4 Things to Remember: Building your DnD Character and Backstory

I have browsed the services offered in the Dungeons and Dragons community a number of times, because I cannot get past one thing: the number of people who do not want to build their own characters. Seriously, people are earning decent money offering to write a character’s backstory. Now, I have nothing against farming out labor, how else would my feudal kings build up such wealth, but building a character and backstory is one of the fundamental joys of playing RPGs. You get to customize this fictitious person to be exactly what you want, and then you get to inhabit them while you play. Creating a character should be fun, so while it might seem complicated right now, here are four tips that will help you craft the perfect character and have fun while you do it.

Remember the limits

There are literally no limits. Unless your DM has given explicit guidelines regarding character creation (which is often a red flag) then you can do whatever you want. From the perfect stereotype to a dwarf living in a troll’s stomach, if you can think it you can try playing it.

Don't stress the specifics

All you need to play the game are stats. It can be overwhelming thinking up a backstory, especially if the people you play with enjoy heavy lore, but that does not mean that you are required to create a family tree dating back to the Cuha Dynasty and the following crusades. If you’re still figuring things out, that’s okay, sometimes you have to play a little to find the niche that your character inhabits. You can be surly and quiet, or are still learning common, or a pathological liar. All of these allow you to change your character’s personality as you play.

Check your three top stats

This applies both to if you are trying to create a strong character and a good backstory. They should be interwoven. If you want to compete in combat with the best of them, your best stats need to be in the appropriate slots. When you’re writing your backstory, those top three stats are probably something your character took some time developing so ask these questions: what did they do to get so (strong, dexterous, smart, charismatic etc.)? Why were they driven to get so (strong, dexterous, smart, charismatic etc.)? How would they use those strengths? By answering those three questions, no matter what the answers are, you’ll be able to consistently play that character.

Equipment

Once again, this can apply to a min/max build or just for beginning with backstory. Your character’s equipment matters to them a lot. This stuff has seen them through adventures and they balance their survival on the tip of that wand, the edge of that knife. If you plan on multiclassing or picking a specific subclass, picking the right equipment is important, so take an extra look down the road before setting on anything. If you’re just trying to think up backstory, tie it to a piece of equipment. A quick story about saving the family sword or where the burn on your leather armor came from fleshes out how your character acted in the past, which informs how you can use them in the future.


There is obviously a lot that goes into building a character, they are after all a whole person. But that’s not an excuse for missing out on the fun of creating the role you are about to inhabit. One-shot or 20 level campaign, your character will directly dictate your enjoyment of the game. If building a character isn’t any fun for you we understand, playing can sometimes just be more fun than building, but give it a try at some point. Sit down with your party and do it together, or simply picture everything you might be able to achieve with this character. In our experience, the more fun you have building a character, the more fun you have playing them.

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