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  • Writer's pictureJulie Boglisch

Aldren's History: A look into my first characters backstory

Digging into the nitty gritty of a backstory

Aldren was my first time stepping a toe into the world of D&D or ttrpg's as many people know the term as. I wanted to keep it simple and didn't want to delve into the, in my opinion, hectic and confusing magic classes. I thought, wouldn't it be fun just to play someone sneaky?

Up until then, I only ever saw games of D&D from the Ox-ventures, High-rollers and, of course, Critical role. So I only had a general basis of how the game worked.

So, I imitated, as tends to happen when inspired by other works. One of my favorite characters was the twin's from Critical Role, Vax and Vex. I adored Vax and thought that it would be super cool to play a character like him. A chaotic neutral half-elf with a rough past and a penchant for thievery. I even resolved that I would use daggers like him.

Drawing of Vax'ildan and the raven queen that I did many years ago now. that I used as a reference for my character.

I thought, how hard could it be?

Going from imitation to creation

Aldren came into being as a simple concept, based off of a character I had watched for hours on end. Yet, I had no intention of following the history to the letter and started to think up the story behind him... and that ended up being harder than I expected. When he was first created, the only thing I knew for certain was that he was looking for his older sister who was kidnapped by fey. That's it. No extra backstory or tale, nothing. I got off the ship and was immediately stealing what I could as I walked through town.

Soon, however, he started to actually grow and develop. Being a thief class, he had the ability to climb walls at normal speed and I used this to get a higher advantage. I found myself loathing daggers because of their weak attacks and found myself leaning more toward the short bow.

Slowly, Aldren started to become his own person, no longer a replica. He was mischievous and persuasive. He wasn't afraid to take risks but was a kind soul. He had no qualms with stealing from you one moment while saving your arse the next. However, he was distant. He found difficulty in trusting after living on his own for so long and... this is when his backstory started to develop beyond more than just a one line description. I started delving into the timing of certain events and names. I started working out the details of what happened to him that lead him to this point.

I found myself no longer imitating... I was now creating.

A multi-faceted character

At some point, Aldren became a character that also felt real to me. I spoke like him, acted like him in game, I was him, in many ways. He has his moments of sarcasm and his moments of quiet. He's restrained in his emotions, but he's not emotionless. He can be hurt and feel familial love. He took in pets as friends to make sure they were fed. Began to raise a baby dragon to keep it safe... Yet, he has no hesitancy in slaughtering someone if it was necessary.

Now... now his memories are starting to come back to him, of a backstory I'm still developing even at level 16. One that's getting ever more detailed and fitting to the person Aldren is as well as the trauma he has endured and the pain he's felt. The few moments of joy that has come of late, only to be soured by confusion, distrust and hesitancy.

It makes him feel like a living, breathing character. I even was able to use things that happened in game to shape how he developed. Early on, for instance, he found a rug of smothering and he inherently gained a fear of rugs which persisted to even now.

Now? Now he's accomplished part of his back story. He found and rescued his sister and he's only still adventuring to protect those who he currently see's as family, even though he 'knows' they would not do the same for him in turn. He's not one to call or ask for help... and I'm wondering how long that's going to be the case as the world falls to pieces around him and those important to him.

A recent drawing of Aldren with his wings of flying. Similar and yet very different from who he was inspired by.

Final Thoughts

So, the reason why I brought this up is because of how he developed. Many people look down on imitation, but imitation was what gave me a character I could call my own and fall in love with. Imitation is perfectly fine, as long as you use it as a guideline to get you started. Then, allow yourself to delve into aspects such as personality, motives and goals. No two characters will ever be the same, even through imitation, because you are your own person, so work with that!

Many times, the first character is pretty much yourself. Being a writer, that was not fully the case for me. My first D&D character was someone I wanted to play and learn about. To see where he went with his story. To see him go from someone plain and basic, a thief with a missing sister, to a complex and still developing young man that is making complex deals with dragons, closing portals to the nothing and managing to carefully balance a web of lies and half-truths while being one the 'weaker' members of the party due to his lack of magic, which I turned from not just a mechanical thing, but to an actual inherited thing he's had to deal with and overcoming. All of this has been amazing to witness.

So, if you enjoyed this little tidbit and want to learn more about my D&D games and my characters, don't forget to follow! I post every three days of either D&D, a good thing of the week, or tips and tricks!

See you all next time, and don't forget to check out my artwork and published stories!

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