Impractical Applications (The Backstory of Ormand and Lamora)

The last cross-backstorying I did was last week, for a three-person D&D game: the GM, my boyfriend, and me. We’d planned on playing characters who knew each other anyway, and then, two weeks before game started, the GM made a point of telling us how we’d be rewarded for good backstory.

Things to note on this: Neither of us was playing to strengths in this case. I’m pretty good with backstory, but usually I need to play a bit in a setting before I can write an in-depth backstory in it. My boyfriend works better once he’s had the character for a while; he usually writes about as much as the game mechanics and the GM will accept as the minimum, so this brought him a bit out of his usual patterns.

We started, of course, with the character dynamic. Since he’d been interested in something roguish, and I’d wanted to try playing a beguiler, we went for a mismatched pair of con artists, both emphasizing the social ends of our builds. Already friends, with a hint of playful rivalry, so we could go straight to messing with everyone else’s heads rather than a grace period messing with each other’s.

Given what we were, and that we were in a City of Powerful People Who Hate Changes To The Status Quo (I get the impression the GM has had klepto-rogue issues), I figured we might need a little bit of a safety net, and an IC reason to stay on the straight and narrow (and maybe a justification for where we’re picking up all our more esoteric skills). So I suggested we were brought together and trained by a quasi-retired spymaster.

Decent summary. Probably not enough for the prize, though. Our sponsor had to have found us somehow, and it would have helped if we’d been doing something that would demonstrate our potential and loose ethics—but not that would’ve gotten us in too much trouble. Something that wouldn’t leave us too resentful of each other. Somehow, what we ended up with was a prank war.

At that point, there were two sets of things we probably didn’t need to detail out, but did anyway. The first was our sponsor, Lady Astrid—I couldn’t see her as fully retired, as most of the local powerful people were, so we declared she was instead a spymaster in temporary retirement while she outlived one of her detractors. And not officially a spymaster, the reputation could be awkward, so—court astrologer, using her readings of the stars to justify setting courses that would otherwise have invited questions about what she knew when.

And the specific pranks? Those were mostly because it was funny to do so. I figured it’d started with my boyfriend’s character Ormand, since my Lamora would’ve gone straight into town playing innocent little gnome in the big city (a favored tactic for her), so he suggested that the first prank had been giving her directions to an upscale brothel when she asked where the inn was. Retaliation grew to include altering the plans for a recently commissioned tapestry to include carefully hidden insults to each other in obscure languages (both of them—and it being Astrid’s tapestry explained how she’d found them) and Lamora talking the city’s population of squirrels into stalking Ormand in exchange for nuts later.

Either way, we had fun.

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