With so many books, genres, and authors that have lived and are living in the world today we can only wonder if everything that can be written about has been. Tales of love, betrayal, growth, coming of age, wars have been written since we learned to put words to parchment. It could be said that everything that can be written about has been. This makes it especially difficult to create unique, engaging stories for players to become involved in and follow.
Just because most or even all genres have been written about doesn’t mean we can’t create unique stories for our players to follow. In the last article, I wrote about how to make your own character more unique by focusing on the motivations instead of race or class first. The same follows for DM’s trying to make the stories of their players more unique. I would recommend focusing on personal motivations for the stories we write. This brings people naturally in because it is personally catered for them. For example, my new character, Brenna, was just going to be a Watcher paladin of Heimdall. My husband and DM came up with the great idea to make her the daughter of Heimdall that he left on Toril to keep it safe.
It might seem like a lot of work and as a writer I can understand the frustrations of not knowing what direction to go. Should they have a tragic backstory or a happy family? Should they be hunted or get into trouble along the way? Let your players create the base motivations for their character and build their stories from there. Not only does this make it easier on the DM but it also increases the involvement and personal connection to the player characters for the players. It seems weird to “collaborate” in bringing a character or story to life but a DM’s life is hard enough as it is. Taking this step will lessen the stress and add a depth of emotion to the stories you create around your players.
As both an avid player and amature writer I sometimes find it difficult to find the uniqueness in a story. If everything has been written then the only path to uniqueness is the personal touch. Developing the people involved in a story can often bring forth true motivations for acting. Endearing the characters to the reader or players is what hooks a participant and keeps them coming. To see what the procession of events will be for a beloved character can keep you reading or playing long after you would have put the book down or left the table.
There is also the problem of players that don’t really build a foundation for their characters. These blank slates can be difficult to create motivations for and does create a bit more work for the DM. We have, at our table, a changeling with no idea of their past. While this is a legitimate story line, it does make a bit difficult to explain the character’s drive. My husband created an entire story surrounding the fact that the character is descended from Eberron, a separate world. Eventually they will have to return to Eberron to learn more of their past and their future path. The story of a clueless alien on a different planet has been written about time and time again but by adding a bit of personal touch you can keep the player or reader engaged for a long time.
My ultimate piece of advice is actually quite lazy. The goal is to create captivating stories without much work. DM’s are usually overworked with other stories, encounters, and quests to so using your player’s to help make more unique, engaging stories can help ease that stress. If you have advice on creating unique stories for campaigns or characters please let me know in the comments or find me on twitter @DnDWifeStories and on Instagram @dndwife. I would love to hear from you!