As one of, what I'm certain is now many many people, my knowledge of Pathfinder/DnD/TTRPGs stems from the inescapably popular Netflix series Stranger Things. That and the odd pop culture reference I'm sure. When entering the board games community a couple years back and becoming more educated about RPGs, I became entirely convinced it wasn't for me. My nerdom just didn't delve that deep.
Oh boy was I wrong
But then, excuse the potentially offense words, Critical Role. Yep, guilty as charged. The Legend of Vox Machina got me deep fellas. Loved the series and with the most miniscule of digging, became heavily addicted to the campaigns on YouTube.
Not long after my, what now must be certifiable, addiction began, word got around the office of my new "thing" and I was invited to join a Pathfinder campaign. I totally jumped at the chance.
My background is in performance. Mostly music, but also theatre and the wider arts. Upon realising that TTRPGs are actually, in essence, improv story telling with numerical consequences, I couldn't wait to get started. But where to start?
Who even am I?
I'm certain there are many places to start but, for me, it was all about character and backstory. I'm (hopefully) going to be spending a lot of hours embodying whoever this is, so they've got to be good. I think a lot of players start from a place of wanting to be a super badass. Shooting lighting bolts from their arse and shattering goblins with a single axe swing, and then the character side sort of comes later. That's totally cool. This diary is just about what works for me but all routes are valid.
Not knowing enough about the classes, races, weaponry or, really anything, I figured I'd create my character and the nitty gritty would come later. Being a bit of a scribbler already, I sat down at a keyboard, and started to write.
(at this stage, anyone in my pathfinder party should stop reading!)
Where to start then?
I should say that I decided to play a cis gendered heterosexual male essentially for ease as that is also what I am. I really didn’t want to do any group, community or persuasion a disservice by, likely badly, imprinting my notions and perceptions of those groups on to a character. Hard enough to become someone else without constantly worrying I may unintentionally be stereotyping or generally pretending to have experience that I don’t.
Motive. I’ve gotta figure out what makes this dude tick. So, what’s a powerful motive? There’s tons, but I am a sucker for a bit of revenge, romance and tragedy (spot the 2000’s emo kid). Nothing more tragic than a lost love revenge story, and I’m a wee bit vicious, so let’s have a family massacre by some sort of troupe of roving werewolves leaving just the father/husband alive.
Great motive for revenge that. So then, let's say my guy is a farmer who is shepherding live stock to a city. Along with his wife and two children, he's attacked by a roving gang of werewolves. The wife and children are killed and he is left alive but severely wounded.
But but but, if he’s just some farmer that gets himself and his family wrecked in a forest somewhere, how does he become any sort of dangerous?
Ok, so now the werewolves are led by an evil sorcerer of some kind that (for reasons unknown) keeps me alive and, in doing so, imparts some sort of magical abilities (via curse?) on to him. That sounds cool right? But, do werewolves even exist in Pathfinder? Why wouldn't they have just torn me to shreds? Why on earth would this evil sorcerer keep me alive? What the hell is my name!
Picking the brains of my GM to be
Just to reiterate; I had no idea what I was doing or how my character would fit into the campaign to follow. Eventually, logic took a stand, and I sought out my GM to be for advice. He, I now realise rather obviously, was also seeking out his players to be to get the lay of the land.
I can't stress this enough talk to your GM early doors! You will be happy you did.
I was very conscious that I wanted my character to fit in with whatever world he was creating, and didn't want to limit the possibilities of my GM or the other players. But I was also unsure of how much ownership I could take. I only really knew a few things for sure. I wanted to:
- Be driven for revenge
- Be evil as all hell
- Be able to fight but also throw magic around
Knowing this, I laid out my werewolf/evil sorcerer story and we workshopped a couple of class scenarios that might fit. We settled upon a Magus, ditched the werewolves (in favour of something currently unknown to me), and decided that my wife and son were definitely dead. My daughters fate was to be decided by my GM but, for all I know, is also deceased.
Excited, I ran back to my keyboard.
- What's a Magus?
- Rewrite time - will I ever be happy with my backstory?
- I am no longer a Magus - finding my true race and class.
Useful bits & bobs
- Let's Make a Pathfinder 1st Edition Character
- How To Write a D&D Backstory
- Backstories don't have to be tragic to be interesting
- Citcal Role: Handbook Helper