Review: The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide
Written By: James D’Amato
Simon And Schuster
I’m quite familiar with character creation. I’ve played games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, so coming up with a character is pretty easy. The part that isn’t quite so easy or entertaining is the backstory. Usually, you come from a town or a region and your alignment is set up and that’s about it. You could go and do a ridiculous amount of research into the hows and why but there’s now a very easy way to figure it all out: The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide by James D’Amato.
In what seemed like it would be a novelty item to your RPG adventure, the Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide comes off far more as a requirement for crafting your character. D’Amato does a podcast called One Shot and knows what he’s talking about. With this book, it really shows and there’s so many options for what your character is all about. Maybe there was someone who was special to your character that wound up out of your life. Did you come from a village or a large city? This and many many more exercises are within this book. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s so much detail and instruction provided for all of this.
There are other things, like Wed, Bed or Behead, where you pick where someone would fall within the 3 chosen categories. You can choose to talk about what drives your character on their own personal quest. Is status a thing that defines your character? You can flesh it out. Make sure to bring your dice because you’ll need them for this and in fun ways. One that stood out was called In The Eyes Of Mortals. My Pathfinder character has already helped save the city he resides in. How do people see him? When they look at me with suspicion, what do they actually see? Another, called Alive Only In Memory, helps create a place in your character’s history that doesn’t exist or isn’t a place to go anymore. The one called Red Flags, which talks about how an adventure starts and how weary you may be of it, was great. The book is full of these.
I absolutely enjoyed this. I tried to be a bit critical and think what this book lacked. There’s really not much. I do hope that if there’s a second edition of this that some fantasy artwork makes its way into a future volume. Sometimes, you go through the chapters of a fantasy book, you want to look at some trolls or a dragon, maybe a party of adventurers looking at a treasure chest. But, without that, The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide is still a really essential guide for crafting your player character to their fullest. For me, this gave me the opportunity to delve a bit deeper into my own character in some rather interesting ways that I never thought about. Highly recommended.