How to introduce your DnD character is something that most players don’t think about. They instead just start reading their bio in an awkward fashion and eventually everything hopefully works out.
How to introduce your DnD character is important since it will set the tone of the first few adventures. It can be done poorly, or done well.
If you start out introducing your character with just their bio, looks, and nothing else that doesn’t give much to go off of. That is why we need to talk about, and improve how we discuss our characters for DMs and players.
The most boring way on how to introduce your DnD character is by reading their bio. The player reads their backstory, lists off their race, class, and maybe if you are lucky appearance. They don’t go over interactions, personality, or give much of who they really are except reading bonds, ideals, etc.
Let’s take a look at the basic example that most players use.
“I am Norwick. He is a dragonborn. He is a warlock with black scales. And likes power.” If you are lucky, “I was born and raised by 2 dads in my clan. They fawned over me etc etc etc.”
That was pretty boring and gave you nothing. There was a little bit there, but if you are lucky you will get 2 paragraphs of backstory that give some idea about the character, but it doesn’t really help you interact with this character. The whole point of an introduction is to be able to interact with that character, so let’s use a few tips to improve character introductions.
- Have backgrounds provide a guide for the player only.
- Don’t give away everything.
- Use more than your race and class.
- Use occupations
- Personalize skills and or items.
- Describe through actions.
If you use these 6 tips to introduce your DnD character, you will have described them in a manner that gives others an idea on who you are and how to interact with you. This isn’t everything of course. You will still have secret things that only you know. This allows you to grow and interact with others while still having a greater understanding of your character than others around you.
Don’t blurt out everything or it gets boring. No one pays attention to everything in your backstory (except your DM) so lets focus on what matters. And the most important matter is figuring out your character for yourself.
How you backstory helps you
Every character has a backstory. This backstory is for you and your eyes only. Okay, the DM’s eyes too, but mainly for you. The reason why you have a backstory is not to spew out the whole thing in character introduction. That is not how to introduce your DnD character. Instead, you use your backstory for your self.
Initially you might have a character concept. Ranger who shoots really good and likes the woods. This concept is a start, but that is pretty bland. You as a player will give your character a personality. Each character’s personality is going to be different (if done well) just like how every person is the same.
The first person who needs to figure out the character’s personality is you, the player.
If you don’t know about your character, then how will others? That is the point of the backstory. The other players don’t even need to know about your backstory right away. It doesn’t matter. What matters to them are initial impressions, and once you have a more developed personality for your character the others might learn about your backstory.
Your backstory is your own personal guide. It is not meant to be spewed to others in character creation. If they learn about it, cool. If not, it shouldn’t matter. They should have a good enough concept of who your character is to not need an essay to get the basics.
Now that you have a concept figured out, you need to figure out how to convey this to the other players. Which can be much more difficult than it seems.
Even when trying to describe your character to others outside of game in session 0 you shouldn’t give away everything. Just summarize some key points and move on. Don’t read the entire backstory. We already discussed that you shouldn’t, but why not?
The worst way on how to introduce your DnD character is by spewing forth a bunch of text. It is obvious that you are reading word for word your backstory and people tune out. It is a lot of irrelevant information, so why would they listen to it? Instead, just give them the important points.
“I was born and raised in a village. at the age of 11 my parents died and I was left in the woods. I struggled to hunt and survive, which taught me the lay of the land until suddenly I was found by a stranger. This stranger taught me……”
You might have just moved on. Instead, try this.
“I was born in a village, but my parents died so I ran away. Almost died in the woods and was taught how to survive by rangers. Thus, ranger.”
Much shorter, conveyed more points, and left an air of mystery to you. Your backstory didn’t define who you are now. It just gave the others an idea of what brought you to this point. Your personality isn’t described in your backstory anyway, and that is the most important part of character introductions.
But what are the best ways to introduce who you are as a person?
Race and class
This is contested topic. Some DMs out there do not like the idea of using race or class to describe your character. Some say that race or class are not that big of a deal, and I half agree.
The worst way on how to introduce your DnD character is by just giving their race and class. You are not some stereotype! You are more than that. Or at least, I hope you are you Scottish dwarf fighter.
Race and class are important, but they should not be everything. Race is extremely important in DnD because race is the wrong word to describe your race. Really, they are different species. We go over it in our Diversity in DnD article for more info. But race is still very important.
Each race has their own culture and influences. That is why you probably should describe your race. That and it helps others get a loose idea of what your character looks like. As for class, that is a different story.
Saying you are a ranger, or a fighter doesn’t really describe your character at all. It lets others know out of game what you are good at, but what does it tell them about who you are? You like the woods as a ranger? What if you were a ranger who grew up in the desert and uses a brick as a main weapon? The idea of being a ranger doesn’t really convey that at all.
Instead of using class, we should use other descriptors to help us show others who we are. When asked, the easiest way to talk about what you do and who you are is based on occupation.
Your character didn’t have a job as ‘fighter.’ That is their class and a bi-product of what they do. That is why using class is a terrible idea on how to introduce your DnD character. Instead, think of what they did to earn them that class.
As a fighter you might have always been part of a militia. This gives others an idea that yes, you are a martial type of character, but more than that you were a person who followed or gave orders. Your rank now becomes important and other characters start to naturally ask more questions. Giving them more of an idea of who they are working with.
If you are a ranger, you could say that you were a woodsman. This might mean that you went out and chopped wood, or hunted animals. Maybe you did all of this alone. Either way, this is more interesting than just saying that you are a ranger will lead to questions.
As you can see, giving an occupation gives others an idea of what class you are and what you are capable of. It doesn’t directly tell them your class, but it lets them make an educated guess. Beyond this, it helps develop who you are as a character. What are your values? What have you done in the last few year? All of this and more.
This is why using your class to describe your character is a poor way to do so. Instead, use your occupation. It makes things more interesting and lets others know more about your personality. Especially if they ask why you quit your job to go adventuring.
We can’t always have everyone ask us about our characters though, so we should show them a little bit of our personality without conversation.
Using items and skills
Items and skills are 2 important factors that will help you on how to introduce your DnD character. When players describe their characters, they usually describe race and class. This has already been discussed, but what do they describe next? Generally, what they look like. This includes gear.
If you have a halfling that carries a greatsword, shield, longbow, 3x daggers, and a club you know that halfling is a martial fighter. The same is said by what other classes wear, but we can go into more detail.
Instead of just having a greatsword, have a well worn greatsword with a a few chips in the edges. Make the shield a heavy metal shield, and the longbow unstrung. Place your daggers in parts of your body. 1 on your belt, another in your boot, and another on your arm. Put the club on your belt alternative to another dagger, and now you have described your character in even more detail!
These little details give a lot of information about your character. Your character values always having weapons on hand and the use of the greatsword shows what weapon is predominantly used in combat.
You can go further than this and customize a trinket, token, or something else that helps others identify what your character hold dear. All of this can be done with equipment and items, but skills are also extremely influential.
If a warrior swings a weapon, use the greatsword in wide arcs. Tell how a halfling can somehow wield this greatsword. Describe what it is like, and have fun. This goes double for spellcasters. They are able to personalize spells. Make your eldritch blast for you old one warlocks give off a scream when fired, and in the beam show gibbering mouths and eyes.
Personalization without interaction will lead to conversation. This will lead to greater character development, and show that your character introduction was a success. But now is the time to describe through actions.
Using actions and interactions
Everything that you have learned has gotten you to this point. You will have to interact with others, and this is the most important time in how to introduce your DnD character. Here, is where you let your personality shine.
If you have done everything right, some others may ask you questions. If this doesn’t happen, the DM should make some sort of interaction happen between the party to let them get to know each other. This could be dice, drinking, whatever. The important part is to make your actions introduce who you are.
We only get 1 first impression, and your actions speak louder than words. So in these moments, make sure you exhibit the traits that you want to be prominent in your character.
For example, if you are a happy go lucky type of character who doesn’t like to lead or think, then always be laughing and making jokes. Don’t seem to care about the destination and even make light of (in a positive tone) what you have to do. You can do this through various means of course, but this is a good way to get across who your character is.
That way when they develop more it will be more of a shock if there is a departure from your already established personality. What is more, players will want to talk to you and interact because they know who you are. This alone means that you have successfully introduced your character.
3rd person introductions
As a small subset to actions and interactions, you can use 3rd person introductions when thinking about how to introduce your DnD character.
Why would you use 3rd person introductions instead of first person? Primarily for 1 reason. Some players are extremely shy and need help when introducing their characters.
These players do exist and can be mistaken for silent players. Let them start out slow and maybe even have an NPC ask them questions. Ask about why they are somber, or anything else about their character.
The job of character introduction is on the players, but we can make it easier for some players to express themselves if they have problems doing so. In addition, there are a few things that DMs can do to help players. Just like the NPC asking questions, there are some other DM tips that we should discuss.
These have all been player tips on how to introduce your DnD character, but you aren’t introducing your DnD character. you are getting the players to not be awkward and actually give up information about themselves.
This may be very hard since the players will be awkward, but there are a few things that you can glean from this article.
- Give an example of an NPC.
- Give the players time to interact.
- Make the players know each other.
- Help spur along descriptions.
These examples are fairly simple.
Before the players describe their characters, set a scene in a tavern. Give them the description of an adventurer NPC or NPCs that are ready to leave. Even give an example of dialogue if you wish. It helps give the players a template to work off of.
Giving players time to interact is fairly obvious, but give them an activity. Drinking while telling tales about themselves, playing a dice game, something.
Players should know each other if possible to avoid them not wanting to work together. Even if pairs is the only way they know each other, something is important to bind them.
When the character says they are a halfling with weapons, ask what weapons, where they are on their person, and what they look like. Just gently prod at them and make them give more or less information. Always do so in a tone that encourages wonder and excitement of their character descriptions. I helps encourage the players to share who they are with the others.
These tips are short and simple, but your job is to help the players introduce their characters by setting the scene or giving a guiding hand. Not introducing the characters themselves.
How to introduce your DnD character seems simple at first, but it goes horribly wrong 90% of 70% of the time. Players will just read bios, backstories, classes, and more boring things that don’t introduce their characters.
Character introductions are used to help others get to know each other so that there isn’t this awkward silence. You should know enough about each other to talk like work partners and not awkward strangers. At least, that is how it should be in the beggining.
As you have read, there are many complexities on how to introduce your DnD character. Many wouldn’t think that this is as complex as it is, but after becoming a full time professional DM I have found that character introductions can be painful and a massive setback for the party if not done well.
This is why I hope that you will improve your own character introductions and make it so that you can get to playing this amazing game of DnD asap!
This has been Wizo and keep rolling!