Your background should give a good idea of who your character is and how he/she got to where he/she is today. It should cover important events in your character’s past, and present a well-rounded portrait of your character. The maximum length available is 8000 characters, though this is by no means how long it has to be. It should be no longer than it needs to be. It is, however, very important that it is proof-read, spell-checked and formatted in such a way that it is easy to read. For example, it is strongly recommended that %R (this creates a linebreak) is used to break a background into paragraphs. It is also a good idea to use %T (this creates a tab) to indent each paragraph. An example background can be seen as part of the CharGen Overview.
If you’ve never written a background before and aren’t sure to start, our article on character building may be helpful. However, here we’ll provide a simple technique for how to breakdown a background into a few parts that will help you conceptualize a character and their history. First, consider breaking your character’s life into at least three sections: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
Childhood is fairly straightforward. Try to imagine what your character was like as a child. Were they spoiled or ignored? How strictly were they brought up? Look at the character’s family tree at our house listing and consider how they may have related to various characters as a child, and on through adolescence and adulthood. Are they the oldest child or the youngest, or in between? How close are they to being heir, and do they think or care at all about that? Is there anyone unusual in the family tree—someone famous or infamous, an archmaester or a septon—and could they be closely connected?
For adolescence, think about the fact that many boys in the setting are sent away to serve as pages and squires for other knights and lords. If your character is male, it’s likely that they were sent to serve a knight or lord of some related household—a neighbouring lord, a relative by marriage, even a member of one’s overlord’s family. You don’t need to limit yourself to any of these ; maybe there’s a player you know on the game whose character might suit, or you have an idea for something else entirely. In any case, consider what life away from your family could have been like, and what your relationship to the knight you served may have been like. Were they someone who took training your character seriously or not? Did they travel to tourneys? Are they retainers of some greater lord, and were they regularly at their overlord’s castle, taking part in its intrigues?
If you’re female, you probably weren’t sent anywhere. However, as you matured and flowered, you may have had your family start considering marriage possibilities, and you might well have been introduced to a number of youths as prospects were considered. What was that like for you? Was there a particularly cruel or pleasant suitor? Did you not care for the attention out of nervousness? What did you enjoy doing during your days? If you’ve siblings, how would your changing status as you grew into womanhood affect your relationships with them?
Finally, adulthood. For men, an important point was their achieving knighthood (18 is the typical age for this.) What were the circumstances? Did they simply convince their master that they deserved it? Did they perform well at a tourney or bravely fight against bandits or against a rival lord in some private war? The conquest of Dorne is one of the great military conflicts of the Seven Kingdoms—perhaps you earned your spurs there? And if you already had them by that point, you probably took part in it at least. How did that affect you?
Men and women both may also have gotten married, and even had children. Was it a love match, or simply a political union? Are you polite to one another, loving, or distant? How about the children? Last of all, what brings you to the area you’re starting play in? If you’re an officer of the City Watch, how did that come about? If you’re simply a young knight looking to serve someone, why did you choose this place instead of some other one? What things does your character hope to achieve? Some want to make a good marriage, some want some sinecure where they can gain influence, and doubtless there are other possibilities.