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I have a character concept I'd like to develop which has similar ties for the background to the "main" character of the 1988 film Willow, in that they are both destined not to be a chosen one, but to help the chosen one reach their goal (in my case, be the muscle to protect the charismatic PC).

As far as my research has gone, Willow was written as an AD&D 2e campaign with the movie's namesake being a lvl 1 halfling wizard and all of his stat build is written in I believe it was called the Chronicles of Shadow War (or that was the source material). Either way, the information started to get muddled from there as I am only getting familiar with 5e, and have not played any of the earlier versions to understand the nuances.

All that said, I haven't really found a background in the current version's lists that would encompass the "pseudo-destiny" build, other than the Hermit's Discovery (which seems more like the "some who achieve greatness" concept over the being thrust into it), or the Inheritor's Inheritance (which seems more like a Frodo build than a Willow build.. I can even see Princess Elora being one as her birthmark would be the inheritance). So I would like to attack this problem from two angles to reach the same conclusion:

  1. What would Willow's background be in 5e?
  2. If the background would need some flavouring, how would one go about achieving that? (eg. If it's a hermit build, how do you flavor it away from the isolated scholar personality?)
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  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: "…Willow was written as an AD&D 2e campaign…." I'm not exactly sure what this means, but I was unaware any connection. Can a link be provided? (My few minutes of research yielded this blog post, which doesn't mention a direct D&DWillow connection, for instance.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan When I first watched Willow, I watched the Behind the Scenes, where George Lucas himself talked about the link to D&D, even getting the creator of the TTRPG to play a minor role. Later, Willow became a franchise, creating the Sourcebook, and though I cannot find the article again, I read today that it was 2e he used... However, you are right to say that The Sourcebook would only be as official D&D material as if Critical Role wrote it... That said, my question was about adapting it to 5e more than what version it was from. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 16:26

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Wrong Question.

Choosing a Background depends upon what you want to emphasize about the character's history and origins; especially the part that sticks to them and shapes their character.

Willow Ulfgood wasn't shaped by destiny (the plot of the film and novels); he was shaped by being a farmer, father, and would-be wizard. When destiny called, it was the father that answered.

It sounds like what you want to ask isn't about translating a film character into D&D rules. (That's an opinion question that is outside this Stack's purview.) What you want to ask is "Which Background should I pick to make the character be an important side-character in the plot?"


Aside: Willow Ulfgood is the titular character of Willow (film). That is not in dispute.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, been up all night so my phrasing might have been unclear, but we seem to be on the same page. However, my confusion was more thinking that "destined to bring the one" would be a vital part of the background, such as the "d6 defining moment" or background feature... some mechanic I was overlooking which would be in the Stack's purview. However, I was also trying to avoid sounding like I wanted to make a protagonist as D&D doesn't have a single protagonist as that has gotten my threads closed before. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ For my character specifically, he would be shaped more like a mercenary, but be pulled into the campaign by a vague letter... something like "follow the white rabbit" from The Matrix. However, I went with Willow as it's a better D&D comparison and I am focused on understanding what mechanics I am missing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like the primary issue is that you're confusing a character's Plot Hook (the narrative element that caught their attention and pulled them into the plot of the narrative) with the character's Background. A mercenary adventurer being pulled into larger events, and staying for his own reasons, is the story of Madmartigan - a character that would probably have the Soldier or Criminal background. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right, that is the issue. Always thought of the two as intertwined, like a sage's unanswered letter was the plot hook, or again the Hermit's Discovery. Making it quite difficult to find a flexible plot hook for characters like Willow. Thanks for clearing that up \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 6:44

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