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Mastikator
2015-09-16, 04:24 PM
In pretty much every game I've ever played the player characters usually don't know each other at the first session's start, but why?

I once did a character that- as a part of his back story knew one of the PCs, so he had a very easy in into the already formed group.

Uh, why don't we just do that all the time?
Why should the PCs be strangers to each other at the start, you could do that character A knows B and C, C knows D, B knows E and F, D also knows F.
You wouldn't even need a special reason to pull them together, sure, A doesn't know D, E or F but that's not weird because he knows their friends. If anything it would be weird for them not to group.

Or are people already doing this and I'm just late and out of touch with reality?

Seto
2015-09-16, 04:31 PM
I strongly encourage my players to do this. They usually don't. I think the reason is that they have a strong, developed idea of what they wanna play, so they think up the character (backstory included) and then show up to the game without expecting to make adjustments. Of course, in a lot of games (one-shots, players that don't know each other before playing, etc.) this phenomenon is emphasized. It's easier to pull off the shared backstory when you know and trust the player. I very much intend to do it next time I sit on the other side of the screen, in any case.

mikeejimbo
2015-09-16, 04:50 PM
In one of the games I played our characters were all from the same family. Another player and I even played twin brothers. (Not the first time I'd been playing the twin of another PC, even.) Another game had my character being a squad leader for a second-string group of PCs, and it was established that they'd been together for a while. It definitely happens, though you're right it seems rare.

mephnick
2015-09-16, 04:53 PM
I always mean to have them know each other, then we get busy and can't do a proper session zero and I end up with completely unrelated conflicting characters I have to metagame into a party in the first session.

But I'll do it next time, I promise!

Thrudd
2015-09-16, 05:03 PM
I ask that my players create characters already a party, and can decide how they know eachother and what their group organization is like.

After playing many years and wasting many first sessions where characters are suspicious of eachother and need to basically be forced to go on an adventure together, I've decided that being a working party a priori should be a condition of character creation.

Enran
2015-09-16, 05:05 PM
I don't like pre-existing relationships because they weren't developed in a normal way. With NPCs it can work out fine, but with fellow PCs there's a large chance you'll be three sessions in and turn to the other player and say "hey, our characters are at each others' necks over everything, how the heck does our backstory of them becoming friends of the non-fire-forged sort work at all?" Plus, there's always a bit of an imperative to keep pre-existing relationships going until reasons not to present themselves. Backstory NPCs who were companions on former quests are still lifelong friends until something happens to dramatically change the relationship; wives and children who were loving family in backstory continue to be such until something happens to change it; and so on and so forth. This works fine for NPCs you see every so often and can just act as if there's a positive relationship with them, but party members interact with one another constantly and at some point or another you expect to play your character as they are around the rest of the party, so having two characters who were introduced as best friends just sort of naturally drift apart in a non-dramatized way while adventuring together conflicts with our internal sense of consistency, especially if their shared backstory already involved them adventuring together.

Basically, intra-party dynamics are hard to force and usually feel wrong if made to be so, so it's generally better to kick them together out of necessity or somesuch and let the relationships bloom. Having them come with pre-existing relationships that they don't end up enjoying later forces them to play their characters to have been inconsistent for some long period (whether that's within the game itself, because they pretend the best friend type dynamic is still working when it isn't, or during the backstory when the characters have now accepted that they aren't really best friends and there's no reason they would have been in the past).

I would normally prefer to start characters as acquaintances, but no closer than that. "Yeah, that guy probably won't ditch me during a life-threatening situation" is much less strenuous to start on than "oh yeah, the cold bloodthirsty killer was totally hiding his natural tendencies for his entire life so that his best friendship with the squeamish healer can be justified, yet also has a reason to suddenly drop the facade now."

NomGarret
2015-09-16, 05:13 PM
I've had pretty good luck when running the mysterious stranger gathers a group to quest intro to just say that happened in the title sequence and jump into the action. If someone really wants, we can always do a flashback,

Keltest
2015-09-16, 05:40 PM
My players are perfectly welcome to have met prior to the start of the campaign, however that requires a level of coordination generally unavailable to them outside of the actual game meetings. Given that I encourage them to come into the campaign with an idea of who they want to be, that combines to limit characters that are familiar with each other. It can happen, its just more work.

Pex
2015-09-16, 05:51 PM
I don't mind if PCs don't know each other in character background, but I do mind the Jerk players who refuse to acknowledge the mystical letters PC on characters' foreheads so we can get on with the game. Others PCs are merely NPCs to them, expendable if not completely ignorable. That's really where the problem lies, not the concept of not knowing each other at first.

BootStrapTommy
2015-09-16, 05:51 PM
I always start my campaigns off "So you guys already know each other... Decide how..."

Dimers
2015-09-16, 05:53 PM
I do require each character to have a workable connection to at least a couple of the other characters. Pretty frequently I set up the scenario such that the characters are all part of some loose paramilitary or investigatory group, so they can at least know and trust each other right from the get-go. I ask every player, "What makes you stick with these dummies in a life-or-death situation?"

The Grue
2015-09-16, 06:21 PM
Dungeon World explicitly encourages this with its starting Bonds. I've adapted the Bonds system to several other games with success, so there's that.

Guancyto
2015-09-16, 06:31 PM
Legends of the Wulin does this too. You don't have to start out as a party, but everyone needs some connection (however tangential) to someone else, be it "rescued you from Horselord raiders when you were a kid, but I'm old now" or "I accidentally dropped a house on your kung fu mom, er, sorry about that? (She got better)"

kyoryu
2015-09-16, 06:44 PM
Fate Core (and most of the Fate variations) do this, and it works pretty well.

Amphetryon
2015-09-16, 06:47 PM
Because not every group wants every game to start without the introductions being part of the story.

Coidzor
2015-09-16, 06:48 PM
Sometimes we do that, sometimes we don't. Usually it's not that important because our characters have bigger concerns than falling into fractious infighting and by the time we would there's enough common cause/bonds formed from having saved one another's lives that it's not really an issue.

Some people like RPing meeting one another for the first time and learning how their characters fit together, too.

Mark Hall
2015-09-16, 06:59 PM
One frequent thing in a character creation session is deciding how everyone knows each other. Sit down, point to another player, and establish a connection. You have to creation connections to two other character, and each of them has to create a connection to one other character (plus you, for their two).

Solaris
2015-09-16, 07:03 PM
I always start my campaigns off "So you guys already know each other... Decide how..."

My newest group was shocked and disgusted when I did that, coupled with having them come up with reasons for their being where they were.
Apparently, they did not like the idea of not being on railroad tracks. That could get... disconcerting for me.

Shackel
2015-09-16, 07:33 PM
My newest group was shocked and disgusted when I did that, coupled with having them come up with reasons for their being where they were.
Apparently, they did not like the idea of not being on railroad tracks. That could get... disconcerting for me.

As someone said above, some people are actually fond of going through how their characters meet up and interact. Some even like interparty conflict.

Solaris
2015-09-16, 07:58 PM
As someone said above, some people are actually fond of going through how their characters meet up and interact. Some even like interparty conflict.

Sure, but that's the first time since I started playing this game that I've ever run into a group that did... and when given the opportunity, didn't.

Having known someone for a while doesn't prevent interparty conflict. In fact, it facilitates it - people tend to be on their best behavior with someone they've just met.

Thrudd
2015-09-16, 08:04 PM
I prefer players don't spend too much time on their backgrounds individually or inter party. "We all met last week when character A was looking to form an adventuring expedition and the rest of us responded to his offer." is about all I want, and individually: "I want to be an adventurer because X, Y, Z." They don't need to have intricate and extensive prior relationships.

There's a non-zero chance that one or more characters won't survive early adventures, so don't get too deep into it, and the format of the party should be such that it makes sense for new characters to come in as replacements.

If players want their characters to be siblings or old friends or whatever, that's great and fine. Since they've never been tested in the crucible of adventuring yet, it makes sense that their friendship might change or end due to the stress, and siblings have rivalries all the time. How you react in life-or-death situations may reveal things about your personality you didn't know before. Never mind the influence of extraordinary wealth and the promise of such, which also changes people greatly. The stakes are very high for these people.

Roleplaying how everyone meets is fine, as long as the players are all willing to "play along" with the ultimate conclusion that they will agree to form an adventuring party. The game is about a party of adventurers. Since it's a forgone conclusion, I find there isn't much point and it usually feels really contrived. Just skip to the inevitable and develop it in flashback statements.

goto124
2015-09-16, 09:46 PM
I don't like pre-existing relationships because they weren't developed in a normal way. [snip] This works fine for NPCs you see every so often and can just act as if there's a positive relationship with them, but party members interact with one another constantly [snip]

Basically, intra-party dynamics are hard to force and usually feel wrong if made to be so, so it's generally better to kick them together out of necessity or somesuch and let the relationships bloom.

I would normally prefer to start characters as acquaintances, but no closer than that. "Yeah, that guy probably won't ditch me during a life-threatening situation" is much less strenuous to start on than "oh yeah, the cold bloodthirsty killer was totally hiding his natural tendencies for his entire life so that his best friendship with the squeamish healer can be justified, yet also has a reason to suddenly drop the facade now."


The game is about a party of adventurers. Since it's a forgone conclusion, I find there isn't much point and it usually feels really contrived. Just skip to the inevitable and develop it in flashback statements.

When the players don't know one another, it can be weird for their characters to know each other beyond 'I suppose she was the shopkeeper's assistant of that store I go to once a year'. During roleplaying in the course of the game, inconsistencies such as 'she really should've known her best friend well enough to predict that/know how to deal with her behavior/etc' crop up. If they're brushed aside... why start them off as 'best friends' anyway? It becomes little more than an excuse for them to start adventuring together, and there're many reasons strangers and acquaintances would adventure together ('I need money, she wants fame, and raiding that dungeon benefits both of us. Why not?').

Darth Ultron
2015-09-16, 11:22 PM
I just about always have the PC's start off as knowing each other. Mostly so we can just start the game. In the past I have let players not know each other, and utterly waste time doing what they call 'role playing' as they actively attempt to ruin the game even before it starts. It never works out well.....

It would be nice if the players could role play for like five minutes and do a simple ''oh your name is Bob, lets hang out together''. But, oddly, most players want to waste several hours doing nothing and not playing the game. Each PC will act mean/unfriendly/dumb/crazy/weird or whatever and only want to be alone. So they will have no reason to form a group, no matter what.

And not knowing each other is just a silly excuse for most players to be ''evil'' to each other. So the PC's can sort of hang out together, but as soon as there is combat/loot they turn on each other.

Very often I'd simply have to leave the game as DM after say a half hour of utterly pointless non-group of strangers doing a solo game each lame role playing.

Pex
2015-09-16, 11:33 PM
My favorite I've played where the PCs all knew each other at the start: we were all playing the children of our previous characters. We were play pals who grew up together.

Thrudd
2015-09-17, 12:06 AM
When the players don't know one another, it can be weird for their characters to know each other beyond 'I suppose she was the shopkeeper's assistant of that store I go to once a year'. During roleplaying in the course of the game, inconsistencies such as 'she really should've known her best friend well enough to predict that/know how to deal with her behavior/etc' crop up. If they're brushed aside... why start them off as 'best friends' anyway? It becomes little more than an excuse for them to start adventuring together, and there're many reasons strangers and acquaintances would adventure together ('I need money, she wants fame, and raiding that dungeon benefits both of us. Why not?').

Yes, that is true. And that level of acquaintance is all that is required. As long as the party is formed and everyone wants to go on adventures. The characters could have met each other five minutes before the game begins, as long as they've agreed to be a party.

What I want to avoid is what Darth Ultron is describing, and I have experienced to some degree as well: which are players each roleplaying their own loner badass that won't trust anyone, and apparently waiting for the DM to railroad them together in some clever way. When it's a sandbox game, this just is not going to work.

BWR
2015-09-17, 01:34 AM
In my groups it varies. Sometimes the PCs know each other from the beginning, sometimes they don't. When they do know each other, the degree people know each other at the beginning of the game (e.g. have they grown up together or did they just meet yesterday for this job?) varies greatly depending on the game and the setting and what sort of backgrounds are allowed.

dramatic flare
2015-09-17, 05:34 AM
I find it generally best, as a player, to pick a character and develop a common back-story with them. One of my favorite campaigns involved being twins with another character, and occassionally the DM would throw bonus Experience our way when our perpetual state of bicker was amusing. On one particular occasion, another player tried to step in and our response, not planned in anyway, was mutually delivered, "Piss off."

I don't think the effect should be forced, but players should definitely be open to the idea.

DigoDragon
2015-09-17, 05:59 AM
I leave the decision of the players knowing each other in advance up to them. Rarely do they take up on that offer. This is mostly because my players like to have introductions and to keep a couple secrets they'd like to save up for reveals later.

Brion
2015-09-17, 06:27 AM
As a player (only DM'd once, though I want to some more), it's always been in the hands of the DM. What makes the story work better? In the current campaign we're playing, our characters all knew each other as we grew up in the same small town. The paladin and oracle (me) were close, the ranger and sorcerer were close, and we've sort of played that out in combats and social situations.

But I've also played some where we were hired as mercenaries or press ganged into being pirates... so those are a lot more hit or miss as to whether you know the other PCs or not.

goto124
2015-09-17, 07:53 AM
It seems to be somewhat reliant on how well the players know each other...?

DireSickFish
2015-09-17, 08:23 AM
I've done both methods, but I like to have the party know each other beforehand. If they don't know each other then you need a strong hook to bind the party together at the beginning.

Sometimes it can be hard to get the players to interact with each other at all, they look to the DM and roleplay through me and my NPC's instead of having much party banter. My favorite moments are giving a party a problem and having them trying to figure out solutions. This is where the meat of party interaction come in my experience, and differences in opinion get fleshed out there.

Joe the Rat
2015-09-17, 08:27 AM
One of the fun points of Fiasco: Connecting characters is the game. Well, that and failing miserably in amusing ways, but, y'know.

It's not something I've forced, but I do encourage players to have connections between characters. It can be a common background, growing up together, or simply be that they've worked together before. As a player, I will look for ways to connect. "Hey, we're both fighters. Any chance we've done caravan duty before?" "Hey, would your academic wizard want a travel buddy / bodyguard?" That sort of thing.

For my current group, I railroaded "You work together as part of an adventuring franchise" to get them out the door. Later, I ended up running a 2-man session which we turned into a prequel on how two of the characters met, and why they're still working together.

Mark Hall
2015-09-17, 12:47 PM
When the players don't know one another, it can be weird for their characters to know each other beyond 'I suppose she was the shopkeeper's assistant of that store I go to once a year'. During roleplaying in the course of the game, inconsistencies such as 'she really should've known her best friend well enough to predict that/know how to deal with her behavior/etc' crop up. If they're brushed aside... why start them off as 'best friends' anyway? It becomes little more than an excuse for them to start adventuring together, and there're many reasons strangers and acquaintances would adventure together ('I need money, she wants fame, and raiding that dungeon benefits both of us. Why not?').

There's "knowing each other" and "being best friends". In a Star Wars game, we all had some basic ideas about who our characters were... but then we started putting them together. "Ok, I'm a bounty hunter, so I worked with this crime lord, which meshes with the crime lord who killed your family and you're out for revenge and I probably know him because he's a smuggler, so we've met in crime circles, and the Jedi is from this planet, so..." It's a linkage of friends of friends, reputation, and a few close relationships (between players who made their characters together).

We tend to relate everyone in Star Wars games to the Firefly crew, which is a good example of such an assemblage. Mal and Zoe are war buddies. Zoe and Wash are married. Kaylee is an employee, technically, but a member of the family. Inara is a tenant on the spaceship, but has a closer relationship with Kaylee. Simon and River are obviously close, but they're on the run, making the ship convenient, and the relationship between Simon and Kaylee binds them to the crew more tightly. Jayne is an untrustworthy mercenary who's Mal's employee. Book is a paying passenger. While some of them start the game (i.e. the series) knowing each other, they're not all close friendships, and some folks are just kinda grafted on there.

Honest Tiefling
2015-09-17, 01:11 PM
I honestly don't like having PCs knowing each other very well in advance, unless I know the other player and we've worked out a plan. I don't even know what I'm doing with the character yet because I tend to adjust them on the fly in the first few sessions to get them into the party and/or campaign. How can I expect another person to adapt to sudden odd shifts unless we can communicate well and quickly?

On the other hand, I would really like to join a party that at least has met each other. I was in a group where my PC was a drinking buddy of another PC and it worked out quite well. No connections at all really just seems like someone came and found the most ragtag group possible to fulfill some odd story troupe, not like an actual serious story. Especially when some people are sworn to murder each other, that's happened a few times.

mikeejimbo
2015-09-17, 02:31 PM
It seems to be somewhat reliant on how well the players know each other...?

Probably. My group has known each other for years.

Anxe
2015-09-17, 02:46 PM
A method I've wanted to use but haven't gotten the chance yet is to introduce the party one at a time. Example: I've got 4 players, Adam, Brian, Cynthia, and Dave. Adam and Brian meet on the road and have to defend themselves from a bandit attack. The shared experience bonds them together. Cynthia walks down the road. She sees to injured people and offers to help them get to the nearest town. They arrive at the nearest town and get to the inn where they share a story of how they courageously fought off a bunch of bandits. Dave approaches the three of them and says he just got a contract from the local constable to clean up the bandits. He'd like to have some extra help and is willing to split the reward with them.

I haven't done it yet because it means Cynthia and Dave sit there without anything to do after character creation is over. I think my players could handle the sitting at this point, but I'm not sure the same thing was true when I started my current campaign a couple years ago.

Thrudd
2015-09-17, 02:56 PM
A method I've wanted to use but haven't gotten the chance yet is to introduce the party one at a time. Example: I've got 4 players, Adam, Brian, Cynthia, and Dave. Adam and Brian meet on the road and have to defend themselves from a bandit attack. The shared experience bonds them together. Cynthia walks down the road. She sees to injured people and offers to help them get to the nearest town. They arrive at the nearest town and get to the inn where they share a story of how they courageously fought off a bunch of bandits. Dave approaches the three of them and says he just got a contract from the local constable to clean up the bandits. He'd like to have some extra help and is willing to split the reward with them.

I haven't done it yet because it means Cynthia and Dave sit there without anything to do after character creation is over. I think my players could handle the sitting at this point, but I'm not sure the same thing was true when I started my current campaign a couple years ago.

Why not tell that story in flashback, since you already know how it will turn out and that they all need to end up together? Rather than having players sit there with nothing to do, while you walk through a story with an ending you've all already decided. Unless you want to allow the chance that one of the players will decide to leave the party or refuse to join up with the others on their quest, which would be pointless.

Unless everyone wants to act out these predetermined scenes for the fun of it, and don't mind being passive observers for a bit, do whatever the group likes. But I don't see what this type of scenario adds to the game in the long run.

Solaris
2015-09-17, 03:41 PM
There's "knowing each other" and "being best friends". In a Star Wars game, we all had some basic ideas about who our characters were... but then we started putting them together. "Ok, I'm a bounty hunter, so I worked with this crime lord, which meshes with the crime lord who killed your family and you're out for revenge and I probably know him because he's a smuggler, so we've met in crime circles, and the Jedi is from this planet, so..." It's a linkage of friends of friends, reputation, and a few close relationships (between players who made their characters together).

We tend to relate everyone in Star Wars games to the Firefly crew, which is a good example of such an assemblage. Mal and Zoe are war buddies. Zoe and Wash are married. Kaylee is an employee, technically, but a member of the family. Inara is a tenant on the spaceship, but has a closer relationship with Kaylee. Simon and River are obviously close, but they're on the run, making the ship convenient, and the relationship between Simon and Kaylee binds them to the crew more tightly. Jayne is an untrustworthy mercenary who's Mal's employee. Book is a paying passenger. While some of them start the game (i.e. the series) knowing each other, they're not all close friendships, and some folks are just kinda grafted on there.

This is generally my ideal. Without it, the fact that people are adventuring together gets a wee bit too contrived and hampers my suspension of disbelief.

ArcanaFire
2015-09-17, 04:39 PM
I have a group that /loves/ this kind of story. They consider it a sort of challenge for character creation, it keeps them together in a rational way and gives us something for the story to rotate around and a reason for the PCs to stay together without having to wave the wand of "slight metagaming for the good of the group".

"You're all members of the crew of this ship, hired personally by the captain. You decide how long you've been here, and what it is you do on the ship."

"The characters you roll should all be students at this university. You all share the same psychology class. Now tell me your majors and some basic backstory things, and if any of you hang out outside of class."

"The story begins at a funeral. You all knew this woman, a well respected wizard in the community, at least well enough to be invited to her funeral and the burial after. Each of you tell me how you knew her and tell me one fact about her." - In this case they didn't necessarily have to know each other but a few of them decided to, and then the story became "solve the mystery of her death".

"You are all citizens and business owners in this small town where strange things tend to happen. Your characters should be core classes only, but the town mistrusts magic so if you are a wizard or a sorcerer you may be expected to hide it. We're going to go around the table, you tell the rest of us what you do in town, and three things about your character's reputation that anyone that lives here would know."

It makes the character creation session a lot more fun because we get to test drive RP our characters a little bit while we're rolling and decide on these connections as we go.

Amphetryon
2015-09-17, 04:55 PM
I have a group that /loves/ this kind of story. They consider it a sort of challenge for character creation, it keeps them together in a rational way and gives us something for the story to rotate around and a reason for the PCs to stay together without having to wave the wand of "slight metagaming for the good of the group".Seems to me that intentionally skewing their backgrounds to give the PCs a built-in reason to stay together is the very epitome of "slight metagaming for the good of the group."

Kiero
2015-09-17, 05:00 PM
In my group we always start with the characters being at least acquainted. There's nothing worse than starting a game with those tedious, stilted and forced "introduction" scenes, where we pretend everyone is a stranger.

Aetol
2015-09-17, 05:19 PM
I have a group that /loves/ this kind of story. They consider it a sort of challenge for character creation, it keeps them together in a rational way and gives us something for the story to rotate around and a reason for the PCs to stay together without having to wave the wand of "slight metagaming for the good of the group".
Seems to me that intentionally skewing their backgrounds to give the PCs a built-in reason to stay together is the very epitome of "slight metagaming for the good of the group."

"Metagaming" is a broad term. Here it means playing against the usual personality and motivations of the character, in order to preserve the social contract of the game (in this instance keeping the party together). This is not a situation you want to be in if you care about roleplaying. As Amphetryon explains, it can be avoided by having a reason to stay together built in the character's backstory.

"My character would accept the BBEG's bribe, but we don't want this to become PvP so I turn it down" is metagaming according to this definition. "My character is best friends with two other party members and would never turn on them for a bribe" is not because it stays true to the character's personality, even if the "best friends" part was added with this kind of situation in mind.

Keep in mind that PCs are not real people, they are characters in a story. It's normal, even required, for characters of fiction to have a personality that is convenient for the story.

Knaight
2015-09-17, 05:20 PM
I generally start with all the characters knowing each other, and even if they don't know each other personally they will have some pretty significant overlap that ties them together. That's not to say that a bunch of strangers who meet can never work, just that it's not really something that necessarily has to be the primary option all the time.

Anxe
2015-09-17, 05:51 PM
Why not tell that story in flashback, since you already know how it will turn out and that they all need to end up together? Rather than having players sit there with nothing to do, while you walk through a story with an ending you've all already decided. Unless you want to allow the chance that one of the players will decide to leave the party or refuse to join up with the others on their quest, which would be pointless.

Unless everyone wants to act out these predetermined scenes for the fun of it, and don't mind being passive observers for a bit, do whatever the group likes. But I don't see what this type of scenario adds to the game in the long run.

The idea is to give the players a real feeling of connectedness at the start of the adventure. Dictating it as a flashback doesn't feel as real and it takes away some of the player agency for the specifics of what happened.

I agree with you that it doesn't add anything to the campaign in the long run, but I thought it might make the first 1-3 sessions feel more natural for a "super group" forming to deal with problems too big for them to solve as individuals.

EDIT: I like that funeral idea! I've got to try that sometime.

StealthyRobot
2015-09-17, 05:58 PM
I just began DM'ing my first campaign, and I told the players to make whatever character they wanted. The only requirement was that they had to be in a certain town. And I, for some reason, expected these characters to just group up and go on an adventure. Everyone did a good job staying in character which turned out to be a problem. There was one untalkitive, untrusting going into town. One was untrusting and heading into town. One was shy, untalkative and still in town, and the other was friendly but had amnesia and was heading out of town. Managed to get them to stick together without much metagaming though.
In hindsight, I should have given a few more requirements to character creation. I wanted to let the players think of a character concept and go with it, which is limitless when you only have to be in a town.
If you want the game to get started sooner, tell them to have some sort of relation to at least one other character or require them to at least be willing to work with others.

LadyFoxfire
2015-09-17, 06:03 PM
I've mentioned before that it takes me a little while to get a feel for my character's personality and how I like to roleplay her, so I frequently have no idea which party members I'll really get along with, and which I'll butt heads with. So with that in mind, I think the best way to establish a new adventuring party is to either have them all be hired by an NPC and sent on a quest, or throw them together and give them a common goal they can't really avoid, like "you're all in the same town, and it's being overrun by zombies". If you're starting the campaign at higher than first level, it also works to say "you're an established adventuring party".

But if you ask me to come up with a specific connection to another character, I run the risk of saying "we're both wizards, so we went to magic school together", and then finding out two sessions later that we can't stand each other, so why would I go adventuring with a former classmate I hated?

Thrudd
2015-09-17, 11:07 PM
The idea is to give the players a real feeling of connectedness at the start of the adventure. Dictating it as a flashback doesn't feel as real and it takes away some of the player agency for the specifics of what happened.

I would have them dictate it as a flashback. Either before the game starts, or in little bits as they think of it and develop their characters and relationships during play together. They own it that way.

But really it can be up to them; if they want to roleplay their introductions with the understanding that they have to eventually cooperate and become an adventuring party, of course you should do that.

Garimeth
2015-09-18, 07:17 AM
Each PC will act mean/unfriendly/dumb/crazy/weird or whatever and only want to be alone. So they will have no reason to form a group, no matter what.

And not knowing each other is just a silly excuse for most players to be ''evil'' to each other. So the PC's can sort of hang out together, but as soon as there is combat/loot they turn on each other.

I wonder what this says about people who enjoy this hobby...

I've only dealt with one group like this though, the one I met entirely through a gaming store. All other times I just teach friends of mine who I think would like it how to play.

Talyn
2015-09-18, 02:47 PM
As a player, I really like having the PCs know each other. At the very least, I try to always build characters who have a good, in-character reason to throw themselves into dangerous situations with the other PCs.

As a GM, though, I don't really have a problem with throwing a bunch of strangers into a weird and/or dangerous setting and having the introductions happen in-game.

No idea why I think that way.

icefractal
2015-09-18, 03:43 PM
Basically, intra-party dynamics are hard to force and usually feel wrong if made to be so, so it's generally better to kick them together out of necessity or somesuch and let the relationships bloom. Having them come with pre-existing relationships that they don't end up enjoying later forces them to play their characters to have been inconsistent for some long period (whether that's within the game itself, because they pretend the best friend type dynamic is still working when it isn't, or during the backstory when the characters have now accepted that they aren't really best friends and there's no reason they would have been in the past).Ironically, that's why I do like the PCs to have pre-existing connections - although being at the level of acquaintances might be enough. If two of the PCs wouldn't get along with each-other, then "kicked together by necessity" is only a temporary fix. Why would they stay together after the necessity ends? "You're a complete *******, but we fought some Orcs together a couple times, so let's team up forever" feels extremely forced to me, at least the majority of the time.

Now admittedly, ensuring the PCs don't have incompatible personalities is a separate thing from giving them pre-existing connections, but more often than not they go together. Also, the latter can help with borderline cases of the former. The difference between - "He's a jerk sometimes, but he's been my friend for years and I know I can trust him when the chips are down." and "He's a jerk sometimes, but ... actually, wait, why am I hanging around with a jerk? Let's find someone else instead."

MrConsideration
2015-09-18, 04:33 PM
For my current campaign I asked players to supply one time their characters co-operated in the past with one other character in the party so that everyone had some vague history - it actually added some interesting dimensions to the backstory. Then for their reason for travelling with the caravan that was the start of the adventure. They co-ordinated this over a Facebook group chat with minimal fuss - "Hey, my character left her aristocratic life behind to see the real world, and your character is on the lam after a failed revolution - they must have been on the barricades together!"

Then I had circumstance and adversity throw them together, and now they're a party.

GungHo
2015-09-21, 01:25 PM
I usually go the Firefly route, as Mark Hall mentions. There may be relationships with some of the characters, based on what the players wanted to do, and some of them may be add-ons. Star Wars: ANH worked that way as well. They weren't a full party until they were on the Death Star, and Kenobi's player let him die because he was overpowered and changed over for the sassy Princess.

Lorsa
2015-09-21, 01:40 PM
Or are people already doing this and I'm just late and out of touch with reality?

I think people are already doing this. :smallsmile:

Anxe
2015-09-21, 02:24 PM
I usually go the Firefly route, as Mark Hall mentions. There may be relationships with some of the characters, based on what the players wanted to do, and some of them may be add-ons. Star Wars: ANH worked that way as well. They weren't a full party until they were on the Death Star, and Kenobi's player let him die because he was overpowered and changed over for the sassy Princess.

Why would you do this to me?:smalleek:

Mark Hall
2015-09-21, 04:21 PM
I usually go the Firefly route, as Mark Hall mentions. There may be relationships with some of the characters, based on what the players wanted to do, and some of them may be add-ons. Star Wars: ANH worked that way as well. They weren't a full party until they were on the Death Star, and Kenobi's player let him die because he was overpowered and changed over for the sassy Princess.

*golf clap* I approve.

Coidzor
2015-09-21, 07:44 PM
Why would you do this to me?:smalleek:

Do what, reference Darths and Droids? :smallconfused:

Anxe
2015-09-21, 11:15 PM
Do what, reference Darths and Droids? :smallconfused:

Yes! I got out! You can't make me go back in! I won't add another webcomic to my list!

Solaris
2015-09-22, 09:20 AM
Yes! I got out! You can't make me go back in! I won't add another webcomic to my list!

You cannot resist. It is your destiny.

nedz
2015-09-22, 01:04 PM
As someone said above, some people are actually fond of going through how their characters meet up and interact. Some even like interparty conflict.

this.

Also: whilst everyone knowing each other gets the game going more quickly; independent back stories give more breadth to the party, which can give more depth to the story, which can improve the experience.

There's no right or wrong answer to this and, whilst for some games I'd play it so that they did know each other, I prefer the extra options.

Avalander
2015-09-22, 03:13 PM
Keep in mind that PCs are not real people, they are characters in a story. It's normal, even required, for characters of fiction to have a personality that is convenient for the story.

I think this is a really good point. I like to play with PCs knowing each other in advance, because I have fun developing the backstories and using elements from them during the game. Also, story-wise feels more natural to me. To be honest, who would hire a bunch of unrelated people and tell them to work together instead of going for a long-running company of mercenaries? Creating a functional team requires hard work and time. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

What I think is common sense, regardless of whether the PCs know each other in advance, is that the players should have a willingness to cooperate and make the game fun for everybody. What I've found when PCs don't know each other, is that some players use it as an excuse to be real jerks and play characters that, in the best of the cases, the other characters would dump on the nearest town and tell them not to cross their path never again, but don't do because, hey, this guy is playing with us, we cannot dump him. I do acknowledge that this issue doesn't come from PCs not having common backstories, but in my experience, teams who can develop a background story for their team, don't use to have such issues.

Hawkstar
2015-09-22, 08:57 PM
Yes! I got out! You can't make me go back in! I won't add another webcomic to my list!

Ehh... Darths & Droids has gotten a bit too self-absorbed since the end of Episode II.

Jay R
2015-09-23, 03:30 PM
Some player concepts work fine on the assumption that the players already know each other. Some don't. If one PC is a farmer who just left the isolated village for the first time, and another is an escaped slave who stowed away on a ship and is now taking his first step on this continent, they probably aren't long-term buddies.


I generally start with all the characters knowing each other, and even if they don't know each other personally they will have some pretty significant overlap that ties them together. That's not to say that a bunch of strangers who meet can never work, just that it's not really something that necessarily has to be the primary option all the time.

It's not hard to create a fast introduction that gets them working together quickly. In a game of Flashing Blades (role-playing in musketeer-era France) ) I simply had them near each other in a crowded street, when a woman screamed in a nearby alley.

I used the following for a superhero game.
To PC1: Listening to your car radio, you hear about a building on fire downtown.
To PC2: You see a column of smoke to your north.
To PC3: A couple of firetrucks drive by you will their sirens on.
To PC4: Relaxing at home with a good book, you say to yourself, "It certainly is warm in here."

Knaight
2015-09-23, 05:01 PM
It's not hard to create a fast introduction that gets them working together quickly. In a game of Flashing Blades (role-playing in musketeer-era France) ) I simply had them near each other in a crowded street, when a woman screamed in a nearby alley.

I used the following for a superhero game.
To PC1: Listening to your car radio, you hear about a building on fire downtown.
To PC2: You see a column of smoke to your north.
To PC3: A couple of firetrucks drive by you will their sirens on.
To PC4: Relaxing at home with a good book, you say to yourself, "It certainly is warm in here."

I'm not saying it is. On the other hand, if there are existing connections the problem of them staying together is alleviated, and there's a whole bunch of material for the GM to use.

Mastikator
2015-09-23, 09:55 PM
Some player concepts work fine on the assumption that the players already know each other. Some don't. If one PC is a farmer who just left the isolated village for the first time, and another is an escaped slave who stowed away on a ship and is now taking his first step on this continent, they probably aren't long-term buddies.



It's not hard to create a fast introduction that gets them working together quickly. In a game of Flashing Blades (role-playing in musketeer-era France) ) I simply had them near each other in a crowded street, when a woman screamed in a nearby alley.

I used the following for a superhero game.
To PC1: Listening to your car radio, you hear about a building on fire downtown.
To PC2: You see a column of smoke to your north.
To PC3: A couple of firetrucks drive by you will their sirens on.
To PC4: Relaxing at home with a good book, you say to yourself, "It certainly is warm in here."
The farmer and the runaway slave could have a third PC that they both know. You could add a traveling merchant that has met both of those PCs. It only takes a single sentence in the PCs background stories to connect them all.

Jay R
2015-09-24, 09:40 PM
The farmer and the runaway slave could have a third PC that they both know. You could add a traveling merchant that has met both of those PCs. It only takes a single sentence in the PCs background stories to connect them all.

Sure, if certain character concepts are unacceptable to you. It's crucial to the character that D'Artagnan knows nobody in Paris. That's how he gets into duels with the three people who will soon be his party.

Similarly, the character of Harry Potter at the beginning is that he's a young student at Hogwarts who knows nobody there, and knows nothing about the wizarding world.

Thrudd
2015-09-24, 10:19 PM
Sure, if certain character concepts are unacceptable to you. It's crucial to the character that D'Artagnan knows nobody in Paris. That's how he gets into duels with the three people who will soon be his party.

Similarly, the character of Harry Potter at the beginning is that he's a young student at Hogwarts who knows nobody there, and knows nothing about the wizarding world.

Yeah, but D'Artagnan's player needs to have the goal to join the musketeers and be motivated to be heroic. Otherwise he'd just ignore those three guys, and you'd have to keep throwing them together with a railroad. Chatacters need to have very clear motives appropriate for the game, and their players willing to role play and pursue those motives.

The needs of the game differ in many ways from the needs of a literary narrative, so I don't think those examples really refute the idea that the characters should start out as a party. It just means that a game picks up the story after D'Artagnan has already joined the three, because it is a given that this needed to happen and the game is about players making choices rather than following a script. In Harry Potter's game, it starts out in year one after Harry, Ron and Hermione are already friends. Because if the players decide their characters don't become friends, there's no game.

Bulhakov
2015-09-25, 05:11 AM
Although I haven't enforced the rule strictly, I preferred it if every PC knew (and trusted) at least one other PC in the party. I left it to the players to choose which backstories were most compatible, e.g. some may simply be related, others served in the army together or were just long time friends.

This allowed for much better party cohesion, but still left room for a little in-party drama and relationship development.

Jay R
2015-09-25, 07:18 AM
Yeah, but D'Artagnan's player needs to have the goal to join the musketeers and be motivated to be heroic. Otherwise he'd just ignore those three guys, and you'd have to keep throwing them together with a railroad. Chatacters need to have very clear motives appropriate for the game, and their players willing to role play and pursue those motives.

"[N]eed to have clear motives appropriate for the game" is very different from "must already know each other" You're proving the first one and claiming that proves the second.

They need to have a good reason to be together and form a party, but there are lots of ways to set that up. You're just trying in insist on the easy way, by pretending it's the only way.


The needs of the game differ in many ways from the needs of a literary narrative, so I don't think those examples really refute the idea that the characters should start out as a party.

Let's use gaming examples, then. I just joined a game in progress. Therefore my Ranger Gustav was asked by his prince to escort them through the forest. When asked what his mission was, he told the others, I'm here to protect you from the forest. Or to protect the forest from you. I'm not sure yet." He's been slowly getting to know them, and is only comfortable with two of them so far.

Whenever anything unusual happens, Gustav shakes his head and says, "I will never understand you city folk."

All his fun character moments are rooted in the fact that he is traveling with strangers.

In the previous game, I was playing a 2E wizard/thief. We met because we all signed up for an expedition to colonize a newly-discovered continent. I played Ornrandir as a lonely outcast, who trusted nobody. He joined the others in rescuing people when one of the ships was sinking, and soon was fiercely loyal to these strangers who were the first people who had ever treated him with respect.

I once played Dr. MacAbre, a magic superhero. He wanted to join a superhero group so that if his magic ever took control of him, there would be heroes there to protect people by taking him down.

Yes, the party must be motivated to stay together, but insisting that they already know each other is a only one way to do so.


It just means that a game picks up the story after D'Artagnan has already joined the three, because it is a given that this needed to happen and the game is about players making choices rather than following a script. In Harry Potter's game, it starts out in year one after Harry, Ron and Hermione are already friends.

Which is to say that you want to skip some of the best character development moments. Unless they are twins, there was a time in their lives when they met, and decided they could trust each other. Why not play out the important character-defining moments in the formation of the party?


Because if the players decide their characters don't become friends, there's no game.

Therefore competent players who want a game won't do that.

Beleriphon
2015-09-25, 08:04 AM
Sure, if certain character concepts are unacceptable to you. It's crucial to the character that D'Artagnan knows nobody in Paris. That's how he gets into duels with the three people who will soon be his party.

Similarly, the character of Harry Potter at the beginning is that he's a young student at Hogwarts who knows nobody there, and knows nothing about the wizarding world.

The thing is D'Artangnan does have links to the others, his father was a compatriot of Monsieur de Tréville who is also the leader of the Mousquetaires de la garde. Realistically I'd say the musketeers story if as a D&D setup doesn't really start until D'Artagnan is set to duel each of the musketeers and the Cardinal's guards show up to stop them.

The Athos, Porthos and Aramis all know each before the game starts and D'Artagnan's player has chosen to start the game by challenging the other three to duels all on the same day. Its a fun setup, and it gives the characters a fun reason to meet, know each other and then hate M. Cardinal (because he's a big jerk face).

Again, Harry Potter in D&D parlance as a story probably doesn't start until Harry, Ron and Hermione actually meet. Anything prior is background about why they are at school (Ron's entire family are wizards, Harry is the POV character, and Hermione got a letter to go). The important part of stuff like movies and novels is that there a POV character that needs to be there to provide exposition to the audience.

I also think we need to avoid white room character generation. Any link to the character's is fine. They can be the same mercenary company, on can survive a magical explosion and the others rescue them only to accused of causing the explosion, other you can have them all be in the same super market and suddenly ZOMBIES!

The important thing is that they all have some intrinsic link and trust each other enough to travel together without direct fear to backstabbing. If the first think you state in an TTRPG is Joe Orc-Stabber has not reason to be traveling with Harold Kobold-Zapper you probably need to work out a good reason why. That can be a shared background, which tends to be the easier thing to come up with.

Jay R
2015-09-26, 10:02 AM
The thing is D'Artangnan does have links to the others, his father was a compatriot of Monsieur de Tréville who is also the leader of the Mousquetaires de la garde.

Yes, but the other three don't know that when they meet. It comes out in play, and combined with the duels that turn into D'Artagnan's second encounter with his eventual foes, creates a great reason for the four to become inseparable.

[Yes, second. Skipping his meeting with, and bonding with, the musketeers also skips the establishment of a long-term rivalry with the "Man of Meung", whom he eventually learns is Rochefort.]


Realistically I'd say the musketeers story if as a D&D setup doesn't really start until D'Artagnan is set to duel each of the musketeers and the Cardinal's guards show up to stop them.

I understand that you (and others) are saying to skip this fun part of character definition and go straight to the combat. That's the specific part I disagree with. I like playing the fun part of character definition, and I think it helps players and characters gel together better.

But mostly, it's fun, and I don't want to skip it.


The Athos, Porthos and Aramis all know each before the game starts and D'Artagnan's player has chosen to start the game by challenging the other three to duels all on the same day. Its a fun setup, and it gives the characters a fun reason to meet, know each other and then hate M. Cardinal (because he's a big jerk face).

Actually, they each challenge him, because he bumped into an injured arm (Athos), revealed the back of his baldric (Porthos) and handed back a compromising handkerchief (Aramis). They did not know he had a connection to the musketeers; they were treating him as a stranger.


Again, Harry Potter in D&D parlance as a story probably doesn't start until Harry, Ron and Hermione actually meet.

Why? Why not play out this fun and important development? In the actual play of meeting each other, we can develop rivalries, trust, camaraderie, running gags, etc., just as if we were playing a, you know, role-playing game


Anything prior is background about why they are at school (Ron's entire family are wizards, Harry is the POV character, and Hermione got a letter to go). The important part of stuff like movies and novels is that there a POV character that needs to be there to provide exposition to the audience.

If it's just about killing trolls and solving puzzles, yes. If it's about developing characters, then it's important that Harry and Ron start off thinking she's a know-it-all, that Harry's rivalry with Draco started because he stuck with his new friend Ron, that they squabble over following rules, etc. Sure, you can try to invent all these and just write them down as background. But you can also just invent attacking the troll and write it down as background. I prefer to play the actual game, in both situations.


same mercenary company, on can survive a magical explosion and the others rescue them only to accused of causing the explosion, other you can have them all be in the same super market and suddenly ZOMBIES!

The important thing is that they all have some intrinsic link and trust each other enough to travel together without direct fear to backstabbing. If the first think you state in an TTRPG is Joe Orc-Stabber has not reason to be traveling with Harold Kobold-Zapper you probably need to work out a good reason why..

This pretty much agrees with what I've been saying. They don't have to know each other in advance, but they do need their own reason to travel together.


That can be a shared background, which tends to be the easier thing to come up with.

Certainly that's the easiest way. For this part of the game, as for any other part, it is easier to skip playing the game than to play it.

But I like playing the game.

Cluedrew
2015-09-26, 11:12 AM
I have only gone into one game with a character that knew the other characters. Actually I didn't even go into the game with it, we spent about ten minutes before play just rattling off connections. And this was on top of all the characters working for the same origination, on the same patrol.

Instead of being a problem when things got started it was a source of inspiration. My character was a rival with another, so I poked fun at him on occasion. I looked after the one character who was established to be my friend but also had a habit of tampering with very dangerous things, which did help us out, when they didn't explode in our face. And after the guy who once worked at the bar I frequented came out of a trance with some nightmares I bought him a drink at that bar.

Now there were a few connections that didn't come up and one that was contradicted. But still for the most part they helped out a lot.

If you are worried about strange contradictions, don't pick them randomly and make sure it fits in with the character you want to play. "Do I want my character to be friends with Jane's character?" If both players are up for it then use it otherwise don't put it in the backstory. It is just another part of your character and their backstory and except for the fact it involves other PCs it isn't that different from your place of origin.

Knaight
2015-09-26, 12:47 PM
I understand that you (and others) are saying to skip this fun part of character definition and go straight to the combat. That's the specific part I disagree with. I like playing the fun part of character definition, and I think it helps players and characters gel together better.

But mostly, it's fun, and I don't want to skip it.
Nobody is saying to skip this part of character definition and go straight to the combat. What's being said is that an extremely forced character introduction scene where the entire party magically forms out of the aether should be circumvented for the sort of thing that works when the players actually built characters connected to each other. Having characters who already know each other is often the best way to do that, and it encompasses a huge amount of stories. For the others, creating characters with a disposition such that they are likely to end up together fits. To use your Harry Potter example, Harry, Ron, and Hermione didn't know each other at the beginning of the book. They were all sorted into Gryffindor, they were all specifically in the same year, and all of their personalities were such that they would inevitably end up with some common foes (e.g. Malfoy et. all).


Actually, they each challenge him, because he bumped into an injured arm (Athos), revealed the back of his baldric (Porthos) and handed back a compromising handkerchief (Aramis). They did not know he had a connection to the musketeers; they were treating him as a stranger.
So, this again works out to a group that mostly knows each other, to which a new character is introduced via a very specific manner which is explicitly designed to get them introduced and into the group quickly.



Why? Why not play out this fun and important development? In the actual play of meeting each other, we can develop rivalries, trust, camaraderie, running gags, etc., just as if we were playing a, you know, role-playing game
Which can also happen just fine if the characters do already know each other. It's not like stories centered around people who know eachother never have any of those listed things. This is particularly true if the context in which the characters know each other and the context in which the characters find themselves are different, which is just about guaranteed in any game which is heavily conflict driven.



If it's just about killing trolls and solving puzzles, yes. If it's about developing characters, then it's important that Harry and Ron start off thinking she's a know-it-all, that Harry's rivalry with Draco started because he stuck with his new friend Ron, that they squabble over following rules, etc. Sure, you can try to invent all these and just write them down as background. But you can also just invent attacking the troll and write it down as background. I prefer to play the actual game, in both situations.
Would it kill you to go five lines without insinuating that everyone with a different RPG preference than you favors mindless hack and slash? Seriously, it gets old.


Certainly that's the easiest way. For this part of the game, as for any other part, it is easier to skip playing the game than to play it.

But I like playing the game.
The characters meeting each other is in no way an intrinsic part of the game, and having them already met skips nothing. Again, look at stories here, where everyone knowing each other to start with is far from uncommon. Odysseus's crew in the Odyssey went into that knowing each other. Just about the entire cast of Othello knew each other to start with. The Pevensies knew each other before crossing the wardrobe, but they still had plenty of time to build as characters because the context in which they knew each other and the context in which they found themselves were fundamentally different. It's also worth noting that these characters knowing each other didn't produce anything even remotely like a shallow hack and slash game, so there's that.

Velaryon
2015-09-26, 05:38 PM
I've done games where some or all of the players knew each other in advance, and I've done games where everyone was a complete stranger. It can work just fine either way. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. Starting with characters who know each other helps launch the plot faster, and also prevents the possibility of "my character wouldn't be interested in _____" problems, which do happen in some groups, particularly with younger players (if I may make a generalization).

On the other hand, starting with a party who all know each other kind of feels like skipping the first five chapters of the story. Some people really enjoy the introductory phase where the characters try to feel each other out and figure out whether they can trust these people that they probably need to work with. And it generally does work better when you're gaming with players you don't know very well.

It's a matter of preference and neither way of starting the game is inherently better than the other.



My favorite I've played where the PCs all knew each other at the start: we were all playing the children of our previous characters. We were play pals who grew up together.

This is an awesome idea and I am totally going to steal it.



A method I've wanted to use but haven't gotten the chance yet is to introduce the party one at a time. Example: I've got 4 players, Adam, Brian, Cynthia, and Dave. Adam and Brian meet on the road and have to defend themselves from a bandit attack. The shared experience bonds them together. Cynthia walks down the road. She sees to injured people and offers to help them get to the nearest town. They arrive at the nearest town and get to the inn where they share a story of how they courageously fought off a bunch of bandits. Dave approaches the three of them and says he just got a contract from the local constable to clean up the bandits. He'd like to have some extra help and is willing to split the reward with them.

I haven't done it yet because it means Cynthia and Dave sit there without anything to do after character creation is over. I think my players could handle the sitting at this point, but I'm not sure the same thing was true when I started my current campaign a couple years ago.

I actually started my first campaign this way. The paladin and fighter were hired for... um... it was some kind of escort or delivery mission that required travel, but I don't remember the details and don't have my notes handy. They hired a guide (the ranger) and stumbled into a barfight during which the sorcerer impressed them enough to offer him a position in the group. During the group's first combat, the druid was passing through that part of the forest, heard a commotion up ahead, and found the group under attack by stirges, so he jumped in to help, and voila! Party is formed.

It does have the disadvantage of making some players wait for a little while, but with a little preparation and some careful management of the table to keep things moving, it can work pretty well.



I've mentioned before that it takes me a little while to get a feel for my character's personality and how I like to roleplay her, so I frequently have no idea which party members I'll really get along with, and which I'll butt heads with. So with that in mind, I think the best way to establish a new adventuring party is to either have them all be hired by an NPC and sent on a quest, or throw them together and give them a common goal they can't really avoid, like "you're all in the same town, and it's being overrun by zombies". If you're starting the campaign at higher than first level, it also works to say "you're an established adventuring party".

But if you ask me to come up with a specific connection to another character, I run the risk of saying "we're both wizards, so we went to magic school together", and then finding out two sessions later that we can't stand each other, so why would I go adventuring with a former classmate I hated?

I've been in this situation too. A friend and I played students from the same magic school (I was an abjurer, he was a necromancer, and we had both prohibited each other's schools), and we instantly took to each other like Gryffindor and Slytherin. We spent the entire campaign verbally sniping one another, trashing each other's chosen schools, and doing everything short of outright attacking each other. And it was so much fun! Of course, that's because we both kept it in-character only, didn't drag the other players into the dispute or let it turn into PvP, and kept it funny enough that we entertained the rest of the party more often than we annoyed them.

So I guess like pretty much every other issue related to gaming, it comes down to knowing the other people at your table, and what you can and can't do with those people.

Lorsa
2015-09-28, 04:15 AM
Since this topic moved into deeper discussions than I first anticipated, I feel I would like to add some more thoughts as well.

First I would like to say that comparisons with novels are dodgy at best. It is true that the three Musketeers or the Potter friends didn't know each other at the start of the book, and that their first meeting was important for the story and the development of their relationships. The important difference is that the author knew ahead of time that they would become friends, and that their actions were being controlled by only one individual. The same is not true in a role playing game. Every PC is run by a different individual, which means that there are many ways in which such set ups could go wrong. I can't even begin to imagine how the musketeers meeting would happen if d'Artagnan was being played by a player. How would you know he would challenge the other three? Would they say yes? Most likely (given that something always go wrong when you try to pre-plan your plot) someone would.

What works in a book does not always (I would argue very rarely in general) work in a role playing medium. So if you want to argue that [X] works, and is even preferable, please use real play examples, not novels.

Can it work to have a game set up where the characters do not know each other? Yes, of course it can. But it is dependent upon a few critical things. First off, the GM has to involve them with each other in a clever way that the characters would not decline. To use the fire example above, if one PC would react with "well, I'll just sit here reading my newspaper then", it wouldn't work very well. Secondly, and here is a point I feel some people fail, the players have to create characters which are somewhat tolerant. Even if you feel your character dislikes one of the other PC's behaviors, you should have a character with a high degree for tolerance, as you are being kept together by .

Even so, sometimes people have such vastly different characters, that even though they are tolerant, they just don't go together. This is especially problematic if [incident created by GM] is short-lived and easily solved, so that afterwards they don't have anything that keeps them together apart from the (non-existent) bonds they created.

The other extreme, where the characters know each other very well, also have its difficulties. It is very difficult to foresee exactly how a character will be portrayed, even though it is being described well. Thus it often turns out that even though you discussed your personalities, made sure they would go together, it often feels like you don't really know the other character [i]anyway until you start playing. So the long, deep relationships often turn out to feel strained and not at all like you discussed.

What often works best I find, is when the characters are casual acquaintances, or have some connection that would keep them together but not necessarily mean they know each other very well. This way, you can build in an emotional attachment to the other character(s) into your personality, but it does not feel weird if you have to get to know them during play.

For example, I started one campaign with a group of 4 players by having them know each other two-and-two. So two of the characters were shared a dorm room at a college, and the other two were classmates, and then my [event] just had to bring the two groups together, rather than four individuals. Also, since all of them recently met (at college), it wasn't that strange if they didn't know each other very well. Another example is when I played a character who was a sister to another character, but we hadn't seen each other in several years because my character had been away on Cleric school (during the late teens). Anyone who have had siblings they haven't really had contact with in a couple of years (especially during the teenage years) knows you have to get to know the person all over again. Even so, you have an emotional attachment, which means you will more easily tolerate behavior you might not with others.

In conclusion, many different ways of getting the PC's to work together can work in a role playing medium. The strengths and drawbacks of each can be evaluated, and eventually you have to pick one most fitting for the group and campaign you are starting. However, do not make the mistake of assuming the same things work around a role playing table that works in a novel or movie.