An Example of a Dungeons and Dragons’ Character Backstory

The first time I played a one-shot campaign (a campaign that only lasts one session) I made a human fighter named Chad who has amnesia, so I didn’t have to bother thinking about it. Unfortunately, that probably won’t slide with your Dungeon Master and bot having a backstory to help build your character's personality gets very boring very fast. I am not going to tell you how to write a back story for your freshly made DnD character because everyone is different. Instead, I am going to highlight some things you should think about while building your character and give you an example of one of my backstories. 

 

First, some things to think about:

1.Race

What is the race of your character? The Player’s Handbook and resources like D&D beyond have some really good information on how all the different races live. Take these things into consideration as you are developing your backstory. Your Orc or Goblin is not going to have lived a luxurious life, but your Elf might.

2. Class

Your class will tell you how your character was trained. Are they a magic user, a fighter, or somewhere in between? Are they a cleric who was raised by a church? How did they become this class? What did they do to get to where they are now?

3. General Background

Going beyond class, what kind of person was your character? Are they a hermit or a merchant? Are they a hero in the town that they live? Are they a criminal? Asking these questions will also help you figure out their alignment and how they should make decisions in game.  

 

Here are two examples of backstories I have written. I used this character in two different campaigns, so I had to tweak things to make them work for the world she was in, but she is the same character for both.

 

World 1:

Eadha "Aspen" Stirling, of Stirlingshire, Scotland was born the year everything changed. Before that day, the Stirlings were smiths and tinkers and artisans. They worked hard with their hands and were very good at it. The Stirling's pagan ways had been passed down for generations, but they didn't realize why. Not only did they discover their family had changeling blood in them, but they also were the worshippers of the ancient fae. As the fae returned, the Stirling resumed their work for Oberon's court. Puck, Oberon's trickster son, became found of Aspen and choose them as his personal project. He taught them their mischievous ways. He enlisted them for his amusement or whenever he needed something stolen or fixed. Aspen was slyer and was better at tricks and tinkering than anything else, which was just what Puck liked them. Their connection with Puck made it hard to have connections. So, they often found themselves playing alone, unless their cousin, Hawthorne, had come to visit.  Hawthorne lived in America with Aspen's father's brother Mace and their American Aunt Lily. Uncle Mace had enlisted in the Illuminati on the behalf of Oberon's court and had devoted himself to the cause. But when they came to visit for the holidays, Aspen and Hawthorn were inseparable. They played for hours and tormented the clan with their mischief and entertaining Puck.  As they grew up, Aspen became more involved with Puck and Hawthorne visited less. When Mace died, Hawthorn joined the cause to seek closure for the death of their parent. Hawthorn sent letters as often as she could, but one day they stopped coming until... Hawthorn, Callsign: Scarab, was a War Mage in service to the Illuminati. As a Changeling, they were invaluable as an informant and infiltrator and was notorious for changing disguises on the battlefield to wreak havoc behind enemy lines. During the Battle of Red Sands outside of El Paso, Hawthorn survived the spell that created the Divide and went in search of a 'valued ally of the Illuminati' who was dubbed 'Overlord.' She eventually found an old man who used the moniker Mr. Wednesday. Though he agreed to lend a hand, Hawthorn found him highly suspect and noted that in both their official report and a missive to their cousin, Aspen. Days later, Hawthorn turned up dead in an alleged Inquisition bombing of Mage-Friendly businesses. The news traveled to Hawthorn's family in Scotland, but with it came a note for Aspen.  "Aspen, If you're reading this, I'm dead and have failed. Wednesday claims to be a man of little consequence, someone who simply has many ties and contacts. But I believed there's more to his story, so I went in search of this. In reading this, you should know I failed to find whatever I was searching for in time and was likely killed by Wednesday. He is a man if you can call him that, of many secrets and I doubt he would place my life above his privacy. I do not ask for vengeance. Only that you rise where I fell. Find Wednesday in the Divide, make his acquaintance, gain his trust. And when you find out who he is, run. Tell everyone. I'm sorry to place this burden on you but I can only trust you, Aspen. Good luck, and may the Fey guide your path." After receiving the news, they went to the only person they could think of: Puck. Though their relationship was complicated, they knew he cared for them. They explained what had happened and what their cousin had asked them to do. Puck took pity on them and granted them permission to uphold their cousin's last wishes. He also granted them magic, for he worried they would need more than their changeling abilities to complete their mission. Stealing a tome from Titania’s collection, he gifts it to Aspen creating a new pact.  From there, Aspen followed the trail Wednesday had left as a way to recruit. After finding him and offering up their service, Wednesday decided to test their fighting skills. They find themselves at the arena where they meet the rest of the party. 

 

World 2:

Eadha "Aspen" Stirling, of Stirlingshire, was born into a family devoted to Oberon and his court. They used their changeling abilities and power of deception to do the court's bidding. Puck, Oberon's trickster son, became found of Aspen and choose them as his personal project. He taught them their mischievous ways. He enlisted them for his amusement or whenever he needed something stolen or fixed. Aspen was slier and was better at tricks and tinkering than anything else. Which was just what Puck liked about them. Their connection with Puck made it hard to have connections with other people. The other changelings envied their close connection to the Court and their personal bond with Puck. So, they often found themselves playing alone, unless their cousin, Hawthorne, was home.  Aspen lived in a grove with rolling hills and their village was very small. Their Uncle was the tradesman of the town and traveled often with his family in tow. But when Hawthorn was home, they were inseparable. They played for hours or tormented the clan with their mischief or entertained Puck.  As they grew up, Aspen became more involved with Puck and Hawthorn took over their father's job. Though they barely saw each other they always wrote letters back and forth. One summer, Hawthorn went to trade with a neighboring village, the trip normally took four days both ways. After two weeks of Hawthorn being missing and no letters, Aspen couldn't handle it any longer.  Aspen new of only one person to go to, Puck. Though their relationship was complicated, they knew he cared for them. They explained what had happened and what they felt they must do for their cousin. Puck took pity on them and granted them permission to leave the village and their duties. He also granted them magic for he worried they would need more than their changeling abilities in the journey to come. Stealing a tome from Titania’s collection, he gifts it to Aspen creating a new pact.   

One thing that you may notice right away is that I use they/them pronouns. It is stated in the 5e player handbook that Changelings are genderfluid because of their ability to shapeshift. Make sure you look out for things like that to help you build an interesting and personal character. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also helps take your DnD experience to the next level.