Creating a character that is believable, fully fleshed-out, and multi-dimensional can be a great foundation to base your roleplaying on and to give you guidelines for acting out your character’s decisions and behavior. HOWEVER, there are several things to keep in mind.
For example, writing a history that involves politics, scheming and intrigue tells us you want that kind of plot aimed at your character. Similarly, writing a history filled with war, fighting and physical conflict tells us a lot about what you want us to send your way.
Likewise, writing secrets into your back story is a Big Red Flag
to Staff that says "I am okay with this secret coming into game." We may choose the time and manner of it, but writing a big, juicy secret into your backstory is giving the Plot Team fodder to build exciting adventures from.
- Your character's history is your way as a player of informing Staff what kind of stories you want us to send your Hero's way and what kind of secrets she might have that will eventually come to light. It's your way of helping us craft your Brittanis experience.
- Your character history is THE way to earn Background skills for our character. Your character History must tell Staff WHY you have picked the Background(s) that you have and HOW you earned the skills. for example, if you choose the Renegade Mage Background, details of how your character actually *became* a Renegade Mage must be included in the History.
WRITING A CHARACTER HISTORY
Your character should be a Google Document, MAXIMUM of two pages
, single-spaced, 12 point font. NO HARD COPIES WILL BE ACCEPTED
Make sure the document is Shared (blue button in the top-right corner) with email@example.com
When you submit a character history, expect the plot team to read and respond within 30 days and offer some suggestions and/or revisions. These revisions will likely bring the character history more closely into the story that we are building, and give you greater opportunities for adventure. Be flexible with your ideas and the plot team will work with you to finalize your history. Once it is finalized (the plot team will send you an email message saying, “This character history is finalized and cannot be changed.”) The Backgrounds and Background skills will then be added to your character sheet.
BAD Character Histories...
(don't do these things...)
- DON’T fall into the standard clichés of fantasy character histories. Making your character an orphan because his village was destroyed by monsters and now you have sworn vengeance? Left on a monastery step? Long-lost bastard child of a frisky noble? LAAAAAME. Use your imagination and come up with something better.
- DON’T name your character after (or even close to) a character from another fantasy genre or series. No Rand Al’Thor, Belgarion, Elric, Drizzt, etc. And don’t just change the spelling or pronounciation a tiny bit and think nobody will notice (Fegolas and Drimli, I’m looking at you). That’s just as lame. Appendix A has a HUGE number of appropriate names for every race and culture. You should be able to find something that fits the themes of Brittanis and your imagination in there.
- DON’T build heroic deeds and accomplishments into your character history. Your character is just starting his career, like Arthur before he pulled the sword from the stone or Lancelot before his first tournament. It’s far more rewarding for you to actually play your character’s deeds and successes. Also, that kind of self-centeredness will likely get you laughed at.
- DON’T include magic items, powers or abilities that are not included on your character sheet. It’s a good idea once you’ve finished your entire character creation process to go back and check what you wrote against what is actually on your sheet, and make sure the two make sense. Explaining how your character came to be good with a sword is okay; explaining how your family heirloom is Deathwrencher, a weapon that kills anything it touches will get you laughed at. The ONLY exception to this is if you want to pay the Character Points to come into game with a Signature Item—see that section of the rules for details. But even then,make sure the abilities you purchase and the abilities in the history make sense.
- DON’T give your character ties to nobility, royalty, or someone famous UNLESS YOU START WITH AN APPROPRIATE Background or the Blooded Class. If you want to play a character of noble birth from the very beginning, the way to do that is purchase the right in-character abilities OR ACHIEVE IT IN GAME. Built into those rules are very easy ways for a real highborn character to detect if you are a fraud. If you do not have skills from that header, YOU ARE A FRAUD. And also, lame.
- DON’T lock up your character history so Plot has nothing to work with. If in your character history, you tell Plot that everyone you ever knew is dead, you have no friends, no enemies, and care about nothing, you just wasted the time it took you to type those sentences, because it gives plot nothing to work with. BORING. Your character will have significantly less fun and less character-specific hooks if you tie up all the issues and plot threads in your character’s past. Leave the Staff something to use, and you might just see NPCs that YOU created wandering into town.
GOOD Character Histories
(do these things!!)
- DO build your character into the story of Brittanis. The world has a rich history and lots of details on races, countries, peoples, and conflicts. The last 100 years have changed the face of Brittanis forever, and its people are struggling to survive against the growing Darkness. Build your character into that story rather than “doing your own thing” and you’ll find plot FAR more likely to build opportunities for adventure that mesh with your character history. Use the nations, peoples, and conflicts of the world in your own story. Get mixed up in the politics, struggles, and heroics of the age. Read some Arthurian myths and stories and use those ideas as springboards for your own character’s tale.
- DO keep a copy of your finalized character history with you at all times, and re-read it before EVERY event. Staff really hates it when they build a character-specific plot and the player it’s intended for misses out because they forgot the names on their own character history. If this happens, don’t expect plot to build anything specifically for you again.
- DO create a character that “plays well with others.” Putting this bluntly—“lone wolf” characters and the ones who skulk around the fringes watching everybody else—end up having no fun because they aren’t involved and watch everybody else have fun. Build a character who has living relatives—even if they don’t get along or want you dead--- and friends, or enemies (not DOOMBRINGER, Dark Lord of DOOOOOOOM enemies… think more like “the Sherriff in the next Barony over who bought the betrothal to my fiancee” kinda stuff) and build a character who can and will work with others to achieve her goals. Plot has little to no reason to build a story or adventure that only one character will ever know about or experience—our time is far better used in stories that groups of characters will get to play. So if your character is always all off on her own because she is a dark, misunderstood wanderer who wanders on her own, wandering the night in search of lonely adventure… you should reconsider those choices, because you aren’t going to be having nearly as much fun as everyone else. HELP STAFF HELP YOU HAVE FUN.
- DO include other PCs in your history—but get written permission first. Having PCs who are related by blood, or faith, or friendship is a GREAT idea, and helps bind groups of characters together for plot purposes—we as staff are all for it. The Arthurian stories are chock FULL of family, brothers, sisters, knightly orders (Queen's Knights, Round Table, Grail Quest, etc). However, using somebody else’s character without their permission is really bad etiquette. Staff must have written permission (email is okay) from the player or players in question before allowing any connection from your character to theirs. Just have the player you wish to include send firstname.lastname@example.org an email at the same time you send in your PC History, letting us know it's okay by them.
- DO include lots of NPCs in your history—and name them! By putting other characters into your PCs history you do three things: 1) You give the Plot team ideas for adventures and plotlines that will likely include your character; 2) You take some of the burden off Staff by giving them pre-made characters (we love that!) and 3) You make the game world richer and more realistic by not making us make everything up. All of these things make the game—and your experience as a player—better.
- DO include PRONUNCIATION GUIDES and follow naming conventions for all characters in your history. Appendix A has boatloads of appropriate names that you can use as-is or make your own with a little twist, but make sure the Plot team will know how to SAY those names, otherwise you might miss a plot specifically aimed at you because the NPC is saying their name differently than you hear it in your head.
- DO include the last time you saw a particular NPC in your history, whether they are alive or dead (alive is always better), and if you know their current whereabouts. It’s very frustrating for Plot to come up with an adventure only to discover that the NPC we built the adventure around has been dead for 10 years! The more specific you can be in terms of these details, the less “oops!” moments will occur.
- DO include goals for your character. These don’t have to be huge, epic, world-changing goals. In fact, it's better if they aren't. Folk in Brittanis just don't think that way-- they'r far more concerned with who is at war with whom than epic, celestial goings-on. They might be simple things like “master every weapon” or “learn every fire-based spell” or “acquire a relic of St. Sansum”, but if you include those goals in your character history, that gives the plot team a lot of things to build adventures and plotlines from.
If you follow these guidelines, have some patience and some flexibility when dealing with Plot in regards to your Character History, you'll be set up for success in Brittanis and for a whole lot of fun!