Help with the Intro to new Campaign

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While this question is technically for the Eberron setting, it's not campaign specific so please include your ideas even if you have little to no knowledge of the world, I can adapt it.

So, I'm starting a new campaign soon, and I always like to start mine with something far more interesting than "you're in an inn..."  This time, I'd like to start with the party actually forming itself.  The PCs are all starting at different corners of the world (Sharn, Q'barra, etc.) and I want them to travel of their own accord (no "fate dictated you are all here at the right time") to meet and start adventuring together.  I have the basic premise but what I really need ideas for is the specific events, that is, something to do.

The game will open with the PCs all sharing a dream (they will not know it's a dream at first, but that will become apparent fairly quickly).  While in this "dream-state" the PCs can be literally anywhere I need them to be and doing anything since the point is to get them to meet/interact with each other.  However, I don't want something as blase "you are all together, heres some monsters, you fight them, now talk to each other..."  I want something that each PC can interact with on an individual basis (and would be encouraged to do so) that will lead them into talking with one-another.  Then, upon waking, they (hopefully) will feel the need to get into contact with each other even more, if for no other reason than to figure out what is going on.  Further trips into this "dream state" will likely be required since they're all low-level and likely can't afford travel or communication (but they could certainly use their house contacts to broker deals or go certain directions "say, didn't we need someone to take a package to Sharn?" for an Orien for instance).

So, if you had a bunch of PCs that you wanted to get together that could only communicate/interact while unconscious, what would you have them do?
Also, while I fully respect the idea of a festival or fair, please don't post any of those.  I have seriously done the festival thing to death.  Wink

I would personally decide how they are connecting to one another first, then go from there.

1) Look up the Portal Stones and Tel'aran'rhiod from the Wheel of Time series.  Either of them could be interesting things to use for characters who work at things over long distances.  If you go with the world of dreams make all of the PCs dreamwalkers and have that be what links them.  The part that makes them "special" is that they stay in the world of dreams and seem more solid.  You can play off the nightmares as anything.

2) Their dreams are somehow connected to a great sleeping diety.  Rather than dreaming about things they are actually astrally projecting into the dream of the sleeping god.

3) They figure out after a while that the "dream world" is in fact the real world and their normal humdrum lives are actually the dream.  If you use this, you might want to make the dream world extremely fantastical, or have the characters all decide wish for normal lives after an especially traumatic scene.

4) Some powerful wizard recently ascended to god hood was playing with building his own plane of existence and is using the energy of sleeping mortals in order to fuel his machinations, or something. 

 
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Hi Tiarn!

Let's say a powerful Quori abducted them, placed them in his lab and wired their brains so they all share a dream (reason unknown).

Their physical bodies rest in this arcane lab, while their "souls" wonder in the dream-realm. Once they break free of the dream, they still need to cooperate to escape the lab (solving your "how the heroes met" issue).

You can start with one player, describing the dream-realm and let him interact with it a little, then move to the next, and slowly "build" the group as the dream moves on. Then, once all the players are introduced, inject some danger (monster attack or the Quori who abducted them comes to conduct "experiments"). Once they understand the grave danger they are in, introduce a "way out" using an interesting NPC (maybe a dragon who knows something about the experiments).

Once the heroes are out of their dream-state, they still need to escape the lab, and maybe meet the NPC who helped them in the real-world.

Just some quick thoughts...

Ido
Hi Tiarn!

Let's say a powerful Quori abducted them, placed them in his lab and wired their brains so they all share a dream (reason unknown).

Their physical bodies rest in this arcane lab, while their "souls" wonder in the dream-realm. Once they break free of the dream, they still need to cooperate to escape the lab (solving your "how the heroes met" issue).

You can start with one player, describing the dream-realm and let him interact with it a little, then move to the next, and slowly "build" the group as the dream moves on. Then, once all the players are introduced, inject some danger (monster attack or the Quori who abducted them comes to conduct "experiments"). Once they understand the grave danger they are in, introduce a "way out" using an interesting NPC (maybe a dragon who knows something about the experiments).

Once the heroes are out of their dream-state, they still need to escape the lab, and maybe meet the NPC who helped them in the real-world.

Just some quick thoughts...

Ido



Or quite possibly being the NPC being someone in their subconcious, so after spending X amount of adventures in this subconcious state, they start being approched by this mysterious individual that drops hints that, upon following his words, can get behind the scenes of this strange world, get into the machanics behind the dream and break the spell to begin the adventuring a proper.

You'll likely have a much better result and much better player buy-in if you let them determine most of this stuff for you. Session Zero is your friend. Find out what everyone is interested in. Have them determine their party's role in the campaign world. Then have them make characters that work in that role. Simply ask them open-ended questions about how they know each other, how they came together as a group, etc. Keep asking questions until it's fully formed, using all player input with a few ideas of your own as appropriate.

Then, you pick a starting point - the opening scene of your first adventure. Hopefully it's something based upon what you came up with as a group during Session Zero. If not, just go with a simple first adventure - a dungeon, for example, or anything that is simply a location already in motion. Start it with action - combat preferably, though any tense situation with an uncertain outcome is also good. Before any dice are thrown, however, ask the players to establish exactly why their group is interested or involved in this dungeon (or whatever). Roll with whatever ideas they come up with and make a note of anything particularly interesting so you can weave that into your story for this adventure or for future ones. One thing to keep in mind is that often it's not so much the exact answer they give you that's important, but rather what that answer says about their perception of things or what they understand or find interesting about the world. That's gold for a DM. By the time the PCs have come bruised and battered out of the crucible of the dungeon or whatever other location you wrote up, they should have a very good idea of their characters, adventuring party, and campaign world. From there, sky's the limit.

The "gettin' ta know ya" adventure as I call them always seems like a good idea, but in execution, it's rarely new or interesting. Most times I've seen it, it completely falls flat. Get to the meat of it - the adventure. Everything before that can be fleshed out with a good, engaging conversation and Q&A between the DM and players. And in doing so, you'll have players that are very engaged in the story and their characters because you're using their own ideas for (and against) them. It really works.

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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