marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

backstory, RPG vs. novel, again

A novelist choose backstory for the story, not for the mechanical advantages in the game system.

Which means the degree that they conflict with the character will determine how much they drive the plot.

Picking a harmoniously simple background for a character -- the wizard whose parents were wizards, the cleric whose devotion led to dedication -- makes that background fade into the background. Which, obviously, is often the right thing. Having all the characters with quirky and attention getting background makes the story garish.

Picking a conflicting background is an aid in deepening the character. Having a character harmonize two apparent contradictions makes for round characters, even something so simple as having a character be lazy and industrious at different times.

A background that doesn't fit has a whole range. If a rogue has a background as an noble, it can go from the simplest -- a decadent set of nobles where it's regarded as suitable -- through adolescent rebellion, up to mastering it for purposes of opening ancient treasure chests after the keys had been lost through folly. All of which would have plot consequences.
Tags: backstory, characterization, role-playing games, the dm vs the writer

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