I discovered something interesting about myself. I can no longer create a character without creating a character background. The background may change significantly during the character creation process, but it informs so many of my choices that I simply cannot continue unless I write something up.
This really became clear to me a couple of weeks ago when I had to make up a character for a D&D 3.5 game that a friend of mine was running. I had already decided I was creating a Crusader/Cleric of Wee Jas who would be aiming towards the Ruby Knight of Wee Jas prestige class. That is a pretty strong direction from the start, so I decided that I would skip writing my character background until after I finished the character.
Well, it seemed like a good idea. I soon found that my character creation stalled when I was trying to determine skill and feat selection. There seemed to be a number of equally good choices, so I waffled between them. I then began to second guess ability score placement. Finally I stopped the character creation process and decided to focus on the character background instead.
After I finished the character background I was able to finish the rest of character creation easily.
I know I tend to be a bit more into character background creation than some of my fellow Lords of Tyr, but I have to admit I was surprised how important character background had become to the overall character creation process to me.
So I was wondering, when do you create your character background? Do you find it essential to the character creation process or is it jotted down as an afterthought? Are your backgrounds elaborate or is “I was an orphan who took up the sword to make his fortune” sufficient?