Character Backstories: Historical Figures, Military & Societal Rank.
March 13, 2017
Hello everyone, last time we talked about fun stuff- the afterlife, magic, spirits- today we are going to talk about another important subject: Just what can’t, or rather, shouldn’t a Character Backstory get you at Dead Legends. We love Character Backstories, but sometimes it is easy to get carried away imagining this alternate historical life!
As always, these are our guidelines and we would be happy to discuss any idea you have for a Character Backstory or even a alt-history setting element! Shoot us an email at DeadLegendsStory@gmail.com to get your concepts and ideas, we’d love to hear em!
Without further ado, some of our thoughts on backstory elements:
Playing Historical Figures and their Relatives
Characters may not be a real historical person of any importance. A player must seek Director approval to play a relative of a historical person. A good guideline is that the more distantly related or acquainted the better. Dead Legends takes place in an alternate-history past, any historical person may have had a very different life than in our own history. By removing characters from direct relation to historical figures we allow the unfolding world narrative to not be bound by the events of our own, real, past.
Example: A player cannot play John Moses Browning but certainly could have briefly apprenticed under John Browning (Sr) briefly during the Mormon expulsion.
Limitations on Military Rank
Active or current government or military rank (including municipal assignments) may only be played with backstory and costume approval. Careful attention must be paid to why such a ranked official would be in Lazarus Gap or the Black Hills, a territory which by treaty currently has no legal military or municipal presence. If such a character is approved, active military rank is best limited to army captain and below. Noting that any army officer would likely have several men under him of enlisted rank (Privates, Corporals, Sergeants).
Retired veterans of any Officer rank up to Colonel may be played with Director approval. Enlisted men and women who have left the service are entirely open for play and portrayal.
Given approval of a current military rank; it is important to know that such rank carries with it obligation to a government currently in the setting and the consequences of following/disobeying/deserting issued orders. This could lead to an undesirable lack of control in the morality and rationality of the characters’ actions in game.
The presence of high ranking military officers would have territory wide ramifications in our world plot. The neutrality of the Disputed Territories is balanced on the knife edge of history.
Limitations on Civilian & Societal Rank
Municipal and societal ranks are best kept to be former positions or ones left behind by the Character in their new frontier life. Any connections to their former life, position and connections should be expressed in Advances (Allegiance and Investments are a good place to start)
Former civilian rank should be kept to municipal positions, i.e. mayor, comptroller, district attorney, local or county sheriff and deputies, peace officers, fire marshals, etc.
This also is applicable to Characters family members and relatives. Former position is more easily justified and written around than current positions. No character will have an advantage because of written backstory over another character, advantage is expressed in Dead Legends through Advances and equipment, at start this is often associated with Birthright.
Active or former governmental and municipal positions must have Director Approval to be stated as truth in play. Again, the less significant a position the better when it comes to Character backstories!
The keys to an optimal Character Backstory is to make it interesting for yourself, gives us Storytellers some fuel for your fire and to avoid, by aiming to high in social or military rank, getting an “edge” over other players or, really, writing yourself into a corner with onerous duties or responsibility. We all have enough stress without making our pretend-fun time more stressful than necessary!
All of the below requires approval before play. Upper Crust Child of the Creed Foreigner A new character with a Forbidden Knowledge Connection to Real Life Historical Figures Military Rank above Captain Current Active Military (any nation) Civilian Rank higher than municipal or local Active Law Enforcement (Rangers, Marshals, Pinkertons, etc.)
Email DeadlegendsStory@gmail.com with your Backstory or Questions!