10 Reasons for the Characters to Stick Together
Most gaming groups are not at a loss for creating original and fascinating characters to play. What usually lacks is a common ground from which to begin, and a common need or bond to keep the players in a group thereafter. These bonds should be strong enough to keep the characters together after the first adventure is completed. Having a bond to hold the group together can also help the DM pick adventures and adapt them to fit the goals of all the characters in the group, so no one feels left out.
The players can choose a bond to begin play with or the DM may pick one and allow the players to create, or adapt, a character to fit the bond.
Here are a few examples of PC glue that can help in getting the players to work together.
- The Common Goal
Long term or short term this bond can provide a solid foundation. Whether it's the monster in the sewer or the gold to build the temple, this reason is the most common in bringing people together to adventure. A string of goals with a common theme could keep them together indefinitely. A group that collected lost history could be created to make use of dungeon crawls or any other adventure that included bits of history or ancient lore. If the adventure doesn't have such lore readily available it takes little work on the part of the DM to add history and flavor to a pre-made adventure.
- Common Race
With this bond all of the PCs belong to a specific race. The various sub-races still offer variety and the Player's Option rules offer even more.
The DM may want to include Barbarians and Amazons in this example. One example of this bond can be found within the Jakandor adventures; where players choose between Barbarians or Necromancers trying to gain control over the island of Jakandor. No matter which side the player's choose, the possibilities for acquiring land and resources beyond the island boundaries can continue to offer opportunities for adventure.
- Common Family or Background
All of the PCs could be siblings, cousins, in laws, etc. Alternately, they could all be nobles, slaves, merchants, or peasants. A common background doesn't have to mean a common status; circus members, apprentices to the same teacher, and being the last survivors of a battle can also bring PCs together to travel.
- Common Guild
This bond is not just for wizards & thieves. There may be Adventuring guilds, Gladiator guilds, and Bardic guilds in the campaign. PCs belonging to a militia could be considered members of a Military institution. The characters could be asked to perform various duties in order to secure peace, create trade, or acquire members for their guild.
- Common Class
The Player's Option rules allow better chances of survival for this choice and various kits still offer a wide range of the same class to play.
- Common Enemy
'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' This one is fairly short lived if there is only one individual as the enemy, unless he is a very powerful one. A group or society would make the enemy more difficult to overcome and could take an entire campaign to accomplish. Enemies also have a tendency to accumulate and seek revenge. If the lone enemy is vanquished, a relative, follower, or disciple could take his place.
- Common Faith or Alignment
This bond is not just for Paladins, druids, and priests. Most characters have a patron deity. Whether they are out spreading the faith, starting it, or defending it against a rival faith, the PCs with a common religious conviction could be together for a long time. A group of characters of the same religion but different orders can also offer a bit of variety. A ranger, druid, specialty priest, crusader and a cleric of the same Deity could offer a deep bond and still allow for a wide range of characters to play.
A common alignment can lead to many adventures. Since most characters are assumed to be of good alignment the fight against evil is an easy plot device to interest the players.
- Common Employer
'The king has a job for you....' and then later... 'Since you did such a fine job the last time I hired you...' This bond is also fairly short lived unless the employer has many problems and a lot of money. Some other options are family members asking for favors, religious leaders offering salvation in return for deeds in the deity's name, or just plain old fashioned do-gooding.
- Common Curse
Gypsy curse, lycanthropy, deities' displeasure, etc. Things such as defiling a temple, especially if the PCs make a habit of doing it, can bring down the wrath of the offended deity. That deity could demand anything from a quest in his/her name, to sacrificing all magic items the PCs have, defilement of a rival deity's temple in exchange, or rebuilding of all the temples the PCs are responsible for destroying before lifting the curse.
- Common Ideals
Spreading chivalry, peace, charity, justice, respect for nature, or a code of honor are good ways to keep the PCs moving around and keeping them together (this also cuts down on problems similar to having a Paladin and an assassin in the same group).
These bonds don't have to be permanent and can change with time and according to the PCs actions. If the goal is searching for signs or information on a lost civilization the campaign could lead in many other directions.
Original Copywrite 1999 Dawn Ibach