[RPG] How to seamlessly incorporate character backstory into a pre-written campaign? D&D 5e


I am about to start a long running campaign with a bunch of friends and because of the predicted length, several of my player wrote me several pages of backstory and I really want to incorporate them into the campaign, however due to lack of time (and to be honest, lack of expertise) I don't know if ill be able to write a full 1-20 campaign before the first session. So I am contemplating taking a pre-written adventure (like Tyranny of Dragons, Out of the Abyss or Princes of the Apocalypse), but I don't now how I could include brand new cities, tribes, locations, people and to be honest, a completely different world, into a pre-existing adventure.

Best Answer

I'm going to offer what I think is a fairly simple option: work with your player(s).

They have clearly got some investment into your game, so I think you should talk to them and tell them what you have here. Tell them that you don't have a lot of time to come up with your own world and are planning on running an pre-written campaign in a pre-written world.

Then, you ask for them to help integrate the backstories they gave you more deeply into the world. I haven't been a GM in this situation, but have played in several long-running campaigns and have always worked with the GM on the backstory. The backstory has always ended up better, being more focused and connected to the world than if I had just written a few paragraphs and handed it off to the GM for planning.

So in short, leverage their interest and creativity to help you by involving them in the process more deeply, which in your case is introducing them to whatever pre-written world you are looking at so they can tie themselves into it, rather than leaving you the work of writing all of their backstory into the world yourself.

I believe at least Tyranny of Dragons has included material to help link characters into the story more deeply (e.g., a character might know some other important character in the story), so you might scan for that kind of information and use it to link into their backstories. For example, if one of the suggested bonds in the module is that the character is looking for a childhood friend, and if one of the characters talked about a town they were from, you might suggest it actually be that town.

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