Two methods for party beginnings and roleplay; which one do you prefer?

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At least, these are the two I've heard. Feel free to suggest an alternative you think is better, provided you're not snowflaking.

1. DM as reality show host: The PCs meet as strangers, and if sufficiently matured as RPers, will grow and develop their relationships over time. How they initially meet and find reason to trust one another with their lives will usually be a mix of metagaming and strong-arm quest hooks.

2. DM as author: Before play begins, the group will form relationships with one another. This is the method recommended in 4e with the DMG2, where PCs set up one positive and negative relationship with at least one other PC, so as to establish a pre-existing relationship/justification for adventuring together, as well as preset party conflict. This provides a sure basis for RP, but may be less organic than #1 and with fewer surprises.

I felt inspired when I read the DMG2, so it's probably obvious that #2 is the one I'm leaning towards. I'm used to Livejournal RP where any grand machinations one had needed to be discussed with all involved, so you had to be sure that you weren't stepping on anyone's toes. All parties would know the gist of what needed to be done, but the execution was up to the players. I also find that #1 doesn't give good results; left to their own devices, players do the lone wolf act every time. Nerds are naturally introverted I suppose, so it's not surprising that they aren't interested in anyone else's characters.

My brother and I had a good talk, and he disagreed. Letting the players develop relationships on their own gave them ownership of the RP, and was more fun due to the unexpectedness of the end result. Drawing up a blueprint for the characters' interactions stifles creativity. As much flak as the "You meet in a bar" scenario gets, it's the classic archtype for motley crews for a reason. To counteract your average nerd's preference towards privacy (less charitably: narcissim), the DM will need to not-so-subtly remind the players from time to time that the players ought to interact and display interest towards the lives of other PCs.

Unconsciously I've likely added bias to the viewpoint I favor, but try to read through that. What do you think works better?
It's not the DM as the author, it's the table authoring it together. Instead of interminable and excruciating sessions where "we don't know each other" we can all determine what our relationships are. Even if there's no "talking" between the characters in the setup, it's definitely roleplaying to come up with an interesting relationship (which can mean almost anything) up front and then play to that in the game itself.

"Randomly met at a bar" is only one of many, many possible relationships. Why limit yourself to that?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Right, obviously it's a collaborative effort. That's just a shorthand way of referring to different DMing styles: One planned, one not.
Same with the bar thing; any nondescript circumstance that conscripts the PCs. All hired by mysterious old man, the only fighters in town, thrown together in a coliseum...
Table authorship is a much better method than the "gettin' ta know ya" adventures. A little Q&A session between the DM and players is a great way to establish the campaign's theme, the party's role in the campaign, the characters' jobs in the party, and the relationship between them. Aside from fleshing out the party, it gives the DM good ideas about things in which the players are interested and could be brought to the fore during play.

DM: Ragnar, what bond do you have with Lela?
Ragnar: I saved her life once!
DM: Really? Lela, what happened?
Ragnar: We were running from some orcs and I stumbled into a pit trap. Ragnar caught me at the last second.
DM: Orcs, huh? Where did you guys encounter those?
Ragnar: They lair in a ruined keep and its dungeons in the hills outside of town.
DM: Who else was there that day?
Bendito: I was backing them up with my prayers. Filthy orc infidels!
Zatz: I wasn't there for that.
DM: Sounds like you guys would like some payback on the orcs. Where were you at that time, Zatz?
Zatz: My mentor asked me to investigate a set of magical standing stones in the swamp.
DM: Cool. What did you find?
Zatz: The place was rife with will-o'-wisps. I couldn't even get close.
DM: Interesting, what's so special about those standing stones?

... and so on...

The players established all on their own that there's a ruined keep full of orcs nearby and a swamp with magical standing stones and will-o'-wisps. Instant adventure material.

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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My current campaign I started the group off together as hiring on to the same merchant company together.   They were all assigned to the same caravan heading to a remote town for the first trade shipment of the spring.  The actual campaign opened up with them entering into town.

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Personally, I prefer starting the game with the group having decided to work together.  Why they did this is entirely up to them to decide.  This saves on having to strongarm quests to get the party to work together and prevents characters that are not sociable or outgoing from not joining the party.  It also prevents initial misunderstandings or clashes from preventing the party from forming.  One of the people I play with regularly really likes starting the game with the characters meeting so that she can play through the encounter.  While this does allow for more RP from the players and lets them get a feel for the other characters through meeting, there have been many times when one or more characters wind up having a conflict with one or more other party members that would be minor if they already knew each other.
I definitely prefer the party to have some backstory together, however tenuous ... otherwise, I tend to wind up with every PC in the bar with their back to a different corner being all lonery and grim and nothing happens.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Table authorship is a much better method than the "gettin' ta know ya" adventures. A little Q&A session between the DM and players is a great way to establish the campaign's theme, the party's role in the campaign, the characters' jobs in the party, and the relationship between them. Aside from fleshing out the party, it gives the DM good ideas about things in which the players are interested and could be brought to the fore during play.

DM: Ragnar, what bond do you have with Lela?
Ragnar: I saved her life once!
DM: Really? Lela, what happened?
Ragnar: We were running from some orcs and I stumbled into a pit trap. Ragnar caught me at the last second.
DM: Orcs, huh? Where did you guys encounter those?
Ragnar: They lair in a ruined keep and its dungeons in the hills outside of town.
DM: Who else was there that day?
Bendito: I was backing them up with my prayers. Filthy orc infidels!
Zatz: I wasn't there for that.
DM: Sounds like you guys would like some payback on the orcs. Where were you at that time, Zatz?
Zatz: My mentor asked me to investigate a set of magical standing stones in the swamp.
DM: Cool. What did you find?
Zatz: The place was rife with will-o'-wisps. I couldn't even get close.
DM: Interesting, what's so special about those standing stones?

... and so on...

The players established all on their own that there's a ruined keep full of orcs nearby and a swamp with magical standing stones and will-o'-wisps. Instant adventure material.




Super example Iserith!!!   I love reading game transcripts like this.  

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iserith's example is a good one, but requires a fair bit of trust around the table. If someone has a firm concept in their mind, it can be hard for them to accept and add on to things other people suggest for things their character might have gone through or been involved with. If you're going to do something like this, emphasize that the players need to be open minded and not come to the table with the character's backstory already determined.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

most of my games include the "DM+PCs as author" method, though one of my most memorable games used the other one.  I ended up writing up 4 characters, distributing them to the players along with their backstory (backstory basically consisted of a motivation and 3 past events that might have an impact in their current life per character).

Each backstory ended with them boarding an airship, and the adventure started with the airship crashing, and the PCs stuck in one section of the ship unable to get to the "lifeboat."  I did a vignette cutscene with each player playing the part of one of the citizens on the lifeboat, with the BBEG and airship saboteur piloting the lifeboat.  The vignette ended with the BBEG killing the "hero" type citizen (while the others cowered and pleaded).  The Players were now good and mad at the BBEG who hadn't even made an appearance to them yet. 

I crashed the PCs on a mysterious jungle island battered and beaten and picked up by a group of friendly but wary lizardfolk.  3 encounters later they had defeated the lizardfolk's kobold rivals, stolen their boat, and were off to begin their new life together.

Like i said, it became one of the most memorable games i've run, and the whole thing started without ANY player being aware of what ANY other player's character could do.     
It really depends on how soon players want to do what.  I can dictate a background relatively appropriate for the characters coming together to get on to the story if they like.  I can also put them in the same town and let them not have a history of togetherness and let them hash it out.  In the latter, it never fails that one character is always the lone freakin wolf and takes a session or two to actually get a team together.  If I try to force the character's hand to join the party (attacking the town, jackhole guard entering the tavern, whatever), lone wolfy breaks away without a reason to be with the characters yet.

So, guess I prefer the former. Players feel free to help me dictate your past.
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^^Wow, is that really how I came across in that personality thing or was this chosen at random?