Ideas for getting out of game strangers together in game

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OK, I recently moved and have been trying to put together a new gaming group at my new home.

In my last home, I did similar and kind of just threw the guys together with, "You're on the road to Yelden, after having been hired by a merchant whose daughter was kidnapped..." and, I basically threw the group into a combat encounter.  The group had some guys that were DMing their own campaigns, so I think they just went with it, appreciating that I didn't go with the cliched "you're in a tavern..."  it worked well, and the group stayed together for the entire 5 years I lived there.

However, I'm not sure that's going to work again, and wanted a few ideas for getting people that don't know each other out of game (yet) together in game to work as an adventuring group at the table.

The players will be starting in a small port city, so I asked them to come up with a reason to be there in game.  The group will be a human wizard, a half-elf paladin, a halfling cleric, a human druid, and one guy who hasn't decided yet.  They'll all be good aligned.

Any ideas? 

Thanks

I don't think there is anything wrong with your initial method of character get together.  Variations on that theme need not be terribly different.

Lord So-and-so needs someone to apprehend bandits his guards don't have time to deal with and his senechal came to each player requesting help

All the characters were put together by the local adventurers guild they briefly joined..

Sherriff of the town stops at local tavern at night and says he needs a few good men for dangerous work 
OK, I recently moved and have been trying to put together a new gaming group at my new home.

In my last home, I did similar and kind of just threw the guys together with, "You're on the road to Yelden, after having been hired by a merchant whose daughter was kidnapped..." and, I basically threw the group into a combat encounter.  The group had some guys that were DMing their own campaigns, so I think they just went with it, appreciating that I didn't go with the cliched "you're in a tavern..."  it worked well, and the group stayed together for the entire 5 years I lived there.

However, I'm not sure that's going to work again, and wanted a few ideas for getting people that don't know each other out of game (yet) together in game to work as an adventuring group at the table.

The players will be starting in a small port city, so I asked them to come up with a reason to be there in game.  The group will be a human wizard, a half-elf paladin, a halfling cleric, a human druid, and one guy who hasn't decided yet.  They'll all be good aligned.

Any ideas? 

Thanks




A good way to do this is ask the players for a 3x3...a list & brief description of 3 friends, 3 contacts and 3 enemies. If they get this to you, you can easily get a great starting hook for them based on either their friends or contacts. That way they can all have their own reason to be doing what they're doing but still all be gathered for the same thing.

For instance, perhaps the paladin has a request from his superior to help, and the fighter is doing it as a favor to a friend and the rogue is doing it because he got offered the job through one of his contacts who tips him off to profit to be had. Etc.

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100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

When we started the current campaign a few weeks ago I opened with a combat against an otyugh that burst up from the sewers beneath. Yes, it was cliched and, yes, I did it because of a certain piece of Paizo art.

After the battle finished I showed the PCs where they were on the map, where they were staying, reminded them of bits of their backgrounds (this is a Neverwinter campaign using Character Themes so this part was largely done for us) and then simply asked them, "How did you all end up here with each other?"

At this point, they had had about a 6 round combat together so they knew how they fit together in that sense. After that it was quite simple for them to extemporise on how they met. 
Cheers Imruphel aka Scrivener of Doom
OK, maybe it's not such a bad idea then.  I can throw them into the combat and then let them fill in the blanks afterwards
@ Imruphel: That is a good idea.