Ask for a volunteer who is willing to narrate a bit of background story for a reward (be it experience points, a Fate Point, or D&D 5e Inspiration).
Have the player roll a d4 and then spend a few minutes thinking up and then narrating the backstory type they’ve rolled. Let them know that something is happening in the present which will connect the current players with this past event.
1d4 Backstory Results:
- Lost Love — What person (or thing) has the character lost in the past? What stands in the way of fulfilling that love? What event happens in the present that gives the player an opportunity (with the party’s help) to seek that lost love?
- Old Enemy — What past foe became the character’s enemy? What terrible consequences came from this old rivalry? What event resurfaces your connection to this enemy?
- Secret Need — What undisclosed need does your character have? Why have you kept this a secret? Who or what is in the way of getting your need? What has just happened that gives you hope you might finally fulfil your need?
- Terrible Tragedy — What terrible tragedy befell the character or someone the character knows? What collateral damage resulted? What person or creature from the past now emerges that demands you address this past injustice?
Player Punch List
— A diabolical enemy
— A devious motive
— A mysterious object
— An imperilled victim
— A dangerous obstacle
— An exotic locationHave each players use notecards, a whiteboard, butcher paper, or a battlemat to record and share their ideas, putting the player’s initials next to each of their ideas.When done, take a short break and do a quick ten minute brainstorm on how to kick off the adventure using the player ideas as a basis. Then, run the adventure, incorporating as many of the player ideas as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t have the ending or details all figured out — things will evolve and emerge as you play!As a bonus, give each player a reward (be it experience points, a Fate Point, or D&D 5e Inspiration) the first time any of their ideas surface in play.
In my next post I’ll talk about Villain Flashback and Custer’s Last Stand.