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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 09:49 AM
Captain K Captain K is offline
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10 minute background.

In many games, DMs like applications to use the 10 minute background for character creation.

Here it is accessible on-site.

http://community.wizards.com/go/thre...our_characters!

Text
Here is something I use for my players that allows me to get a good background outline from my players to break the ice with. It gets people thinking, which is good, without overwhelming them with questions. It's based off of the Minimus RPG engine, copyright 2008 Ad Astra Games, used with permission. Minimus is donation-ware, so if you like the TMB, please consider donating for a copy of Minimus, as per the instructions in the file.


The Ten-Minute Background


In an attempt to get all the information I need to create stuff from character backgrounds without having to continually push for information, I am asking that you create backgrounds the following way:


Step 1: Write 5 background and concept elements that you feel are important to your image of the character. These can be a concept overview, a list of important life events, a physical description, a personality profile...whatever you need to get an image in your mind. 5 is just a minimum...more elements are encouraged!


[Example: Martin Tenbones]


1) He is a former pirate and retired adventurer and now owns a tavern in the city of St. Clarice.


2) He is outgoing and charismatic, and attempts to keep abreast of all the local gossip and juicy secrets that pass his way, because he believes that knowledge is power.


3) He and his former adventuring band fought against the forces of the pirate captain Craven, who was a major lieutenant for the current Dread Pirate Hellbeard. He used the wealth that he acquired to build his tavern, but he sometimes worries that the pirates may one day decide to find him and extract revenge.


4) Though he is still friends with most of his former adventuring mates, some of them parted the group on bad terms. His girlfriend went back to the sea to fight pirates once more, but he received word that her vessel was taken by Hellbeard and believes she was killed. He mourns her death.


5) Although he is retired, he can be convinced to adventure again if he hears that Sasha (his lost love) may still be alive, or if he is contacted by the White Foxes during a crisis (see secrets).


Step 2: List at least two goals for the character. At least one of these goals should be one that the character has, while another should be one that you, as a player, want to see developed over the course of the game.


[Example]


1) I would like to see Martin reunited with his lost love and perhaps able to mend fences with some of his former adventuring buddies over the course of this campaign.


2) It would be cool to have Martin face and possibly defeat the Dread Pirate Hellbeard once and for all.


Step 3: List at least two secrets about your character. One is a secret the character knows, one is a secret that involves him but that he is not actually aware of yet. This will help me in creating plots that center around your character. I will also be creating a third secret which you as a player will not be aware of, so expect some surprises!


[Example]


1) Martin is a member of the White Fox Society, a secret society dedicated to keeping Coralton free of tyranny and evil, as well as keeping local governments honest. He provides information and rumors to them, but can be convinced to take a more active roll if pressed.


2) Sasha LeBell, Marin's lost love, is still alive. She was captured by the Dread Pirate Hellbeard and has been kept as his captive for all these years.


3) (Example of a secret I might make up about your character): Not only is Sasha alive, but also she has escaped captivity and killed Hellbeard. She has taken over his ship and crew, and has turned to piracy out of bitterness. She now IS the new Dread Pirate Hellbeard!


Step 4: Describe at least three people that are tied to the character. Two of them are friendly to the character, one is hostile. If you like, you can include an enemy of yours here as well, so I have an instant NPC nemesis to throw at you.


[Example]


1) Martin's friend Audric Cwellen was one of his adventuring mate. Audric, a holy warrior in the service of the Goddess of Love, is the leader of the local cell of the White Fox society, and provides Martin with information and adventure hooks.


2) Another of Martin's old traveling companions, Aubrey LeVaine, is not as helpful as Audric, because they quarreled over the love of Sasha, and Aubrey is still bitter about losing her to Martin. Still, he can provide some magical support if Martin can convince him to let go of his hate.


3) Yebin Thistledown is a strange little creature from the Feywild called a gnome. Martin met the gnome in the Shroudmist Forest and saved him from a pack of Howlers. The Gnome makes all sorts of alchemical items and gadgets, and loves collecting odd souvenirs and items, as well as "recreational herbs." He operates a bizarre patchwork shop in the Rue Angélique district.


Step 5: Describe three memories, mannerisms, or quirks that your character has. They don't have to be elaborate, but they should provide some context and flavor.


[Example]


1) Martin remembers growing up in a tavern as a young boy, helping his mother with the cooking. This started his own interest in the culinary arts.


2) Martin remembers the panic he felt when he discovered that the ship he signed on to was a pirate ship after a brutal attack on a merchantman. He vividly recalls the smell of blood and burning timbers.


3) Martin often recalls the goodbye kiss he gave Sasha when she left him. No kiss he's had since ever compares to that memory.


[design notes for the example character] Martin began life as an atypical barkeep. He was a retired adventurer, but still young and vigorous enough to accompany the party on their adventures. His tavern became the party's base for a while, until the BBEG of the game let off a necromantic bomb that killed most of the townsfolk and turned the town into a Zombie Apocalypse nightmare. Martin survived, and he turned into a secondary character for one of the players as he became more important to the ongoing storyline. Most of his background came from this transition from NPC to part-time PC. After the campaign reboot, Martin returned to his role as the barkeep of the party's favorite hang-out, but the players like him enough that he might return to adventuring status in the future.



Thanks to 'The Stray' from the WoTC board and thanks to Ad Astra games, they would like a donation.

http://www.adastragames.com/

Last edited by Captain K; Jun 28th, 2013 at 09:51 AM.
  #2  
Old Jun 28th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Quarterpound used this in his Curse of the Crimson Throne game recently, to great effect I thought. Good resource.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 03:31 PM
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I have mixed opinions about the 10 minute background. For one thing, unless you're just expecting one-liners out of its questions, I don't see any way that it's going to be written in 10 minutes. But, really, none of my character backgrounds are written in 10 minutes, so that's more quibbling over semantics than the meat of the template.

No, my mixed opinions come from the sort of questions being asked. I don't always background in two allies and an enemy/rival, especially in D&D. I don't always create characters while keeping in mind some secret I, the player, know about the character that the character is not actually aware of themselves.

That's not to say that it's a bad template. Indeed, if you want your players to create characters with backgrounds that lend themselves to plot inspiration and recurrent stories, it's a great prompt. And please don't take this to imply that D&D cannot be a game of immersive roleplay; it can. But a lot of D&D characters start as something akin to the characters in a bildungsroman: the character leaves behind his youthful origins, setting out on a dangerous adventure to prove his place in the world. And the 10 minute background is not a perfect fit for stories of that mold.

But it's a fun writing prompt on its merits, and it's likely a great tool for the sorts of games for which it was envisioned.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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I think the name is a misnomer, more than anything: I know when I used it, it took a few hours to get it out.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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I think the real purpose is to give the players a list of things to think about they may not have considered.

Also it is very useful for DM's so that they don't have to re-read a Background for small bits of information. This makes certain background aspects for more easy to integrate into a game (or to plan for) then a standard background.

I am fine with players using the system as a basis and building outward from it. Organization counts for a lot, especially on a PbP site.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 10:45 PM
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@Nefarious Plot:

I disagree that the 10 minute background cannot fit that mold. Even young adventurers going out into the world for the first time have 15 or 16 years of history to them. Elves will have upwards of a hundred. Surely at some point in time they met at least 2 people who didn't hate them and at least one who did. And if not, why not? If your character doesn't have 2 people in this world who give a crap about him (or her) spin a yarn about that in its place.

But in a way, I think you're right in the implication that it isn't normal for those type of games. Allies, enemies and secrets aren't something players always think of when they draw up a dnd / pathfinder / type character. It is much more reminisce of a shadowrun type character. But I don't think forcing players to think about it like that is a bad thing. On the contrary it helps create additional depth and better tie the players into the campaign world.
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Old Jul 1st, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowcatX View Post
@Nefarious Plot:

I disagree that the 10 minute background cannot fit that mold. Even young adventurers going out into the world for the first time have 15 or 16 years of history to them. Elves will have upwards of a hundred. Surely at some point in time they met at least 2 people who didn't hate them and at least one who did. And if not, why not? If your character doesn't have 2 people in this world who give a crap about him (or her) spin a yarn about that in its place.

But in a way, I think you're right in the implication that it isn't normal for those type of games. Allies, enemies and secrets aren't something players always think of when they draw up a dnd / pathfinder / type character. It is much more reminisce of a shadowrun type character. But I don't think forcing players to think about it like that is a bad thing. On the contrary it helps create additional depth and better tie the players into the campaign world.
Oh, yes, I certainly agree that you can write those kind of background elements for such a character. I was more implying that, in general, the "default" style of D&D gaming tends to be more about what's ahead than what's behind. An awful lot of my D&D characters over the years, including some in markedly low-combat, high-intrigue games that played almost more like Vampire than D&D, never returned to their hometown over a dozen levels of play.

For a game that can use this sort of background material, it's great, because it does force your character to be woven into the world. But it does take longer to write, in my experience, than a standard-format background pitch, so it's probably not a good idea to have players walk through the template if you don't expect to get much use out of the answers you get.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:40 PM
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I had similar misgivings about it when I saw it as a requirement in a game I reciently applied to.

After going through it though, I began to like it. For players, most of it may be irrevelant ingame, but it helps them make more than just your standard 2d character ala Fighter from early 8-bit Theater.

For the DM's, if they use it right, gives them quite a few plot hooks to get the characters more deeply involved.

I haven't used it myself as a GM, but I probably will if I start up a new game this fall.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 06:46 PM
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This is The Stray speaking. I've been looking over this thread because I saw this come up in relation to the TMB, and I'd like to discuss a few of the points raised.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
I think the name is a misnomer, more than anything: I know when I used it, it took a few hours to get it out.
Yeah...it really is, and on other sites where I've used this template format, I've ditched the "Ten Minute" part. The original intention was just to have people do one-liners to start with, then (if they wanted to) expand on from there. But I've found most people just go into detail. I know that when I make TMBs for my characters (both PC and NPC), they tend to take more than a few minutes. It took a lot less time to get a background with this method than with the essay-form backgrounds I used to get, though, and it was easier to get backgrounds from those who weren't great writers. This was written to encourage my Tabletop group, after all, though it does work well in PbP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Statutory Plum View Post
I think the real purpose is to give the players a list of things to think about they may not have considered.
This was one of the major things that I considered when adapting this. The Minimus system I cribbed this off of was very good about asking specific questions to get juices flowing, and the most useful parts for me are the Secrets and Relationships sections (because that information is very important for the sorts of games I like to run.

Quote:
Also it is very useful for DM's so that they don't have to re-read a Background for small bits of information. This makes certain background aspects for more easy to integrate into a game (or to plan for) then a standard background.

I am fine with players using the system as a basis and building outward from it. Organization counts for a lot, especially on a PbP site.
That was the intention of this format. Boil the character down to the essential bits, have them handy to reference, then build from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nefarious Plot View Post
No, my mixed opinions come from the sort of questions being asked. I don't always background in two allies and an enemy/rival, especially in D&D. I don't always create characters while keeping in mind some secret I, the player, know about the character that the character is not actually aware of themselves.

That's not to say that it's a bad template. Indeed, if you want your players to create characters with backgrounds that lend themselves to plot inspiration and recurrent stories, it's a great prompt. And please don't take this to imply that D&D cannot be a game of immersive roleplay; it can. But a lot of D&D characters start as something akin to the characters in a bildungsroman: the character leaves behind his youthful origins, setting out on a dangerous adventure to prove his place in the world. And the 10 minute background is not a perfect fit for stories of that mold.

But it's a fun writing prompt on its merits, and it's likely a great tool for the sorts of games for which it was envisioned.
The purpose of the Relationships is to ground the characters in the world, to give them allies that they will enjoy interacting with, and to get instant rivals to provide them with conflicts. This is a personal preference in the types of games I like to run, which tend to be very city-based affairs rather than the world-wandering sorts of games. It's a large part of Minimus, too. That said, characters can wander (especially the hostile one), and one of the most fantastic things I've seen is that players give themselves ties to other PCs, which is great for getting a party together that has a reason to stick together.

The Secrets are plot hooks handed to me by the PCs. They are fun, fun, fun!

That said, I recognize that this format isn't going to work for every game. It's not supposed to...this is a template I built out of my own preferences for the sorts of games I and my group of friends like to get involved in.
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Old Jul 9th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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I have to say, I used the 10 minute background recently and actually really liked it. I thought I wouldn't at first, but it really helped me piece things together.

I used Captain K's post to help me out, it came in handy for sure.
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