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The Basics of Roleplaying: Backstories

  • January 7, 2017

    This is a repost of Argonian Fangirl's thread from June 22, 2013


    Hello fellow Roleplayers!

    Your friendly neighbourhood roleplay queen AFG here with the next part in our "Basics of Roleplaying" series. In this section we will be looking at your characters background and how it affects his/her interaction with other people along with a lot of other things.


    "So what did you do today AFG?"

    "Eh, not much, killed a dragon, massacred a few bandits. All in all, a pretty average and boring day!"

    Some of you may be wondering "Why do backstories matter? How will they affect our characters?" The simple answer is that if your character was brought up by Nords who were racist to Argonians for example, then your character will probably not try to help Argonians as much as s/he can. 

    The backstory of your character is one of the most important parts of your character, it creates the foundation with which you can work on to create:

    Strengths and Weaknesses: If your character was an Argonian miner, who had been down in the mines nearly his whole life and his boss was a cruel Nord who regularly beat his employees and, usually, did not pay them, the Argonian may have grown up to fear, Nords and mines. However, due to working his whole life he would probably be stronger than most and good in unarmed or hand-to-hand combat.


    The time in the mines apparently proved useful for this Argonian.

    Motivation: In your backstory, you may have had a relative who was killed by a bunch of vampires, or your town may have been invaded by vampires and destroyed the town and killed your family or took them captive, leaving you homeless and without friends or family. Your character could have heard of the Dawnguard and headed to Skyrim to try and get revenge. Your character could also be a scholar or a bard and headed to Skyrim to learn all he could about the civil war or the Dragon born (Note: You should probably not become the Dragonborn if you are trying to learn about the latter). You would usually add in your motivation to come to Skyrim in your backstory and usually it would be a very good reason, why would you come just to look around and having no clue what your character came for?

    Personality: Personality is one of the easiest things to portray in Skyrim, in my opinion. If you were playing a gruff, “son of Skyrim” Nord Stormcloak, you would never back down in a fight and would, more than likely, fight to the death instead of retreating. If you ever entered conversation with a person who was anti-Stormcloak you would try to pick all of the rudest lines to say to him, or better yet, walk away and never talk to him again, if you could help it. This would all stem from your backstory, in your backstory, he would probably have been brought up by Stormcloak and Ulfric supporters who were anti-Empire, and he would have a, natural, hatred for anything Empire.

    Appearance: Backtories can have a slight impact on your characters’ appearance, for example if you described your character as small and thin, then you would want to go for a smaller weight slider when making your character at the beginning of the game. If your character had a birthmark, or if your character was in a cult that gave you markings to signify you were in that cult then you could replicate it using war paint. Or, if your character had a very abusive father, then you might have scars from when you were a child. If your character had spent a lot of time outside during his lifetime then he would probably be tanned or if your character was a scholar who spent a lot of time in libraries or reading books then s/he would be paler.

    Now, some of you may be wondering, we understand how a backstory affects a character, but how do we make one? I usually start like this: Do I want my character to have come from a rich or poor family? If poor, where did s/he live? A slum in a city? Or was it on the street? If rich, did they live in a big mansion in the heart of the city? A cottage in the countryside away from prying eyes because they got rich, but not from legal methods?

    After you have decided that, I usually figure out family and friends. Was your father a skooma addict? An alcoholic? A politician? A miner? A farmer? Was he kind, generous, selfish, angry? Did he have a bad temper? Did he ever beat your character? I usually do this for mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and maybe even friends if your character has some.

    Well, that is that my Hatchlings. I hope you all have a better understanding of backstories now, the next part of this series will be up next week, courtesy of our friendly neighbourhood, Dragon!


    35 members likes this 

  • Member
    January 9, 2017

    Thanks for reposting this, Legion, it could be very useful for something ZonnoSpark has in store.