A backstory is a concise story about the past events of a Legend. When done right, a backstory will help you as a player to connect with the Legend and effectively play the Legend. A backstory is written using the imagination of the player and possibly some help of the Storyteller.
The creative process of creating a backstory is different for each player. A backstory is usually around 1-3 pages long, including specifics like name, race, age, sex, hair, eye color, length, weight, alignment and other appearance traits. You can also add a picture of the Legend. Communicate with the Storyteller along the way to lay a solid foundation for the Legend.
Writing the backstory itself does not have specific rules (unless the Storyteller requires so). We included some tips to help you create a fun Legend for the story you are in. These tips can be used in any order.
Get a feel for the world
Most stories start with the Storyteller making a rough concept of a world. It is important to understand the world the party will be playing in. Be sure to ask questions like:
- What is the layout of the world? Are there any borders?
- What are the races in the world?
- How does the daily life of a commoner look like?
- What powers shaped the world to the current state?
- What are major events and recent events?
- Are there any guild or factions?
- What is known about the economy?
Define a specific goal
No Legend ever has no goal in life. Try to define the ultimate goal of the Legend’s life. This can be anything, even unclear for the Legend at first, but try think of how the Legend’s destiny unfolds. Also, try to describe the road towards that goal and what the Legend will do when the goal is achieved. Don’t be too ambitious, yet never stop to dream. This imbalance gives the Legend a reason to get up every morning, but also feel down at times. Check these goals with the Storyteller to see if it fits with the world.
Define the Legend’s morality
How does the Legend achieve its goal? Is this done by hard work and selfless sacrifices? Or is this done by sly deeds, clever words and scheming? This can be any combination. If the Legend really wants something, how far would it go to get the job done? How would the Legend react if the goal is unachievable?
Define the Legend’s fears
Creating a perfect Legend is cool at first, but can also be boring. Defining specific fears creates a character. Try to think of specific things the Legends is terrified and how the Legend tries to avoid it. Will the Legend slowly try to face that fear, or cower away at the first opportunity?
Connect with the world
Once some bits and pieces are ready to try to connect with the Storyteller’s world. The Storyteller already thought of stuff, maybe there are easy ties to be made so it becomes much easier to become involved in the story. Is the Legend living in a nearby town, a friend of certain townsmen or the lost princess that everyone is looking for?
A Legend should have strong relationships with people in the world. Most of the time a player creates these characters. These characters help to shape the Legend. Try to focus on at least 3 characters.
Be flexible to change
A Legend might be created and fixed to a certain point, but keep in mind that the story itself can change drastically. This will also influence the Legend. Be open to see how the different scenes might affect the Legend’s personality.
Put in into perspective
Do not make your Legend too powerful, or too weak… Either choice is boring, the first because there is no challenge to a god-like creature. If your Legend can make his enemies disappear at the snap of his fingers you will find nobody is interested to role-play with you. Story development requires conflict, and around your Legend that will last very short. Being too weak has similar disadvantages. If your Legend cannot affect anything around it there is nothing much to do. Check with the Storyteller what the level of the party will be and define a Legend that would fit that role.
Find attachment to the traveling party
A party consists of different Legends with different goals in the story. One the one hand this is a good thing, it allows for a diverse and interesting story. On the other hand, it can be troublesome because different goals can lead to splitting the party up. It is important that a Legend fits into the party and has a good reason to stay with the party. The Storyteller might already give you a reason to stick together such as when you and your party members are “The chosen ones”. In a more open world a party might meet due to a random encounter such as inside an inn, your Legend will need a reason to go with the party and give them a reason to accept you. To help you with making sure your Legend fits in, it is important to talk to the other players. Discuss what kind of role you which to fulfill and how you are planning to play your Legend. Tell your party about your Legend’s personality and appearance. You don’t have to tell your full backstory. Also, ask the other about their Legend and think of why your Legend would tag along with them, and how the Legend would make sure they could get along. Finally, try not to make your Legend too shut-in, a Legend with an overly complicated and sad background that doesn’t talk much is hard to connect with.
Pick a song
There are bound to be moments where your Legend really makes a mark on the story. These extraordinary moments can emphasize with a personal theme song. Look for a cool song that really fits your Legend. The storyteller can use these songs to make these moments even better.