here are so many amazing ideas for backstories for your Dungeon & Dragons characters that don't require having dead parents to avenge. Check out our ten new ideas for your characters backstory.
You were taken in by an expert at a young age; maybe a powerful wizard, or some renowned fighter. Accepted as an apprentice, you lived and learned with this master, with your eyes set on becoming just as great as them. However, while investigating a powerful magic object with you close by, they touched the item and immediately vanished. Though the item remained, there was no trace of your master. Uncertain of what to do, you chose not to touch the item yourself, instead continuing with your studies as best you could from the books and journals left behind. Someday you intend to find out what really happened, and where your teacher went, but you know now that magic must always be used with great caution and uncertainty. You will not make the same mistakes your master did.
Latch key kid
You had a relatively boring upbringing, and sought adventure wherever you could manufacture it. The town you lived in was clean, safe, and well-established. Your parents were financially stable, and you had access to all the necessities a child would have growing up in civilized society. However, your parents took little interest in your activities and whereabouts, which meant that much of your time was spent exploring places you were not allowed, and playing with things you weren’t supposed to. The laws you broke were of little consequences, and you were rarely punished beyond a slap on the wrist. Reaching young adulthood, you outgrew your town, feeling frustrated and bored by it. Purchasing some old equipment that sat in the local shop for too long, you set out, never looking back, and not truly missed. For you, adventure is what you make it, and you can’t stand anyone who would choose to live any other way.
Your mother and father ran their own shop, and were always proud of that. You grew up working with them, but they always told you that the greatest achievement in life was finding your own place in society. Though they managed to earn enough to remain comfortable, you realized that they were not in the most lucrative business, and that there was greater coin to be made doing something else. Most of your ideas require some seed money, and the best business owners are ones who know their clientele, so you have taken up the life of an adventurer. You seek to invest in others, start your own, and grow a business empire. Your mother and father are proud, and appreciate the occasional letter home (and possible business partnerships).
As a child, you never realized how unusual the phantoms at the edge of the village were. You would see them standing out among the trees; black figures, like people draped in long sheets with two glowing eyes, doing nothing. You stopped mentioning them when your parents dismissed it as an overactive imagination, but they were always there. You grew up sheltered from the wider world, staying inside as often as you could. As you got older though, it occured to you that the figures had never hurt anyone, and despite their menacing appearance, had never really brought harm. In young adulthood, you decided that you would approach them for the first time. On that day when you looked upon them, one of them raised an arm, beckoned you forward, and then turned to leave. All the figures simultaneously turned and moved deeper into the woods, expecting you to follow. So you did. Even today if you stay in one place too long, you see the figures again, motioning you onward to some yet undiscovered goal.
Your uncle was the most talented gem cutter the city had ever known. His shop had been in business for over 20 years when you started learning the craft under his careful tutelage. You swelled with pride standing among his work on display. That changed when a pair of dwarven brothers moved into town, setting up a shop of their own. They too cut gems, and their skill far surpassed that of your uncle’s. Their hundreds of years of experience overshadowed what your family could achieve, and within a couple years, your uncle closed up his shop. Infuriated at the humiliation you felt on behalf of your uncle, you have set out in search of lost gem cutting techniques, and historical pieces that may grant you and your uncle some edge in the trade, your hope always being that you could surpass the skill of races whose lifespan is frustratingly, unfairly long.
Your mother gave birth to you in the back of a silver carriage pulled by a Pegasus (or so she claims). While some adventuring parents would leave their children in the relatively safety of their home or with other family, you were always brought along. Taken into places far too dangerous for a child, your parents were highly skilled and did an excellent job of keeping you safe. By age 3 you had your own magic torch. By age 5 you had jumped over small lava flows while dodging an imp. By age 10 you were pushing your father out of the way of a swinging blade trap he was certain had not reset. Your parents have always been very proud of you, and are confident that you are going to surpass any of the success that they have had. After finally retiring with plenty of loot and just as many scars, they have set you off on the same path that they started on; basic equipment and a desire to explore. To you, this is a game, though you’ve never been without the safety net of their experience.
A Long Con
Knowing he would not be able to give you a good upbringing, your widowed father gave you over to a druid willing to take you to his grove and train you. Your childhood was spent foraging for food, hunting animals, and carving out a space in the forest for you and the druid to live in. Occasionally he would produce fabulous things like fine clothes, exotic foods, and well-crafted weapons for you. As you were young, it did not seem unusual that he never used any magic. It was not until your teenage years that you learned the truth; the “druid” that had been raising you was a fraud; a famed highwayman hiding out from the king. Only upon his capture and imprisonment did you discover that he had simply kept you to help him with his chores and improve his image as a harmless hermit. Suddenly alone, you have decided to seek out those who would deceive others and reveal the truth to anyone who cannot see it themselves.
You grew up in a small village that was many days journey from any others. Because of this, when you were old enough, you were trained as a messenger. People entrusted important documents to you, which you always dutifully delivered between the neighbouring settlements. You were respected and comfortable. However, an old wizard who lived in a remote tower would occasionally have mail delivered, and your interactions were always unpleasant. One day the wizard tasked you with delivering a letter to a distant land. He revealed to you that he had long been in hiding, and many lives depended on your ability to succeed in this task. You reluctantly agreed and found yourself travelling many months away from your home. Upon completion of your task, you were asked to perform another important delivery, and so it continued; you had developed a taste for helping others and completing tasks that others could not. One day you’ll return home, but there is just so much that still needs to be done.
At a young age your home city was overrun. You weren’t sure if the attackers destroyed it, but your family was forced to flee along with many others before the battle began. You travelled far outside your home country, continuing even further than those you began the journey with. Where your family finally settled, there was none of your kind; you stood out, and people had many questions. Your parents grew old, and the experience jaded them. They spoke of your homeland as being a wonderful place of prosperity and happiness, and though they longed to return, they refused to make the difficult trek back. You, however, have decided that you will go back and search for the remains of your family’s past. You’ve learned that the old city is home now to some evil, and so you must train and prepare for this dangerous task.
You always dreamed of becoming a spellcaster, but you never had the natural talent. You spent long hours gardening, walking in the woods, hoping some divine force would connect with you and teach you the ways of nature’s power. It was not meant to be, and as a teenager, you signed up with the local military to train as a warrior wizard. You spent years studying tomes, practicing with weapons, but never really putting your heart into it. You were loyal in your service, but were always thinking of the wider world and other kingdoms with other things to teach. When finally you were given the choice to specialize into the school of magic the military was assigning you or leave, you left. You are not fully what you would call a warrior or a wizard, but you hope that freed from service, you’ll manage to find your path.
About the Author Christian is a professional DM from Ontario, Canada with over 15 years experience. Find him on Twitter @Roll_Initiative