Black Seas of Infinity
Character Background and Concept
Character Background and Concept
I don’t expect you to write any kind of lengthy background story for your character. I would like you to thoroughly read the general background story that I wrote for the campaign, and think about it. Consider how this setting and these events have shaped your character. I wouldn’t normally be quite so heavy-handed with telling players where they came from, and particularly narrating their characters’ specific situation, feelings, and choices prior to the game. But I wanted this game to begin with a tightly-focused story, and for your characters to all come in with a very strong common background and shared motivations. I would like you all to feel invested into the campaign and your own roles in it, right from the beginning.
I’d like you to buy in to this story and the themes of the campaign. Dig into it, think about it, own it. Craft your own character concept and be creative, but base it on what I’ve provided as a foundation. I want the fluff of your races, classes, backgrounds, paragon paths, epic destinies, alignments, and the setting to matter in actual play, to be taken into account both by you as players, and myself as DM. I want to heavily reward roleplaying and in-character choices. But I’d like you to buy in, to accept that the setting and back-story I’ve come up with is where your character comes from, and affects who your character is.
The universe has been destroyed, leaving most of the old worlds and planes shattered into this inhospitable sea of chaos, the Wyrd. Only fragments remain, and a few scattered remnants of human life. You come from a tiny shard out near the edge of the Wyrd, a little piece of a formerly much larger world, a place you know only as the World. It’s a small place, a peaceful place, full of common folk with no great knowledge or power. Think about what it was like growing up on such a world. Read about the races in the setting and consider how your race fits into the World. If you’re the one unique soul of your kind here, think about how you came to be on the World, and what it’s like to be unlike everyone else.
Think about your early life. If you’re the sole Shardmind or Revenant in the campaign, then you’ll have a special background to think about, as you came here from elsewhere, and perhaps spent a very long time dormant or drifting through the Wyrd. Otherwise, you were born on the World and were part of one of the communities here. Who were your parents? Did you live among your own race, or elsewhere? What trade did you learn growing up? Did you travel around, or stay in one place? How were you different from the people around you, from your own relatives, from your own race? How were you the same? What did you want from your life, what were your goals, who did you want to be? Did you have friends, had you started your own family? Were you a loner, or a valued member of your society?
Think about how things began to change, and what that meant for your character. How did you react to the rumors of the Lady of the Wyrd? How did you feel about the stories and the implications of her coming? How did the strange and terrible changes in the people of the World affect you? You were shielded from the spreading madness, but everyone around you was not. Did you have loved ones who were warped by this, who became unrecognizable in their delusions, who turned against you? What did you lose when the World changed? What did you think about this Wyrd Lady, and her warnings? Were you afraid, or excited, determined to do something, or apathetic about it all?
Think about your first interactions with Avalokiteshvara. I want you to accept the things that the background story says as true for your character, about how she affected you, how she made you feel. Consider what that means to your character. She changed your life, she told you things about the universe and reality and history that you’d never heard before. She sought you out, told you that you were special. She was unlike anyone else in the World, anyone you’d ever known, inspiring and wise, amazing and powerful, comforting and exciting at once. How did you react to all of this? What did it mean to you? How did it change you?
Think about the years of training and learning, getting to know each other and Avala in her many forms. Becoming someone totally different, becoming unbelievably strong and knowledgeable, working hard and living with this new family. How did you change and grow during those years? What did you think about it all? Consider your origins, and how the person you once were interacted with this whole new life and the entirely new person you were turning into. Think about your first experiences with real power, learning to master your mind and body, to use real magic, to truly communicate with the primal spirits, to actually feel the lingering divine presence of Ioun. What was it like for you, given who you were and where you came from?
I want you to read and think about the story, and the fluff for your race and classes. Think about what it means to be from this place, to have had the relationship you’ve had with Avala, and what it means to be the race that you are, the classes that you are, to use the power sources that you do. Think about your character, and build a concept for him in your mind. More than just stats and powers, but a fictional person who is interesting and three-dimensional, who has motives and ideas of his own, who wants things and feels things, who comes from somewhere and is going somewhere.
Consider this, so that you can act on it in-game. This can be more than merely an exercise in rolling dice and adding up numbers. You can play the role of a character born from your own creativity, in an unfolding story of fantasy adventure. The things that happen in game can matter to your character, and to all of us as a group of players, more than just pieces being pushed around on a board, more than just winning and losing. This is Dungeons and Dragons, not a board game, not a computer game. Let’s take advantage of the imaginative elements of this type of game!
This is our story, our game. I’ve just set the stage for you. Now its your turn to create.
I don’t need you to write a bunch of stuff for me. No one has to write any big stories or anything. You certainly can, and you will be rewarded for it, but I’m not asking for anything like that.
I would like the answers to a few questions, though. One sentence should suffice, or perhaps two. A short paragraph, at the most. Although you can write more, as much as you like. As will be the case with any sort of creative input you make to the game, the more extra effort you put in, the more you’ll be rewarded. But I’m only asking for brief answers from you. All of these questions are directed at your character, of course. “You” in these questions means your character, not you as a player. You don’t need to answer them “in-character”, you can just answer them about your character. (Feel free to include any out-of-character interests, motivations, or information relevant to the game as well, though, if you want to.)
1. How old are you?
Avala and the growing mental corruption came to the World around ten years ago, so think about how old you’d have been at that time. Were you just a child ten years ago, or had you already grown up? (Or perhaps you were still a lost spirit floating through the Wyrd, or a fragment of the Living Gate sleeping in the side of a mountain until recently, depending on your race.)
2. Where did you grow up?
A larger village, a smaller one, a tiny tribe in the mountains, the Elven forest enclave, the Githzerai monastery? Did you live among a certain race, your own or another? Were you raised by your own parents, or others?
3. What did you do before you met Avala?
You must have had some trade or craft or hobbies in your younger days, before the World changed. What was your vocation, or were you merely a wandering vagabond? Did you practice strange pursuits, or did you follow a common path? Did you explore your little World, or were you content to stay at home? What were you known for, what was your life about, before everything changed?
4. Who was important to you before you met Avala?
Who raised you, who were you close to? Did you have a best friend, a lover, a spouse, your own children, close siblings or other relatives, mentors, people who taught you your profession, people you looked up to? Or were you more of a loner? Did you lose anyone really important to you? Or did you never really have anyone that mattered to you, before Avala came and befriended you, and took you to her encampment to meet the others? Do you care about anyone from your past still, or have you moved on?
5. What is your true desire?
What do you want? Do you have goals, do you have a mission, a quest, a dream? What did you want before things changed, and what do you want now? How has it changed? How is it the same? Who do you want to be, and what do you want to see accomplished? Perhaps you have just one great, overriding wish, or maybe you have many desires. What drives you?
6. What is your secret?
There is something about you that no one knows. Perhaps you know it, and have not shared it. Or perhaps even you aren’t aware of it. This can be anything, but it should be something meaningful and important. Something that the discovery of would alter others’ perception of you, or your perception of yourself, or both. Be creative. It can be a big secret, or a fairly small one, something horrible or something wonderful. The key is that it’s a secret, and that’s either because you don’t know it, or you do and you have a reason you’ve chosen to hide it from everyone.
7. What is your question?
You could have many questions, but what is something that you want to know, but haven’t been able to find the answer for yet? Something that you’re curious about, or something that you really seek to discover or understand. Perhaps this is something that Avala could not tell you, or would not, or for some reason you chose not to ask her. Your studies and your inquiries have not managed to answer this question for you, and you’re still wondering about it. It can be of driving importance to you, or a somewhat trivial fancy. Feel free to choose more than one, but try to come up with at least one. Again, be creative.
8. What is your fear?
It can be something tangible, or intangible. But there is something that you fear, deep down. Perhaps you’re well aware of it, and freely admit it. Perhaps you keep it suppressed, don’t even realize it, or deny it. Maybe it’s a mild nervousness, or maybe it’s an outright terror. It can be a circumstance, or a concept, a type of loss, a future fate, a physical thing, or a lack of something. Whatever you can think of. Of course, there could be more than one, if you wish.
9. What is your inspiration?
Where do you draw your inner strength from? Is it your heritage, your upbringing, the memory of loved ones, your connection to nature, your devotion to your deity, the fellowship of your comrades-in-arms, Avalokiteshvara herself, stories of old, a personal code of honor, a burning hatred or love, or something else entirely? What gives you courage, what fires you up, what makes you feel like you can take on anything, what rouses you to great deeds, what impels you toward your heroic destiny?
10. What else do I need to know about you?
Tell me one more important thing about yourself that isn’t already covered by one of these questions. Some facet of your personality, some general theme or concept that describes you, some important event or relationship or possession or quirk. Something else that says, “This is who I am, this is what matters to me or what I’m about” that hasn’t already been answered. Some detail of your persona that perhaps doesn’t quite fit into the previous categories. Expand on this as much as you want, I’m very interested in what you’ve come up with.