13
\$\begingroup\$

The buildup

I am playing a campaign with a few friends and we are all kinda new including the DM, though he does have a little more experience than the players. The other day the DM asked everyone for their character's backstory, offering to help people come up with more details if they wanted to but otherwise leaving it up to the player.

The character I am playing is an anime trope I thought would be fun to play in a D&D game, everyone agreed it'd be fun and that these aren't often played if ever (according to our extensive research as internet dwellers).

As I struggle to have time between work to properly write my character's backstory and send it, the DM and I kept texting back and forth and he would offer up scenarios he thought would match my character, most of them stuff I had already thought about and had decided were in my character's backstory.
At this point I thought we were on the same page.

When I finally get a day off I type everything up. I believe my backstory is original because I haven't seen it in any anime before. It was great, it made sense with the character, and it had the potential to be both simple or very emotional and heartstring pulling, depending on what the DM decided to do with it.

The problem

5 minutes after I sent the DM my backstory he sends me a lengthy text telling me how he doesn't like it and is changing pretty much everything, ignoring half of it and letting me know how mediocre he thinks the parts he's letting stay are. All with a tone of "I don't like it because don't think its original."

I don't know if maybe I didn't choose the right words to get the message across or if he just made my character's backstory all on their own and planned to shut down my idea regardless, while still telling me I got to do it myself.
I don't like this version of my backstory; it changes a lot of my characters core beliefs and I won't know how to play them anymore.

I don't know what to do as both of us are creative minds and are attached to our ideas. I don't want the DM to give me a backstory I don't like, but with the character like this, I won't have fun. I also don't necessarily want to tell him how to do his job.

My question

What techniques or ways are available to resolve this?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ First of all, welcome to the site Diana. There is a valid situation to address in your question, but as it is, the format doesn't fit in our standards. If you're willing to rewrite it, I suggest you take the Tour and check our community guidelines. You may also like to check our question tagged as [problem-gm] and concerning character creation, I'm sure you'll find thangs that will help you. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Sep 25 at 2:32
  • 2
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "How to deal with a DM who makes major changes to a PC without the player's permission?" also as 3C273 pointed out, probably most of these questions \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Sep 25 at 2:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Diana, I have edited your question to try to suit the site a little more, particularly removing the more ranty parts and focusing on the issue you are having. Please review my changes then edit the question to reflect what you actually want to ask. It is also worth reading some the questions linked by others here in the comment for some advice. Then focus your question on topics not covered by those questions. I'm sorry you are having a frustrating experience in something that should be fun. We are here to help if we can. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Sep 25 at 2:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dianaM, I have a question: Is this going to be a "face to face" game where you all meet in person? (That is the standard, but I'm seeing a lot of references to texting back and forth and e-mailing; some games are actually conducted over e-mail. I have a suggestion, I just want to make sure it is appropriate to your game.) \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Sep 25 at 14:28
12
\$\begingroup\$

Honestly, your best option is to talk to your DM: in person if possible, but definitely over the phone if not.

You should try to explain yourself, establish what you want and the ideas you have, but remain open for negotiation and new ideas. Working with your DM is important to the experience, but you shouldn't let them walk all over you. Maybe even suggest some ideas for directions that he/her could take your story that might be fun or original.

Example: we had a cleric in our group a while back who didn't have much in the way of backstory. Our DM and I are friends. He complained to me about having issues coming up with ideas, without giving anything away mind you. I suggested they brainstorm together. Turns out the cleric's god was an Eldritch horror all along!

Ideas come from discourse.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for, and emphatic agreement with, talking face to face. This alone might (might!) solve some communication difficulties. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Sep 25 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great recommendation and thank you for adding personal experience to support it! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 25 at 16:50
5
\$\begingroup\$

You're not on the same page

Characters aren't made in isolation, they are made for particular games. Not every character is a good fit for every game or setting. If the GM is planning to run a game with a particular setting, tone, or premise, and your character doesn’t gel with that, they are completely within their rights to deny your character concept. However, your GM is out of line editing your character without permission. If your character doesn’t fit, they should instead say why, so you can make a character who does.

You'll need to talk to your GM about their expectations for the game and yours.

Don’t let your GM bully you into playing a character you don’t want to play. No D&D is better than bad D&D.

How to make a character that fits a game

A GM is never obligated to greenlight any character (outside of certain organized play settings). There’s a good chance that your character just doesn’t fit the game your GM wants to run, and you'd have to compromise to play in the game.

This is hard. It’s something that isn’t covered in enough depth in the oft-recommended same page tool, and there aren't many good resources online for this sort of social issue.

I like to keep the following in mind when making a character:

  • Setting. In a medieval game, a sci-fi character won’t fit in.
  • Tone. If your GM is planning to run a combat-focused dungeon crawl, a deep, emotionally driven character may be out of place.
  • Premise of the game. If your party will be sponsored by the church, don’t play an atheist.
  • How the adventure starts. If you’ll start in a particular town, don’t be from the other side of the world.
  • Any other constraints your GM tells you. If your GM says “there are no PC wizards in this game”, don’t bring a wizard. If you have to play a wizard, wait for another game.

Ideally the GM would have told you this stuff in a pitch before you joined the group or made a character, or the table would have come up with the game concept together during session zero.

When I play in a game, I always ask for the things listed above. Invariably, there's something the GM forgot to say, that comes up at game time, so I sometimes make multiple characters so I can have a backup (I don't necessarily recommend that you do this--it can be a lot of extra work).

An example

When I run games, I like to use very low-tech settings with little access to transportation. In these games, a character who traveled a lot in their backstory doesn't make sense.

When a player expresses interest in playing a very worldly character, I'll tell them straight-up that that doesn't fit the setting. I'll usually offer something with a comparable vibe that does fit (e.g. "If you've traveled a lot, maybe you served in the army, or are a nomadic gnome. Visiting more than a couple cities is a lot!"). I think this may be the sort of thing your GM tried (and failed) to do.

Side note on anime

Many GMs, including myself, sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction against anime-inspired characters in particular, since sometimes players will try to play an expy (warning: tvtropes) of an established character (often one that doesn't fit a setting) instead of "playing to see what happens" and taking the character and world on their own terms.

From your description, it sounds like you took great pains to ensure your character is original, so you don't have this problem! However, if your GM doesn't know anime as well as you, they might not understand this. You might need to convince them that you agree to take their game world on its own terms.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.