People often focus their attention on getting the perfect set of weapons or just the right outfit for a character they plan to play in a LARP, but all too often, they neglect the character’s background. Backgrounds are essential for character creation, as they provide a springboard to players and staff alike, and may help to dictate how the character may react to a scenario.

Backstories don’t need to be several pages long, or come in any particular format. Rather, they need to simply express what your character’s life has been like until now, and why the character is doing what they’re doing now. This way, you can have a solid foundation for information you can refer to when someone asks your character about what town they’re from or if they have any brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, the plot staff of whatever LARP you’re playing will be able to utilize your character’s information to write plot to include you in their stories.

Again, backgrounds don’t need to be massive or complex. In fact, they can be quite simple! Information to include consists of…

  • Character’s family life and relationships with immediate family.
  • General summary of character’s upbringing and life until now.
  • A reason for adventuring or otherwise doing what they’re doing now.

There are a few ways of going about writing a backstory though. Some people frame the information as a series of journal entries, some make bulleted lists, and others write the information as a brief story ranging from a few sentences to a few pages in length. There’s no truly wrong way of doing it, so long as the information is conveyed.

For example:
“Roche was born the only child of a lesser lord. Being traditional in nature, her parents raised her in an overprotective environment and dissuaded her from taking on ‘unladylike’ interests. Thanks to her parents’ wealth, she grew accustomed to a posh lifestyle, and was eventually put through school at the prominent Mages’ College. Now nearing the end of her studies, the curriculum requires her to research and report on practical applications of magic. Without much of a choice for alternative means, Roche now reluctantly adventures to gather information for her research.”

This backstory covers the bases effectively–It nods toward her lifestyle and personality, expresses a bit of a hint toward her relationship with her immediate family, and provides information on why she’s adventuring. However, it’s often viewed as a cliché to be noted as having wealth or title (among many others) as a beginning character. Roche’s player avoided this by expressing that her parents are the ones with wealth, and that the only connection to true wealth she may have, is that it put her through her basic mage training to get her on her feet and where she is now.

So how is a backstory relevant to Living In-Character? Quite simply, without a backstory, your character won’t appear to be a real, believable person. Having a detailed backstory will allow you to represent your character as though they were a real person, it’ll provide a solid foundation for role-playing with others, and it will help the LARPwrites further build on the world your character lives in!

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