Port of Entry – Character Backstory Quickstart

Who Is Your Character?

Close up of a compass on a worn map

Last time on Dragonball Z Port of Entry, we reviewed Session 0. While our session 0 outlines a lot of social and safety tools, we also love to cover character creation, or the building of the character you are going to role play throughout your session or campaign. To a seasoned role player, the sight of an empty character sheet can feel like wide open fields of endless possibilities. You may have even heard tales of some players sacrificing their characters just so they can have the thrill of character creation all over again! But I remember my first time looking over this white sheet of empty boxes, and I felt anything but excited! I was told I could be a bird (or more accurately, a druid) and now I had to do math? Fortunately, I had some excellent people around me to help explain what all of the modifiers did and the support to roll my stats, but that did leave the question of, who is this character beyond the numbers? 

In truth, my first character River the halfling Druid never did have her backstory fully realized. Unsure of how to give her something that was as wonderful as I wanted, I gave her a hermit background and just hoped no one would ask any questions. 

In that spirit, I have put together some sample backgrounds for you to choose from and tailor to your own needs! These ideas are written with the Dungeons and Dragons 5e Player’s Handbook in mind, but can be cultivated to fit other TTRPG settings. For those newer to Dungeons and Dragons, the Player’s Handbook is typically shortened to PHB.

Backgrounds

The official materials from Wizards of the Coast offer small explanations of how your background may affect your character in regards to how this would add mechanics. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything offers even more options for how to customize your background. These options can be helpful, but I wish I had something I could’ve just pulled from. Below are some sample backgrounds that you can use. I kept these to the backgrounds offered in the Player’s Handbook for ease of use. 

Acolyte – Page 127 of the PHB 

Your mother was a traveling preacher, bringing the word of the gods throughout the realms. You were able to see the power of the church first hand. 

Entertainer – Page 130 of the PHB

You have always been musically inclined and have found it has helped you navigate the social scene. You’ve played for schools, taverns, and nobles. Always the life of the party! 

Sailor – Page 139 of the PHB

Born on a ship to merchant parents, you’ve always felt a call to the sea. From learning to walk on the decks of the ship to learning to swim with sea creatures, you’ve wondered if your connection to the water is something more. 

Sage – Page 127 of the PHB 

Born in the outskirts of the city, money was hard to come by. You found refuge in the town library, where you could escape into other worlds.

Call to Action

A Call to Action is why your adventurer is adventuring! Happy, well adjusted people don’t often leave the comforts of home without reason! Below are some options for a call to action that may help you get into the headspace of your character. 

Hero

You’ve always been just a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger than the others in your village. When some bandits came to take what was not theirs, you stood up for what was right. 

Survivors Guilt

As the last one left in your village, you have vowed to avenge your loved ones. 

Spirit of the Quest

You feel those around you are accepting of the status quo. While life is happy, you feel there are better answers out there that could help your loved ones live more comfortably.

Searching for Love

Your love was called to visit the capital and hasn’t returned. You feel compelled to investigate.

Pirate ship on the shore

Like a bardic writing instructor, I hope you are able to pull from some of these ideas to create a first character you are really happy with! If nothing else, look to your favorite video games, tv shows and books for ideas. You can be anything you wish in the worlds of magic and dragons! Adventure is calling. How will you answer?

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