1001 Excuses to Bring a Party Together

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I was reviewing some of the questions asked in this forum and saw that a number of people ask for new ways to bring a party together... and didn't see a 1001 thread to match this topic, so...

1. Funeral: I once started a group of characters at the funeral of a great hero. Each character was there for a different reason. One was the hero's granddaughter. Another was apprenticed to an elf wizard who had been the hero's best friend some 50 years ago. One was a young priest, sent to deliver his first burial ritual, and the last was a dwarf who was magically teleported in from a far away fortress to use a magic hammer needed to engrave the date on the hero's specially prepared sarcophagus.
2. Artifacts. Have each PC start with a non-funtioning artifact that links to the other PC. Also starts a plot hook to find out the history behind the Artifacts.
3. Besieged Town: The PCs all are in a village or town, and do not knopw each other. During their stay, the town is attacked by an orc horde/kobold attack force/goblin suicide squad/etc. The PCs are forced to work together not only to save the town, but also to escape with their lives.
4. Storm and Moral Dilemma: A storm forces PCs to seek shelter together with other NPCs, but when someone outside their shelter seeks sanctuary one of the NPCs refuses to let them in (e.g. because they believe the voice is a deceiver demon). Do the PCs let the person outside in? How do they deal with the opposing NPC?
5. Students The players are the students of a mentor who is training them for a life of adventuring. The players are close to graduating from their apprenticeship and must prove themselves in a task such as retreiving an item from the depths of a kobold infested cave, or slaying a goblin cheiftan.
6. Mysterious Mentor All the members of the (future) party receive a letter from an unknown person/entity which summons them to work together towards some common goal.

7. So, you all met in a Tavern...: The PCs all meet in a tavern, all seeking adventure and glory. Clinking their goblets together, they agree to work together to reap in fortune's rewards. Oh, the cliché!
8. Captured by Pirates! It's all in the name. The players may not have known each other before but now they must escape from the nasty pirates or be forever locked away below deck. (Why pirates would do this is beyond me but the players don't seem to notice. ;) )
9.) The City requires help from certain members in it's many different Guilds to [Insert Hook Here]...

If the Campaign starts in a big city that is racially diverse, the PCs can all start off as low-ranking members/officers in the city's many specialized Guild Acadamies for different Classes / Player Roles / or Power Sources.

This can be taken a step further by really allowing a PC to "go to town" on their background when classes can combine the fundamentals of different Power Sources. A Swordmage, for example, may've been in the Fighter's Guild for a short time but noticed a much stronger facination towards magic. Thus transfering to the Mage's Guild/Academy to learn how to wield the magical arcane energies through the sword.
10. You all wake up the next morning in prison
Sure, let them tell you what they did the night before and then slap them in prison with a great walloping headache.

Nothing bonds parties like being set up, escaping a prison, evading and the authorities while locating the culprits.
11. Opposing interests converge. All the players are hired by different factions (in 1s and 2s) to steal the same item - and none of the aforementioned factions are the "good guys".
12. Riot/Rebelion: The PCs are sent by different city officials to stop Rioting in a section of the city and then root out the leaders. PCs may or may not have seen each other beforehand but the Officials either
A. Feel that they would work well together. Or
B. Are from different parts of the city and don't know that the other officials are sending people to stop the rioting.
13. Involuntary gladiator match: The PCs have been captured by criminals running an underground fight ring, and must escape before they get eaten by whatever monsters the criminals pit them against.
14. Blackmail. The PCs are each being blackmailed by the same person, group, or other entity. Whether a given PC knows the blackmailer's identity is up to you and the player. The blackmailer instructs each PC to meet at a certain place and time, where they will have an opportunity to pay off the blackmailer by performing a task with other blackmailed persons.
15. Best Friends: the PCs are all childhood friends and have always worked together. This option is for all you lazy DMs out there!
16. Shipwreck! The PCs are, each for their own reason, traveling on the same ship when something happens. It can be a shipwreck that leaves them stranded together somewhere, or an attack that has the same result. Any unwanted NPCs are killed. Replace the ship with a river boat or caravan as appropriate - anything that leaves the PCs stranded in the wilderness together can serve this purpose. The attack can be used as an adventure hook, or just as something that brings a group of people to a specific location, by destiny or chance.
17. Horrid Plague: A plague struck the village the characters were staying in - killing everyone except the players and perhaps a few NPCs. They've never met before and each character probably has their own motivation for why they were there, but now there is no one else to turn to for assistance except each other.

18. It's Your Birthday/Wedding/Bar Mitzvah/Etc Party! Similar to the funeral idea but less depressing. A character or an NPC is having a celebration and all the characters have either been invited or are guests of an invitee. Then something happens! Who springs to action?
56774838 wrote:
Far, far too many people seem to be enraged by the very thought of other people enjoying a version of the game that they don't.
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19. Met in the war. The players met sometime during the previous war.
To do this properly, you create a small scene, perhaps 2-3 short encounters, that enable the characters to meet and work towards a common goal. It's even possible for some characters to be on opposing sides at the beginning, as long as they can come together by the end.

Next, you "fast forward" to a few years after the war is over. Each player can summarize what their character has done during the intervening time. Now all you need is a plot element pulled/continued from the intro scene to use as an excuse to reunite the "war buddies".
Stolen from Eberron Campaign Guide
20. Boot Camp. There is word that an enemy army may be approaching the area, and every able-bodied adult in town is ordered to report for militia duty. The PCs are grouped together in a unit, with either a lack of organization or planned diversity in units accounting for the range of powers and roles of the PCs. The PCs' first adventure together is a training mission after (or during) which the enemy arrives...
21 Love! Yes, it can work with more than 2 characters. Be it a love triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, polygon, hendecagon or even a dodecagon! (Wow, 12 players! :eek Each one wants to be with the next, but not the former. It's like high school but the halloween dance has a real witch (and I'm not talking about your math teacher).
All the members of the group are present at a Will reading and the group inherits a map. They are the offspring of the deceased's old adventuring party. It's also a way for them to start with some equipment and minor magic items. And it's also a way to start out with a enemy, as somebody there thinks they should have inherited these things.
23. Prophecy - An ancient prophecy tells of a group of people (incidentally, everyone present who learns of the prophecy) who will band together to perform some great feat or bring about some major event. Thus, the PCs join together, cause apparently you can't fight fate.
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Board Snippets
147048523 wrote:
"I don't like X, they should remove it." "I like X, they should keep it." "They should replace X with Y." "Anybody that likes X is dumb. Y is better." "Why don't they include both X and Y." "Yeah, everybody can be happy then!" "But I don't like X, they should remove it." "X really needs to be replaced with Y." "But they can include both X and Y." "But I don't like X, they need to remove it." "Remove X, I don't like it." Repeat. Obstinance?
56790678 wrote:
Until you've had an in-law tell you your choice of game was stupid, and just Warcraft on paper, and dumbed down for dumber players who can't handle a real RPG, you haven't lived. You haven't lived.
56902498 wrote:
Lady and gentlemen.... I present to you the Edition War without Contrition, the War of the Web, the Mighty Match-up! We're using standard edition war rules. No posts of substance. Do not read the other person's posts with comprehension. Make frequent comparison to video games, MMOs, and CCGs. Use the words "fallacy" and "straw man", incorrectly and often. Passive aggressiveness gets you extra points and asking misleading and inflammatory questions is mandatory. If you're getting tired, just declare victory and leave the thread. Wait for the buzzer... and.... One, two, three, four, I declare Edition War Five, six, seven eight, I use the web to Go!
57062508 wrote:
D&D should not return to the days of blindfolding the DM and players. No tips on encounter power? No mention of expected party roles? No true meaning of level due to different level charts or tiered classes? Please, let's not sacrifice clear, helpful rules guidelines in favour of catering to the delicate sensibilities of the few who have problems with the ascetics of anything other than what they are familiar with.
56760448 wrote:
Just a quick note on the MMORPG as an insult comparison... MMORPGs, raking in money by the dumptruck full. Many options, tons of fans across many audiences, massive resources allocated to development. TTRPGs, dying product. Squeaking out an existence that relys on low cost. Fans fit primarily into a few small demographics. R&D budgets small, often rushed to market and patched after deployment. You're not really making much of an argument when you compare something to a MMORPG and assume people think that means bad. Lets face it, they make the money, have the audience and the budget. We here on this board are fans of TTRPGs but lets not try to pretend none of us play MMORPGs.
90571711 wrote:
Adding options at the system level is good. Adding options at the table level is hard. Removing options at the system level is bad. Removing options at the table level is easy. This is not complicated.
57333888 wrote:
112760109 wrote:
56902838 wrote:
Something like Tactical Shift is more magical than martial healing.
Telling someone to move over a few feet is magical now? :| I weep for this generation.
Given the laziness and morbid obsesity amongst D&Ders, being able to convince someone to get on their feet, do some heavy exercise, and use their words to make them be healthier must seem magical.
158710691 wrote:
D&D definitely improves mental health; Just as long as you stay away from these forums ;)
24. Lifted Curse. The PCs have all been petrified, turned into animals and kept as pets, or otherwise cursed/afflicted and kept in one location away from the outside world. They come from a variety of backgrounds and could have wound up in this situation in any number of ways. Now the curse is lifted (possibly as the result of some other group of adventurers defeating their captor) and this group of people must find their way back to civilization.
25. Allegiance The PCs have an allegiance bound with the same person/organisation. It's time for her to ask the PCs some kind of help.

26. Magic bound The PCs are bound by a magical meaning and if they want to get freedom back, they have to pursue the same goal.
10. You all wake up the next morning in prison
Sure, let them tell you what they did the night before and then slap them in prison with a great walloping headache.

Nothing bonds parties like being set up, escaping a prison, evading and the authorities while locating the culprits.

A variation on this I'm using is:

"The prison guard lies at your feet, blood soaking into the dirt. You only have a few minutes before one of the other guards finds you standing over the body of his comrade, the murder weapon in you hands. Why are you here in a prison camp? What made you kill the guard? What do you do next?"
27. Traveling Solo - The PCs are all flying by themselves on the world's first commercial luxury airship, and, as is common in real life, when you travel alone you get seated randomly with other single guests. I used this in my last campaign, and the players all agreed that they thought it was a fantastic way to bring a party together.
I'm actually looking forward to D&D Next. I think that every edition had some really awesome qualities, and every edition has truly awful design flaws. I don't expect Next to be any different, but if WotC is actively trying to incorporate the good bits into one unified whole, then I do expect it to be worth playing.

28.  the bounty hunter strikes  an infamous bounty hunter lays claim to a seemingly-defenseless NPC in broad daylight in a lawless frontier town.  immediate questions for the PCs: is bounty hunting acceptable here?  why would such a high-profile bounty hunter attack this poor guy?  do they want to intervene, or let rough justice take place?

29.  invasion!.  the town in which the PCs happen to be is unexpectedly attacked by neighboring power/orcs/etc!  in the ensuing chaos, the PCs find themselves taking shelter from the siege weapons in the same tavern.  immediate questions for the PCS: who the heck are [attacking force]?  does this community have something they want?  how do we avoid this army--or do we want to rat out the town, work out some kind of deal?

30.   on the refugee trail.  a variation on the previous: the PCs are getting the heck outta dodge by night because of a tip-off of an approaching hostile force.  but in the chaos, the part of the caravan with the PCs takes a wrong turn and winds up in a winding ravine and encounters a scout/expeditionary force of hostiles.  immediate questions for the PCS: same as previous, plus: how the heck did we get separated from everyone else?  is anybody else in this bunch combat-worthy?

31. You Awaken In a Room
  There's always the tried and true method.  Your party awakens in a room, gears grinding in the background, a door nearby finishes shutting mechanically and locks bolt into place... and the room starts to fill with water.  What do you do?

32. In Media Res  -  Our intrepid adventurers are standing in the middle of a long, wide stone bridge hundreds of feet above a crystal-clear lake at dusk.  Bodies of soldiers and monsters alike are strewn about like trash in a landfill.  A shrouded, dark warrior strides forth on wings of fire and engages the heroes in combat, defeating them to a man.  Left bloody and near death, the adventurers watch as he soars skyward and rains down a meteor swarm on the bridge, rending it asunder and sending them plummeting into the water below.  Back-track one month before this event, when they awake after a troubled night's sleep, and meet each-other.  Strangely, they all seem remarkably familiar for being perfect strangers.

I'm actually looking forward to D&D Next. I think that every edition had some really awesome qualities, and every edition has truly awful design flaws. I don't expect Next to be any different, but if WotC is actively trying to incorporate the good bits into one unified whole, then I do expect it to be worth playing.

33.  when ragamuffins strike!  the PCs are all walking down different very crowded streets in the same city.  they must pass a passive DC 15 perception check to avoid being bowled over by a running child, who's being hotly pursued by a wealthy-looking merchant screaming "thief!  thief!"  an acrobatics DC 15 or athletics DC 15 check will allow the PC to move through the crowd.

immediate questions for the PCs: is the kid really a thief?  is this a setup?  how is that kid running so darned fast?  why does it appear nobody else is paying any heed?

34. Death! The player characters are all snatched from the moment of certain death by a powerful and evil cleric who charges them with tasks to repay him for their lives.

35. Contract! There is this place you can go and get a job. The fewer questions you ask the better the pay. The more danerous the job the better the pay.

36. Defenders Call! Each member of the party is chosen for their devotion to preserving lfe. Each player is delivered a message via druid animal companions to meet at a sacred place and be given guild amulets like in Fable. If one person teleports it triggers the entire party's amulets as well. Hive mind and telepathic communication. One free resurection included.

Haven't tried that last one actually.

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37. Lone Agents, Asked to Work Together: Each PC is an agent for the same organization - secret or not - and works alone*. He's called in by his superior or contact, and told this time he'll work with other agents for a special mission. Hence the get together of the PCs. This has for an advantage to ensure the PCs have all the same allegiance...or do they?

*  For the Dark Sun setting, this organization can be the Veiled Alliance, and the PCs are all lone  terrorists working to bring down the sorcerer-kings and their defiler lackeys, and protect Veiled Alliance assets and members. The DM can have fun introducing each player to his character and his background by making him run through - alone - one of the missions he's supposed to have done prior to this one. Make it a one-nighter, giving each player a unique memory to later share and perhaps a piece of the puzzle as to the reason they were all asked to work together on this mission.

38) Reunion. They are all from the same town, and grew up together. They vowed to come back together after a time (five years?), and during the reunion trouble ensues...

39) Vacation at last! The heroes are all at a vacation resort, enjoying some well-deserved time. Except perhaps the rogue, who probably snuck in. Maybe the Druid is actually employed by the resort to tend to the animals and plants...And the ranger is actually a tourguide? I had some PCs that wanted to do this one (druid and ranger, go figure) and the rest of the party went to the resort to "relax." And then a terrible wave of creatures crash a nighttime party at the resort....

40 - Working a different thread of the same mystery. A person was murdered (or whatever), and the characters all have different stakes in it, working towards a similar resolution. Individuals will become small groups, small groups become larger groups, etc.

41 - Competitors/Rivals with common cause. Nobles often hire adventurers for nefarious or questionable purposes and many nobles have a pool of them that they call on. If the nobles decide the adventurers are politically dangerous - they might decide to remove some of their more used adventurers.

42 - Applying for the same job... and denied. Commiseration over booze becomes friendship becomes common cause.

38) Reunion. They are all from the same town, and grew up together. They vowed to come back together after a time (five years?), and during the reunion trouble ensues...


43) Panic! The PCs are all staying in the same inn when Evil BBEG stirkes searching for something (see Weakness) The PCs get together and fend off his minions.

Divine inspiration: One of the gods (I used Ioun recently) appears to the party members, by ones or twos, and asks them to perform one or more tasks. These tasks, of course lead them to eachother, but not necessarily on the same side!

45. Siblings: The PCs are of the same mother and father though have not lived under the same roof. Each contacted by mother or father (take your pick) and asked to come right away.

46. Mysterious Letter: Each of the players recieve a strange, mysterious letter from an unknown source, appearing out of nowhere. The letter is cryptic and seems to hint to future events for each of them, leading them to each other, and eventually leading them to prevent some grand disaster in the future. And during impossible to escape or survive situations, the letters hint towards a hidden item, a dark secret, an un-thought-of idea or theory, or something of the sort, that lets the players escape these situations. In time, the players should hopefully find out that the letter is from each of them, albeit in the future, and now the players must obtain the power neccessary to not only stop the disasters, but to be able to send the letter to their past selves so that the cycle can continue, and so that they won't destory Time itself.

Or something like that.

Knighthood: Even rouges and the like can be conscripted! You are all -somehow-members of the same fighting legion.

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48. Magically Summoned: NPC wizard/noble/sage/anything uses powerful spell/ritual/artifact/ anything to summon the precise group of people he needs to do job X.  EG: one by one the characters are spit out of the wizards magic well.

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