|This one represents my character's pathological hatred of slavery.|
You get the idea.
Now, to make use of this theory you should use it as a shorthand between DMs and players. For example, a DM might have a minimum of five knives for players at creation in order to give them enough material to work with. Alternatively, a DM might say no more than ten knives at creation. This is particularly true for players who take their inspiration from the grimmer, and darker, corners of fiction.
While this method might not work for everyone, it is an interesting strategy that groups might get some use out of. Also, while it should go without saying, you should have a variety of knives in your backstory. Because seven knives that are all horrible crimes you committed, or all harrowing things you experienced, can feel sort of samey. Mix it up, and you'll get far better results.
That's all for this installment of Moon Pope Monday. Hopefully this idea takes root with some players out there, and makes backstory building a little easier. If you're looking for more of my content, check out my Gamers archive for articles, or head over to Dungeon Keeper Radio's YouTube page to take a listen to some podcast episodes I had a hand in making. If you want to keep up-to-date on all my latest content, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help support Improved Initiative then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All it takes is $1 a month to make a difference, and I'll send you some sweet gaming swag as a thank you.