Backstory d6



In one of Hankerin’s YouTube videos, he talks about not wanting to spend much time on backstory. But backstory can add depth to character, and more importantly, it can affect the outcome of a situation. To this end, I thought of the Backstory d6. This is totally untested, but hear me out:

Every character starts with 5 non-replaceable backstory points. When a dire situation arises, the player can roll a d6, and come up with a convincing (GM’s call) reason from their backstory why an action automatically succeeds, or why a dire consequence can be avoided. The roll must be equal or less than their current number of backstory points to succeed, and the character drops a point for every successful roll.

The reason could be treated like a FATE aspect, that is, having both good and a bad potential, which the GM can bring up in play later. Subsequent invocations of the backstory could make a roll easy or hard, or give some other advantage. The scope and strength of the backstory is something that the GM should determine.

For example: Morg encounters a large, hungry alligator, and is down to his last couple of HP when the beast snaps its jaws at him. Morg’s player invokes the Backstory die, rolling a 3. Since this is the first time he has rolled the die, Morg has 5 points, so this is a success.

Morg’s player states that Morg grew up near a dangerous swamp, and learned the telltale signs when alligators (and other swamp creatures?) are about to go for the kill, and how to avoid them. Morg avoids the literal jaws of death, and subsequently makes easy rolls when fighting swamp creatures.

The next time he rolls the Backstory die for Morg, Morg’s player only has 4 points, and so must roll a 4 or lower.

Just an idea that came to me recently.


In my game i have “domains”

the City Streets
he Wilderness and the Hermits Dwelling
the Open Road
the Military Organization
the Arcane Academy
the Monastery

They are general background lifestyles previous to becoming an adventurer. Whichever you have can be used as “arguing points” for things you might be able to know or do.

For example- if you have Open Road, you might know a lot about villages and dangers along the roads, maybe the location of some castle ruins that could be used as shelter during a storm, the location of a friendly farm that would share some food and the barn to let you sleep/heal. You would know bits of language and customs/ettiquette of strangers you met on the roads or shared a fire with. The DM could even allow some NPCs to be created by the player that would exist in the world.

If you have Monastery you might be a monk, figher, or cleric. You grew up there with training of reading and writing and other languages. Knowledge of religions and dreaded cults and sinister parts of the world (esoteric stuff). You might be able to calm yourself due to years of meditation and save versus fear from such things as dragons better–your faith allowing you to resist fear.

I think you get the idea… potential bonuses to knowledge checks and saves, etc. This makes the players really dig into who and what they really are in the game, deeper investment.


I’ve done similar. This works best when kept simplest, in my opinion.

In a campaign game, a player can declare 1 Background Tag per game (up to max 3). The Background Tag can then be used once per session to make a non-combat roll EASY, or to add +3 EFFORT.

For a one-shot, I’d probably go with 1 Background can be declared in first round, and another can be declared later in game. Each can be used once for free. But this will be reloaded by a Nat 20.