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D&D 3E
Introducing Characters At the Beginning 
1st-Oct-2004 12:36 pm
Hello all! I was wondering, do you have any ideas on how to introduce new PCs at the beginning of a campaign? They're not a bunch of 1st levels--they'll be starting between 2nd and 5th level. Do you have your PCs meet each other on the first session, have everyone assume they're all friends and have just been traveling together for awhile, or...? Thanks ahead of time for the suggestions!
1st-Oct-2004 12:45 pm (UTC)
I usually do one of two things - either tell them to make characters that fit a broad description, i.e "you're all harpers" "you are all connected to the thieves guild". Or I will give them a small reward for linking their backgrounds, like a few potions or a scroll or something like that. It's usually better if the players can come up with why A knows B.
1st-Oct-2004 12:48 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of the reward. I thought about having everyone sit down together during the first session and discussing it before the story starts, especially since a couple of them have never role-played before and would benefit from starting the role-playing aspect of discussion without the craziness of the dice rolling.

Thanks for the input!
1st-Oct-2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
definately let them talk it over together. I mean, they are creative people right? let them create. Maybe have a few suggestions in case someone draws a blank. just make sure each little "group" knows someone in all the other groups too...

and throwing in a few minor things, especially things that can only be used once, is a good way to reward them without overpowering anyone...
1st-Oct-2004 12:52 pm (UTC)
Another important factor is how these character fit into the overall storyarc of the campaign. Is it a heroic quest where people come from all over to help? Is this a small local campaign where everyone knows of each other at least? Is this a random occurence meeting that thrusts them into an epic adventure?

Those are very broad scenarios, but I always found it best to have the characters fit into the world they'll be RPing in from the beginning, so they can come to a union and have an in-character reason to be together in the campaign. If they don't have this reason, you'll end up with hours of bickering RP where frustration among players (or the DM) can destroy a good scene, especially if there are characters with alignments that don't mesh well with each other.
1st-Oct-2004 01:03 pm (UTC)
It's a good aligned group (LN is allowed, however)...I have no clue if I'm going to mix them into the campaign or have them meet by chance or not yet, I was trying to get an idea of what suggestions everyone had. I can say it isn't something entirely epic at the beginning--it starts with simple hack-and-slash, tiny tasks, although the campaign doesn't escalate to an epic level.

Thanks for the advice!
1st-Oct-2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
Entirely up to you and how much work you want to go to. You can take an easy out or you can run parallel storylines and gradually bring the new and old PCs together in some logical fashion. The speed of that meeting is up to your pacing and how fast things progress. If you do want to run something like that, I'd suggest finding a common goal/mission/whatever that you can set before the existing party and the new PCs and have them encounter each other in the course of things.
1st-Oct-2004 01:07 pm (UTC)
My idea was to set forth a common goal and play it from there, but then I thought, "Well, it would be interesting if they previously knew one another" or if they were from different parts of soceity that just meshed, etc. There's so much to think about when beginning.

Thanks for the input! :-)
1st-Oct-2004 01:02 pm (UTC)
When building a campaign, I establish the parameters of the world - ie: races, classes, regions, politics, current events - and allow the PCs to determine their own places in it. I work with each of them on developing a background that ties into the big picture of the campaign and develop encounters/adventures/NPCs/treasure around them.

Depending on the players themselves, how well they know each other and their playing styles, I'll make them a group from the beginning and tie it into the campaign's background - ie: guild members, followers of a specific deity, members of the same platoon, etc. Otherwise, one idea I've had but not used yet is a la Usual Suspects, where they are mysteriously brought together and have to figure out why. I'm actually planning to use it in my next campaign.
1st-Oct-2004 01:12 pm (UTC)
I have deities and lands set up so they can pick their hometown/status/god (and the races too, naturally), but I didn't know if I wanted everyone to just assume they knew each other and use the info as background, or actually use that to open up the campaign. There's so many choices, lol.

Thanks for the advice!
1st-Oct-2004 01:10 pm (UTC)
If I've got a group of players starting a campaign, I require them to work out knowing each other part of the backstory preparation. That can be as simple as saying 'we know each other' or as complex as designing shared histories, whatever they like.

In general I'm likely to retcon new players in the same way (and this is bob, who is part of dave's clan, or an old friend of martha's or whatever). I've tried the 'meet the stranger' approach and it is an invitation to having your players not meld into an effective group (we had a player spend an entire session walking her character 30 miles to the next town because when she encountered the other characters she thought they were too strange for her very serious dwarf to talk to...)
1st-Oct-2004 01:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I always got frustrated when I did the "meet the group" and the other players would be like, "Yeah, we don't like this person, let's keep going."


I think I didn't word it right, though--I'm actually starting a fresh new campaign. So, at the moment, I don't have to worry about mixing new and old...they're all new. I'm trying to get that base ground work ready for the first session and how everyone is going to mesh together.

Thanks for your input!
1st-Oct-2004 01:30 pm (UTC)

My group is blessed to have a wonderful guy who is an amazing storyteller/DM.

He generally will ask for our character backgrounds prior to the first night of the campaign. In the case of the campaign we are about to begin Nov. 1st, he asked for our character histories about 3 months ago iirc.

He weaves their histories into the overall campaign, which I love. This way, he can RP with us via our messageboard so that we can end up in close proximity to the others involved.

The first game is usually the first interaction for our characters unless we have collaborated with one another to be related, friends, foes, etc.

I think that rewards are a good idea, too - but I'm biased to the way our DM has set up shop. :)
1st-Oct-2004 01:44 pm (UTC)
Everyone seems to be pointing towards the idea of having premade backgrounds, and this sounds like a fantastic way to do things. I really appreciate your input with this. It's nice to hear from a player what they like from their DM as well as hearing from DMs what has worked with their own games.
1st-Oct-2004 02:46 pm (UTC)
Usually in the campaigns I played the DM get the players to know each other by they all heading for the same town for various reasons and each one takes a different path to get there and by the time they get there the town is being attacked. So the players automatically assumes to think that its better to fight with make shift allies than to take on a legion of baddies by yourself. This scene works most of the time but it can be played out in one or two campaigns and the players lose interest and decide "hey screw this party, I'm going to fight this crap by myself" then proceeds to get slaughtered in the next fight. In my current campaign, since all my PC are Elves, I made most of them work for the Elven Goddess's shrine and do the shrine's dirty work. When it was a mixed bunch I had all them meet into a tavern and some of the group are a bunch of Mercs. Just a suggestion.
1st-Oct-2004 02:53 pm (UTC)
It's definately another of the limitless options to consider. I appreciate your feedback on my question.

I don't like it when the whole group is elves. :p Everyone likes playing elves. I gave the human a +1 to starting level to make that poor, neglected race more appealing this go-around.
1st-Oct-2004 03:28 pm (UTC)
My recent one I'm quite pleased with(it worked nicely and wasn't TOO forced):

It's a variation on a common theme; guys in a pub.
I had some idea of the characters backgrounds and motivations etc, the characters are by the way some of the weirdest I've ever seen.
So one of them, ostensibly a tiefling, goes to the toilet at the pub(outhouse style), and is set on by some local thugs who'd been watching her and didn't like the weird "foreigner". The paladin has spotted the way the guys definately were following her(made the sense motive) and heads out to stop any trouble; the githzerai monk(who was cloaked and looks hard so was avoiding a similar treatment) also followed as laws were about to be broken; the pixie follows(who has been invisible) to be nosy.

The "tiefling"(ok doppleganger) does indeed get set upon, and is rescued by the monk and the paladin, they talk sociably(having rendered the thieves unconscious) and go back into the pub for a drink; at which point the pixie reveals itself to them 'cos she wants to chat to the other non-human freaks.
They discover their goals weren't incompatible and decide to travel together; at which point the watch arrive and take them to be questioned,about the fight.

Still together after quite some adventure.

So basically something that fits the characters personalities and backgrounds.
1st-Oct-2004 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input! That was an interesting group you had there, indeed.
4th-Oct-2004 06:20 am (UTC)
With the FR campaign I'm running, I had them all answer an ad looking for adventurers to protect shipping from pirates. They all ended up on a ship together and were the only survivors after the inevitable pirate raid.
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