not difficult to insert
a little bit of time into this whole thing so what is the time frame how long
should it take the PCs to do this and how long can they delay something m’m
portent if you are offering them a quest that is going to delay them for years
they may not take it at the same time if it’s just an hour-long journey they may
not take it either because it might not be worth their time so you need to
balance how long is it going to take and what is their current quest going to do
whilst they’re on this that’s important however however even though you’ve now
made space in your campaign for the players to play in and to go on this
quest you must still put time in there because there should be pressure there
should be ramifications if the if the PCs don’t do it within a certain time
they will fail and that then leads us to the ramifications what are the
ramifications and and how do we do that so that’s another important thing is is
how do we put this pressure on how do we run these games without losing a sense
of timing even though they had been given vast amounts of time the important
thing to bear in mind is that when they run out of time if you’ve given them a
time frame and they run out why the ramifications is the family member dead
is the story day can they pick it up at a later stage is there some way in which
you can bring it back does it mean the PCs didn’t really care there’s a very
big indicator that what pcs do what they choose to do is where their interest
lies use that but make sure to keep pressure on them so although you might
have given them time with the main story the secondary plot this little side
quest that you’ve created if they don’t do it in a timely manner and it doesn’t
matter it ain’t part of the big story it is simply something for fun if the PCs
are dragging their feet they’re probably not interested in it anyway in which
case you should move on and get back to your main plot it’s simple as that
really once we’ve got this in place we’ve worked out how we’re going to fit
this all in and everything is now going to be working that allows us to add in
these very interesting backstories these very interesting ideas that really
incorporate the player into the game in a way that we haven’t before realized
perhaps they are now invested because this real-life situation we’ve all had
it and that for me is the key takeaway from this particular video is if you can
emulate what happens in real life to the players themselves it makes the game
feel more real now by that I mean it’s not a case of going through the players
personal history and pulling out stuff to get them to go through that
absolutely not and you should be very careful if you are handling delicate
situations that could have intense emotional attachment on behalf of the
player that goes without saying the important thing is is that when we
talk about flying on a starship through space we don’t have any
personal context we don’t do that yet as a species at least not in the way that
we talk about in science fiction so there’s no grounding there’s no reality
but when that starship comes across the annoying mother-in-law or the brother
who is a layabout and doesn’t do anything and just sits around all day
that is something that a lot of us will have a connection to everybody has an
uncle who drinks a little bit too much is slightly slimy and no one really
likes it he’s always around because he’s he’s really into family he just as a
greaseball we all have a bigger pardon we all have those so include that into
again find bits of reality that you can insert into your narrative and your
narrative your story your adventure becomes that much realer because we
identify with it rather than just having to imagine what it’s like adding in
these little moments adding in these backstory quests will raise your game to
the next level like you cannot believe and I cannot emphasize enough how much
fun you can have whilst planting these very loosely woven holed adventures all
over the place and letting the players help you to create something truly
awesome from their backstory until next time however well I apologize
my accent was just everywhere today it’s just crazy crazy this is a new thing
we’re trying out so give me give me give me give me some leeway now if you want
to support the channel head on over to our patreon where we’ve got a whole
bunch of things that you can get there’s a podcast that comes out every week
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a whole bunch of friends who come along and we design a dungeon and I heard
speaking about the philosophical institution as to how one would design a
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the channels see what you see what you’re like and well that’s the end of
this video and the axe

56 thoughts on “Adding Backstory to your PLAYERS Characters as a GM

  1. I wish I came across a GM who gave a damn about backstory. In most things I play who you play doesn't seem to matter in the slightest.

  2. Agreed, Guy. It's up to you as a GM to create the narrative. Weave in their stories, build sub plots, have decisions affect the campaign, etc. And it makes them feel vested in the tale. Decent Yank accent, m8.

  3. My lazy ass players couldn't be bothered to make their own back stories, so I started the campaign with all their characters being brought back to life with no memory of their past selves, at the beginning it was just a way for me to explain why they have no past, but after a time it turned into a great plot hook, and suddenly the whole campaign turned to they searching their own past and trying to figure out who they are.

  4. I always see it as the GM needs to get the backstory of all their PCs to a “functional” level. They need to feel plugged in with goals. This is a Huge video for ALL GMs

    This really got me pumped up!

  5. Guy as a hard-boiled detective from the deep American South (probably Georgia, Mississippi, or Louisiana) was on fucking point. 10/10 accent.

  6. I had great fun when I created my pathfinder character Asphodelle, a Tiefling alchemist. When I was finished with her background, I had given her a somewhat delusional twin sister, an older brother, a summary of her parents and where they lived and what their current status is, as well as what they did in their youth. Ended up with roughly two pages, and I got two more characters for Pathfinder to experiment with, although I've never had the chance to play her older brother. Yet.

  7. I must ask this, I'm planning on building a campaign without potions. I'm still allowing spells and I want to know if I can utilize anything else to help with the handicap I gave my players.

  8. I sense a bit of Seth Skorkowsky in that detective character/accent and I approve xP
    Even though I never do accents in my game, I really respect your commitment to them

  9. It makes feel good you covered what I have been doing. Sometimes I felt like I was to involved with backstory development and you discussing it made rethink if I was doing what you said don't do. Thanks.
    I like to set up a google document with the player when they give me their backstory and then I highlight and add notes with questions or ideas. I try to work some part of the campaign's backstory or connect with other players with or without the players knowing they been connecting until they share ingame.
    Keep up the great work!

  10. Just make sure you run your ideas by the player before you just spring it on them in the middle of a game. I made a character once who was a noble but he was a knight. Basically the lowest form of noble, and I had it in my backstory that my family was very wealthy but a relatively small noble family, not really involved in government. My gm took a liking to the character though and I ended up being the prince of an entire kingdom…which I did not know until one of his npc's asked me about it…and then I was on the spot and had to improvise "well, ofcourse i'm a prince, obviously. Just look at my regal appearance and bearing, how could I possibly be anything else?" I didn't mind the change I just wish the gm had warned me first, cause it started getting serious after that and I was just stumbling through it all.

  11. 1) I like the back and forth narration.

    2) I've been trying to do this with my main party. For 3 of the 5 I have personal quests planned, but the campaign has been progressing slower than anticipated so they havent started to really come up yet

  12. Guy, another great video. One type of game you could add is Evade. I've had PCs running from their past or trying to evade someone after them. It could turn into Thwart eventually.

  13. I wouldn't have minded if a DM added in some relationships or fuckups in my character's past, but one straight up tried to tell me that my character who was CG had murdered many innocent people. He wasn't super creative and he used this as a way to introduce me to the plot, but a backstory I had previously created could have been used to the same effect was rejected. I was introduced as a criminal who was incarcerated and was allowed free to aid the heros. My character was a drunk, I could have been in jail for public intoxication or even damaging property and this would have made sense. But he tried to force me to be a murderer. I tried to spin it as someone trying to frame me but he wasn't really having it. Was pretty frustrating.

  14. I kinda liked it, in real life it's pretty normal for some people to slip in and out of accents if they have lived in different parts of the planet for a long enough time.

  15. Instead of making them into sidequests, I've had some success in making these part of the main story. I had a player who didn't really come up with a backstory but gave me permission to fill in the blanks. I gave him a pretty grandiose backstory woven into the larger narrative. No amnesia, but some reincarnation is at play, sort of. It's given some useful clues about the main villain, and some of the forces they have faced and are about to face. It's also allowed me to give better characterization about other NPC's and even a trio of goddesses.
    I also used one character whose wife and daughter had died in a viking raid on their homeland. Him moving through his grief was an element, but also when he went to visit her spirit in Asgard, there were little details I was able to sprinkle in. Like the lullaby he used to sing to his daughter. And all of it were clues towards dealing with another NPC.

  16. When players have prekilled all their family, give them more. Have a street urchin take a liking to them. Have a city guard be impressed and want to squire under them. A singer at a tavern sees them as a method to write great songs.

    There are piles of people out there that will latch onto them.

  17. Every time I watch one of your videos I always think :” Is this shadiversity with a different name?”
    So, are you??

  18. For me as a DM I normally think that my Job is to create drama, and what better Drama than to mess with the motivations and backstories of the characters? Aren't they the center of the story? I normally ask my players to leave spaces in their backstory and its normal for the players to tell me "I have left this part here for you to fill in and maybe hook an adventure"
    Also I ask them 3 questions regarding their backstory "what do you tell everyone?" "what do you tell only your friends?" "what you don't tell anyone?". With those I can create some interesting adventures that can make use of those secrets. Again….Drama…

  19. Why is there an obvious trap in this museum-y environment, I wonder. See that split stone at the upper end of that door, which is not only actually two stones, but they do not even rest ontop of other stones. They just seem to hover there until a character walks through that hole in the wall underneath to give'em a serious head ache 🙂

  20. I add backstory to my players caracters after they create it like if they say I lived in a village of rogue I searched for something as close then I fill in the names of places and organizations they would know. I find it fun.

  21. Your 'American' accents are killing me, Guy! I had to go back and listen again to actually absorb the content. Wonderful!

  22. I super love this format, since it provides the fun tidbits from your older videos, and then the cohesiveness of your newer ones. The only thing I think could be changed in my opinion, would be keeping the text on the left hand side, like before. Mainly it's just because as someone who reads left to right, it feels a bit unnatural to be starting from the center of the screen to read the points. It might just be because I have ADHD, but it kinda causes me to either pick you or the text to pay attention to at a time, where in the previous format, it just kinda seamlessly flowed from left to right. My two cents, anyhow, but great work regardless; loved the video!

  23. It was a small point but well observed that if the players aren't given a means to buy-in and moreover successfully contribute by filling in the holes of the proposed backstory, it isn't likely to be something they'll readily accept. Similarly the Cyberpunk 2020's Lifepath background generator later inspired the idea of the plotpath for organising just these kinds of "loose" PC threads and encourage that kind of buy-in. Nice work, Guy, another useful concept for any system.

  24. Also talk to the players about filling in some of the details With blanks, and that they have to figure it out. Good for curious players thats helps motivate them. Give them a reason to find out.

  25. I remember one game I attended, one person. A male human fighter, was an older man in his fifties.

    He had lived a life in service of his local liege once as just a levy solider who not only survived combat multiple times, but managed to save troops from routs and fleeing, as well as assisting in a critical battle. He was soon promoted and eventually taken in as of sorts by his liege, given a formal education and taught history of battle.

    He would wed and have many children with his wife, and his backstory eventually became that while he was out leading in campaign against his lieges enemies. His lieges ally turned against his liege and attacked, siezing the capital city and beginning to sieze the nearby lands. Soon word arrived the citizens were butchered on mass along with the royal family.

    This character took what remnants of the army that still followed his command and began a guerilla styled war with these two powers. Eventually his rebel army was crushed and he was forced to flee the battlefield.
    Without a purpose in life, without kin or hearth or coin to him. He would drift along the world, doing whatever jobs he could to provide for himself.
    Eventually coming across a party of a one wood and one high elf (Homebrew setting, these elves were a mix of Lord of the rings and elder scrolls) and two mountain dwarves (Typical dwarfs).

    Seeing this party fighting a group of bandits, seeing them as once remnants of his army. He would rush to the scene and begin to attempt negotiating with the bandits, to no avail.

    The party and human soon dispatched the foes, the wood elf and one dwarf began to loot the dead, while the high elf and other dwarf would speak with this man.

    I found this story to be quite long already without having to go into detail on the characters entire lively hood. But I do think some people may like this story

  26. So many good back stories come to mind.

    The fourth/fifth son of a noble family, young and tenacious. Seeking to prove himself or wishing to see the world, claim land and riches, or to acrue power and usurp his family and become lord.
    Trained and educated in military strategy, tactics and other such necessities in life.
    Giving a player a good character with room for improvisation.

    An exile from a long distance land. Adorned in foreign armour, clothing and or weapons.
    Sent away from their lands for possible crimes commited, exiled for self proclaimed reasons.
    Maybe they were cast away and they are sent on a quest to search for some rare artificat of their people and can only return if they may bring it back.
    Or maybe they cannot or will not return back and thus is forced to make life anew in this land.

    Maybe a character that ran away from an oppressive life, be it controlling family or slavery.
    Abit.. obscure in the details but let me explain.

    If you were say example. A slave. You could have been captured by a force as a child and sold into slavery. A scholar whos education facility was ransacked by barbarians or an enemy force of your nation, and forced to do work for a master.
    Born into slavery, fleed slavery.
    Or maybe like a spartacus type of character.
    Captured by a cult and tortured, forced to endure tortment and only saved by an adventuring party.

    A simple farmer whos farm was attacked by bandits. Maybe you put up a decent fight and they figured they could make some money by selling you to slavers.
    Or maybe.. a soldier who fought in an army against a foriegn army and lost. Was captured and sold into slavery, maybe forced to fight in the foriegn army as a slave soldier but managed to escape.
    Or fought in an arena and won your freedom.
    Or were bought and became a slave masters body guard. Killing your slave master during a revolt.

    Or maybe a cultist who fled the destruction of their cults hide out or compound.
    Or like the pilgrims, fleeing religious persecution and just wanting to live in peace.

  27. I'm a player in two campaigns right now, Shadowrun and 5E. Both my backstories have a base event that happened and nothing else provided so the GM can fill in the blanks as needed (and so it's more of a surprise for me!). In Shadowrun, my rigger used to be a member of the Lone Stars. She has a big gap in her memory, where her unit was called in on a mission…something happened…and she was the only survivor and she barely escaped with her life. She doesn't remember what happened or how she survived. In our game so far she's learned how she survived but still doesn't know what happened. In the 5E game, which is a post apocalyptic Lovecraftian horror setting, my character has a backstory of surviving encounters with "other worldly beings" but continues to be plagued by touches of madness. She had a daughter who one day vanishes without a trace. My GM has been given free rein to use that however he wants.

    It's really fun to see how things develop and what interesting things the GM comes up with!

  28. It feels like you adding another character to illustrate points might take too much effort and time for the little benefit it brings.
    The ideas are great as always, though.

  29. As a GM I do that, but I always ask the players if it fits into their idea of the character, and thus the theme of a character is very important to me, and I want and GM who likes to add things to my character also take very carefully into consideration what the theme is that I am going for with the character. Like let's take the family thing, I am personally very found of the found family trope, and thus my character might have very deliberately no family, since I want to explore more how families can happen without blood ties. Sure, it is always possible to have a conflict with a blood relative to drive the point home that family has not be based on blood, but that is something that will not work for every character, for maybe the player is just alienated from the family and has not a real conflict with them, and thu bringing them up would just weaken the theme of found family.

  30. I'm swinging for the fences in my campaign; going to extremes.

    I agree with what I see as the spirit of this video, but I'm not sure I agree with letting the players in on all my contributions to their backstories. In my campaign, I've gone to great lengths to encourage and help players with their character backstories, and everyone (except the "loner") has a roster of NPCs which have been created as companions, questgivers, and questionable relations so the characters are presented in the spirit of collaboration to provide a solid grounding in our world.

    I see the player's backstories as being limited to what their characters understand and believe about their past. Life is full of surprises and perspectives are subjective, so I've really enjoyed adding distinct twists to the player's original contributions.

  31. On the subject of dungeon design, Shad of Shadiversity has actually mentioned in a few of his videos that Fantasy dungeons actually infuriate him with their design, mostly because he has an architecture background and can easily identify real issues that the dungeon would have it was built, the dungeons that are basically nothing more than a natural formation he has less of a beef with because of how natural formations happen. He actually has done a few D&D type videos, I recommend checking him out and Guy reaching out to him if he already hasn't.

  32. I never really thought about it, but I'm used to GMs adding things to my PC backstories, and adding to the backstory of PCs. It kind of ties into making hooks, as mine often contain holes.

    One of my most recent characters saw the GM add a lot to their backstory and I'm ridiculously involved in the world, to the point where I have specific ties to more than half of what's going on so far. This is the advantage of getting your backstory into the GM while they're still worldbuilding.

  33. Okay, I like this new format, Guy… Just hope it doesn't over tax your creativity coming up with new Characters for videos.

    I don't see it mentioned elsewhere, BUT I did notice a low hum in the audio while you were…. erm… yourself. It's not terrible, but you may have something audio-related that's getting ready to die or has some dirt in the contacts… something. It may also be nothing, but I'd feel remiss as a viewer to overlook it and you have something actually wrong over there.

    The "detective with the accent" scenes didn't seem to have it, though. If that tells you something, hopefully you'll get to the bottom of it… or it's going to turn out that there isn't a problem tech'wise at all.

    …hopefully… ;o)

  34. I had no idea he was trying an american accent until the word "past". He let "pahhhst" roll off his tongue naturally, and he spit out "past" like it was the name of a pest. But then he immediately turns around and says "idear" instead of "ideah". So I can only assume he is, as the british say, "taking the piss".

  35. So… does added backstory even have to create a quest? What about added backstory that changes how the game plays, for example if the player picked a race that was nearly wiped out and needs to be constantly in disguise as a different race to hide from their race's exterminators, that could still enhance gameplay where rather than adding an active quest that needs to be done, it influences quite a bit of how they interact with the rest of the world. Or is this just a bad idea?

  36. Great video. Wish my previous GMs had seen it. Everytime they ever decided to add backstory to my character it went horribly wrong and either contradicted who my character was or their background.

    I played a Barbarian once who was from a clan in which 'family' in the traditional sense didn't exist. The clan is the family. He didn't know who his blood was because his people don't respect blood. He grew up in barracks and the other people on there were his brothers and sisters, they even refer to each other as such. Loyalty and strength was valued above bonds of blood and he himself had absolutely no value for it. It was one of his flaws. The DM later went against this introducing his parents and brother and then was super annoyed with me playing my character as not giving a fuck about them despite it being one of his flaws. I'm not against introducing them, but anyone could have seen it coming that he wasn't going to accept those weaklings as his family. I rp'd with them and engaged with the story, but my character did NOT like them at all which the DM didn't like and told me I was playing against my character's normally happy-go-lucky, full of bravado character. Which really bothered me. Especially considering how his opinion on wizards or warlocks was well-established at that point (He doesnt like them. He views them as weak individuals who seek strength through illegitimate means and that it typically leads down a dark road that inevitably leads to stuff like necromancy. On the flip side he doesnt mind clerics/paladins/druids as the former two are chosen by the gods and he was very religious, and they had druids within his clan. I actually played him intentionally with the druid handicap in regards to metal as he followed that type of religion.) and one of them was a wizard.

    There was another instance when I made a character with a brother and the character's main goal to start out was to reconnect with their brother who they hadn't seen in years since their parents divorce. When we finally got to him the DM basically retconned my characters backstory so that the two had a working, ongoing sibling relationship the whole time and it hadn't been years since we talked and – get this – the event that made my character rethink their life and want to reconnect with their brother? The thing that made them decide to go try and find them after all those years? Yeah, the brother was there during that. And they talked. like, they knew each other were there and everything. It made my head explode.

    And what's worse is I always provide a paragraph or two of basic backstory and a couple bullet points of noteworthy people from their past (like the barbarian's clan chief, 'brothers and sisters', and the clan's trainer all of whom he was close to.)

  37. I appreciate your videos, you do an excellent job of giving me new ideas. I'm a fairly new GM, I've been GMing for a group of friends for about a year now, and I'm happy to say I've gotten better as time goes on. I used this particular video's ideas for player backstory recently, and it really got the players excited and brought their characters to life. Thank you for your ideas, tips and tricks!

  38. That PC: "My family is dead and everyone I knew is gone."
    GM: What happened, how did they die?
    PC: "I killed them because they were sick with idonthaveafamily-itus."
    GM: Ok, as the party is leaving town you notice that someone is calling your name. You look around and spot a young woman. You recognize her as the daughter of your neighbor where you grew up.
    PC: "Oh, I also killed the neighbors too. She was there and also died."
    GM: sinister grin She's still calling your name. The rest of the party begins to notice her calling to you. What do you do?

  39. Lol I've actually got a bit of a reputation regarding my backstories.
    Gm: "This isn't a backstory this is part 1 of a full length novel!"
    Me: yep! I'll be writing the rest as we go along.
    Gm: "oh you f**k"

    Me: says a sentence in grammatically perfect french
    Gm: "since when did you speak French?"
    Me: I don't actually, my character does.
    Gm: "oh f**k you!"

    Gm: "Ok here's the setting of the new campaign, don't forget to send me your 300 page backstory" laughs at his own joke
    Me: laughing "don't tempt me I will actually do it"
    Gm realizing his mistake: "you… oh f**k"

  40. Doing a character with an accent that's trying to do accents of other characters? I don't think you need to apologize about those accents sounding a bit off at all! Very well done bud, love your videos and hope I can get some good backstory payoffs in my next campaign!

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