Do you hear that?…
*ground rumbles and an irritating whine is heard in the distance*
Run! It’s a hungry Rusty DM!
How is it going, y’all? Rusty here again.
I was winding down after work the other day, and I saw this meme on the D&D Reddit.
It got a good chuckle out of me, so I showed to my lady, and she laughed too, but then asked me a question. She asked me why I don’t give the villains in my games a deep, filled out backstory.
A damn good question.
The quick and dirty is: Backstories for any character (NPC) in a game are dumb and a waste of time to make.
Now let’s get into why.
Why Backstories are a Waste of Time:
Tell me this: why would you spend time, your personal time, as a GM to make in-depth, detailed backstories that are likely to not to be relevant or cared about by your players?
As an advocate for lazy GMing, I believe that less prep is more for a few good reasons. When it comes to big bads, if the GM doesn’t fill in the backstory except for the necessary details to make the plot make sense, it gives the players room to fill out details and facts about the world and characters in it. This filling-in of story details by the players increases player engagement and investment in a story. Also, leaving the backstory of a villain vague gives you room, as a GM, to add details on the fly to add drama to a scene or to make them more relevant to the story that is being told. Flexibility is crucial for GMing.
Essentially, only write what you need for a big bad to make sense, then leave the rest to be established in the narrative as it becomes relevant. You never know what is going to happen in a game, so don’t waste your time trying to prepare for everything.
A short one this week, but I hoped you all got something out of this ramble. I plan on touching this topic again next week when I write a longer post all about my lazy GMing philosophy.
– Rusty, the DM