Creating Your Character History

Your character is much more than the sum of the skills it knows. Think of the place you were born and how it affected the choices you were able to make in life. Consider how the adults in your life played a role in your formative years, how it affected the way you viewed relationships growing up. Examine how your friends, teachers, partners, and random people you came across in your life influenced you. The books you read, the music you listened to, the movies and tv shows. All of this and more helped to shape the person you are. Even this moment in time is another detail. You are more than just a skill set.

Shouldn’t it stand to reason that your character would also have had a life that led them to this moment? The role you choose to play wasn’t born moments before being thrown into this world. The more you develop your character’s history the more you will truly know your character’s motivations, why they make the choices they do. The roleplaying experience will become more organic, less stopping to think “wait, what would my character do here?”

Questions to help you define who your character is:
No matter how much planning you do, every player has a moment of “huh, I should have considered that” when the game is running. It is difficult to cover all of the bases when trying to bring life to a character. While there is no comprehensive list of questions you should ask yourself when creating a history for your character, we would like to present you with a list of common ones to assist you in your journey.

How old is your character? Sure, you can play someone your own age. There is also a bit of a challenge to playing someone older and showing wisdom. Conversely, it can be freeing to play someone younger with less world weariness than you feel in your own life.

Does your character have a family or loved ones? Please say yes. The number of tragic orphans in LARPs is staggering. There’s a lot to be said about having a character with motivations for getting help to a family back home who is in need, or even a happy family life. Besides, there’s always the chance that someone from back home could show up looking for you without the intention of doing you in.

Who is the most important person in your character’s life? A friend? Family member? A loved one? Themself? When it comes down to the wire, is there someone who left a mark on your character that they would want to live up to their expectations? Would your character be able to face that person after having done something that in their mind would let this person down?

What are your character’s fears? Everyone is afraid of something. Sometimes it is something as mundane as clowns or spiders. Sometimes it’s a little extreme like “was that grave too shallow?” Other times it could be as complex as turning out exactly like a parent. It needn’t be as detrimental as a full-blown phobia, but a character trait like this can go a long way to helping you make decisions in-game.

What are your character’s moral code and beliefs? Two separate issues that often go hand in hand are morals and beliefs. Even without a religious framework, one can have a sense of right and wrong. What are the lines that you won’t cross? Where do you stand on taking a life? What are the things that you’re against, but may find yourself doing in the most extreme of circumstances? Would you steal candy from a baby?

What does a perfect world look like to your character? Not everyone views the world the same way. Some people see nothing wrong with the world around them while others see nothing but despair. What changes could you effect to bring the world more in line with your vision?

How does your character deal with stress? Scream? Punch something? Stuff it all down and pretend like it’s not there until you finally explode? Find a small closet to weep silently for an hour? A potential way to reduce emotional bleed after an event is to find a way for your character to process stressful situations that doesn’t necessarily reflect the way you deal with them in real life.

What does your character do with their down time? This can be a big one. While the game is certain to have something going on at all times, there may be points throughout the weekend where you want to take a break from all the running around. What does your character enjoy doing with this free time? Relaxing around the fire talking to people? Painting? Playing a musical instrument? If you have something that your character enjoys doing, taking a break doesn’t have to mean sitting around doing nothing while catching your breath.

In the end, this list of questions could take up an entire book by themselves and is just a place to get you started. Doing a web search on questions to ask when creating a character will get you links to dozens of writing sites with exhaustive lists of questions like these. Knowing who you are when you enter this world can help to make a seamless transition into the make believe.