How to Write a D&D Backstory: Beginner Guide

Want to know how to write a D&D backstory for your character? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I have seven great tips for writing backstories for all your Dungeons & Dragons characters. Having a solid character backstory is an important part of D&D, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to come up with something great that will make you and your DM happy.

Why Do you Need a DND backstory?

Basically, a D&D backstory is what brings your character to life. It’s what you use to explain why your character is on the path to being a legendary hero. According to the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, “A backstory summarizes a character’s past and influences his or her personality.”

When you’re writing a D&D backstory, you want to make it as interesting and as unique as possible. The backstory is the key to deciding your character’s personality and what makes your character tick. If your character has a tragic backstory, then expect them to act a certain way or become obsessed with a certain goal.

If they have a happy and exciting backstory, you can expect them to be more optimistic, or even perhaps a bit of an adrenaline junkie. It all depends on the kind of person you’re playing and how you want to grow them as a character.

How to Write D&D Story
How to Write D&D Backstory

Tip 1: Give your character a unique motivation

When you’re writing a D&D backstory, you need to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to become a champion of the people, or perhaps a slayer of evil? Maybe you’re just interested in exploring the world and learning as much as you can. Or maybe, you’re just here for the gold and glory.

Whatever the case may be, you need to decide what you want your character’s motivation to be. Sure, you could just go with the default motivations that the Player’s Handbook sets out, but the interesting thing about D&D is that you can really go any direction you want. If you want your character to become a master of the arcane arts, then go for it. If you want to be the greatest treasure hunter in the world, then go for it. If you want to become a morally righteous champion of the people, then go for it.

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Whatever you want to be and whatever you want to accomplish, you need to decide what that is and then make sure that every action you take is in line with achieving that goal.

Tip 2: Come up with a backstory that shows development

The last thing you want to do is have a backstory that doesn’t show any development. Not only does it make your character boring, but it also makes you look like you don’t really know D&D very well. It’s kind of like an actor who plays the same character in every movie. Sure, they can get away with it once or twice, but sooner or later people will start to get tired of seeing the same character again and again.

All the focus will be on the character’s backstory, their motivations, and how they got to where they are. You don’t want to make your character a static character, the one who never changes at all. You want to show growth and allow your character to change over time.

Tip 3: Come up with a backstory that shows the world

With a rich backstory, you need to think about the influences the world has had on your character. Sure, it’s not like you need to include every single detail, but at the very least, you need to make sure your character takes part in a few major events. Think of it as the most important turning points of your character’s life.

These turning points provide the backdrop that you use to show how the world has shaped your character. Basically, if your character doesn’t have an interesting backstory, then they’re likely to feel out of place and not have any real character depth. At least, not until they start making their own decisions and shaping the world.

Tip 4: Do Not Make Your Character Backstory Too Long

This is easy for some and hard for others. While a book-length character backstory might be fun, you don’t need something this long. In fact, all you really really need to do is write down around a hundred words or so. But, with characters, the length and depth of the backstory isn’t as important as its quality.

You might not have to write a lengthy backstory, but you do have to be creative. This is especially important if you’re planning on role-playing with the character. You need something that makes your character seem like they’re actually alive.

Tip 5: Write in First Person, Past Tense

The reason for writing your D&D backstory in the first person, past tense is to make it seem like it’s already happened. This prevents you from having to write out every movement and every action as though it was actually happening.

Past tense is also used for the same reason. As you write out your character’s backstory, the reader will be able to assume that it already happened and that this is just the narrator going over the details.

Tip 6: Make Your Character’s Backstory Believable

This is something you need to do regardless of what you decide to write. Even if you’re writing about a character with a unique backstory, it’s going to need to be believable. You don’t want to make the player feel like your character’s backstory is forced or out of place. After all, the aim of a character’s backstory is to bring them to life and to make them feel like a real person.

Tip 7: Use the LitRPG Adventures Workshop

I created the LitRPG Adventures Workshop tool using the GPT-3 API. It is an easy-to-use tool that can help you write your D&D character backstory. Using the tool, you simply choose your gender, race, and class. The AI language model will give you a 300 to 500 word backstory for your character. 

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I’ve used the tool myself to write over a hundred character backstories. I have also tested the tool over 120 times, with every test yielding a unique backstory. The tool supports all standard D&D races, and all standard D&D classes. If you’re using a homebrewed race or class, that’s okay too. Let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to create something new.

Use My D&D Backstory Generator (AI)

Have you used the LitRPG Adventures Workshop? What did you think about it? Have you written your character backstory on your own? Did you find it easy, or did you find it hard?

If you need any help or advice, definitely leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Thanks for reading and remember to check out the LitRPG Adventures Workshop for yourself.

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.

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