Players have a lot of decisions to make when they put together a Dungeons & Dragons character. Spell choices, weapon choices and where to put ability scores influence how a character comes together mechanically. But what about the fictional side of the character? In D&D, the Background choice offers some mechanical support for what a character as before they became an adventurer, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A character with a good background can give a Dungeon Master several wonderful ways to hook a character into dashing into danger.
A useful background doesn’t have to be a full-fledged biography about a character’s life before 1st level. Most serial stories take their time to spool out juicy bits of background info as the story unfolds. Sometimes it makes more sense to leave specific elements open so that they can be filled in by information informed by what happens in the game. This series of articles offers five background questions for each class that a player can answer with a few short sentences whenever they want (yes, we’ll be doing one for each class). Players can answer these questions ahead of the first session, or DMs can facilitate this character building exercise with a session zero.
What Was Your First Big Score?
Every rogue starts with that first job that brings in some fabulous treasure, a rush of adrenaline and the first steps into the shadows. What did you take? Whom did you take it from? Did you pull it off with no witnesses? What did you do with your cut?
What’s Your Plan For Going Legit?
While not every rogue is a criminal (no, really) almost all of them have a plan for the loot they acquire. Are you going to buy yourself an island? Open up a shop in Waterdeep? Become a patron of the arts? Who will you you have to cake care of to make it happen?
Who Do You Owe?
Everybody serves somebody. Most people fool themselves into thinking they are their own people but your rough upbringing helped you see who pulls the strings—and who cuts them. Do you kick up a portion of your loot to a Thieves’ Guild or crime family? Did someone train you in the deadly arts that can call on you when they need you? What price did you pay to become an independent contractor?
What Are Your Aliases?
A rogue with just one name is like one with just one dagger; it’s a possibility but seems like less fun. Are you building a reputation for both of your names? Is there an alias that you use that you keep squeaky clean. Is there an embarrassing street name you don’t want to tell your adventuring crew?
Who’s The One Person You Can Trust?
Every rogue needs someone outside of this wild life of disarming traps, chasing treasure and backstabbing basilisks to keep them centered. Is it a romantic partner that you haven’t revealed your true lifestyle to? A grizzled old partner who had to retire because of an injury? A cleric to whom you confess your crimes?
Tell us the best tidbits of your rogue’s backstory in the comments below!
More rogue secrets!
- Use these pop culture archetypes for inspiration for your Rogue!
- The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Rogue In D&D
- Max Out Your Rogue Hit Points!
Images Credits: Wizards of the Coast, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.