RK Character Left Right Backstory Tool

This tool creates history between the PCs. It works great for fantasy adventure gaming when you don’t want to just go with “You meet in a tavern all looking for adventure.”

Once you’ve finished character creation, and maybe even done the Backstory Creation Rule, you can ask this:

“Everyone, look to your left. How did your character meet their character? Think about it for a moment.”

Once they’ve had a moment to think about it, pick someone to start and have them tell the story. The player to the left doesn’t have a say in how they met. They can only listen. The GM and the other players can make suggestions and ask questions of the storyteller, but the player to the left can’t.

To help this be effective: ask questions about where story takes place and what other people are involved. Bring in backstory material already created, build on what is being said, and help to keep it within the game’s setting and the tone you want. As GM you can always ask the storyteller to try another way, explain why their story isn’t quite fitting, and provide some suggestions for how it could fit.

Once everyone has finished telling their story of how they met the character on the left say this:

“Everyone look to your right. What terrible situation did your character help their character out of?”

Once again give them a moment and then have someone else start to tell the story of how they got the person on their right out of a really tough spot. The player to the right has no say, but the rest of the group can make suggestions and ask questions of the storyteller and as the GM help this part along like the first part.

When everyone has had a chance to be the storyteller for left and right, each character will have history where they’ve already been involved in with all least two other PCs. Now you have some party backstory, and if you’ve been taking notes there should be even more material you can use in your campaign going forward.

Question Examples

With the Left Right Tool, you push the idea of asking questions and gave some generic ones. Here are some more you could use to pull things out of the players about their characters:

  • What ideal does your character believe in above all others and why?
  • What was a defining moment in your character’s life?
  • If your character has an alignment take a look at it. What events have made them like that to this point in their life?
  • If I asked your character what was the worst day in their life what would they say?
  • Who is the most important person in the character’s life and why? The character can’t choose themselves.
  • What possession does your character treasure most and why?
  • Who are your character’s friends and why do they hang out with them?
  • Where does your character go when they aren’t adventuring or doing their job and why do they go there?
  • Who is your character’s oldest friend and where are they now?
  • Tell me about the people who raised your character.
  • Has your character ever had to make a hard choice and if so what was it?
  • Is where your character grew up important to them? Why or why not?
  • Who taught your character to be what they are and what are they doing now?
  • Do you have a rival? If so who are they, how did they become your rival, and why are they still your rival?
  • What did you spend the formative days of your youth doing and dreaming about?

If you’d like to give players some input to the campaign but wish to put them within the campaign world, here are some leading questions where you can insert your campaigns pieces in place of the quotations:

  • How did “person or organization” negatively affect your character’s life?
  • When the “event” occurred what happened to your character and the people or places they cared about?
  • Your character explored “Location” when they were younger. What “person, place, or thing” did they see there and did anything happen to them as a result?
  • “Person” looked out for you when you were younger. What kind of a relationship did you have with them?
  • “Person” taught your character to be what they are. How did they die?

These last five questions are just some examples of leading questions you can use as a GM to put the characters at the center of the campaign and give the players things to latch onto because they get to create part of the games play space.