Dungeons and Dragons is getting a resurgence lately thanks to the likes of The Legend of Vox Machina And Honor among thieves get new seasons and movies. With this in mind, more and more people are joining the hobby and creating their own characters. While the mechanics can be learned, it is the RPG aspect that proves to be the most fun but also difficult for the players.
Backstories, in particular, tend to be the hardest part of character creation for some people. This is what defines the RPG aspect moving forward, and some Redditors have gotten creative with their backstories.
u/TheGlen has a very simple backstory to his character. A half-orc barbarian with a wise background usually brings up images of a wise old warrior. Rather hilariously, u/TheGlen subverts it, saying, “When asked to justify the unusual background, he simply replied ‘Athletic Scholarship.'” A clever alternative to the usual stereotypes associated with barbarians.
After all, barbarians are generally seen as mindless brutes, but that’s simply not true. Barbarians may enjoy battle, but battle isn’t the end of their existence. They are just angry people and there are few things that cause more anger than going to college. Also, it’s a good way to introduce more RP flavor into the Barbarian class.
u/ditto08 has an interesting concept for their farmer turned fighter. “I was once a farmer, but while walking in the woods I found some rude armor, so I decided to put it on as a joke and walk around the city. After being mistaken for a general, he tries to get himself fired, giving the worst instructions hoping to lose battles, but somehow every battle becomes a crushing victory.
Most heroic backstories tend to make characters want to be heroes, or at least do so to protect their loved ones. This backstory subverts expectations by making the hero incredibly lucky and is a great way to organically introduce humor into the campaign. Think of characters like Ciaphas Cain of Warhammer 40,000 famebut significantly less competent.
Hide and seek
u/the-conqueror shares a rather adorable backstory they encountered as a DM: “One of my players is after a griffin, nothing new there. But it is his griffin, he plays hide and seek with it, the griffin is currently winning. ”. Often, the goal of finding a legendary creature is to tame or kill it, whether they are dragon riders or monster hunters.
Subverting expectations by making the backstory a bizarre hide-and-seek game offers a lot of freedom in how the player shapes their story. All the great adventures they have are just a side effect of this childish game, and it makes for a fun and heartwarming experience.
u/Mcbruce1985 has a “Buddy the Elf” style backstory on their Goliath Barbarian that puts a fun twist on the formula by having it talk about dwarves. “He was raised by dwarves who think he’s just a ‘tall dwarf’ and refuses to believe otherwise, he’s also ashamed that he can’t grow a beard like he fathered him.”
The RPG opportunities with such a backstory are immense. They might take Dwarven as a language and have a deep understanding of Dwarven lore. Their “dwarf-like” mannerisms, like stroking a non-existent beard, could also be room for a lot of humor. It also provides a great character arc for the character when they finally have to face the fact that they are not a biological “dwarf”, but were still lovingly accepted by his parents.
Marshawn Lynch, The Beast Druid
u/piefork has decided that if they can’t come up with a backstory, they’ll just bring one of their favorite athletes into the universe, Marshan Lynch. “He will be a human druid, from the Land of the Oak. As a young farmer, he worked with Oxen (Buffalo) but found it fruitless and often got into trouble with the law. Being a druid, this also allows me to switch to beast mode. Just for that dice roll, boss.“
Aside from the obvious hilarity of Marshawn Lynch suddenly finding himself in a fantasy world, the way it’s integrated is surprisingly well done. Translating “Beast Mode” into Beast Druid is a very creative way to implement personality and gameplay in a single stroke. There are lots of fun ways to play Marshawn Lynch as a good-natured but wayward druid.
u/AF79 has a unique, almost Dickensian take on the Echo Knight underclass, “A former adventurer who’s just a mess, going through a terrible divorce, a full-blown midlife crisis, who decides to get back in the game and relive the his glory days, trying to forget how much he loathes himself. That’s not easy when you’re an Echo Knight, summoning versions of yourself from unrealized timelines where your marriage worked out just fine.
One doesn’t stop to think about how the version of Ebenezer in Ghost of Christmas Future would feel if he was told that this was his future. How demoralizing it must be to discover that you are the worst version of yourself. Not only does it work seamlessly with the Echo Knight subclass, but it also provides a narrative edge to the game mechanics. It should be noted that this is coincidentally similar to Henry Hogfish, a character from NADDPod’s Eldenmourne campaign.
Instrument of justice
u/Spreadsheets has a very different take on the Bard class. Usually stereotyped as attention-hungry (and flirty) musicians, their view of the class reflects the more academic side: “The Human Bard who didn’t know he was a Bard, thought he was a lawyer. He had memorized volumes and volumes of legal proceedings and quoted them as he fought.
This means that all word-based attacks would not be singing, but would be hurling legal jargon at people. Think Ace Attorney himself, Phoenix Wright, in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, hurting enemies with accusations and objections. It’s a very unique take on the Bard class as Lawyers are so anti-magical they border on hilarity.
Conan the librarian
u/herminator88 asked for help with his unique barbarian librarian backstory idea, saying, “I really like the idea of the rage that happens when things are out of order because they keep such an orderly system for their books.” Several recommendations were given in the thread, but the funniest turned out to be an existing joke from Weird Al Yankovic of all people.
In UHF, one of the skits was precisely the titular Conan the Librarian, who swears that people follow the rules of the library, so as not to fall under his blade. He breaks the stereotype of the mindless brute, but with the added caveat of the disciplinary nature of a librarian emerging as the barbarian rages on.
Chad, the druid of the desert
u/Thejestersfool designed their adorable character Chad and garnered thousands of votes on r/DnD. In the comments, they share their one backstory: “I was raised by my two parents. My mother was a mere human woman and my father was a tiny potted cactus. You see, as a druid, I have learned that all of nature is interconnected; That plants and rivers and even cacti were the essence of the universe.
The twist here is that Chad just believes his father is a cactus. By all accounts he is just an ordinary cactus and despite his mother’s insistence, she shares all of his concerns with her “father”. Not only is it a fun druid spoof, but it’s also a creative way to complement the characters’ love of nature by making it a family affair.
A loving family of killers
u/CME_T is a popular artist in the Dungeons and Dragons fandom for their charming and irreverent comics about their original characters. One of the most beloved is Grogna, a half-orc (non-barbarian) fighter with a penchant for indiscriminate killing. The backstory hilariously reveals that his parents were ex-adventurers and aggressive scarring to boot.
However, they weren’t abusive. They have a bakery they wish to leave in Grogna and they support her in her murderous ways. That’s how the two met, after all. The idea of the aggressive party member from an equally aggressive but loving family is healthy and also terrifying. It’s no wonder Grogna’s backstory has gotten so many upvotes on Reddit.
NEXT: Top 10 D&D Campaigns For Beginners