Part 1: The Mechanics
A D&D character has three main things: Race, Class, and Background. You will need to pick one of each of these things. Because this is a story focused campaign, you might start with those things and move on to the items below, or start with the background lore and decide your Race/Class/Background based on that information.
Racial statistics are available in the Player’s Handbook or here.
For background information about how each race fits in to the world of Gloriana (and specifically the Marchen Woods), click Here.
A summary is in progress. Refer to the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook for now.
This is important not only for your statistics but also for your character’s backstory! Choose carefully. Background information is available in the Player’s Handbook or here
Part 2: Story
Now, come up with your character’s personal backstory. In the world of Gloriana, who you are, where you are from, what you want—all of these are as if not important than how good you are at hitting things with a pointy stick. Consider the following questions:
You should come up with a High Concept and a Trouble for your character. High Concept is something like “Simple farmer wandering the land looking for a new life,” “Sellsword who has seen too much,” “Mysterious witch with a terrible burden,” “Missionary from afar who got in over his head” and so forth. Your trouble is something that haunts or burdens you, the central source of conflict in your life. It could be a curse, an enemy, a difficult quest or mission, a personal flaw that gets you into trouble, etc.
First, nail down where your character came from. Figure out information about your family history, upbringing, place of origin, etc. This is the earliest stage of backstory development.
- Where is your character from? What region and culture?
- What were your family’s circumstances like? (Rich? Poor? Educated? Isolated? Pious? Political?) How big is the family? (Small? Average? Large? Very large?) What was your character’s relationship with their family like growing up? (Loving and close? Volatile? Non-existent?)
- How was your character educated? (Apprenticeship to a blacksmith? Formal education in an academy far from the Marchen Woods? Chained in a dungeon with no human contact for years?)
- What were your character’s friends like? Did your character get into much trouble in their youth?
- Has your character had any encounters with the supernatural? If so, when did it occur? Did it cause any long lasting problems?
Rising Conflict (what shaped you?)
In order to have a story you must have some sort of conflict. This is where your character’s life took a turn, one that eventually led you to an adventurer’s life. Given the dark tone of the Marchen Woods, it is likely that this involves tragedy or some sort of imminent doom. It may be a point where circumstances changed your life forever, or your character made an extremely important decision with long lasting consequences.
- Who were the prominent people in your character’s life at this point? Do you have enemies from these days? Close and fast friends?
- How did your High Concept and Trouble shape you and the events around you?
- What were the most significant choices your character made?
- What lessons did this time period teach your character?
Your Story Begins
Perhaps you have already left home, perhaps the Marchen Woods are your home, but for some reason or another your character has been driven forth to tangle with the perils and darkness of the world of Gloriana. In this phase, you will write a brief blurb that describes the first story your character participated in. It may help to come up with a title for this adventure, as if it was your character’s first novel or short story. Then, think of and write down the basic details for the phase’s summary. The story doesn’t have to have a lot of detail—in fact, a pair of sentences works just fine. Your fellow adventurers will be adding in their own details to your story as well.
If you are having trouble with this, look to your character’s trouble. Find a dillemna that involves your character wrestling with that primary source of struggle. You can also use the “story skeleton”, which goes like so:
When [Something happens], [your protagonist] [pursues a goal]. But will [your protagonist] succeed when [antagonist provides opposition]?
Now for the fun part. Once everyone has reached this stage, we will trade around. The DM will put everyone’s name in a hat and draw them out. Your character will then guest star in another character’s first story.