So here's the thing: I'm the only player in our group who writes long, detailed backgrounds, and it's pretty easy for me since I write stories quite often anyway. I've had 3 characters with our current group, which consists of people I've known for years, and we've played together for almost a year now. I've noticed how I'm the only person who has ever asked anything about anyone's character. And when I say that, I mean in the style of being around a campfire and asking, "So how did you learn how to fight like that?" Or something related to their families. I avoid the latter in terms of one player because I know for a fact that the answer is always "uhh..uhmm..I don't know, does that matter?"

I'm absolutely fine with people not writing detailed backstories, but how on earth could I get them to ask something about my character? I already tend to make the weirdest or the most mysterious character I possibly can to make them interested, rather than creating stereotypes, but that doesn't seem to be enough. I'd be absolutely delighted to tell them all about my character's family, how he learned how to use magic and/or weapons, and all that stuff, since I spent all night writing it. It's kind of a bummer to never get to share those stories with anyone other than the DM. For what it's worth he really likes them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your question title states you want "players" to ask but your example of the campfire is dealing with your "characters". Are you wanting the players to ask you as a player about your character? Or are you wanting their characters to ask your character "in character"? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 7:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ How do your characters typically meet for the first time in-game? \$\endgroup\$
    – pipe
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 14:37

8 Answers 8


First, you can't make people care about your backstory if they aren't interested in that sort of thing. I know it is frustrating, but in RPGs, there are so many different things people want out of the game, and not everyone cares about the backstory. Heck, some don't even care about the story. If they are just looking for a dungeon crawl or murder hobo game, they might not be interested in the backstory of your character.

Second, share it with your DM/GM/StoryTeller. Your DM may, or may not, wish to tie events to characters' backstories.

Third, you could (out of game) look at tying your backstory in with another player's backstory, so at least to that other player there is something to be gained from those questions. Especially if you work with/through your DM/GM/StoryTeller – maybe you know the answer to one of the questions one of the other players is seeking.

Lastly, backstory informs roleplay. Maybe it isn't necessary to fish for people asking, or to beat people over the head with the backstory, instead just roleplay the character thinking about what they would do in each situation, and maybe backstory points will come up. "Oh, DM/GM/Storyteller, do I know anything about this symbol from my time studying while at the temple of ... ?" Etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I already do the second and last thing. About the first thing,we don't do the whole murder hobo thing. Everyone at the table is thankfully above that. Also we rarely even get to any actual dungeons either,as weird as that might sound. Maybe once every 8 or more sessions. Now when it comes to the third thing that would be pretty hard to do since we don't create our characters as a group. Only way of doing that would be to spend some time asking about their stories and then retconning my own backstory. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rein
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 23:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Everyone at the table is thankfully above that." - there's nothing wrong with murder hobo if people find it fun. It's just a matter of whether your group finds it fun or not. (The problem arises when some people at the table do, and some don't.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Martin - exactly. My point was that different people get different things out of D&D and other RPGS, and no one's fun is wrong. Just saying they might be interested in the same kind of lore/story building. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 16:06

If you want your co-players to ask about your backstory, you may need to, out of game, simply ask them to do so. As the other answers have pointed out, you may be playing with a group which is largely not interested/invested in long, detailed PC backstories for whatever reason. It may simply not occur to the players that a) you have a long detailed backstory (even if you told them at the beginning of the campaign, they might well have forgotten if it hasn't come up in the meantime), and/or b) that you want them to ask about it.

I've played with players who have no interest in other PCs' backstories at all. I've played with players who have come up with incredibly complex backstories - but are cagey as all heck when asked about it because they want to be Mysterious(tm). I've played with players who get interested in backstories when they're relevant, but don't think about them otherwise.

In other words, without knowing why your fellow players don't ask about your backstory, you won't know what you can do (if anything) to make them more interested. If their answer amounts to a disinterested shrug, then you may need to accept that your fun (detailed backstories) isn't their fun, and decide whether that's a deal-breaker for you. If not, you can carry on as usual, accepting that you will not likely be asked about your backstory. If so, it may be time to find a new group whose fun more closely aligns with yours.

On the other hand, if your fellow players respond with something like "Oh, I forgot about your backstory", or "I didn't know you wanted us to ask", then you can open a discussion about how to get your backstory more involved in the game with their help.


To extend on J. A. Streich's answer, you don't have to be a murder hobo to not really have investment in character backstory.

Everyone has their own reason to play D&D. Some do it for the role play; investing themselves in a character wholly and completely, coming up with every single detail about their character. Others just simply don't, being more invested in the world around them, rather than the character they play. And then there is the "inbetweener", that develops a character's backstory as they play - coming up with situations as to why they may or may not like a certain situation.

I feel the third situation is often the most fluent - revealing an important fact about the PC in a relevant situation, which is relevant to the story.

An example of this was one game, a player had written an involved backstory for their character, but it was only when a "wanted" poster, with their face on it, revealed that the PC was actually a Princess, that has run away from her history. It was a big "OMG" moment for the whole party. If that had been told around a campfire, I really don't believe it would have had the same effect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. A lot of people want to make a new story within the game context. Their backplot is largely irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sobrique
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 10:01

In addition, it is entirely possible that your travelling companions (the ingame characters, not necessarily the players) are simply not interested in getting to know the backstories for whatever reason.

Reasons may be:

  1. It's a merc character/outfit with no close ties to the other group members. ("I'm only here for the job, so spare me your sob story!")
  2. Everyone in the outfit has a shady past, and wants to start over with a blank slate, so better not to dwell on things best left buried. (Think France's Foreign Legion)
  3. (More geared to individual characters) The character is a "lone wolf" type with little to no interest to connect to the other party members, including your character.

I know these reasons firsthand, since I did play "type 1" characters myself, and it was to the dismay of another player who did try to make her character interesting, but mine simply didn't bite.

But, think of theatre - show, don't tell. Especially if you're playing in a more open world rather than a campaign, I'm pretty sure the GM would agree to put up a side storyline where your character's past may come up again to haunt him, and by extension, the rest of the party. Don't make it too elaborate, but enough to give others enough reason to come up with something like "Okay, now we're all in it at the deep end, out with it!"


You have a variety of techniques you can use to get more backstory out there. Some you're doing, some may fit your specific situation and some may not, but really the only way to know is to try.

  1. Make the backstory interesting - but more importantly, relevant. Just because it's wacky doesn't always interest other players - they just say "cool story bro" and move on. Ideally, it's relevant in some ways to their interests. Collaborating with the GM and/or other interested players can really level this up. If something you know is relevant, or someone you know can help, or similar, that will suck in the more task-minded players. If having a backstory gets you more spotlight time, or a shared backstory with another player seems to lead to y'all having more fun, it can pique their interest. Bring in your backstory but respect what the other players care about in the bargain for best effect.

  2. Refer to it yourself. Don't "wait to be asked." You don't have to drone on and on about it, just mention stuff in passing. Use description words about yourself. Even basic things can be hard to get across - in one game I ran a PC had turned from a big beefy fighter into a cleric, and a newer player envisioned him as small and bookish because he didn't really mention his muscles; I encouraged him to do so. "In my older days I would have poleaxed that guy..." If your DM is up for some light player narrative control, you could "nod to a guy with a topknot a lot like mine who's running the magic item sales tent..." You need to not abuse it but if you're gentle and the GM is gracious that might elicit a "Hey, do you know that guy? Think you could get me hooked up with a discount?" "Well, he is from my same wizard's college, but I'm kinda on the outs with them." "Why?" "Well, my master was murdered blah blah..." If you're flexible about your backstory and can slot in "campaign relevant group X" instead of the exact random one you made up, it is easier on them...

  3. Discuss this with the group at a metagame level. "Hey, I have a lot more fun with the game if all the characters seem like real people and not killbots - I'm going to try to roleplay more and would appreciate it if anyone wanted to join in!" People can't read your mind, sometimes having a heads up of what you're going for can help.


I have faced similar situations while playing (I DM mostly). In my experience, the best way to show other players that character development may be fun is to connect your character to the world even in the most casual ways.


Party enters into a tunnel.

(your dwarf character): Great! These old tunnels remind me of my homeland! Although some of this structures are poorly crafted... (starts rambling about stone stuff)

This kind of stuff makes the players feel that the characters really are part of the world they are adventuring.


...if they have no interest in character development at all, there's no real reason for you to want them to ask about your character. I know it may be frustrating, but some people enjoy different aspects of the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ PS.: English is my second language so any edits are welcome \$\endgroup\$
    – AshenCrow
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 12:40

OK, now I will probably sound a bit like I'm trolling (which is particularly bad as this is my first post here) but I swear I'm not. The other answers did already cover very well the first things that I would say, so I'll skip straight to the next ones:

  • Consider writing a book. If what you really enjoy is writing complex backstories and sharing them, then writing a book will probably satisfy you better than playing a RPG and reach a wider - and willing - audience.
  • This will heavily depend on your friends as well, but consider playing other RPGs/story games. Maybe I'm wrong here but - to me - the fact that you say "DM" implies that you're playing D&D or another kind of dungeon-crawl-oriented game. They are not - by design - much story-oriented. There are other games where the backstory matters more. For example:
    • in Fate the character building is collaborative by default: the other players are supposed to be involved in your PC's creation and backstory (and share theirs), and the "aspects" that come from the backstory are one of the main mechanical ingredient of the PCs.
    • PDQ and Heroquest have descriptive stats that allow a good backstory to have a mechanical weight (quite similarly to Fate's aspects)
    • the Burning Wheel - from what I know - has a character creation mechanic that is very much based on writing a backstory
    • story games. Not all of them are about creating PCs with backstories, but some are, or can be. Some are specifically about the relationships and interactions between the characters (like Hillfolks / Dramasystem), or have that as an ingredient. In general they are about telling a story while it's happening, so maybe they could appeal to you anyway. You could check for example Archipelago, Itras By, Questlandia, Okult, While the World Ends, Legacy: Life Among the Ruins. The sory-games.com forum could also be a good place to peek around and see if you like what you see.
  • Consider not playing a mysterious character, but a chatty one. The kind of guy who can never keep his mouth shut, and is always talking about things he's done, places he's seen, people he knows. The kind of guy renown in every tavern and every brothel for his improbable tales. Maybe the kind of guy that asks a lot of questions too (a bit like Shrek's donkey, perhaps? OK maybe less annoying). If your friends are annoyed instead of amused, then maybe they are not interested in stories after all, and more into rolling dice, checking stats and killing monters. And that's perfectly fine.

I cannot speak for everyone at your table, but I can tell you why I would never ask for your backstory:

I'm there to experience an adventure. All make believe but nevertheless something where my character takes action and influences the world (or at least a small part of it). Listening to a back story is taking time away from it. The backstory is written. I cannot meaningfully interact with it. It's the past. The fact that I decided against reading a book and for playing D&D already tells you that I'd rather be an actor in a story rather than a consumer.

Give your back story a meaning in the current story, something I can interact with, something I should interact with. If your character were an orphan that lead the "Waterway 83" street gang and was feared under their street name of "Killer Jim", then telling my character that at campfire is booooring. If we get ambushed by thugs in a dark alley and despite their superior position, they flee in panic when they see you, yelling "oh no it's Killer Jim, he's back", I might be interested to hear why. Not because it's your back story, but it's something happening in the current adventure. Something I can react to instead of passively consuming it.

So, give your back story to your GM, so they can weave it into the adventure. That's great. Maybe after the thugs run off, we have to hide because Killer Jim still owes the Mafia Don money and now they have been spotted? Maybe the guards have a heightened interest now because Killer Jim is still at large? Maybe the damsel in distress we wanted to rescue hates Killer Jim because they killed their father, the town guard 20 years back and that's why she is stuck with her evil stepmom? Who knows. Make your back story matter to the story. Make it part of the story. Make it interactable. That way, people will be interested.


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