How to Create Interesting RPG Characters with AI

Using GPT-3 language model to create fantasy character backstories suitable for Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop RPG systems.

Imagine you could create a new world in your favorite tabletop role-playing game, the one you and your friends have spent so many hours in. Now imagine if that world was entirely unique, and complete with a world full of colorful, interesting characters, each with their own backstories. Wouldn’t that be a great, fun, and rewarding experience? You can do that with a new AI-based language model called GPT-3 created by researchers at OpenAI.

Creating RPG Characters with AI

I have used the GPT-3 API to create a set of twelve RPG content generators. You simply choose a few options, click a button, and you get a random assortment of game-ready story and character elements, including:

  • Character backstories
  • Cities, Towns, and Villages
  • Magic Shops
  • Taverns and Inns
  • Dungeons
  • Creatures
  • Magic Items
  • Quests
  • Skills
  • Spells
  • Overland Areas
  • Undead

GPT-2 and GPT-3 for Dungeons & Dragons

I started back in February with only a character backstory generator, fine-tuning GPT-2 to output hundreds of thousands of character backstories. While decent, the output was spotty due to my ignorance in all things machine learning. I’d learned a lot in a few months, but I was only moving forward slowly.

Then OpenAI announced the GPT-3 API. I didn’t get access right away, but after sending them some of the word I’d done with GPT-2 and outlining what I wanted to do with GPT-3, I got in! You can imagine my excitement. I suddenly had access to the world’s most powerful language model, and I was training it D&D.

I put together a very crude example of output from GPT-3 which was very promising. Because I haven’t been able to fine-tune GPT-3 yet (not enough data!), I have to give it two examples. With what’s known as “two-shot” learning, GPT-3 is able to somewhat reliable (and often very amusingly) offer up character backstories.

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Random character generators have been around a long time, but GPT-3 really raises the bar on what’s possible with an AI generated RPG character backstory. What I’ve built over at LitRPG Adventures with the Workshop is only the beginning, I’m sure. In the years ahead, many others will release similar (if not improved) tools utilizing the power of GPT-3.

For now, I’m happy to offer access to the public. If you’re a gamer (or an author or game developer), I encourage you to check it out at LitRPG Adventures.

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You’ll be able to browse a few examples from each generator or go ahead and become a member and start generating character backstories or browsing through our library of already created content.

We have a lot more planned, and I’ll be sharing updates here on the LitRPG Reads blog and on the LitRPG Adventures page.

While I’ve been using GPT-3 to build character backstories, I have to admit I’m excited about the potential this technology has to generate other very useful RPG content. We’ve been talking about adding Science Fiction creations in the future, but for now, we’re working on making the fantasy ones the best possible.

Just recently, someone suggested a Warlock Patron generator and an Army / Legion generator. Both are entirely possible and may appear in the future. At the moment, I am hard at work with GPT-3, training it to output hundreds of thousands of character backstories. My hope is to have an immense library of RPG content available, including a wide variety of RPG character backstories.

If you have ever wanted to add a character backstory tool to your favorite RPG, now is the time to get involved. We’re just getting started and the sky’s the limit on what we’ll be able to do.

And if you’re an author, a game developer, or a gamer who wants a fun world to play in, stay tuned for an eventual 2D text-based MMORPG powered by GPT-3. I’ve got a lot of the basic work done, but I need your help in getting it finished.

The more people that support the project by becoming a member of the LitRPG Adventures community, the sooner we can bring this game to life. I’ve got a lot of great ideas for how to make it fun for you and your friends.

Tips for Creating an Interesting RPG Character Backstory

1) Start with a basic, but not uninteresting, backstory. For example, a character who is the black sheep of a well-to-do noble family will make a great starting point.

2) Add depth by making the backstory more complex. For example, maybe the character’s mother is the black sheep of the family and he is expected to go into politics.

3) Add more depth by causing the backstory to come into conflict with the character’s goals. For example, the character might want to be an adventurer, not a politician.

4) Add even more depth by making the character’s backstory include a sidekick, a cohort, or an antagonist.

5)  You can also add depth by including a mentor or someone the character leans on in troubled times.

6)  Another way to add depth is to make the backstory include a love interest.

7)  Putting the backstory into a conflict with a secret or a flaw will add more depth to the story.

8) You can also add depth by focusing on the character’s motivations and desires.

9) You can deepen a backstory by including some dramatic moment in the past that haunts the character.

10) Another way to add depth is to create a backstory that contains a mystery.

11) You can add depth by including an ethical dilemma in the backstory.

12) To add depth, you can focus on the character’s relationships with their family members or friends.

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13) You can also add depth by including a moment of self-doubt or even self-loathing in the backstory.

14) You can also add depth by including a moment in the backstory where the character loses a friend or family member.

15) You can add depth by including a moment in the backstory where the character loses faith in themselves (or humanity in general).

All these ideas should help you create a more compelling backstory for your character.

If you want to use AI to create character backstories, head over to LitRPG Adventures and join the community today!

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.