Further Musings on Backstories are Not Stories

So, here we go, Backstories are not Stories round two. Let me begin by saying I had have been thrilled with how the last week’s blog was received. It had many comments from all points of view on the topic. Additionally, I deeply enjoyed the exchange of thoughts and ideas that was had overall. Heck, my High School English teacher even threw his hat into the ring what an honor! So, with that out of the way, I want to take this time to address the topic a little further. Now, as I said before and many times while I was answering comments throughout the day. This is a hobby and a game. If you disagree that strongly you go do you and have fun! I am just a guy with a blog.

Why write about this more you ask?

To start with the first blog was more of an example of a technique. This blog will go into a bit more depth on some of the points that were brought up by comments. As well as one of the most concerning things that I encountered over and over as I read through the replies I wanted to address.

What was that?

Overwhelmingly a great number of the people who disagreed the idea of a resume or short form one page background version of a backstory felt I was just plain wrong. They also felt that this in some way was implying that I was attempting to stifle my player’s creativity. That somehow they would not be able to make rich quality backstory if they were restricted in any way in their writing. A few others also felt that the longer their backstory the better for both the Gamemaster and the Player.

Any more thoughts on the last blog?

At its core, the post was solely intended as a helpful aid for both players and Game Masters.

It was inspired around Summarization much like the Evil Hat Dresden worksheet with the understanding that for a Game Master like it or not dealing with 4-8 Character Backgrounds can be daunting not to mention hard to remember all the details.

Oddly many people thought that I was trying to LIMIT their creativity and that “Less” would not mean more or somehow hurt the creative process for their background. That is, the furthest from the truth, summarization techniques are some of the effective memory retaining strategies in history. They teach you how to pick out the most important ideas in a text. As well as how to ignore the irrelevant info and how to integrate the core ideas in a meaningful way. My goal was to help your GM’s to more easily retain the info of your backstory.

Additionally, a long backstory puts the Game Master into the position of often having to say no. This can foster resentment and opinions that the GM is unwilling to let you be creative. Where does it hurt in the creative process to make a short sheet of your accomplishments for your Game Master and then approach him with your ideas? From there take this and bring it to the Storyteller, collaborate, create, and get on with the game.

After that, if you feel you want to write more go hog wild. But your GM has the relevant moments. The Sparks that add to that character that he can easily reference and bring to play in the game.

My close friend Mike had this to say and I agree-

The basis of roleplay is cooperative storytelling, When you write a lengthy story you remove that aspect of the game experience.



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