Whether you’re starting your first in a brand new world or rolling an alternative in an already familiar one, you’ll need to come up with eighteen years of background and characterisation for this shiny new adventurer. While you’re considering how to fill the blank slate, here are some suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls!
- Be afraid to be ordinary. You don’t have to have an extraordinary background, or have faced hardship as a child and slain a thousand warriors to avenge the death of your family. As an eighteen year old, your life as an adventurer is just beginning -- you can save the excitement for what’s to come!
- Pigeonhole yourself into a closed story. Be open to changing things if you find out certain elements don’t work, and don’t be afraid to adapt. Roleplay should be fluid, not fixed and preplanned every step of the way.
- Incorporate others into your background without their consent. This can be blatant, as in claiming interaction or history that the other party doesn’t acknowledge, or manifest in more subtle ways: it’s a good idea to wait for the people involved to show interest rather than pressuring them. For example, it’s a bad idea to tell others about how you were molested by the Caliph of Shallam in Achaea as a child without actually asking said character at the time if this is acceptable. Similarly, don’t just show up and tell someone that you think you’re his or her long lost child if you’re not sure what they think!
- Be ridiculous. Make sure your history fits the established canon of your chosen IRE game. The HELP files and the history are all available both in-game and on the respective website of each game. You wouldn’t want to roleplay having a unicorn as a pet as a child if there are no unicorns in your game world! Similarly, don’t refer to previous lives if reincarnation (in that manner) and ‘old souls’ don’t exist!
- Insist on being unique and distinctive. You are not a special snowflake. Please do not tell everyone about how your mother was impregnated by a powerful demon and has thus granted you magical powers, or about how you bested the leader of a city in a duel when you were just a wee lad of thirteen with nothing more than a sharp spoon and a ball of twine. He might ask you to repeat the feat!
Now that you know what to avoid, we hope to see you in your favourite text MUD, dazzling us all with a well thought out and not too special background! Check out the second part of this article, “Creating Your Character Background, the Dos” for a list of things to explore if you need further help!