Looking for Suggestions: Introducing a new PC to the party

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I'm DMing a session tonight, and there is a new player at the table. The setup is for a fairly grueling encounter which will likely take the bulk of the session, and I'm looking for an original way to introduce him to the rest of the group, so I'm soliciting any creative ideas you might have.


To keep things fairly generic in case my players read this...suffice it to say the other PCs are questing in an underground area, and have had some dealings with a drow that have led them to a duergar fortress...they are about to enter the forge and meet the head duergar smithy, who likely won't take too kindly to tresspassers.


I was thinking of having the new PC imprisoned/enslaved/restrained by the duergar and they could set him free if they so chose during the encounter. That makes it difficult from a story perspective - they'd likely have the new PC stripped of gear if he was imprisoned, and donning gear typically takes a short rest. I don't want to severely gimp this PC because he's new to 4e and want to make the experience fun for him. Perhaps I could have them free him and gear him up just before the encounter begins?


At this point, I'm just looking for something better than...you show up in the room, and there's this new guy...who's fighting on your side. But if you have any really creative ideas, I'm all ears...


No offense, but bigger letters would be nice

You could ask the new player in question for input.
The new PC in question could be trying to do the exact same thing the party is planning on doing.
The new PC could be a spy of the Xes
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The slavery/prison things has been worn out, I've seen it so many times its a predictable way to introduce PC's in the middle of a dungeon crawl.

If your group has a good sense of humor try doing some incredible, highly unlikely, and with a potential for humor. 

The Incredible-  1.  As your intrepid heroes are crossing a bridge for one of the many underground rivers near the sound of a waterfall cascading down in the pitch black when="AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" SPLOOOOSH!  After a few moments of investigation the players discover the new PC hacking wheezing and hauling himself up onto the rocks on the side of the river.  When confronted the new PC enthralls them with a tail about fighting a five headed psycoportarrasque  whose breath weapon opens up random portals to other parts of the material realm.-then promptly asks "Where the hell am I and why is it so dark?"

The incompetent- 2.  As your players travel a dirty traveler with a bag full of glowing cave mushrooms stumbles out of one of the side tunnels just ahead of the PC's immediately; turns to them and says "Oh thank Moradin, I never thought I'd find my way out of these blasted tunnels, which way to the surface?" followed by "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M 50 miles underground? blast, my wife is going to kill me."
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
You might start the session with an alarm in the prison going off, mass confusion as guards everywhere leave their posts in reaction, and with the new PC on the loose and bumping into the party after a successful jail-break, fully geared-up with stuff smuggled into the prison and/or taken from incapacitated guards.

You can then say that the party is able to get further into the fortress to complete their quest because the guards are out searching for people trying to escape from the fortress, not delve deeper into it.  Cue descriptions of knocked-out guards, wandering patrols arguing in confusion over whether it's just one escaped prisoner or a party of well-armed invaders they are looking for, other escaped prisoners rioting and taking advantage of the situation, and all sorts of other Fun.

The new guy, having just escaped from the fortress's dungeon, would be an asset to the party if for no other reason than he's been in the fortress and has something of an idea of how to find his way around at least the part of it containing the path between the entrance and the dungeon.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
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You could always just have him appear with a "poof". Just ask the player to come with an incredible story of the how and why of his sudden arrival. Might be something involving an epic battle with a lich that teleported him, or severely pissing off a deity or powerful demon or just "oooooh, I wonder what this shiny portal does".

Whatever it is, make sure to jot down what he says and use it later in the campaign. 
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The forges are powered by molten rock/metal drawn through a portal to the Elemental Chaos, where the new character (presumeably of a higher level anyways) has been working on the crew of an Elemental Skiff.  In typical elemental chaos fashion, the energy coming through the portal starts fritzing out- what happens is that the skiff itself came into contact with the portal, prompting a massive crisis, killing most of the crew, and spitting the new PC into the middle of the battle.

I'm DMing a session tonight, and there is a new player at the table. The setup is for a fairly grueling encounter which will likely take the bulk of the session, and I'm looking for an original way to introduce him to the rest of the group, so I'm soliciting any creative ideas you might have.
To keep things fairly generic in case my players read this...suffice it to say the other PCs are questing in an underground area, and have had some dealings with a drow that have led them to a duergar fortress...they are about to enter the forge and meet the head duergar smithy, who likely won't take too kindly to tresspassers.

I was thinking of having the new PC imprisoned/enslaved/restrained by the duergar and they could set him free if they so chose during the encounter. That makes it difficult from a story perspective - they'd likely have the new PC stripped of gear if he was imprisoned, and donning gear typically takes a short rest. I don't want to severely gimp this PC because he's new to 4e and want to make the experience fun for him. Perhaps I could have them free him and gear him up just before the encounter begins?
At this point, I'm just looking for something better than...you show up in the room, and there's this new guy...who's fighting on your side. But if you have any really creative ideas, I'm all ears...



 How about the new PC is about to be captured by the duergar when the players show up? That way he can still have his gear and the other players can rescue him. 
Ant Farm
The slavery/prison things has been worn out, I've seen it so many times its a predictable way to introduce PC's in the middle of a dungeon crawl.


But you know what, it works.

Assuming you want to get introduce the character quickly and then keep rolling with the adventure, this 'cliche' is still a fine way to go, IMHO. Elaborate, story-driven intros are awesome but they take planning and participation from the new player. Sometimes you just gotta keep it simple. 
The PCs arrive at the duergar hangout to find that a group of adventurers has beaten them to it - WHAT?! Except the duergar have mopped the floor with them and there's only one man left, fighting for his life. The PCs engage and assist, beating back the infernal dwarves and looting the dead adventurers of their magic gear before storming the rest of the place. Use knowledge about these adventurers (passed through the new PC) to plant seeds for future adventures. What else were they up to, I wonder, and why were they one step ahead of us?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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The slavery/prison things has been worn out, I've seen it so many times its a predictable way to introduce PC's in the middle of a dungeon crawl.


But you know what, it works.

Assuming you want to get introduce the character quickly and then keep rolling with the adventure, this 'cliche' is still a fine way to go, IMHO. Elaborate, story-driven intros are awesome but they take planning and participation from the new player. Sometimes you just gotta keep it simple. 



For anyone reading this, don't take it as an 'always, or absolutist' type of response.  It just goes without saying that people are going to use Cliche's on occasion because it is simple.  That said, if you have the time, energy, and the willingness to create something fun and the player is willing to participate, go for it. 

When I hear a cliche line in a movie, I gag, when I read one in a book, I may quit reading the book.  Good writers do everything they can to avoid cliche's, and this includes situations.  For D&D introducing a new player in a worn out way is just that, worn out, boring, and generally forgettable.  If you have half an hour to dedicate to something more exciting I would recommend it, even if its just for the fun of it. 

Introducing a new PC to the adventure is as important as any event in the D&D world, whats more important than the PC's?  Afterall without them there is no adventure. 
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"

I just wanted to thank everyone for their responses. I particularly liked some of the wilder ideas, and like most, I’m a big fan of avoiding clichés…


That being said - YronimosW, I opted for the jailbreak idea. It went awesome – spent some time with the new player before the session, we came up with a story about how he “used/manipulated” a lot of the slaves and incited a bit of a rebellion in the dungeon, he “borrowed” his starting gear, which added flavor to his character, and impressed the rest of the party when they finally met up. It was a slightly different slant on the “captured!” angle.


Tactically it made for an interesting encounter. The new PC was on one end of the dungeon, trying to escape from the guards. To make things interesting and to keep the threat up, I threw several minions at him. Since he was a melee ranger with twin strike, he was dropping two of them per round on average, so I could keep him occupied while he was trying to cut and run. He met up with an Orc berserker at one point, suffered an OA but ate it up and kept making a run towards the rest of the group.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, the other PCs were trying to figure out what was going on…I added flavorful descriptions of minion slaves making a break for it, bodies lying around, and Duergar running around, hacking them up. When the Duergar realized that the PCs were intruders, they stopped focusing on the slaves and engaged them instead.


By the time the new PC and the rest of the party came together, both were pretty bloodied, and the party cleric was doing a lot of triage, but they managed to complete the encounter with most of their resources expended, and the party bloodied for the most part.


The battle culminated with a pretty epic faceoff between the head slavemaster and the new PC (the prisoner), with the rest of the party assisting him.


FYI - The average party level was 4, and this was a level 7 encounter, so I managed to keep them challenged while not completely messing up the party for being split at the beginning. Feedback from the group was generally positive afterwards.


I’m definitely going to keep this thread in my back pocket should the need ever arise to introduce a new PC into the party. Cheers…DB

Wow, that's fantastic!  That makes me grin ear-to-ear knowing this worked out well for your group, and it sounds like you turned my little idea into a excellent, action-packed show!

Cheers
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri