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D&D 3E
The age-old question 
5th-Jan-2006 11:05 am
mjbotdf
...how do you get your characters together at the beginning?

I started off the campaign last Saturday, and everyone had a good time. I guess I did a good job of DMing my first time. Unfortunately, the group isn't as together as I had hoped.

I had the druid and sorceress, who were siblings, go to the swamp in search of a shocker lizard. The rogue/wizard, fighter, and changeling rogue (along with a NPC cleric) went to the swamp to go look for ruins. And coincidentally (haha) they met up there. They fought baddies together, and I hoped (probably naively) that facing common foes would bring them together. But both the druid and the rogue/mage played their characters as arrogant jerks, so the groups didn't end up liking each other much.

So then I had the druid & sorceress have dinner with their parents, and their mother, a mystic theurge, was extremely interested in the magic that was found in the ruins. The idea was that they would go adventuring with the rogue/mage in order to get stuff for their mom. But what do they decide to do instead? Rob the rogue/mage's house! Gah! They'll be spectacularly unsuccessful, but still!

So, I'm looking for another way to get the two groups integrated. I could send the first group to some ruins guarded by druids or something, but that would be sufficient for one adventure only. Any other brilliant ideas?
Comments 
5th-Jan-2006 06:17 pm (UTC)
My advice:

Forget trying to trick them or motivate them for a second. Just tell them, as players (real people) that in order for this game to be fun, theyre going to have to play as a group. Then ask them to come up with reasons on their own for their characters to stick with the group.
5th-Jan-2006 08:45 pm (UTC)
Never has the right idea here.

When half of your group has decided to try and rob the other half, no amount of 'massaging' on the part of the DM is going to make this group stick together for the long haul. You have two characters who are acting like arrogant bastards, and they will defend their activity by saying it is 'in character' and 'what my character would do.'

But their decision to make arrogant bastards does not give the players the right to be arrogant bastards to the other -people- at the table, sitting across from them.

Sit the group down at the beginning of the next session, talk about it, and ask them to help you come up with a way to defuse the robbery and turn it into a team-building exercise. Maybe, while breaking into the house, they discover something that changes their opinion of the other PCs. Maybe they've been possessed by evil spirits for the first session. Who knows what the explanation is, but they need to get along and work together. D&D is a team sport. It can only be successful when the players cooperate.

And they're making your life miserable. Perhaps they could do something about that.
5th-Jan-2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
Discuss it with your players. There needs to be an in-game reason for the group to adventure together, but the players need to be willing to bend a little bit too. See what ideas they come up with.

Failing that, you can always use one of my favorite approaches. The PCs all get arrested for some reason (false charges work just as well, although you can find something legitimate-- perhaps the swamp belongs to some noble and he's unhappy about their distrubing the ruins) and either have to break out of prison together, or get pulled in front of a court and told they're on probation pending completion of some quest-- it forces them to work together whether the PCs like each other or not.

It really looks like, to me, that the players need to be willing to bend their PCs' personalities just a bit so that they'll be willing to adventure together. Otherwise you'll have party infighting even if you find a way to force them to work together.
5th-Jan-2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
Addendum:

I made a similar post a few months back when I was starting up my current game. There were other good ideas from others in this community too.
5th-Jan-2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
I love your icon! I'm not a huge HP fan - okay, not one at all - but that's a very clever combo there
15th-Jan-2006 06:57 am (UTC)
I love your icon. Its totally awesome.
5th-Jan-2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
Money is the grease that makes the world go round. I had my last group contracted by an old man to do a job. They were all in the bar, in several groups, when there was a big ruckus. Some of them (A couple from each group, conveniently enough) broke up the fight and generally kicked ass. They were apporached by the old man and told to come to his house for a job. They went, bringing their friends, and were contracted. Money.
5th-Jan-2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
everyone knows all D&D games start in a bar/inn/tavern where the heroes team up to go on a mission for some dude that wants to hire adventurers.
5th-Jan-2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
I usually start them off in an inn or tavern, and then present the quest I have for the first adventure (for example, someone runs in and says "such and such as been stolen by local goblins!"). My current campaign I had everyone start out in this little isolated village for various reasons (some had come there looking for magic, some were born there) and they had all decided to leave and precisely the same time, so they all walked down the only path through the mountain together.

But this assumes that the PCs will construct themselves as a group. They will agree to help out each other and work together for the quest, and then stick it out beyond that to the next adventure. If your players are being asses and playing their characters as jerks who don't want to be part of the party, then they shouldn't be. I'd say "The druid and the wiz/rogue decide they don't want to adventure, so go off and do their own thing. You'll need to roll up new characters, since your old ones have now left the story line." It's a little harsh, but its true. A character who doesn't want to be in the group shouldn't be, and should be replaced with a better character.

Of course, it's better to just tell the ass players that they'll need to give their characters a reason to stay in the group. Talk it out with the players, but basically you don't want to let them play a disruptive or uncooperative character.
5th-Jan-2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
If the rogue/mage caught them attempting robbery, possibly tipped off by an anonymous source, they might be in his debt, or blackmailed to assist him in adventures until an unspecified time in the future.

Run-on sentence FTW.
5th-Jan-2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
I've used the Daggerford town setting from the Under Illefarn module for a while; the party starts out as a squad of the local militia being sent out on minor missions (escort a caravan to the border, go rescue the baron's sister, investigate this problem off in the swamp). It has the advantage of me telling the players that their characters grew up pretty much in the same town and have been chosen to form this squad because they're expected to get along well in the field.

And in any campaign, if your players decide their PC's are going to be arrogant jerks, there's not a whole lot you can do except start looking at Charisma scores ("Sorry, you've got a 16 CHA. You have to stop pissing everybody off now"), and the reaction tables ("You get the feeling the informant might have given you more, or better, information, if the Rogue hadn't been such an arrogant jerk").
5th-Jan-2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
The DM for my current group the campaign by saying that each character had to know at least two others. It didn't matter how well they were known, just that they were. Of course, 'known' doesn't necessarily mean 'liked'. Even having everyone know nearly everyone else, we had a rocky start.

In the past, groups have been slow or even failed to form a cohesive adventuring group because they didn't know each other and had little reason to work together. This was especially apparent when a new character was introduced mid-campaign (usually to fill a character death vacancy).
5th-Jan-2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
I find the common battle scenario rarely to be very binding for party members, unless they're the chummiest happy-go-lucky characters ever. My favoriate tactic is to weave together their backstories somehow during chargen. But if somebody's gonna roleplay an asshole, he'll need to have some sticky in-character reasons to be with anyone, much less a party.
6th-Jan-2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Kill them all.

No, really. I think I've mentioned this hook before. Pit them against a horribly impossible monster (dragons work well), and then have them all true-resurrected by a powerful being ... who, perhaps, would be just as happy to leave them all dead (and plenty capable to again make it so), except that they need some minions to do some inane task, etc. It's like a geas, except not as lame. ^_^
6th-Jan-2006 12:56 am (UTC)
I just played a super-short game recently. It was a different system (GURPS rather than DnD) but even so, the reason for our party getting together was great.

1200s Holy Roman Empire, Wallachia or thereabouts. My character was a priest (nearly every point invested in intelligence skills and such) and the other two were a noble lady and her retainer. Essentially, my character, at the start, scared them into donating a ridiculous sum of money to the Church. He then recieved a mission to go and check out an abandoned monestary and, basically, scared the bejeesus out of the other characters to force them to accompany him.

It was an entertaining game, even if my character did end up clubbed to death. Yeah.

So I guess I don't have a cohesive answer as to how to bring the group together in the long term. Our group would probably have shortly dissolved after the end of the adventure, had not half of us ended up dead, anyway. I would suggest, for long-term stuff, weaving backstory together and talking to the players. If they aren't willing to cooperate on the big things like this to actually get the game to work right, then how well is the game actually going to work in the long run?
6th-Jan-2006 12:59 am (UTC)
Have an NPC hire one group to assasinate the other!
6th-Jan-2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
I had my PCs meet in jail. Seeking their various fortunes, they all showed up seperately in the capital city of a distant land, and due to being foreigners without proper identification, they promptly landed themselves in the Big Pokey. The usual round of "Hi-howaya-I'm-soandso-and-I'm-seeking-suchandsuch" ensued, one of the PCs' NPC siblings posted bail, and voila! Instant party.

I HATE this element of D&D more than any other. Next campaign I run, I'm making the characters come up with a cooperative backstory that explains how they all met. Maybe a shared military background, for instance...
8th-Jan-2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
This works really well. I started doing this in the last game and it really seemed to help out. Other than one jerky character, it went fine.
7th-Jan-2006 03:05 am (UTC)
Also, in another game I play in, we're all members of a clan, and all the sme age. We are literally, the only kids out age.
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