Posts belonging to Category Backstory

Characterization Experiment: Counterfactuals

Many characters are in some way products of their circumstances. Sometimes it was a long-running thing, being brought a certain way by their families or their culture, or adapting to an aspect of their surroundings. Other times it was one or more incidents—sometimes traumatic, sometimes not—that pushed them in [...]

Character Relationships: An Alliance of Rivals

After all of yesterday’s reasons why parents and adults with distance are often portrayed as rivals, you’d expect them to be like oil and water, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way; in fact, there are plenty of ways in which the parent and the adult with distance [...]

Parent and Adult With Distance: Rivalry

Yesterday, I introduced the adult with distance, a character who often mirrors and complements the parent’s role in a character’s relationships. But the world’s more complex than just connections to a specific character, so I’m going to look at a different issue; how the parent and the adult with [...]

Character Relationships: The Adult With Distance

Yesterday, I started talking about parents and their potential impacts on characters and their development. Today I’m going to stay in that vein but take a slightly different tone, as I move on to the next step outward in a developmental relationship: the adult with distance.
At heart, the adult with [...]

How Parents Can Shape Characters

Yesterday, I started riffing on the importance of knowing how characters were shaped through their interactions with other people. Today I’m going to start with the obvious movers and shapers: the parents.
Now, before I get into the details, a point of definition: for the purpose of this article, I am [...]

No Character Is an Island

Way back in February, I ranted against characters who have no roots to speak of: the ones who didn’t seem in any way to have been shaped by other people. I’d originally been going to start on this series then, but I got a little distracted explaining why characters with [...]

When Is It Too Late To Change History?

This one comes from a discussion I had with my coworkers this evening, in which we finalized the history of an important place in one of our campaign paths.
One of the biggest problems with this, as we soon found out, is that we already had material written for one adventure that might conflict with, or [...]

The Return of the Tabula Rasa Character

Yesterday, I expressed objections to an idea: that the tabula rasa character, the one without preexisting social connections, is likelier to form relationships in a story or game than someone that already has a few such connections. Yesterday’s post was directly responding to the comment that set it off, detailing my disagreement with the comments [...]

Tabula Rasa Character: Does It Fit the Hype?

Yesterday, I remarked on the lack of connections many characters, both in fiction and in games, seemed to have within their worlds. One response in particular caught my eye: Brickwall, presenting the tabula rasa, or blank slate, character as one of the reasons why people wouldn’t start with pre-existing relationships. As he puts it, “Who [...]

Where Have All the Communities Gone?

There’s something that’s always confused me about a lot of fantasy characters, and even more of the RPG characters I’ve run into. See, I’ve learned from personal experience that very few people actually like operating completely alone, and most would choose not to.

Image courtesy of DAVIDKNOX on stock.xchng
So why are there so many lone wolves [...]