About Backgrounds

[This is an edited reply I recently wrote to a submitted background. I'm posting it because I thought it summed up a few things pretty well. Consider this before you submit one yourself, new folk. --Daed]

...First, about the second point: what I meant was that there are two kinds of character end- or life-goals that I see commonly in backgrounds: 1) ones reasonable to an open-ended game like a MUD, and 2) ones too specific to be reasonable.

The first would be something like 'Bob saw a powerful mage once, and decided that they wanted to be the same thing one day', or 'Bob grew up with stories about great warriors, and has a burning desire to be one, too', or 'Bob grew up poor, and swore to collect wealth any way he could, no matter the law or toes he must stomp'.

Examples of the second: 'Bob watched his parents murdered by an evil mage, and swore he would get revenge', or 'Bob met Dryth, and will be one one day', or 'Bob heard of an ancient magical sword, and seeks to collect it', or 'Bob knows secrets about the king, but forgot them because of amnesia (with the implication that Bob will remember someday".

The reason why the latter background ideas are unreasonable is that they expect something from the game or staff that might not be possible, or even accurate. They assume things that the player has no idea about, and might never. Or sometimes they expect that we'll give them a character that is special in a way no one else is or can be, even if that character is not special at the moment. I'm sure you understand.

Sometimes we do let in characters with special knowledge or abilities, or characters designed to fill some specific role in the world that needs filling. These go, of course, to veteren players, who are already equipped to play such characters.

So what I meant by 'starting out at the bottom' was not to make any assumptions about specific things the character doesn't know (or things the character isn't) now, but will know/be later.[...]

I know that it's hard to try and come up with an 'interesting' character the first time you play a new game, but I believe that its not backgrounds that make characters interesting, but the RP they accomplish over the years. There are lots of oldbies around here who have 'boring' or plain backgrounds, but have developed into brilliand, critical characters who have important roles in the game world. Make sense?

So nix anything more or less unusual and specific. Unusual is good, specific is good, but unusual and specific is not.

    To be very clear:
  • Do not include goals which could not be reached by any character of the same architype
  • Do not include references to or experience with things that you can't find lots of information about on the website, forums, or help files (like Vek, or Dryth, or the King, or skystone, etc.)
  • Do not include references to or experience with things that you have not seen mentioned at all (like Dwarves, or time travel, ninjas, etc.)
  • Do ask for clarification on things that you think seem like common knowledge, if you need to. We're not ogres; we like to help.
  • Do not feel the need to kill off your parents and/or family: it's a big city, and not everyone meets or sees everyone. It's alright to imply RP about mundane NPCs that may never see the light of day.

I hope this helps.

-- Daed