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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Lightbulb How can I start an adventure?

    Hello everyone, hope you're all having a wonderful day.

    So, I'll be DM'ing a short campaign for my current group in a couple of weeks, so far we only have two players (the other playing will be leaving our table because of work) and we'll be looking for some other people to play as well.

    I've DM'ed a couple of years in the past, but I still have some difficulties on starting an adventure (getting all the PC's together if they don't have a shared background). I could just do the usual meeting in a tavern and the king request the presence of the new adventurers in town, but the party right now consists of a Lawful Good Paladin and a Chaotic Evil Dread Necromancer.

    I'm having a hard time coming up with something that both of these characters could adventure together for or why they would stick together. I don't want it to feel forced so the idea of something like "You two should be together because of the prophecy" or "The king wants specifically you two and nobody else to do this task, now go or get beheaded" is kind of out of the question.

    Anyway, with all that said, I would greatly appreciate if somebody could help me get this adventure started since I'm not really the creative type and I don't want the players to have to choose another class.

    Thank you all in advance.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    What sorta plot for the campaign?
    Ask the players if they're cool with the Paladin trying to reform the necromancer OR being the necromancer's parole officer; and attempt to reform instead of behead.
    That might be too confrontational so it could possibly be a Interchurch Colab Program
    Or have them have a mutual LE enemy
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    JustIgnoreMe's Avatar

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Absolute recipe for disaster. Players should roll characters that will play well together: it's not the DM's job to put together a workable party.

    Ask the two players to come up with a reason themselves. If they can't, make them re-roll.
    Last edited by JustIgnoreMe; 2017-07-17 at 03:22 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Barstro's Avatar

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by JustIgnoreMe View Post
    Absolute recipe for disaster. Players should roll characters that will play well together: it's not the DM's job to put together a workable party.
    Wish I could agree, but I've seen groups that do not mesh because players roll up character that contradict each other.

    One thing I've wanted to try if I ever DM is to ask the players to roll up three characters each that they would like to play, then the DM choose one of those for each. Players get a character they want, DM helps make a party that is fitting for the location and meshes well. I know I always have three or four working concepts beyond the game I'm playing.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    The onus shouldn't be totally on you. The smart move would have been to have them discuss their character concepts and come up with connections before the first mark was made on paper. But since that ship has already sailed, ask them why they'd work together.

    If they can't come up with a satisfactory answer, see if one or both of them will change their character to something more compatible. If neither volunteers and you're stuck, flip a coin as a tiebreaker.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Buufreak's Avatar

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by gbecchi View Post
    ... but the party right now consists of a Lawful Good Paladin and a Chaotic Evil Dread Necromancer.
    This is the part where I reference that oh so magical class feature that Paladins have that forbid them from knowingly working together with evil characters. Either you are going to fudge the rules, the Paladin will fall, or they will kill each other. Ya know, assuming they don't reroll.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Even though it's on the meta side, I agree that the players should discuss their character and determine the reason they're working together. If they can't find some common ground between their characters then one or both of them should reroll.

    Alignment can be a very nuanced thing. I would allow a Paladin to team up with a lesser evil (the Dread Necro) to combat a greater evil. But there should also be an expectation that the Dread Necro isn't going to be secretly plotting to kill the paladin at every turn.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by gbecchi View Post
    but the party right now consists of a Lawful Good Paladin and a Chaotic Evil Dread Necromancer.
    Are both player's aware of what the other is playing? Because....

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
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    While she may adventure with characters of any good or neutral alignment, a paladin will never knowingly associate with evil characters, nor will she continue an association with someone who consistently offends her moral code. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.
    Now as the DM you could line item veto that passage. However, I still see the two characters as just incompatible. Like, is the dread necro gonna be animating the dead? Then the Paladin really has no choice but to go full justice mode on him. I am now wondering if they did know in advance what the others was making, and thought "Gee, what great roleplay opportunities we'll have!" To which I say, "No. You won't. You'll just get nothing done because your characters are constantly at odds."

    My advice? Have them come together and make new characters that will function as a team, rather than being polar opposites. Give your players the general premise and background for your campaign, and then they can make characters that organically fit into the story. You have the power as a DM to say no to any character concept if it's going to cause more problems than it's worth for your game/table.

    If have to run with those two characters, then the circumstances that bring them together should be forced, since both of these characters would naturally just avoid each other (at best). Maybe the paladin has a quest that requires him to work with the necromancer, not because he wants to, but because the necromancer either knows something/has something/or is himself necessary for the completion of the paladin's quest.
    Last edited by TheFamilarRaven; 2017-07-17 at 03:36 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    To echo the sentiments expressed by others in the thread...

    1. Don't have players build characters in a vacuum. Neither player is in the wrong, they just have concepts that are incredibly likely to clash. Have the players build characters together, or at least know the concepts they are working with. Also, once the party is established don't let other players bring in concepts that will intentionally clash, unless every player has agreed to make it work.

    2. Make a strange bedfellows/enemy of my enemy campaign. Make a situation where the paladin and necromancer need each other-perhaps they are trapped somewhere and without teamwork they will both die. Perhaps they have a mutual enemy, a very very bad enemy that will destroy the world or some other cosmic scale evil that both of them want/need/are needed to stop.

    If done right, two opposites working together could make for a really fun and interesting campaign, but it could also lead to utter disaster. If your players are mature enough it won't have to be ham fisted. A little bit of inter party tension can be a good thing, so long as they don't infight and grind the game to a halt.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    You need to set the stage before the adventure starts. Let the party know what kind of adventurers you are looking for and what kinds of motivations will fit with what you plan to do. This doesn't need to include alignment restrictions, but I think it's a good idea.

    Party is a CE dread necro and a paladin is pretty extreme on the non-functional end (and will be stopped if you put basic alignment restrictions in place), but "I was planning on running a morally ambiguous campaign of cutthroat opposition to Iuz (and minor larceny/banditry) in the bandit kingdoms and player A wants to run a Dudley Do Rightesque goody two shoes lawful stupid cavalier is also going to cause trouble or a devil-may-care greedy rogue in Pendragon-esque campaign. Let players know the ground rules first and they can come up with a concept that fits the setting and campaign. Otherwise, they'll find out "the in character thing for me to do here is say, 'a pox on you all' and walk away."

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    I'd have them reroll. This is an expert challenge for a more experienced GM and a smaller party.

    You basically have Superman teaming up with the Joker; yeah it COULD happen, but somebody isn't going to behave according to type. They ought to be fighting each other.

    And whatever reasons we come up with, like a LE enemy, would have to be acceptable to players #3 and #4. Too many variables.

    If you want to go forward, I'm coming up with the LG being ordered to escort CE to another place for judgment by higher authority; and CE carrying out a prophecy of empowerment by "Traveling with thine enemy/ In peace and comity / From vengeance free be ye". But what happens when they fulfill whatever journey you have them on, I don't know.

    At some point, LG will obey somebody CE doesn't want to; or CE will want to wreak havoc that LG doesn't want to witness.
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    EisenKreutzer's Avatar

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    One technique you could try is starting in medias res.
    Open up by describing a dramatic backdrop and an immediate event that needs to be resolved NOW!
    Then, through flashbacks or just dialogue, you can work out the details of how they met and why they are adventuring together as a group. Or you could decide beforehand the why and how and reveal it after the dramatic event is over (I prefer the first approach, as the second removes a lot of player agency).

    Example:

    The city behind you is aflame, a malevolent red glow painting the night sky crimson. Plumes of thick, black smoke reach like desperate arms towards the stars.
    The High Priest, whose hateful name you refuse to utter, stands before the entrance to the Pharaos tomb. His ring-encrusted hand grasps the struggling princess who squirms under his bejeweled arm, and with a sadistic grin he points towards you.

    "Kill them all!" His guards raise their shields and fix their eyes on you. "Let none disturb the ritual!"

    As the High Priest flees into the darkness of the burial chamber, his loyal guards advance slowly towards you.

    "Break through!" Your companions voice rises above the roar of the flames and the heavy steps of bronze greaved feet. "I'll hold them off, you have to break through! Get to the tomb! Stop Imhotep!"
    You crash through the guards and make a run for the darkness of the tomb, where the evil priest surely has an evil plan for your inevitable arrival.
    Last edited by EisenKreutzer; 2017-07-17 at 04:03 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    d6 Re: How can I start an adventure?

    The paladin falls after the first encounter he is now a fighter. He was not paranoid /rude enough to detect Evil on first chance meeting.

    Necro wins by default

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    One of the tropes I've always liked is "Community Service." The Necromancer was caught graverobbing and must pay for his crimes. The King knows the threat facing the country requires powerful people with unnatural skills. Skills such as the Necromancer's. But the King doesn't want things getting out of control so he has the Paladin watch the Necromancer as a sort of parole officer.

    This WILL inevitably lead to conflict within the party, but that conflict becomes a major focus of the campaign. If that's something that you want, this is a great way of doing it. If you don't want intraparty conflict... One of them has to change. Death match decides who stays!

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    As everybody points out; a forced LG/CE party is going to really suck, but one of them is leaving soon so it could be worse.

    Hidden thoughts could be a thing [This paladin is really hindering a direct approach, but still gets the job done] {All I ever see is this guy waving around a stick, I should probably ditch him asap}

    As for the actual question "How can these guys get along and begin a quest together?"

    Personally I would create an unmistakably evil force i.e hordes of undead trying to take over, Mr. Policeman wants to fight them for the common good, and the CE guy wants to quash the uprising before it gets in the way of his own uprising/takeover because the current one is obviously stronger than the current government.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Well, most if not all, of the reasons for ''opposites'' to adventure together are ''forced''. Really, how else could it be?

    You might just have to accept some ''force''.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    So you guys have all known each other for years. You've worked together a few times, made some scores had some loses. Point is you're all good friends, you trust each other and you're generally happy to adventure together.
    So you're all at a bit of a loose end just bumming around in the tavern when an old man comes up to you...
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    "Do you remember that goblin army you killed?"

    "And then you raised them from the dead and made them dance like puppets on strings. Classic."

    To play evil in a group of other good PC's is difficult and requires years of experience in knowing how to do it well. But given that is fine, the problem here is actually the paladin.

    There is a huge problem with that class, even more so than any other, even a lawful good cleric (which is only almost as bad), but there are also clear indications here that they aren't going to get along no matter how hard they try, in that they play basic opposite archetypes.

    You don't put a villain with a hero of justice together and expect them to get along. The story should be about their conflict, not in how they overcome a greater evil. I can't even imagine the evil they'd have to face to put down their differences at this point, it'd have to be cosmic scale from level 1.

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    You could always start them as prisoners. The paladin wrongly accused needs to break out to ensure bad evil thing doesn't happen. Necro accused of his actual crimes but of course denying them and is also "wrongly accused".
    To avoid detect evil start them out in an amf prison (likely a natural thing to do when magic is involved), yea the necro is going to be hardcore nerfed for a session or 2 but let him find a ring of undetectable alignment or other such item before leaving the amf, then it's just a matter of him keeping the ruse up in the paladins presence, or lieing about how he came across his undead horde or how the villagers all mysteriously died but don't worry the two topics aren't related at all... perhaps the necro needs something taken from the big bad evil but needs a reliable Meatshield to draw the attention away and figures a paladin will make enough noise to let him work in the background.
    Honestly if you can protect the necro from being discovered it will mostly come down to character role play and that could be some fun sessions.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    What if they were brothers or siblings, maybe even twins? They'd put aside their differences for family.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    Unwanted interparty conflict is a player and GM issue.

    If the GM wants interparty conflict they can strongarm the players into fighting.

    If the players are not interested in working together they will fight no matter what.

    If the GM doesn't want a fight and the players don't want a fight the fight does not happen.

    The issue occurs when the players (GM is a player) don't all want to play the same game.
    If half the players want the game to be about personal conflict and growth while the other half want it to be about fighting orcs who tell puns then no matter how good the game is someone is going to be disapointed.

    So, if you have concerns talk it over with your group outside of the game, get everyone on the same page and have fun.

    Remember 'My class made me fight you' is ultimately the same as 'I was just roleplaying my character.'
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How can I start an adventure?

    You know, it's tricky to pull off, but one approach I like is having the story begin *after* the players have already accepted the job in-story. Let them know in advance that the story'll begin the day after you got a job from the king and have the first session just begin at the entrance of the mysterious cave or in the king's war tent looking over a battle map with a security officer or something. A DM started a campaign this way by showing us a cutscene and then having the scene end with all of us watching it in a crystal ball in a gypsy's hut and the guy who'd hired the gypsy giving us the last info we needed to proceed.

    I tried emulating it once in an Eberron game. I just had the players start the game with a fortitude save... and the player who rolled a natural 20 had to roll again... and the players all started tied up in the hold of an airship with a villainous aristocrat throwing amnesia dust into their face (throwing it twice in the case of the guy who rolled the natural 20.) Players only had the vaguest notion that they were all on the same side, but couldn't remember how they'd gotten to that exact moment, and frankly the details didn't matter beyond "That guy hired us, and now I guess he's killing us off because we're technically evidence?"

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