When you start your next Dungeons & Dragons campaign, one of the first things you need to do is understand your character’s backstory. Understanding their past can be as fun as deciding which class you want to play.
A great story can give your DM plenty of inspiration for fun side quests to incorporate into the campaign. This helps you understand how to portray your character and influence your motivations throughout the story. It can be hard to come up with a fun concept, so here’s a selection of classic story ideas to try.
8 Newcomer from another world
A backstory idea is to be a newcomer from an entirely different world. Playing like a fish out of water can be a lot of fun. This allows you to provide a unique perspective on the world that might differ from other characters. It also helps provide plenty of knowledge about the world the DM is running, as your character eagerly learns as much as they can.
Your character could be from the mysterious Feywild or perhaps the terrifying Dread Domains. They might be fascinated by the world they have fallen into or maybe desperate to escape it. There are different ways to take on the character, and it can be rewarding to have them gradually adapt to the world around them as the story progresses. It might even provide some fun scenarios to work your DM into the story, such as trips back to your original home or introducing other newcomers.
seven fall out of favor
Your character was once part of a noble family, often socializing with members of the royal family and high society. Perhaps they were banished from this high society. Perhaps their family was betrayed and stripped of their wealth. But now they have lost their privileges and wealth and now have to adapt to a new way of life.
Your character no longer has the same respect and resources it once had. This will be quite a big change to try and accept. Will they adapt and change their habits? Or will they attempt schemes to restore their old title? You might have an interesting character arc where they learn to appreciate what they have now. This could lead to an interesting dilemma when perhaps, towards the end of the campaign, they have the chance to return to a life of luxury, but that would mean abandoning the party to which they attached themselves.
6 Villain’s Ex-Minion
This backstory revolves around a servant of an evil villain becoming disgusted with the life he has led thus far and deciding to choose the path of redemption instead. Somehow they managed to escape the clutches of their former boss and are now eager to help the party stop the villain’s latest scheme. Your character will be able to provide some interesting insight into the villain’s motivations. It also allows for unique combat encounters as you go up against your former colleagues.
This backstory could certainly make the end of the campaign interesting when the villain sees his former ally return to defeat him. This is a chance for the character to prove once and for all that he’s changed his bad ways…or will he fall back into his old role once again? A story like this will create tension and distrust within the party.
5 Storyteller looking for inspiration
Not all stories have to be full of tragedy. For a more positive view, you could play the role of a storyteller eager to explore the world. You’ve heard many stories of the Gaping Portal, and you want to experience your own adventures rather than just listening to other people’s quests.
You could write an epic novel about your adventures along the way. Your character has never been on a real adventure before this point and might need to rely on allies at first. Embarking on a chaotic adventure will do wonders for this writer’s block. You might meet fans of your previous work along your journey, or for a more magical twist, maybe the characters in your books are starting to jump from the page to reality, and you need to know how that turns out. has passed.
4 monster hunter
The grizzled monster hunter is a classic backstory, especially if you’re embarking on a high-level campaign. Your character may have led a solitary existence before the story began, roaming the kingdom, defeating wild beasts, and rescuing people. You are an expert on many monsters, able to memorize vital strategies to take down each creature. Now the group has come to you to guide them through a dangerous land.
Maybe you’re looking forward to your next challenge, like the Icespire Peak Dragon. Maybe you’re hunting the one creature that got away. You might also be a reluctant monster hunter who is just following in your parents’ footsteps. There are lots of fun ways to expand on the concept to give your character a unique twist.
3 mysterious parents
Your character was leading an ordinary life until recently, when a big secret was revealed about someone close to you. Maybe their brother disappeared without a trace. Maybe their parents died, and your character found a mysterious diary full of weird rituals while cleaning up his stuff. No matter the initial hook, your character is now questioning everything they once knew. Did they ever really know their parent? It’s time to explore these clues further and see if they can uncover the truth about their family’s past.
Your DM might continue with these clues, perhaps leading you to various puzzles your parent left for you. You might meet old friends of this relative, each offering more insight into this secret double life he once led. Will your character continue to follow in their footsteps? Or do they need to stop something that parent started in the world?
2 Cursed Adventurer
Your character has been adventuring for a while, and everything went well until he irritated the wrong person. Maybe you have been caught by a terrifying witch in an evil realm. Maybe you picked up an alluring artifact from a grave. Whether they deserved it or not, your character was cursed. There is also no simple solution. The curse can be a number of things: a limited lifespan, you’ve been turned into a cat, you’re incredibly unlucky, or maybe there’s always a rain cloud over your head. Either way, your character is now determined to find a cure.
You might have a little clue on how to reverse the curse. Your character may have to face the person who cursed them. Maybe they need to put a cursed artifact back in its place. It won’t be easy, but with the help of your team members, you may be able to come back to life before that tragic moment.
1 Out of retirement
Once a mighty adventurer or mighty wizard, your character has given up that life and settled down in a comfortable place. Maybe they are now a peaceful farmer on the outskirts of a settlement. Alternatively, it could be a former Candlekeep Scholar who has been content to read various books so far. However, your life of peace has come to an abrupt end and now you must grab your staff and get back to the adventurous lifestyle.
Maybe an old enemy has returned, and only you know how to stop it. The rest of the group can turn to you for sound advice. This backstory is also a unique way to explain why you’re starting low. Your character has rusted away during his retirement years and must slowly remember his old tricks and abilities. Playing the reluctantly retired grumpy older character can be a lot of fun.
NEXT: D&D: Reasons Why You Should Set Your Next Campaign In The Dread Domains