|He had no friend but his bear... until he fought together with the others.|
This is an archetype... but it often makes your character feel like they aren't really a part of the world. It can make it harder to roleplay, and worse, it makes it harder for you to tell your story because you're starting from scratch. If you want to make your life a little easier, all you have to do is give your character connections in the game setting.
No PC Is An Island
As I said in Fleshing Out Your Background or How To Avoid Becoming A Murderhobo and Who Raised Your Character, and How Did That Shape Them?, all characters have connections in the world. Someone raised you, someone taught you your skills, and at some point in time you had friends, family, and fellow students. You grew up somewhere, and there are people who know your name... for good, or for ill.
So, if you want to make your character feel like a more organic part of the world, you need to ask where they're from, who they've worked for/with, who their friends are, and all the other questions about what tracks they've left in the world.
|Man ain't nothing without his friends.|
So, once you know who your character is, ask what ripples they've made in the world. For example, if your character is a knight, who do they serve? Who were they squired to? What vows did they take? Where did they train? What tourneys did they ride in, and what victories have they won? The answer to each of these questions creates connections the way a tree puts down roots.
Alternatively, say your character was a bandit. What gang was he part of? Was he ever identified? Is there a price on his head anywhere? Did he rob specific kinds of victims? Did he run with friends? Were there people in the countryside who gave him shelter? Was there a particular fence that he went to for his loot? Were they part of a guild? Did he leave on good terms, or have his friendships soured? If your character is a wizard, did they study at a university, or were they an apprentice? Who have they worked for, and is their magic known?
There are an endless list of potential questions. If your character is religious, where do they attend services? If they drink, where is their favorite pub, and are they a regular? If they don't drink, do they spend time in tea houses? What merchants do they buy from? What smiths are they friendly with? Who cuts their hair, washes their clothes, and do they use a public bath house? Who do they play cards or shoot dice with? Or are they more of a chess sort of character?
Your History Gives You A Leg Up
Your character's past isn't just a backdrop; it gives you options when it comes time to make story decisions. As a for-instance, if you want to take the Leadership feat, your character's past might give you a trusty sidekick you parted ways with, but who has now returned to aid you in your adventures. If you want to justify being able to find obscure or rare locations in a city, then all you have to say is it's your hometown, and you know it like the back of your hand. It also helps the DM, because if he's looking for a way to slip you necessary information, it helps to have a former squad mate who's joined the town guard, or someone your character apprenticed with, who might pass something along.
So, in short, don't just make a character who feels like they had no real history before the first session. Give them a past, and a history, and you'll find they fit much more smoothly into the setting, the story, and the campaign.
That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. If you'd like to see more content from me, check out my Vocal archive, or head over to Dungeon Keeper Radio where I and others present skits, advice, and world building that our fellow gamers may find of-use. To stay up-to-date on my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, to help me keep Improved Initiative going, consider heading to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All it takes is $1 a month to get yourself some sweet swag, and to help me keep doing what I do.