PC Lesson: Character Backstory

Recently I got to turn my hand at playing Dungeons and Dragons as a Player Character (PC) instead of a GM. I’m not sure if this could be the basis of a new run of Lesson blogs, I’d like to at least write something about what I’ve learnt about playing the game through this, and how it reflects my GMing. Today though, I’d like to post the backstory for (one of) the characters I created. I wrote it trying to keep it entertaining, but also gives the important information to the GM and the party.

“My father was an idiot, and so he fell in love with a human woman. Forty-seven years later and their offspring is still paying the price for his little indiscretion. That unfortunate life is mine. However, try not to pity me too much. I live twice, or maybe even thrice as long as a human, and I lack all the straight-faced, tree-dwelling, song-writing rubbish of my father’s people. Couldn’t avoid the pointed ears though, I could do without those. A mark as clear as a red arrow that I’m not quite the same as you. Eventually though, I found a purpose…even though I didn’t want it. Here’s the tale of how I went from estranged wonderer, and part-time scholar and fence, to enslaved magician with an unshakable otherworldly contract:

“A few months ago I was dozing in my then current abode with my friends. My friends at that time being murderers and thieves, and my abode being a human jail. And they weren’t my friends, at all. They didn’t touch me for the time being as I’d convinced them I was very clever, and very rich, and my Elven folk would owe them if they kept me safe. Not the first time I’ve made up such a tale, but even so, the ongoing lie was just one of the many problems at the back of my mind (none as big as the one I was about to create for myself).

“All of a sudden, I was hearing a voice. It wasn’t the other prisoners. It dripped and oozed like honey through my ears, filling my head with suggestion and persuasion. It promised me the power of my true ancestry.. It said it was an Archfey, ascendant of my people, and it was going to bring me back into the fold, and to my father. For he was powerful, as I could be.

“I awoke with a start, narrowly missing the upper bunk with my head. I was still in the prison, unsure of the dream and whether it meant anything at all. I’d certainly longed, in the most hidden parts of my heart, to be as noble as my father and his kin. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. That voice was awfully real. If I had a voice like that I could command the rain back to the sky, for certain. As I arose, taking in my surroundings and my fellow prisoners’ dice game, my head began to ache. The ache turned to pain, and before two seconds past I felt like my head was being constricted within its skull. I screwed my eyes shut, and saw flashing images in the back of my eyelids. I saw a knife cutting through flesh, and I saw a dark red liquid splashing against metal bars. I recognised the bars at once – the window to that very cell.

“The pain subsided as I connected the violent scene. I thought somebody, most likely the sultry voice from my dream, wanted me to spill blood on the bars… Now, you must understand, I am not a violent person. I was locked up for the holding of certain illegal artifacts for potential buyers. The most violent thing I’d done was partake in a tavern brawl, and even then, I just smacked a dwarf in the face with the book I was reading (big mistake). Needless to say, I wasn’t going to spill blood for the slaking my curiosity, and anyway, I had no knife.

“As I thought this, the constricting feeling started up again. It was as if this Archfey knew I was making excuses. I tried to fight it. What if I didn’t want to be like my father? What if I was happy being a halfie, never being accepted anywhere apart from in the company of freaks and outcasts? This being should leave well alone! The constricting subsided, and I reopened my eyes, feeling victorious.

“Or at least I did, until I noticed I was still imprisoned with those ragtag morons. However, when I turned to condescendingly scowl at them, as was my custom, they were on their feet. Two of them had started circling each other, in the unmistakable ‘prison-fight-who’s-got-the-biggest-head’ dance. My scowl intensified, until I saw the flash of metal. One of the fighters, a half-orc I call ‘Snot’ (for obvious reasons…never to his face or out loud), had produced a small blade. Where from I couldn’t guess, but was now swinging it at his opponents stomach.

“The feeling of deja vu came over me, and I half expected blood to come spraying over the bars at any moment. I watched with baited breath, until Snot’s knife arm was twisted by his opponent, disarmed, and his own knife went into his chest. He fell to the floor, and I look disappointingly between his fallen body, and the window bars. It didn’t even get close! But then, an idea struck.

“I quickly ripped off a bit of a bunk bed’s cloth (not mine, obviously. What if this didn’t work?) and ran over to Snot’s slowly dying remains. The others went back to their dice game, the murderer, having won his dispute, took his winnings without further complaint. I dabbed the cloth all over Snot’s wound. He looked up at me. I smiled sympathetically. I then had the horrible thought he may think I’m trying to save him. Typical racist orc. Oh I’ve got pointy ears so I must be an excellent healer! I couldn’t possibly be an actual danger or threat! I resisted the urge to twist the knife a bit.

“Having sufficient enough blood, I started to rub it off onto the bars of the cell window. I waited. And waited. Nothing happened. The blood began to dry in the sun onto the metal, turning them a dark crimson. Soon the guards came to haul Snot away, and take the others out for questioning about the incident. I was taken first, as I’ve been known to be cooperative with the guard from time to time (I literally grass every day in hopes of shortening my sentence). I came back to the cell, empty. But not quiet. I heard a sizzling. I looked at the bars. They were melting.

“I ran to them, taking up the ruined cloth again and using them to excitedly push the liquid metal away. Soon the window was just a large gap in the cell. I hopped up, looked down, and, thanking that voice, whoever it was, jumped down and ran into the forest.

“After running or stumbling all day towards the nearest settlement, I sat to rest. I found a raised bit of earth, and risked a small fire behind it. I hadn’t heard any pursuers either. I’d really started to think I’d gotten away no strings attached! Ferian, the one who had no luck even before he was born, was winning!

“I was about to stamp out the fire and continue, when the fire roared upwards, and started burning a dark green. Fearing for my bare foot, I retreated away. After a moment, eyes appeared in the fire like two black coals burning. Around it came the semblance of a face, a small upward nose, pointy ears, a small mouth and thick, dark flowing hair. It looked at me and smiled. Not in a nice way.

The fire emanated that voice. The one I’d heard in my sort of dream. It came from that face. She introduced herself, an Archfey indeed! She was the ‘Queen of Air and Darkness’. Charming name, I said. She laughed. I became scared for my life in that instant. She asked me if I wanted power beyond reckoning. I remained silent. She told me I was going to take it, because now I was in her debt. I was going to do as she said, or I was going to burn forever.”