Your character's background is a synopsis of who they are and what motivates them. It is a vital part of character creation that will serve to distinguish you from the other characters attending the event. If you are coming to the event with friends then it is also a really good idea to create a common group background.
A well written background can help make the events much more enjoyable by giving your character the motivation you will need to get engaged and involved with everything that is going on.
Making a background for your character is arguably the single most important part of character creation - who you are and what you want to do in the world will usually be more important than your character's skills and abilities. This is because there are thousands of characters at each event - so what really matter is not what you can do but what you want to do.
In traditional fantasy literature, the story will often focus on events that have happened in the character's past or on circumstances of their birth or upbringing that make them unique. Commonly this results in a story where all sorts of things happen as a result of this unusual past; only at the very end will the hero or heroine suddenly take decisive action to resolve the plot.
This model is nothing like the stories that happen in a fest game like Empire. At our events, the details of your character's past are rarely that important, and events won't simply happen as a result of your past allowing you to wait for the action to begin before you respond. Instead the focus is very much on the actions you choose to take as your character from the outset.
Because of this what is really crucial is your character's motivation. The best approach is usually to create a background that is solidly rooted in the world - to be from somewhere and to have a part of the world that you identify with. A solid set of motivations for your character - things your character wants to do in the game - will give you an impetus to engage with the world at events as soon as you arrive.
If you are attending as part of a group of characters - then you should definitely spend some time creating a shared background for your group. The best way to do this is usually to create one or more bands. Being part of a band that has a shared background and a common purpose will make the event more enjoyable for everyone in the group and help you all work together to get involved and enjoy the event.
Submitting a background
- Submit your background online when you create your character or group
- Our plot team will check your background
The descriptions of the Empire on the wiki are deliberately intended to be a broad overview - especially of the land itself. This is intended to allow players to create small details of the world, such as details about the community where your character is from.
Your background will be checked by our plot team to ensure the details that you've created that it is consistent with the world of Empire. If the elements you have described are not possible within the setting then they will be able to give you feedback so that you can amend your background accordingly. They may also be able to give you some additional input or ideas to enhance your background. Please ensure that your email address is up to date on your Profound Decisions account, as this is how they will contact you.
You can also contact the background team to discuss the ideas for your character before you submit them to get advice and help.
Creating a Personal Background
- A personal background is a brief biography of your character
- A personal background should be no more than 2000 characters in length (including spaces)
- Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want additional help or information when writing your background
- Please spellcheck your background before submitting it
A background summarises the things you have done and your reasons for being at Anvil for the meetings of the movers and shakers of the Empire. Creating a background can help you develop a sense of who your character is and how they interact with the world in which the game is set. Detailed information about the campaign setting is presented in the Empire wiki. The information presented in the Wiki is all available to any Imperial character and if you read the sections of the wiki that are relevant to your character then they should help you develop a background that is in keeping with the setting. You will not be provided additional briefing material after you have generated your character; all the information available is kept on the wiki.
It is also important to keep it simple enough that you will remember it! It is quite possible that two years down the line a plot writer may see an element of your background and include it in a plot. If you don't remember your background, you are likely to be left out or miss your opportunity.
What to Include
- A short character history
- Any secrets that your character might have
When submitting your background for the plot team to read, please try to bear in mind that there are hundreds of players in the campaign so the plot team have a lot of backgrounds to read through. A background that is informative but concise is ideal. A background that includes a short in-character piece or description is fine, but lengthy in-character documents are not helpful. Occasionally the plot team will make use of details submitted in backgrounds when creating plot for events. This is fairly unusual; your background is primarily intended for your use, to help you create goals and a motivation for your character. The kind of background that is most useful to the plot team is a short summary of the things you have done and how your character fits into your nation's and the Empire's history. Descriptions of your personality or your arch-nemesis are not used by the plot team.
It is also useful to focus your background on your character and what they have done. Knowing your parents' names and their actions is only relevant to the plot team if those actions somehow reflect on your character. Knowing you are the child of someone executed for treason, who strives to clear their name, is cool. Knowing that your parents were bakers called Lois and Clark who met during a bar fight is much less useful.
What to Avoid
- Any of the common mistakes listed below
- Any capital crimes that you don't want to end up getting executed for
There are some common assumptions and errors about the Empire setting that are worth being aware of when you are creating your background so that you can avoid them.
- Language - the common tongue of the Empire, and the surrounding region, is called Imperial, which is phys-repped by the English language.
- Inheritance - the Empire is a meritocracy where there are no important titles that are inherited and where inheritance of wealth and property is rarely significant.
- Lineage - lineage is not a genetic inheritance and can occur in many ways. Individual lineages are passed on in different ways.
- The Throne - Personal relationships with previous incumbents of the Throne are not appropriate background material.
- Other Player Characters - Personal relationships with other player characters should be cleared with the player in question before being included. While the characters may not know of a relationship or link, the players should.
- Avoid inappropriate references - Themes not appropriate for Empire include non-consensual sex; please do not include these references in your background.
- Orphans - Please consider the way children are raised and treated in the Empire when writing your background.
- Law and Order - The Empire is an orderly place. Our NPC magistrates are equally happy to prosecute crimes that players have written into their character backgrounds as they are crimes they have committed on the field - there have been some high profile cases in which characters were executed for murders committed in their backgrounds.
- Prisons - The Empire does not imprison criminals. Criminals in Empire are generally either fined or executed, depending on the severity of their crimes.
- Social mobility - The Empire categorically has no slaves, and every citizen is equal under the law. While some citizens are richer or poorer than other, there are no serfs and any peasant can end up a landowner simply by taking two years of military service.
- Relatively wealthy - Every character has a personal resource.The game assumes that characters attending the Anvil summits are influential people - it is tricky to characterise yourself as a beggar when you have access to money, herbs, resources, crystal mana or the like.
- Equality - Unlike some of the historical settings the game uses for inspiration, the entire Empire world is egalitarian and gender-blind. Nobody anywhere discriminates against anyone based on gender or sexuality. There are plenty of other things that they can discriminate on. Our equality and diversity rules apply in character as well as out of character.
- Arranged marriages - People may marry for political reasons, but the idea that someone might feel they had the right to force someone to marry someone else against their will is laughable, and also a crime.
- Death in childbirth - The Empire has very good medicine, and while it's not unknown it's quite rare for someone to die in childbirth. It's also a subject that should be treated sensibly.
- Highguard attitude to lineage - While Highguard "is not a generous nation to the less than fully human" it is not an oppressive state.
- Longer backgrounds - we do not accept longer backgrounds by email. The limit is there for a reason.
It is particularly important to stress that you should think very carefully about including capital crimes that you have committed or are party to in your background. While such details might make your character seem special, if any evidence of your crimes comes to light in play then your character is very likely to be arrested and executed for the actions they took. Empire is a very legal society, and our NPC magistrates are equally happy to prosecute crimes that players have written into their character backgrounds as they are crimes they have committed on the field - there have been some high profile cases in which characters were executed for murders committed in their backgrounds.
Criminality and Murder
Players are urged to be cautious when creating characters who have committed crimes in their background. Our magistrates will treat crimes committed as part of a background with the same severity as they treat crimes committed on the field at Anvil. Characters have been executed for murders they committed in their background, for example.
Profound Decisions also discourages players from creating characters who are murderers or serial killers. Discussion of our reasons for this can be found here.
Creating a Group Background
- A group background is a brief history of the group
- It should be a short summary, providing key details, of no more than 4000 characters (including spaces)
- The group's oath should be no more than 1000 characters (including spaces)
- Please contact us at email@example.com if you want additional help or information when writing your background
- Please spellcheck your background and oath before submitting them
A group background summarizes the history of your group, how it came into being and what it has done since its founding. Creating a group background can help develop a sense of what your group is, how the characters in the group relate to each other as well as provide you all with objectives and activities for fun at events. Detailed information about the campaign setting is presented on the Empire wiki and should provide a number of possible group types for each nation that might be very applicable to your group - some of these have their own pages that discuss how to create that type of group.
What to include
- Where the group live and a short group history
- Any shared identity, common purpose, or secrets that your group might have
Usually the most important part of a group background is a description of the community that you are from. Most groups will be the de facto leaders of a place - be it a Wintermark hall, a Highborn chapter or similar. This is particularly true if you are creating your own community that isn't marked on the map - but it is often possible to play the leaders of one of the smaller towns or settlements that is shown on the map if you talk to us first. Being a part of the world in this way can be really helpful if giving your characters a shared identity and a common purpose.
It's useful to include a short group history that describes any key events, but it's usually better to keep these events simple and focused on the key things that happened rather than going into too much detail. If your group has any important secrets, any common identity, or shared purpose then those are crucial details to include.
When submitting your background for the plot team to read, please bear in mind the same considerations for personal backgrounds apply so keep it informative but concise.
Amending a background
You cannot use the website to change a character background once you have played your character at an event or a group background once a character has joined the group. If you need to change any details on a background then email firstname.lastname@example.org with any changes you want to make.