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ClockworLegend
2017-11-20, 08:59 PM
So Ive built a 7th level CG human wizard (divination) sage: researcher background, Ive named Modoc the Magnificent and I want to create a backstory for this character, but Im no writer. Thats where I was hoping you gracious and illustrious bunch may come to my aid. I dont know how to flesh this character out, Im drawing a total blank. The one idea I had was that I thought it would be intresting to have his mentor be a lich who trained him for...reasons? Who knows liches are essentially just nerds who couldnt read enough books while alive so they went all magic zombie so they could keep nerding out in their evil basement, I mean lair. Maybe just needed and apprentice to return his books to Candlekeep so he wasnt getting killed in late fees? Thoughts?

Hellpyre
2017-11-20, 11:23 PM
I recommend that you try to establish a character first, and then draw together a narrative that creates that character. If you can't make the backstory come before the wizard, you can reverse it and still sound natural.

Think about how the character might react to a situation, and then try to come up with the why of it later. You could also use any of a number of random backstory generators to make a skeleton, and then flesh it out to taste.

I'm sorry that I'm not just giving you a story, but I always personally feel more attached to a character I've actually designed than one someone else did.

ClockworLegend
2017-11-20, 11:36 PM
I know what you mean and I do have some ideas but they exist as fragments and im finding it difficult to weave them into anything concrete.

Nifft
2017-11-20, 11:41 PM
I know what you mean and I do have some ideas but they exist as fragments and im finding it difficult to weave them into anything concrete.

List the fragments for us.

List any constraints (i.e.: "definitely never saw the ocean").

ClockworLegend
2017-11-21, 12:11 AM
So these are just fragments and Im overly attatched to any of them, some may be contradictory or overlapping.

-Parents were cultists who served the lich
-Parents were commoners and Modoc was "sold" to an mage for a service
-Seeks to verify some arcane theory (idk what sort of theory though)
-Wandering teacher moving from place to place teaching village children
-Desire to compile the complete an encyclopedia on all known dragon lore
-Sent away for illegal use of magic against a rival
-Sent away for being "an insufferable know it all"
-Thinks, true or not, he is an aspect of a god
-looks down on other spellcasters for "doing it wrong" and "corrupting the art form"
-Belonged to a previous adventuring party that TPKd and Modoc was the sole survivor


But much of these also seem tropey to me.

Avigor
2017-11-21, 01:42 PM
So these are just fragments and Im overly attatched to any of them, some may be contradictory or overlapping.

-Parents were cultists who served the lich
-Parents were commoners and Modoc was "sold" to an mage for a service
-Seeks to verify some arcane theory (idk what sort of theory though)
-Wandering teacher moving from place to place teaching village children
-Desire to compile the complete an encyclopedia on all known dragon lore
-Sent away for illegal use of magic against a rival
-Sent away for being "an insufferable know it all"
-Thinks, true or not, he is an aspect of a god
-looks down on other spellcasters for "doing it wrong" and "corrupting the art form"
-Belonged to a previous adventuring party that TPKd and Modoc was the sole survivor


But much of these also seem tropey to me.

Okay, aside from the urge to crack a joke about M.O.D.O.K... and how assuming the title, "the magnificent," suggests that he is rather full of himself...

Maybe the lich saw something in Modoc that reminded him of his younger self and felt something positive (instead of feeling threatened) leading to him taking Modoc in. Maybe he is related to the lich. Maybe he was in the cult revering the lich and was trained as a "priest" (assuming you're in 5e and the lich either dislikes or lacks the power to create undying warlocks). Maybe he was trained by a lich cultist, instead of the lich itself. Maybe the lich forbids dragon inspired magic, fearing it could awaken dragon blood sorcery which he would have no control over (whereas he can control wizard spellbooks), and his persistent curiosity on the subject got him exiled. Perhaps Modoc's dislike of other casters is centered on Charisma casters - like he believes sorcerers give wizards a bad name.

Just some ideas.

ClockworLegend
2017-11-21, 05:52 PM
Okay, aside from the urge to crack a joke about M.O.D.O.K... and how assuming the title, "the magnificent," suggests that he is rather full of himself...

So full disclosure...is totally stole the name from M.O.D.O.K. except changed that last word to Casting instead of Killing. As far as the "the Magnificent" part. That was kind of the original idea was to make him completely full of himself. For instance he gave himself the moniker and insists on other using it when refering to him.

Mark Hall
2017-11-22, 12:09 PM
So these are just fragments and Im overly attatched to any of them, some may be contradictory or overlapping.

-Parents were cultists who served the lich
-Parents were commoners and Modoc was "sold" to an mage for a service
-Seeks to verify some arcane theory (idk what sort of theory though)
-Wandering teacher moving from place to place teaching village children
-Desire to compile the complete an encyclopedia on all known dragon lore
-Sent away for illegal use of magic against a rival
-Sent away for being "an insufferable know it all"
-Thinks, true or not, he is an aspect of a god
-looks down on other spellcasters for "doing it wrong" and "corrupting the art form"
-Belonged to a previous adventuring party that TPKd and Modoc was the sole survivor


But much of these also seem tropey to me.

For me, I'd start with "Seeks to verify some arcane theory", and lean towards something to do with his specialty (divination). Tying it to his "Thinks he's an aspect of a god", what if he had a vision, true or not, that he was the aspect of a deity, and wants to prove something about the divine spark in otherwise ordinary mortals? He's trying to refine spells to FIND this spark, wherever it exists. He'd be looking at Aasimar and Tieflings and Genasi for little chunks of this (either with spells or by cutting them open, depending on how serial-killer you want him to be).

You might also tie it into his lust for dragon lore. What if his lich cult was actually a dracolich cult? And he's convinced that his power comes from his divine descent from the dragon who became the dracolich his family worshiped? He's now seeking the spark of divine in others... especially dragons, known to be created by/descended from (depending on your world) great deities, and the descendants of dragons.

His descent doesn't mean he's a sorcerer (though you might mix that in later)... but he's got some physical oddity that he's convinced is proof. It might be nothing... simply an unusual eye color, or even a delusion he has... but he views that as proof of his heritage.

Avigor
2017-11-22, 12:32 PM
So full disclosure...is totally stole the name from M.O.D.O.K. except changed that last word to Casting instead of Killing. As far as the "the Magnificent" part. That was kind of the original idea was to make him completely full of himself. For instance he gave himself the moniker and insists on other using it when refering to him.

Awesome. I have to wonder, how common is it for characters to change their name between their birth and their adventuring careers? I know I've made a 5e Grey Guild (from Sterling Vermin) wizard who renamed himself Derne (old english for "secret" or "hidden") after he was adopted off the street and trained by a guy he has long suspected (with no proof) was involved with Vecna...

Anyhoot, it might be worth adapting that into the background. Magical Organism Designed Only for Casting perhaps? Maybe part of the lich brainwashing him? Maybe even a name the lich itself used at some point? Or take another route and say he was somehow created by the lich (would be awesome if you use the Warforged race)?

Joe the Rat
2017-11-22, 12:43 PM
I like the "created" angle - a magically modified "clone" of the lich's mortal self, decanted as a youngish age and trained up (because reasons).

He needs a trusted errand-runner and assistant, and ultimately doesn't trust anyone besides himself to do it. So he remade himself, and did a little adjusting to be a stronger magi-minion.

The character may not know any of this.

Now the question is, are you on a mission, or did you part from the lich's organization?

Anymage
2017-11-22, 12:43 PM
Since "backgrounds" makes me think this is 5e, let's look at the other roleplay hooks. Ideals, bonds, and flaws. If nothing sparks your background immediately, try to think of other concrete elements of your character and build out from those.

Also, there's nothing wrong with your background being a little tropey. You do want to give a justification for why your character is an adventurer as opposed to a researcher or magical craftsman or whatnot, and ideally one with specific hooks your dm can use to engage you instead of vague ones like "wants to see the world". But if your character's backstory largely involves having trained at a Hogwarts expy, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

Mark Hall
2017-11-22, 12:47 PM
I like the "created" angle - a magically modified "clone" of the lich's mortal self, decanted as a youngish age and trained up (because reasons).

He needs a trusted errand-runner and assistant, and ultimately doesn't trust anyone besides himself to do it. So he remade himself, and did a little adjusting to be a stronger magi-minion.

The character may not know any of this.

Now the question is, are you on a mission, or did you part from the lich's organization?

Read "House of the Scorpion (http://amzn.to/2hIrR7g)" or "Winds of Fat (http://amzn.to/2zezklK)e" and you get another option.

Is his family part of a lich-cult, or simply an "immortal wizard" cult? With the immortal wizard in question breeding descendants to make the perfect vessel for their next incarnation?

Anymage
2017-11-22, 01:23 PM
Is his family part of a lich-cult, or simply an "immortal wizard" cult?

Emphasis on this. Liches in 5e are not just "huge nerds who zombie out so they can spend more time reading". If they don't regularly eat souls, they start to deactivate. Not the sort of person a CG character would like to spend time around.

I mean, you can say that you didn't know that your mentor was a lich, and ran away after you found out. You can also find some other justification for your mentor's extreme longevity/immortality, be it a benign reason or another dark one. (In fact, just spitballing, but being raised so he'd have a new body to move into could be an interesting take.) But in addition to 5e liches being more than just zombie nerds, more depth than just "my mentor was a zombie nerd" can give you other ideas to work from.

ClockworLegend
2017-11-22, 06:00 PM
Good point about the soul-eating I had totally forgot about that.

I like the idea about being breated by the lich...maybe a mis-incarnated simulacrum? Or a clone of the lich or their past loved one?

Was thinking about the lich being a family partriarch, training the descendants who show arcane aptitude?

I love the implication of the divine spark idea. Searching for powerful plane touched to hijack their essence.

I do have some great starts for this background and plan on working on this over the next day or two and ill post it here once im finished so if you want see the end result stay tuned.

Avigor
2017-11-22, 08:27 PM
Might be worth looking at this. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhkYSLOMmTs) 6 q's, can help flesh out quite a bit.


Is his family part of a lich-cult, or simply an "immortal wizard" cult? With the immortal wizard in question breeding descendants to make the perfect vessel for their next incarnation?

(In fact, just spitballing, but being raised so he'd have a new body to move into could be an interesting take.)

the hapless guard who joins the caravan due to a "mistake" between his name and that of a royal official is actually a descendant of the lich (from before he became undead), and the lich is so old his "immortal" form is on the verge of failing so his master plan is to essentially body-swap the poor sap and become a lich all over again.


Good point about the soul-eating I had totally forgot about that.

I like the idea about being breated by the lich...maybe a mis-incarnated simulacrum? Or a clone of the lich or their past loved one?

Was thinking about the lich being a family partriarch, training the descendants who show arcane aptitude?

I love the implication of the divine spark idea. Searching for powerful plane touched to hijack their essence.

I do have some great starts for this background and plan on working on this over the next day or two and ill post it here once im finished so if you want see the end result stay tuned.

What about if the lich was polymorphed into a human? Wouldn't that allow him to conceive? I'm pretty sure that's how dragons do it (cause otherwise they're either babies or severely injuring the poor women involved). Hmm, I suspect the descendant of a lich could qualify for Shadow Sorcerer... Of course, simulacra and clones can also work with DM fiat.

Also, there is a similar plot at one point (albeit with a vampire instead of a lich) to the undead immortal patriarch idea in the Two Necromancers series (https://www.amazon.com.au/Necromancers-Bureaucrat-Unconventional-Heroes-Book-ebook/dp/B00LXT9OLI)...

Anyhoot, best of luck!

ClockworLegend
2017-11-29, 02:06 AM
Notice: Incoming Wall of Text

So this is my first attempt at a detailed background and I would love some feedback. Feel free to make suggestions, edit, or alter this so that it make sense and flows correctly. My grammer isnt the best so bear that in mind.

I also need help with and ending so any suggestions there would be apprenticed.

House Talonmist traces their lineage back to the great Sardikar Tahlaunmiiz, Imperial Dreamer of Calimshan, who fled north from Calimport with his family. After being granted a vision fortelling of the Red Plague of -990 DR. As a result Sardikar became obsessed with disease and death, he would later turn to dark arts and necromancy. Seeking to tease out the secrets of lichdom, as a means of forestalling his death; and by extension guiding and securing the legacy of his lineage.

Since then the family has dwelt in the lands that now surround the town of Westgate, near Waterdeep. Acting as a reclusive, low-profile family of traders while slowly gathering magical lore and secerts as they bred and scattered across the Sword Coast. Though throughout the centuries, those descendants of House Talonmist who showed an aptitude for the arcane mysteries would be sent off the family seat of "Kingsgrave Manor". Where they were to apprentice under the immutable patriarch, the lich Sardikar Tahlaunmiiz.

In recent years the Talonmist family has been embroiled in a simmering fued with the Harpells, an upstart family of wizards from Longsaddle. Whom have disrupted Talonmist activities and acquisitions in the past. Members of the opposing families have even been known to engage in duels to the death when tensions boil over. The Talonmists also harbor a cold relationship with the Red Wizards, seeing the new expansion of the merchant-mages into the Sword Coast as a threat to the family business.

It is in this time, some 2,500 years after the exodus from Calimshan, that Modoc was born. The second of Jaheira and Ajantis Talonmist's three children, his early child was free of any significant turmoil or crisis. Modoc's parents made their living as spice merchants in the bustling port city of Waterdeep; and while they were not wealthy, they lived a comfortable lifestyle.* This afforded their children the opportunity to receive an education. It was in this evironment of learning and study the Modoc began to thrive. He read voraciously, sometimes late into the night and would often be scolded by his mother, for using to many candles when caught.

However, it would not be long before Modoc's education became a source of umbrage. The normally peaceful home would erupt with cantankerous argument. As the young savant challenged the teachings of his tutors, in subjects that encompassed everything from theological matters, to natual theories, and even the wonders of the higher mysteries. The study was often a room in the throws of raucous debate, in which Modoc's energy was spent disputing, correcting, and badgering his tutors. All the while demanding evidence of their teachings. Invariably these educators would resign amid a string of curses as they stormed from the family home. These resignations began to become a burden on the family finances, we well as a disruption to the education of their other children. Finding no other recourse for the dangerous intellect of their son the parents decided it was time. They sent a message, and received a response. Modoc was to be delivered to Kingsgrave Manor, where he would examined and tested; and if he was deemed worthy he would be formally apprenticed to the venerable "Gandfather Sar".

The precocious youth was sent east by carrage and arrived at an ancient fortified manor house set atop one of the rolling hills north of the town of Westgate. The manor itself seemed to be built over many centuries. With evidence of several different construction phases and techniques, giving the structure an overall disjointed and bizarre appearance. Once emitted into the enigmatic buillding Modoc was questioned at length. Scrutinized by robed men and women of unclear relation to the boy though they bore a distinct resemblance to his father. Eventually he was taken to an antechamber deep in the vaults under the manor, the door to the room beyond was covered in luminous blue runes. At this point his robed guides instructed Modoc to "Wait here" before the pair turned and hurried from the crypt-like atmosphere of the vaults.

Several hours passed before the door swung open as if by some invisible force. It took Modoc a moment to summon to courage to enter. When he did the scene the greeted the boy nearly overwhelmed his senses. Smoke from burning incense hung in several gilded brazers purfuming the air. A small library's worth of the tombs and scrolls sat in a massive, over stuffed, and many more lay stacked on the floor and tables throughout the room. A number of crystals arcing electricity, hovered in place, occasionally shifted from one side of the room to the other.* In a corner sat wooden talbe of polished wood holds carefully arranged and straightened lengths of hair. Each set is tied together with bright blue string. The* sigil of house Talonmist covered much of the floor. The design is cut into the floor and its tiny channels are full of glistening mercury. In the center of the room stood the desiccated and mummified figure of Grandfather Sar. He was clothed in ivory colored robes trimed with gold, his fingers and throat heavy with jewellery. Small crystaline stones floated above his head, atop which sat a circlet made of opalecent stone. The only thing that kept the boy from fleeing the chamber was sheer awe. As Gandfather Sar reached out a skeletal hand to gesture the youth forward he said "You need not fear me my child. But know this, your existence shall be that, which I weave for you out of sorrow and woe."

Initially Modoc split the majority of his days either assisting his master with alchemical experiments, deep in study, or carefully aiding with embalming rituals to fortify the liches deteriorating form. But as time. Though as the years progressed Modoc's apprenticeship became an affair of extremes. In one moment Grandfather Sar would patently guide the young mage through the intricacies of The Weave and spellcraft. The next the old lich would set impossible goals for any budding wizard to attain. And when Modoc would inevitably fail, his master was harsh and unforgiving. Evidence of the lich's cruelty was most evident at the end of his time at Kingsgrave Manor.

He was told by Grandfather Sar to prepared to a journey to the Shadowfell, no doubt so the lich could achieve some seceret end. The process seemed simple; an aperture opened like a jaw, and swallowed them and they passed into another space. But something happened when the pair attempted to plane shift. And an error left Modoc separated from his master and alone in the Feywild.

At first he could only stare, open-mouthed, stuned at the resplendent natural beauty before him. But he was soon shocked out of this trance. The sound of his master's voice boomed inside of his head. "Return triumphant or die forgetten" the old lich said, and then it was silent. By happenstance or destiny, Modoc had entered the Feywild in the territory of a Brass dragon named Parthanax. The dragon kept a keen eye on its domain and quickly "collected" the spellcaster as a sort of curio. Parthanax brought Modoc back to it's lair, "The Grand Hall of Conversation" where it spent the majority of its time entertaining friends and visitors. The lair also contained an elegant foyer, a gallery for the artwork the dragon collected, sleeping chambers, of course a treasure vault that housed the dragons horde. Pathanax loved to engage his guest in hours of long winded debate, and Modoc was no exception. This environment suited the young mage and he spent countless hours in deep conversation with the dragon and it's visitors. During his time in the Feywild, Modoc learned answers to questions his had not know to ask. After some months with the dragon he was able to convince Pathanax to send him back to the Material Plane.

[Help me end this story]

noob
2017-11-29, 02:50 AM
-Parents were cultists who served the lich
-Parents were commoners and Modoc was "sold" to an mage for a service
-Seeks to verify some arcane theory (idk what sort of theory though)
-Wandering teacher moving from place to place teaching village children
-Desire to compile the complete an encyclopedia on all known dragon lore
-Sent away for illegal use of magic against a rival
-Sent away for being "an insufferable know it all"
-Thinks, true or not, he is an aspect of a god
-looks down on other spellcasters for "doing it wrong" and "corrupting the art form"
-Belonged to a previous adventuring party that TPKd and Modoc was the sole survivor
I guess you can do that without gm intervention if you can cast travel through time:
Step 1: Cast travel through time and become your own parents by creating yourself.(of course do not forget to use some spells to make sure none of the yourselves see any of the other yourselves)
Step 2: Become a lich and a cultist of yourself so now your parents are cultists who serve the lich.
Step 3: Take a dip in the commoner class and sell your new you to yourself.
Step 4: Try to verify the arcane theory that any backstory can go through if it is long enough.
Step 5: Turn yourself and the new you in kids through the use of Steal Life then teach to your yourselves while wandering.
Step 6: Mind rape your new self in having the desire to make an encyclopedia of all known dragon lore(which you will probably do by researching an infinitely easy to find epic spell once you reach epic levels thereby getting infinitely far in the past before the existence of dragons thereby making you succeed instantly in your task).
Step 7: Send yourself away for the illegal use of magic to eat your own cake.
Step 8: Have the new you send the old you away for being an insufferable know it all.
Step 9: Mind rape yourself in believing you are the aspect of a god.
Step 10: Create something living then kill it then use animate undying for turning it in an undying wizard then consider that this undying wizard is "doing it wrong" and "corrupting the art form" because he does not have a spellbook and still casts as a level 3 wizard so he surely is doing it wrong(I mean having wizard casting and not even having a spellbook)
Step 11: make an adventuring party that adventure against itself and kill yourself there-bye making you be in a party that got tpked and where you was the sole survivor(because you are a lich and thus come back to life)

Congratulations: none of this backstory needed any action from a character other than yourself.
You just need to reach level 17 and pick the right spells for making the backstory valid retroactively.

Twizzly513
2017-11-29, 07:00 PM
My suggestion is short, but I think it will help a lot.
You've probably heard of this book called Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Even if you don't play 5th edition, this is useful. Inside of the book is a set of tables that do exactly what you are asking. They have basic rolling to decide all kinds of things about a character's story, and they are phenomenal. Easily one of the best character creation tools I've ever seen. They make your character feel so much more rooted in the world and more like a real person in general. The best part is that it's not edition specific! You can find a pdf online and check them out. I believe it starts on page 62. If not, then it's around that area. Again, I highly recommend this. Even if you don't roll, there are great ideas.