You've just filled in your character sheet...and now possibly wandering how to make a good back ground for your character, never fear because I have 5 easy steps to make a great background for your character! So here it is:

Step one:
You may have already done this but you need to generate a name for your character. I can usually come up with fantasy names pretty quick however, if you lack a bit in the imagination department, try out Wizards of the Coast name generator, it provides a real name and some alternatives that your character could be known as by the commoners.

Step two:
You need to choose your alignment now. I would suggest being a similar alignment to your other characters in your parties so you can all get along. A chaotic good character would not get along with a lawful evil character in the same party! I wouldn't suggest choosing a random alignment either, as alignments influence how you role-play your character.

Step three:
Character physical traits. You need to think about how the character looks physically, firstly deal with height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, face shape, body shape (muscular/lean?) and then beards (if a male of course!). Now, add one or two physical attributes that will make your character even more unique, as a rule of thumb I have at least one unique trait on the face and maybe at least one unique body trait. Regards to the characters face, does he or she have a scar? A patch over one eye? Different coloured eyes? An ear missing? A tattoo on his face? A birth mark? Does he have a lisp when he talks? A high pitched voice? When thinking about the body, does the character have a missing limb? Does he walk in a funny way? Does he have a tattoo on his arm? A magical tattoo that glows? A missing finger? I'll let you decide that lot!
Step four:
Now you need to develop your character's personality. From your alignment that your character has, you can visit this page and choose traits that suit your character best. Once you've picked a few, if any at all, you need to think about other behavioural aspects of your character. Try to think about at least 2 to describe your character. For example, does your character have strange habits? Does he like/dislike particular creatures? Is he incredibly shy? Is he mute? Does he like to attempt to charm the ladies (halarious if you have low charisma!)? Is he fussy? Does he hate seeing blood? Is he focused on being clean all the time?

Step five:
The final step, and usually the biggest step. You need to write a background for your character. You can be as imaginative as possible but there are limits, such as it's not a good idea to say your human character was born on another planet...however you need to check with your DM to say if it's ok or not. The thing is, writing this part of your character won't be as bad as it seems, a good idea to start is to write a couple of sentences about how your character aquired their personal and physical attributes. Did you say your character was a ladies charmer? Maybe your father did it alot and you wanted to follow in his foot steps. Does your character have a fear of spiders? Maybe he had a giant spider try and attack him when he was younger.
You also need to think about your parents, they either are alive, or they died, or your character is unaware of their parents and were adopted. Regards to where your character grew up, the most popular choices would be either in a city or a country side, however you could have been brought up in a cave or in a tree.

I hope this helps to create some awesome characters out there! You think anything else needs to be added? Maybe you could add your own character stories here, or e-mail them to me and I'll choose the best one for next weeks blog!
begindnd@hotmail.co.uk
 
I am a nice person. Yes, it's true. I recently added a blog about Masterplan, a 4th edition DM planner. After reading some comments on reddit about the article, one reader, KramitTheFrog44, asked for some help. KramitTheFrog44 wanted to know if there was a 3.5 version out there of Masterplan. After some searching, I managed to find something. It may not be as good as Masterplan, but it's still a good quality for a free product. Below I'll break down the elements again so you can get a taste of what it does. However, I would like to point out I've only played around on it for about 20 minutes so it will be quite limited!

Writing the plot:
Of course this is a very important element. Whenever you create a new campaign you firstly create your world. You can select a pre-made D&D world from a list (such as Eberron), or you can create your own. Creating your own leads to interesting methods of customisation. You can of course name the world, set the time and day, name the days and prepare a calander of events (such as festivals or rituals) to name a few. The great addition I thought was the fact that it generates a weather programme for you, which tells you what the weather will be like on each day. It even shows how full the moons will be on certain nights. This adds depth to the adventure without any preparation, a massive bonus!
After you have created your world, you can further customise by selecting which materals (the D&D optional books) are included/excluded in the world.
However, when it came to actually writing the campaign itself, I couldn't find anywhere to actually write it! There was a "notes" link to click on, however nothing happened when I clicked on it. But, it's still in development so I'm confident that some sort of plot organiser will be in place pretty soon.

Maps:
I didn't find anywhere you could design your own map or dungeons. However, apparently according to the forums on the website something will be implemented at a later date. So keep your eyes peeled for further updates!

Encounters:
I couldn't find anywhere where you could make traps or hazards per encounter. However, there is a simple combat system. It has incorporated the monster manuals so you can easily add the monsters and players into combat. Initiatives are not rolled, however you can easily use the dice roller within the programme to work out everyone's initiative. You can let people take damage, heal themselves, look at detailed stats and apply images to each creature. All in all not bad regards to combat.
Player Client:
The player client is a seperate download on the website which enables another player, over the internet and in a different location, to join the DMs game with their own character. I couldn't explore this function because I needed a seperate computer. All I know (from reading a bit on the forums) is that other players can connect with the DM and play a session. Players and creatures can also be equipped with gear and they can also obtain gold.

Concluding thoughts:
It may not be the greatest programme in the world but still is a very good quality. You must take into account that it is still in development but I have high hopes for it. It's brilliant that other players can connect to the internet to the DMs computer and play together in different locations. I love the fact it has a large monster and item database for everyone to play around with. If it does incorporate a map system and/or a plot helper then I'll definately use this growing gem.

Best of all, it's free, so check it out here! You can even download test versions of it and provide feedback.

Anyone else used this before? What do you guys think of this software?
 
Today's blog won't be too long I'm afraid, I'm mid-way in exams!
However, I am still blogging today! Hurrah! I was browsing the web when I stumbled upon a little gem which I thought might help my readers whenever they write up their adventures.

The software is called Masterplan. It enables DMs to actively write a story, prepare encounters and even design the maps themselves. I've played around with it for about 20 minutes today and it's absolutely fantastic. I'll break it down a bit so you can understand it a bit easier:
Writing the plot:
The plot is obviously the biggest part in any D&D game. No plot means no story and therefore no adventure to go on! There are the exceptions of those dungeon crawling types where you just smash monsters in each room and find treasure with no goal in mind (aside from possibly exploring the whole place).
However, this piece of software enables DMs to write a plot but not just as a chunk of text...oh no, but actually as seperate plot points that you can link to each other. This enables the DM to break down the main story into digestable elements for the player, and also allows to maybe pop some side quests in there as well.
The plot writing aspect of the software can help DMs keep track of where they are within the main plot and can type notes of character's actions etc without having to fumble around for pieces of paper or looking up the place to type it in a word document. A very useful tool.

Maps:
You can create maps using this software. You can download additional tiles from other places, however after looking around I couldn't find any (any help would be great with this! Leave a comment if you find anything!). The tiles can easily be dragged and dropped to a large grid and can easily be connected together to create a dungeon. Tiles include dungeon floor, water and doors just to name a few of them. Once you've created your dungeon you can save it and load it back whenever you wish.

Encounters:
Encounters can also be created. You can create traps, hazards, skill checks or combat encounters. The nifty thing is, it works out the Encounter Level (how hard the encounter will be) so you can assess how hard or easy it will be for your players to over come. This applys to all encounters you can create. I played around mainly with making a monster encounter and realised there is a grey bar at the bottom that fills up the more difficult it becomes and provides an encounter level. Very useful if you want to mix and match some of the monsters. On top of this, if you have made a map you can also drag your monsters to their starting positions in your dungeon!
Regards to combat encounters, you can add the players onto the map and then run the combat how you would. The software automatically rolls for initiatives for the monsters, you just have to fill in the players and place them on the board. Then, it orders the initiative for you and you can move the monsters/players around the board for the combat. I thought this was a brilliant part of the system, but I didn't find an in-built dice roller? However, you don't want to completely take away the player experience, they have to do something to be involved...which leads me to a final point...
Player view
The software assumes you will hook up the computer to a monitor or another laptop/related device that the players can look at. This enables the DM, from his computer/laptop to display to the players what their characters can see. The DM simply clicks on "Player View" and this enables the players to see where their characters are in relation to all the monsters. You can include cool features such as "fog of war" or "line of sight" which shows only what the character can see within the dungeon. An absolutely fantastic addition to the software!

Concluding thoughts
All in all I am very impressed with this software. It can be a bit confusing at first and muddle your mind up a bit but once you have the basics it will be able to save so much time for a DM when he prepares. With already pre-made monsters, the DM doesn't have to fumble around the Monster Manual to look for a goblin when he has the stats right in front of him. If you're a D&D insider you can apparently download tiles and monsters from there. But apparently you can get them for free if you search on the internet...but anyone can contribute here if you like! The fact you can show the maps and encounters on another screen I thought was absolutely fantastic, and best of all, it's free.

Yes, FREE: Get it here!

Anyone used this software? What did they think? What about those extra tiles and monsters...did anyone find anywhere else you can download them?