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View Full Version : 78% of DMs start their adventures in a tavern...



SpikeFightwicky
2008-02-27, 11:07 AM
(Sorry for the thread title, that signature quote sort of irks me but apparently it's effective)

Back in 2nd ed., whenever an adventure was started, we had this thing we did where the DM would start the campaign off with a single character with a random roll. The other characters would be introduced (also in randomly rolled order) as appropriate (and all character would be introduced/join up before half-way through the first session). The DM would have planned a possible entry point for the different characters appropriate to their character.

In 3.X, I DMed one campaign that I started off similarly (though with a new group that didn't know what I was doing) that went on for about 2 years. After that, other players wanted to try DMing, but none of them liked it and I usually ended up 'inheriting' the game and moving to DM position when when DM got tired/fed up with the DM seat, so I never really started any other adventures (the newer DMs from my group tended to use the 'all knew eachother beforehand' method).

So for curiosity's sake, I was wondering what other methods DMs use (or have used) to not start their party out in the tried and true tavern trope.

Citizen Joe
2008-02-27, 11:19 AM
The podcast Fear The Boot goes into much of this. They advocate something called a 'group template' where a bunch of questions are answered before people make characters. This way much of the interparty conflict and questions about WHY you are even adventuring together get answered before play starts.

ZekeArgo
2008-02-27, 11:20 AM
I generally prefer "mission-based" games to tell the truth. Doesn't rely on the PCs to make up reasons to want to talk to each other: they've all been called in by contacts to do whatever job for an employer, and things can go from there.

Even helps with player absences, since if they can't be there, can just be explained that they weren't needed for the "mission"

Miraqariftsky
2008-02-27, 11:21 AM
In my first ever campaign, the PCs answered an ad put out by the Sharn Inquisitive for adventurers to explore certain strange happenings in Xen'drik but post a deadline. Seeknig to beat the deadline, they took the Sharn-Stormreach airship...

...suffice it to say, they met onboard.

Gig_Complex
2008-02-27, 11:26 AM
Well my first D&D game that I DM'd I started the party out in a prison in separate cells a couple of hours before an army arrived to break out several of its PoWs.


Back in 2nd ed., whenever an adventure was started, we had this thing we did where the DM would start the campaign off with a single character with a random roll. The other characters would be introduced (also in randomly rolled order) as appropriate (and all character would be introduced/join up before half-way through the first session). The DM would have planned a possible entry point for the different characters appropriate to their character.

I've done this before but it was born from me playing way too many JRPGs at the time.

Now I tend to vary things based on the plot of the campaign and I usually try to keep things new and not use the same type of intro twice in a row.

Indon
2008-02-27, 11:27 AM
In my most recent campaign, I had an NPC assemble the team, X-man style (i.e. looking through disparate locations for the PC's and selecting them).

Ganurath
2008-02-27, 11:32 AM
I favor a commision by one of the Lawful city states. If one of the characters has a history of crime (typically the skill monkey) then they're added to the commision as "community service." Quotes need only apply in the Hextorian theocracy.

Deadmeat.GW
2008-02-27, 11:35 AM
I have people meet each other while traveling in appropriate places, for instance the barbarian was introduced to the party as a slave and the party proceeded to free him.

From there on they traveled together, another member was fleeing for her live from a pack of Gnolls who had ambushed here and killed her horse.
One of the party members is a ranger and has favorite enemy Gnolls so she was hunting down Gnolls near her town...and from there it rolled on.

Funniest I have done was in a game of Tankgirl RPG, one of the party members was a bunny crossbreed, and he had styled himself completely on Bugs Bunny...
Him I introduced in true cartoon-style to the party...
Drop him from the sky with a big 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

SPLAT!'

(gets up and dusts himself off)

'What'sup Docs? Never seen a rabbit fall from a plane?'

valadil
2008-02-27, 11:36 AM
I deliberately avoid the tavern.

First game started with each player one his own quest. The thief robbed a house. The urban ranger tried and failed to track down a murderer. The wizard got kidnapped. Can't remember what the barbarian did. They were each led to a cave by a near omniscient druid who hired them to save the world and revealed that he brought them there intentionally through overly circuitous means. It was my first game and I thought overly complex was good.

Second game took place in a town that was being founded out in the savage frontier. A festival was being held (which is a common theme for my games). One player was there as a slave. Another was jousting in the tourney. I think someone else was a guard and another player was there to seek a reversal to a curse. One of the activities for the festival was a public execution. The final PC was to be hanged for crimes against humanity. I'd worked out with the player ahead of time that we'd introduce his real character the next week, but for now we were going to watch everyone metagame to save him because he was a PC and therefore should be saved.

Third game was set in a thieves guild and everyone had to be at least half rogue. Players individually made contact with a hiring thieves guild. The recruiter told each player to meet him at dusk in the back room of some hotel. The players showed up, quarreled over the only chair left in the room, and waited. And waited. And waited. I call this the Andy Kaufman approach. The thieves guild recruiter had them wait awkwardly for upwards of an hour. They were so paranoid that they didn't really speak to each other. When he finally did show up he took the chair for himself. The first quest was actually a reversal of the standard tavern quest - the group drank the last of the guild's beer and as was custom had to replace it. But the guild had a simple rule that stolen beer tasted better, so the group had the lovely task of stealing a keg from an active bar. Good times.

Rutee
2008-02-27, 11:38 AM
I always felt the Tavern sig didn't really address what you're really using; A contrivance in some measure that draws the players together before the adventure. The sig also annoys me, since it seems to be mocking genuine newbies, but..

I used a church requesting the aid of the adventurers; One was a Demon, he was kinda forced into service on a serve-or-die contract..

Squash Monster
2008-02-27, 11:39 AM
I asked everyone why they were in a given town. Then a traveling adventurer came to the town center and started yelling for volunteers to lute a deceased dragon's cave.

Pretty simple, but it gets the job done. He accompanied the players into the cave then turned on them when they found the treasure (and the undead remains of the dragon). Good times.

Tura
2008-02-27, 11:43 AM
I favor a commision by one of the Lawful city states. If one of the characters has a history of crime (typically the skill monkey) then they're added to the commision as "community service."
That actually reminds me of my first game as a 2nd Edition Thief.

GM (collects sheets): OK, George, what are you playing?
George (beaming): A fighter!
GM : Cool, you're with the City Guard. Tura, what are you playing?
Me (beaming) : A thief!
GM : Cool. You're in chains. You've just been sentenced to death for stealing. Georgie here is dragging you to the gallows.
Me : !!!
GM : John, what are you playing?
John (reluctant) : A cleric?
GM : Cool, you're there to perform the last rites. Begin!

Fun times.

Jonesh
2008-02-27, 11:44 AM
The first game I DM:ed started with an assasination attempt. The characters were kind of paired up already before that so it was a rather smooth way to get those capable-looking (and odd-looking) fellas chase to after the assassins because everyone else there wasn't as capable as the PCs or even had the free time to embark on such a mission.
Not to mention most of them has the strong motivation of personal survival.

"The hitmen ran off that way. We'll, uh, stay here in case they come back."

Talya
2008-02-27, 11:46 AM
My bunch of swashbuckling mercenary scoundrels started off as actual mercenaries, on a battlefield, fighting in a huge battle. (That they lost.)

Duke of URL
2008-02-27, 11:47 AM
While not many of the games have lasted much, I must have joined in upwards of 20 PbP games here at GitP. Of these, only two had the party meeting each other in a tavern/pub, and one of those was after each player had a solo (but still linked) encounter on the way to the meeting place.

I think the whole cliche is known, and is easily worked around, at least in the games I play (which generally have a reason for the adventure/campaign prior to its start).

horseboy
2008-02-27, 11:51 AM
In the last one I ran the party was not only all from the same underground sealed city, but their mentors were a prior adventuring party. They all had been hanging out while not training for a couple of years since their masters hung out with each other. A double whammy.

Cby!
2008-02-27, 11:53 AM
I started my present campaign in a mercenary camp.
3 of the player where brother/sister, the 4th one a barbarian who escaped from an gladiator arena. They where given their first assignement by the camp's leader, the barbarian joined them for the second one.

Later as one of character died i introduce one in a prison, as they were caught while trying to steal from a huge mansion.

The player left and new character was introduced. It was a white elfe necromancer that escaped from a sect that use her as a focus for divination. She was retain prisoner on a oriental ship but manage to kil a few guard before falling inconscious in water, bleeding. My player where wearing shark armor a detect the blood from afar and decide to kick some samurai ass.
She died the game session after :P

He decide to make another black elf, same as two other and i decide he would be one of there cousin. They meet im outside a tavern , as he flew trew the windows.

DeathQuaker
2008-02-27, 11:53 AM
I think my very favorite beginning of a game was provided by a very good GM who ran a Star Wars d20 in. He looked at me and my co-pilot and said, after describing briefly the planet we were starting on and why we were there, "Now: you have 10 seconds to explain why the armed guards are chasing you. Go."

As another example--in an AD&D game I played several years ago, my GM told me my cleric was on a mission from my church to pick up a package and deliver it from A to B. They gave me funds to hire hirelings--coincidentally, the most competent mercenaries in the caravanners' hall were the rest of the party. That worked extremely well for that particular game and the characters involved (but it was specific to certain classes and personalities being present, so I wouldn't say all campaigns should start like that).

That's the thing--the trick is to look at the characters and come up with a viable reason why they are together--or ask the players themselves to come up with such a reason and start the game with them all being together.

I have to admit, one of my big campaigns began in a tavern, which was kind of an intentional nod to tradition. If I did it all over again, though, I probably would have pulled more upon the experiences/practices of the GMs I had listed above.

CrazedGoblin
2008-02-27, 11:54 AM
in my one they are going to start aboard ship heading to a city on call from a bounty notice, mainly so they cant fart about in shops on the first session

Triaxx
2008-02-27, 11:55 AM
Oddly, I've only ever started a single adventure in a Tavern, but that's because it was the only standing building in the town, and was crammed full of people. Fortunately, we were already traveling together, so there was no need for complicated backstory ellucidation.

Usually we just make something up on the spot.

crimson77
2008-02-27, 12:13 PM
(Sorry for the thread title, that signature quote sort of irks me but apparently it's effective)


I was actually just thinking of a thread similar to this this morning after reading one of the many people who have that in their signature.

What I am curious about is that statistic, where did it come from?

Rutee
2008-02-27, 12:18 PM
I think my very favorite beginning of a game was provided by a very good GM who ran a Star Wars d20 in. He looked at me and my co-pilot and said, after describing briefly the planet we were starting on and why we were there, "Now: you have 10 seconds to explain why the armed guards are chasing you. Go."
I like the variations of that that have come up throughout the thread, actually.. XD



That's the thing--the trick is to look at the characters and come up with a viable reason why they are together--or ask the players themselves to come up with such a reason and start the game with them all being together.

I need to normalize my sleep schedule, 'cause I'd have thought to mention this if I weren't tired; Agreed in full. The players can usually come up with something, I've found (I think they came up with the church I mentioned in my above post..)

Irreverent Fool
2008-02-27, 12:20 PM
I never start the campaign in a pub, but the PCs invariably end up going to one. Why? Because pub stands for 'public house' and this is the location people go to meet and talk about the goings-on of the local area (in a faux-medieval setting). If you want to get the word out about something, chances are you start at the pub.

Besides, it's not cliche, it's iconic! :smallbiggrin:

Hazkali
2008-02-27, 12:30 PM
I don't see what's wrong with starting an adventure in a tavern. Of course, it's been used since the year dot, but then it makes perfect sense.


In a pseudo medieval/renaissance setting, the tavern is a natural focal point of the community, just as it is in modern villages and small towns.
Taverns are a source of relaxation, making them the logical place to find the heroes after they've finished a hard adventure.
Everyone likes to drink, eat or listen to music so taverns attract all sorts of people. Of course, some taverns are shadier or more upmarket than others, but you'll always get a broad spectrum of patrons.
In the stereotypical campaign, the "adventurer's notice board" is a perfect way of introducing quests, as they require no player motivation other than gold.


Of course, the question as to why the PCs are together in the first place will plague DMs for centuries to come...

Talic
2008-02-27, 12:34 PM
I like jails. It's easy to start an adventure in a jail.

Even goodly law type people can be there... After all, people can get arrested wrongly :)

Cybren
2008-02-27, 12:43 PM
One thing you can do is give the players a shared background or link while they create characters so you don't have to play the "everyone make a random lunatic and I get to figure out how they meet together".

Nero24200
2008-02-27, 12:44 PM
I usally try to put my group in a position where it's "team up to save yourself". The last time I tried this involved all of them on an airship headed to a big adventuring citytm, then having the ship attacked by Orc Sky pirates. I had stated the orcs and the ship crew in such a way that the orcs would win unless a handful of folks with class levels helped out, thus giving the party a reason to work together, possibily without even getting each other's names. Seemed to work out, this is one of the few campaigns I've done where none of the players feel their characters are being "forced" to continue the plot.

I honestly think the best way is to take somthing they would all be part of (such as an airship ride in the example above) and add an element of danger to it.

spotmarkedx
2008-02-27, 12:51 PM
I was actually just thinking of a thread similar to this this morning after reading one of the many people who have that in their signature.

What I am curious about is that statistic, where did it come from?

81% of statistics found on forums are made up on the spur of the moment. I believe the 78% in question in this thread to be one of such.

horseboy
2008-02-27, 12:56 PM
What I am curious about is that statistic, where did it come from?98.6% of all statistics on the internet are made up. :smallamused:

Jack Zander
2008-02-27, 01:04 PM
FOOLS! The tavern is the ONLY way to start an adventure! All other methods of party members meeting each other is boring and unrealistic.

spotmarkedx
2008-02-27, 01:11 PM
98.6% of all statistics on the internet are made up. :smallamused:
Judging from our difference in statistics, it would seem that forums have a higher accuracy ratio than the rest of the internet (taken as an average). Good to know, good to know.

shadowdemon_lord
2008-02-27, 01:18 PM
No no no, it's 60% of statistics are made up on the spot, this wasn't one of them:smallbiggrin: .

spotmarkedx
2008-02-27, 01:26 PM
No no no, it's 60% of statistics are made up on the spot, this wasn't one of them:smallbiggrin: .
All three statements can be true:
60% of statistics are made up on the spot
81% of statistics found on forums are made up
98.6% of statistics on the internet are made up

Those are all different values.

Zanatos777
2008-02-27, 01:27 PM
I've never had the party start in a tavern. I have run five games that I can remember.

First was a second edition oriental, they met in the Shogun's court as he gave them orders.
Second one character came into a town on a boat then made a beeline to the town square, set up a kid to advertise the mercenary company he was planning to set up, and then went to the tavern.
Third, took place in a massive city, opened with the blacksmith barbarian waking up in the morning and proceeding to the nearest tavern to meet the rest of the party, who were all friends who either worked there or hung out there a lot.
Fourth opened with the three gnomes (I hate gnomes now) entering a small town then the gnome illusionist color spraying the non-gnome party members as an introduction in the middle of the street.
Fifth started with one character entering town then seeing a rogue (another PC) try to steal an apple nearly get arrested by two guards (also PCs) in a marketplace nearby the entrance he used to enter the city. That isn't how all of them met but it was the opening scene of that game, there were 7 PCs at that time (8 now).

SpikeFightwicky
2008-02-27, 01:31 PM
My main problem is that for the past few years, my main group is a group that HATES the RP part of D&D, and prefer a more Diablo style hack 'n' slash (all except one, who valiantly tried to roleplay whilst the other players sat around looking bored). One side game I made, I asked for everyone to produce a character background. The day before the game, I got an e-mail from each of them, and they had agreed that they all grew up in the same small village (despite having 2 humans and elf and a dwarf), all knew eachother, and like to hang out in taverns in their spare time. Didn't have much choice in that one. It got worse when they attacked every NPC they encountered that wasn't a playable race from the PHB because 'they're evil. Says so in the MM'.

Luckily, I'm with a new group now and we're smiting heretics and mutants in world.... 40k years in the future (guess which setting!). I learned the hard way that a 'priest' in that setting is more than a robe wearing rhetoric fountain. He's a robe wearing rhetoric fountain with a chain axe and knows how to use it. On topic, the campaign started when all our characters were called seperately to meet with an inquisitor (though I imagine a lot of games would start that way).

MandibleBones
2008-02-27, 01:33 PM
My first campaign began, as I recall, in the brig of a Star Destroyer. But then again, this was a long time ago playing SWd6.

I've started a few campaigns in Taverns, but I stopped once someone brought up that their character had no reason to be in a tavern.

My latest one, in the best tradition of railroading, started on a train (er, lightning rail. Whatever), which then crashed. Everybody needs to travel now and again, and they all had a good reason to be in the destination city. And after crashing the train, they all were stuck in a situation that encouraged working together without requiring it, which meant bonding.

PlatinumJester
2008-02-27, 01:40 PM
I had a T Rex escape in the middle of Sharn where it went on a pie eating rampage. It was the only thing I could think of spontaneously.

Deepblue706
2008-02-27, 01:44 PM
I use taverns, that I'll admit. However, I always make my methods unconventional. Like, the PCs are in a tavern, and then it blows up.

batsofchaos
2008-02-27, 01:52 PM
One campaign I ran technically started in a tavern. The PCs assembled there to look for something interesting to do. They left after nothing happened for about a half-hour, and just as they left the pub a caravan that had lost control thundered through the town with the occupants screaming bloody murder. But of course, I like to subvert tropes. :D

Other than that I had two games that started in a prison (19% of the 22% that haven't started in a tavern, HAVE started a campaign in a prison), a DnD game AND a d20 modern game. The campaign I'm about to start, is going to begin on a boat.

Thanatos 51-50
2008-02-27, 01:56 PM
They were all in a twn for various reasons.
And the King's Royal Messanger just happened to roll into the middle of the Town Square...

Mr. Friendly
2008-02-27, 01:57 PM
Well, my first game was when I was like 10, so I wasn't allowed in a Pub.

You guys have had some rough lives if you have been forced to play D&D in prison. :smallbiggrin:

SamTheCleric
2008-02-27, 02:01 PM
The last game I DM'd started with the following...

"Ok, everyone got their character complete? Everyone got a name and everything? Great. Make reflex saves."

Collective Gasp..

"After what seems like an eternity of falling, your frail bodies slam to the cold stone below you. The last thing you remember seeing before consciousness was stolen from you were the distant shadows of approaching kobolds.

You each awaken slowly over time, tied together in a large cavern with no immediate exit. Sitting on the damp stone floor you suddenly become very aware that you are naked, bereft of all of your personal treasures. Go ahead and introduce yourselves to one another."

It starts off with a certain drama... you already have them hooked together... and they aren't going to be in it "just for gold" like most tavern dwelling adventurers are.

Animefunkmaster
2008-02-27, 02:02 PM
The party wakes up from an apparent slumber, they have no items and little memory of the last few years. They soon discover that they were thralls in what was a nest of illithid. A group of clerics/paladins of X came to cleanse the nest and the mindflayer's mind control has just started to wear off.

Lord Tataraus
2008-02-27, 02:05 PM
Well, I did start my party out on a boat in the middle of a calm, 1 week in. They were mercs hired to protect the ship from pirates, but they were pissed off at the stupidity of the ship's master who fired the captain right before the ship left port because the captain said they would get stuck in a calm if they went the way the master wanted to go. So the group committed mutiny and became pirates.

One time I started my party in the middle of a bar fight, though still technically starting in a tavern, it was different.

Runa
2008-02-27, 02:08 PM
I always felt the Tavern sig didn't really address what you're really using; A contrivance in some measure that draws the players together before the adventure. The sig also annoys me, since it seems to be mocking genuine newbies, but..

I am lately tempted to add something akin to the following to my signature:

"78% of DMs start their first adventure in a tavern. If you honestly don't give a flying flip about this statistic so long as your group as has fun, put this in your signature."

Not to say it's never a good idea to tailor it to the party... but sometimes, the tavern just plain makes sense. Think about it:

1.)It's already a common meeting place for locals. Meaning the local with a tough job that no-one local will handle, but a bunch of rag tag strangers might just...? Or the bartender who can feed you information? Or the local guy you're supposed to be finding? Might all be there.

2.)It's also one of the few places that isn't a tourist trap that non-locals are likely to end up in at some point. Meaning even some of the most disparate groups (for instance, a group made up of a ninja, a monk, a bard, a Paladin, and a spellcaster...) are more likely to "randomly" meet there.

3.) Taverns serve alcohol, sure, but they're also a social scene and often serve food or provide entertainment as well, or shelter from the elements. All plausible reasons for being there in the first place, so even non-drinking folks can find some reason to be there.

Our latest DM in our group (we tend to rotate), in his first campaign, started us in a tavern, which was perfect, because part of the monk's backstory is a love for drink (he's planning to eventually go for the Drunken Master PrC), the Bard (me) was trying to make some coin over in the corner, and the ninja was stealing sandwiches just to see if he could, and then subsequently slipping change into the pockets of the people he stole them from (he's Chaotic Good, as I recall. As if you couldn't tell). And happened to be a Dvati. The Druid and Paladin both saw this and conversed with him about it, and turned out to both speak Dvati. Then there was a ruckus outside regarding two opposing groups from neighboring countries that were at war over territory (the city we're in is neutral, but probably next in line as far as the war goes), and we all went out to see what was going on, then subsequently had to chose whether to join or not join the fight, and if so, on whose side...

A perfectly good way to start a campaign, as far as I'm concerned. It was entertaining and made sense and allowed our very odd group to meet. And if and when I start my own campaign, I'll strongly consider starting it in a tavern, if it works for the group.

Yes, starting in a campaign in a tavern is a cliche. But so are sneaky rogues, honorable warriors, and religiously devout clerics and paladins. So are tyrant kings or exiled princes. So is fighting evil monsters to save people and make a little coin on the side.

Cliches are cliches in the first place because a number of different people liked them, and find some sort of entertainment value or utility in them. :smallwink: And often continue to like them and find such value in them enough to use them again and again.

-Runa

Grug
2008-02-27, 02:08 PM
I was running a comedy campaign, and the characters started in the Drunken Ass Tavern (ass like donkey). Trying to make it as trope-y as possible, they are contacted by Mr. Quack, who wants them to retrieve his family heirloom from kobolds who are hiding in the ruins of the Castle of Convenience, destroyed thirty years ago by a rampaging Plot Device. It turned out to be a great campaign, and I wish I could have finished it.

Dark Knight Renee
2008-02-27, 03:01 PM
I've started a few PbP RPs in taverns, and joined a few. Most were short-lived, mostly because nobody in the group could GM well enough to keep the plot going. The only memorable one was a "crossroads of the multiverse" type of tavern, and degenerated into a very entertaining brawl. However, it proceeded to die almost as soon as the brawl was over.

Aside from PbP games, most of the games I play in aren't actually seperate games, just continuations or spin-offs of a larger game. Usually, one or both of two things happens: A) all of the PCs already know eachother and have been tossed in from [a] previous adventure[s], and/or B) the PCs are encountered one by one over time.

I've done A and A + NPCS-Encountered-Along-The-Way more times than I can remember. Some memorable examples of B include:

I've started a game by having one PC, a knight, rescue another PC who was locked away in a tower guarded by a dragon. The standard gender roles in this classic clich were reversed. Other PCs and NPCs were introduced over the course of the plot.

I've started a sequel by having the two PCs from the previous one start out camped in a 'haunted' mansion, which became their base for the following section of plot, until the townsfolk drove them out due to one of them being a vampire. They picked up another PC in the town, and acquired more as the game went on. The tansition between plots (previous game to sequel) didn't have much effect besides background, as the PCs had been rescued from a bad situation and then proptly dumped on a new world without a clue.

Another spin-off started by following one PC through plot events that displaced him from his home, leading to a failed attempt at topling the Big Bad, being condemned to gladiator pits only to escape with the help of a second PC (DMPC, technically). They promptly got split up, and the third PC was introduced when PC1 needed refuge from baddies trying to recapture him. The following session was entirely roleplay, with no action whatsoever until the very end, reintroducing PC2 and wraping up the opening plot.

A game DMed by my sister also employed option B. There were many characters introduced almost one at a time, and it was a wacky multi-universe-hopping plot.


The start point of the original Game to which most of these are connected has been lost to time, but it almost certainly didn't involve a tavern. Given the wackiness still remaining in our game from that time, it probably suffered considerably from our maturity level at the time - I was maybe ten. Maybe. Most if not all the characters were, in fact, canonical Jedi Knights (Luke, Jaina & Jacen, Corran, etc), and one of the two BBEGs was a mad scientist who crated giant spiders that ate holes in space-time. Also, the setting was Star Wars with crossover elements from Doom and Master of Orion 2 even before the spiders...

SamTheCleric
2008-02-27, 03:18 PM
I feel as though this is important:

http://xkcd.com/244/

shaddy_24
2008-02-27, 04:25 PM
While I have no problem with the whole tavern start, I chose not to use it in my campagn. Instead, I gave the players some information about the town and told them to put themselves in it. They were whoever they wanted to be, where ever they wanted to be. Read my sig to find out what happened next (though, to be fair, the town wasn't really destroyed. The mayor just used the army to attack, kill or drive out everyone who would oppose her, including all of the major churches). The players teamed up to avoid death, along with some help from other escapees (who left soon afterwords).

an kobold
2008-02-27, 04:45 PM
I had a T Rex escape in the middle of Sharn where it went on a pie eating rampage. It was the only thing I could think of spontaneously.

I started an Iron Kingdoms campaign like this once. All of the PCs were in a market place next to a train station, milling about, each with their own reason for being in the city (a soldier was on leave, a gunmage was looking for work, bodgers and arcane mechanicks were heading toward the industrial district). So they are all doing their little thing when they hear a shout from the train station and a captured dracodile bursts through the side of an unusually large boxcar. It worked out nicely.

Thane of Fife
2008-02-27, 04:56 PM
My most recent game began with one player being press-ganged by pirate hunters, and the other two players being kidnapped by pirates.

As you might expect, they met on a pirate ship in the middle of a fight, and decided that none of them particularly wanted to be there. And away they fled, on a lifeboat (because all pirate ships have lifeboats, right? Safety first!)

Ascension
2008-02-27, 07:16 PM
The overarching theme of the Planescape campaign I'm currently playing in is that something or another is causing nearly all that which is imprisoned across the multiverse (both good and bad) to be loosed for no readily apparent reason (although I'm 99.9% sure there's a BBEG behind it somehow or another).

Half of the party (power-hungry elf wizard, rambo-esque human fighter, gung-ho cleric) started off by being pressed into service in the Blood War by a group of devils, only to be freed by whatever-it-is and transported to Elysium by some newly freed paragon of goodness or whatever.

The other half of the party started in the Outlands, where representatives of the various powers that be were meeting on neutral ground to discuss the situation. The Tuladhara druid was born and raised there and was at the meeting as part of the Rilmani delegation. The paladin was there as one of the representatives of her god. My character (sorta Doomguard-aligned rogue/scout with an unnecessarily complex backstory) was there because an old man lied to me to get me out of his hair and I was trying to please him. After the meeting ended, the paladin's group was preparing to go back to Elysium, and the Rilmani basically threw me and the druid in with them for the sake of balance.

Everybody met up in Elysium, but we didn't really have anything to do until one of the Blood War group's fellow captives asked us to go to Acheron to rescue some of his buddies in an incredibly blatant quest hook. We took him up on the offer. And so it began.

You'd think after all that we'd need a drink, but we haven't gotten to a tavern yet. I am carrying around a bottle of wine, though... I like to buy random stuff from the mundane equipment lists, and I've got the Haversack to store it all in.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-02-27, 07:29 PM
Usually, I start each player off with a solo adventure, since it feels really damn epic. For my next campaign (Which will more or less be a sandbox with a linear final and that's it), however, I'm GOING to give them a solo adventure, but I'm going to tie the beginning of their stories a little bit. Basically, it'll involve one of the characters, a Swordsage, provoking a fire through a Salamander's charge, a few of the other PC's will probably help with dousing the flames, and the last few will likely choose to ignore the fire entirely.

Icewalker
2008-02-27, 07:36 PM
Well, my good DM does it the same way you do. The party members fall into place and are wrapped up in the adventure. Usually they are good friends, so they get sucked in and go "Hey guys, what's going on?" "All the water in the city dried up!" "Oh crap, what do we do?" "I dunno, lets go figure it out!"

etc.

Ralfarius
2008-02-27, 07:42 PM
I love taverns. In fact, my old group enjoyed certain taverns so much that we had 'chains' of them springing up. A few names we re-used a fair few times:
- The Golden Archers (Complete with a sign showing arrows crossing with golden trails that formed a very distinct sort of letter)
- The Foaming Boot
- The Astral Stag

In fact, one character played was a gnome who specifically went about from city to city, starting up his chain of taverns in between adventures.

Tavern hijinx weren't even particularly tongue-in-cheek for us, we just enjoyed the atmosphere that can come with a Tavern, especially when juxtaposing the group in a seedy dive, and later entering a much more upscale establishment.

Overall, I'm in complete agreeance with Runa. Why be down on the Tavern? If you want to give a little verisimilitude to your campaign, there's no likelier meeting place for a group of strangers or lifelong friends. The tavern offers limitless possibilities for just about any setting. Respect the tavern, give it its due.

The tavern is king.

The Extinguisher
2008-02-27, 07:42 PM
I haven't actually done this, but I have a really cool idea for a campaign where the characters start out in a a fight with some thugs and take it from there.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-02-27, 07:53 PM
And I can't believe I forgot this intro: The characters START in a tavern...but as the bard in it begins to sing and play "The Number of the Beast", reality shifts and distorts and the PC's find themselves fighting pit fiends. Seriously, read this lyrics and tell me that wasn't an immensely awesome beginning for a third party module:

Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea
for the Devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding
reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number
its number is six hundred and sixty six.

I lived alone my mind was blank
I needed time to think to get the memories from my mind

What did I see? Could I believe? That what I saw
that night was real and not just fantasy

Just what I saw in my old dreams were they
reflections of my warped mind staring back at me?

'Cause in my dreams it's always there the evil face that twists my mind
and brings me to despair

Night was black was no use holding back
'Cause I just had to see was someone watching me
In the mist dark figures move and twist
was all this for real or just some kind of hell
666 the Number of the Beast
Hell and fire was spawned to be released

Torches blazed and sacred chants were praised
as they start to cry hands held to the sky
In the night the fires are burning bright
the ritual has begun Satan's work is done
666 the Number of the Beast
Sacrifice is going on tonight

This can't go on I must inform the lord
Can this still be real or just some crazy dream?
but I feel drawn towards the chanting hordes
seem to mesmerise...can't avoid their eyes
666 the Number of the Beast
666 the one for you and me

I'm coming back I will return
And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn
I'll have the fire I'll have the force
I'll have the power to make my evil take its course

Yahzi
2008-02-27, 08:20 PM
FOOLS! The tavern is the ONLY way to start an adventure! All other methods of party members meeting each other is boring and unrealistic.
Did you know that in 4e, it will be against the rules to start adventures in taverns?


:smallbiggrin:

Jimblee
2008-02-27, 08:30 PM
I still don't get how taverns can get people to meet up and go on an adventure together. Never happened to me, never used it

My favorite intro was in the basement of an Agony dealer's house. The owner came back to find us all squatting and using the rest of his juice, so he rallied us up to work for him

Midnighter1021
2008-02-27, 08:36 PM
well lets see where have my campaigns started......tavern,tavern,tavern,spaceport,tavern ,tavern,mercenary guild, whorehouse.

and if you were wondering the best one started at the whore house

Corolinth
2008-02-27, 08:47 PM
Prior to about 1950, the tavern was half of a town's social scene. Church made up the other half. Characters meet at a tavern because it's the only place to go. Also, as was pointed out in the Chainmail Bikini webcomic, "Most players are selfish and unruly and likely to kill each other with their attempts at roleplaying."

Azerian Kelimon
2008-02-27, 08:49 PM
And the other ones will Pwn your evocative skills to submission with their stunning and rich backstories and detailed character interactions.

Serpentine
2008-02-27, 09:13 PM
None of the games I've been in - though there haven't been that many - have started in a tavern, but not because we were deliberately avoiding it or anything. I think Goff's small starting games may have, but I came into those late. We do tend to end up spending a lot of time in pubs, though. Considering most of the players rarely if ever drink, our characters seem to get drunk an awful lot :smallconfused:
The game I'm running now is a continuation/spin-off of Goff's last one, so we were all on the road together when I kicked it off. His campaign, though, most of us started out as students at Montgomery Snake's Elevated Academy for Adventurers. His rogue already had a backstory link with the cleric, and I think he recognised mine from around the school, that sort of thing.
Not many memorable beginnings, then... We have had some interesting character introductions, though. The most complex was probably that of Astrild, the tall, red-headed dragon-slayer. To cut a rather long and circuitous story very short, the Str 18 elf wizard (:smallsigh:) found himself in the girls' baths, face-to-face with an incredibly beautiful nude woman (3d6 = 18 Cha). He stood there gaping for a while, then continued to flee. Later that night, he composed some rather awful love poetry :smallconfused: Anyway, not long after that, another player joins up. After completing some little quest, we exit the cave, tired and bloody, and a tall, red-headed Valkyrie of a woman, also tired and bloody, decked out in a good deal of dragonskin armour, carrying a great big sword over her shoulder, comes trudging down the road. So we all walk home together, and invite this Astrild to join the League of Steely Mettle.
Also in this couple of campaigns were: the gnome illusionist who... kinda... was hanging around the side of the road? :smallconfused: My DMPC who was introduced on a Dark And Stormy Night, becloaked and mounted, carrying a message; The druid who happened to be a friend of my other character who came bearing bad news for her and thus provided the means for her exit; the swashbuckler "privateer" who we found in a pit in the path (and she keeps on falling down holes... Most recently, we needed a reason why she wasn't involved in a side-quest. She could either simply avoided it (something like 50%), being sucked in but in a different place (~40%), or have fallen in a hole (10%), the latter being the lowest portion of the d%. She rolled a 1.); and the centaur ranger who woke up tied to stakes to be sacrificed to a hydra with the rest of us.
In the earlier games I mentioned, my half-orc rogue/catlord was fleeing across the rooftops and fell off right in front of the party, looked worried, and hid in a barrel. Later, a dim-witted barbarian fell through the sewer roof right near where the rest of the party was walking. I seem to have characters "drop in" rather a lot... :smallamused:

Aranai
2008-02-27, 09:30 PM
I think I came up with a fairly decent starter originally. Some of my recent 'uns have really sucked, though. :P

WARNING! The following post refers to a homebrew game!

In my very first campaign a couple months ago, I had a situation in which Gortches* had desicrated a Lenyan** temple and were casting Body Bind spells at various passerbys. The party would have eventually discovered that they were to be made sacrifices to an evil god, but the campaign died because, unfortunatly, the characters had absolutely NO initiative to do anything. :P


*Gortch: Fungal/Humanoid subrace, virtually incarnations of disease.
*Lenya: Anthropomorphic winged lions; Holy race.

Alleine
2008-02-27, 09:31 PM
I have this dream of starting an epic level campaign where the PC's start by fighting an animated tavern.

Aranai
2008-02-27, 09:38 PM
Animated Tavern? You have piqued my curiosity. :o

Nathan W
2008-02-27, 09:40 PM
my FIRST campan started in a tavern, this was just after I had been intodused to D&D. i tryed to get my mom to play. the game ended 5 minits later.

whateverness
2008-02-27, 09:47 PM
Lol i can just imagine it...
"suddenly, the table you are sitting at grows gigantic jaws and eats the weapons fighter set on the table, the bow ranger set on the table, the spellbook mage was studying from, the assorted throwing weapons rouge was polishing, and, of course, all the remaining beer (ale). As you realize you are under attack, one of mages contingency spells goes off, releasing a gigantic maximized fireball that incinerates the table. Unfortunately, you are sitting at the table, so roll a reflex save."
Ah...good times...
Unfortunately, my campaign starters are anything but cliche. My brother invented this mage called Zelligar thats lvl 500...literally. So whenever the players need a campaign, Zelligar transports them to his castle and gives them a job. Very original, i'd say, but it breaks the fourth wall a lot...:smallfrown:
Yay my fifth post!:smallsmile:

horseboy
2008-02-27, 10:09 PM
Why not start them in taverns? Because every time a DM starts a game in a tavern that I've ever been in the tavern burns down at the end of the night. It's not even like it's something we set out to do. Stuff just happens, you know? Main beams get transmuted into fruit. Somebody does something stupid, like use their sling to launch rolls across the room. Somebody has to be a bad ass and shoot the roll in the air. Arrow continues and triggers some sort of Rube Goldberg shenanigans that end up with the entire building in flames. Nobody winds up taking it seriously. We try again next week and sure enough wind up burning down the next inn too. Then we get bored with the campaign because all we did in two weeks was burn down two buildings. So we move on to something else.

spotmarkedx
2008-02-28, 09:49 AM
You know... thinking back on the campaigns that I've been a part of, I honestly cannot think of any that have started in a tavern. There have been some games or adventure hooks that have started there, but no campaigns.

Between that and this thread, I'm beginning to suspect that the "78%" is a touch overstated.

In any case, I see no problem with the tavern meeting. It is a random place that a diverse group would all be in at the same time, and be able to respond to the same incident simultaneously. Similarly: prisons and marketplaces.

In case you are wondering, my first campaign started with the PCs as kind of a military special ops unit in a fantasy war. It wasn't a D&D campaign, but there we go.

I really need to start my next campaign in a tavern.

Meschaelene
2008-02-28, 09:59 AM
I've used the "everyone meets in prison", ala "The Usual Suspects". That's always fun.

The best I ran was that all the characters had joined (or were conscripted in) an army, which had invaded a neighboring kingdom. The battle was a disaster, and they all met while fleeing for their lives.

Finally, I developed some home-brew rules for RPing children, and started the adventurers as children in a small village that got overrun by orcs. That was a blast, too.

Thoughtbot360
2008-02-28, 05:31 PM
98.6% of all statistics on the internet are made up. :smallamused:

Including this one?

AslanCross
2008-02-28, 05:53 PM
I started my campaign in a throne room. It was during Shieldmeet Festival (Forgotten Realms), and Cormyr's Princess Regent had sent out headhunters to recruit people for an urgent mission.

mikeejimbo
2008-02-28, 05:57 PM
The podcast Fear The Boot goes into much of this. They advocate something called a 'group template' where a bunch of questions are answered before people make characters. This way much of the interparty conflict and questions about WHY you are even adventuring together get answered before play starts.

That sounds interesting. Where can I find this podcast?

I'm an amateur GM myself and I'm looking for anything that might help me.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-02-29, 01:20 AM
Fear the Boot. (http://feartheboot.libsyn.com/)

After you finish the podcast, I recommend Chainmail Bikini. It's written by the guy who did DMotR, and very good.

Avilan the Grey
2008-02-29, 02:04 AM
I have only GMed(?) 3 longer adventures / campaigns in my life.

First one was SW d6: All players were on a crashing smaller spaceship that had been smuggling food and stuff to a remote rebel base, and had been boarded by the empire. One of the characters started as a storm trooper on that ship and the others were smugglers. It was an intense first session when they all had to quickly figure out how to work together to get the crashing ship under enough control not to burn up in the atmosphere but crash "softly"...

Second one was in a post Nuclear War setting with mutants and mutated animals, set in Scandinavia (one of my favorite RPGs of all time, and it has just been re-released. I am thinking of buying that one...): In that the players just were rounded up by the local town Major, they had all worked for him in the past on smaller jobs but now it was big "save the country" time :P

Third one was quite similar to the first one but a little less dramatic: The characters were the only survivors after a terrorist bomb on the trans-siberian railway in the 1890ies, (Call of Cuthulu setting).

Mad Maudlin
2008-02-29, 05:42 AM
Of course, the problem with eschewing the traditional 'Tavern' opening is that you need PCs who know how to take a plot hook... I recently started (Or tried to!) a campaign which began with the PCs getting caught up in a street brawl-type situation which would be broken up by the city watch. Unfortunately, the group was composed of people who played more final fantasy than Dnd... I showed them a conflict brewing in the street, and they all stood and watched.

So here's me, desperately trying to convince them to get involved, escalating this fight in an attempt to involve them, and they're happily watching a cutscene. "She's got a knife!" I say. "Oh no..." they say, "I wonder what's going to happen?" :smallannoyed:

That being said, I don't really get this attitude that inexperienced DMs always go for the tavern intro... My first campaign, I started the PCs off separately exploring a ruined city, mostly because I had no idea how the tavern scenario was supposed to play out. I still don't, really. I've never played a campaign that started in a tavern (although I've played a few that started with "Okay, you're all in a dungeon, now what do you want to do?"). I assume the PCs are expected to be hired by a Shadowy Stranger sitting in the corner of the room staring into his ale?

Avilan the Grey
2008-02-29, 08:42 AM
Actually, in a High Fantasy setting the billboard in or just outside the tavern with "adventurers wanted" ads (among the "Lost kitten"/"Lost puppy"/"Lost Golem" ads) makes total sense when you stop giggling about it. If people know that there are professional adventurers that takes jobs like killing dragons, cleaning dungeons (or for the other end of the spectrum, assassinate good-aligned archmages) it makes total sense to have them in the job ads.

Danzaver
2008-02-29, 09:16 AM
I don't much like the tavern, but realistically... meeting in bars is such a common thing now, and throughout history.

I hate introducing characters. First impressions last forever. I've made mistakes - once, I introduced characters (a couple IRL) by saying "X you see Y across the market place. Y owes you 2 silver pieces." thinking that it would be paid back after their first 1000gp loot bag, and everything would be fine. But NOOOO... it ends up being a big massive thing, and an excuse for them to hold grudges... bring their personal issues against eachother into the game... I like to think it had nothing to do with those guys breaking up. :|

Even after years and years in the saddle, introducing characters still makes me so nervous...

For my latest game I just said "You are all orphans who grew up together in this monastery". ...and then had a bunch of people come in and kill everyone in the monastery. >:D

Danzaver
2008-02-29, 10:05 AM
I don't much like the tavern, but realistically... meeting in bars is such a common thing now, and throughout history.

I hate introducing characters. First impressions last forever. I've made mistakes - once, I introduced characters (a couple IRL) by saying "X you see Y across the market place. Y owes you 2 silver pieces." thinking that it would be paid back after their first 1000gp loot bag, and everything would be fine. But NOOOO... it ends up being a big massive thing, and an excuse for them to hold grudges... bring their personal issues against eachother into the game... I like to think it had nothing to do with those guys breaking up. :|

Even after years and years in the saddle, introducing characters still makes me so nervous...

For my latest game I just said "You are all orphans who grew up together in this monastery". ...and then had a bunch of people come in and kill everyone in the monastery. >:D

Citizen Joe
2008-02-29, 10:07 AM
Bringing people in mid-adventure is almost universally a bad idea. Assuming you use the pub with the want ads to bring the group together in the first place, here is how you add people to the group.

First, OOC, the new player and old players get together to discuss what role the new character will have. The new player probably wants to show off his new shiny xxxAwesomeDudexxx and probably doesn't want to give away all his secrets, but he can explain the role he wants to fill. If the rest of the group of players is ok with that, i.e. xxxAwesomDudexxx's role shouldn't be 'assassinate all these upstart adventurers' or 'extend the control of Evilgod', then they figure out a need for the new character while In Character.

Bob The Fighter: You know, guys, they've been totally handing us our asses out there lately, we really need a healer.
Charlie the Rogue: Ya, I know, but I don't like those religious types holding that against me.
Vicky the Wizard: Pfft, you guys have been doing fine. Just get another meatsh... I mean front line fighter and we'll just get some potions or something.
Bob: You know, we could just advertise over on the pub want ads over there and see.
Vicky: Hey, that's a great idea.


WANTED: Healer.
Must be good at fighting.
Must not force religious views on team.
Variable ethical and moral views a plus.
Apply during weekends after dark at the Prancing Stallion Pub

xxxAwesomeDudexxx: Hi, I'm xxxAwesomeDudexxx, I saw your want ad.
<group eyes him suspiciously>
Vicky: Really? How do you pronounce that? Are the x's silent? You know what, never mind, your name is 'AD'. OK, what do you got? We're looking for a healer that isn't afraid of the front line.

and then you conduct an interview.

banjo1985
2008-02-29, 10:17 AM
I've started campaigns in the tavern before, but I try to give them some sort of twist. In one the group was blind drunk and were asked to get the mayors infant daughter out of a very big tree...with no climbing equipment. In another the party were drinking happily, only for the tavern and the hamlet it was in to be attacked by ogres.

I've also often started the party in a pitched battle, them being the only survivors. There's nothing like a brush with death to develop group solidarity. :smallbiggrin:

Guancyto
2008-02-29, 11:37 AM
There was a PbP I was in, very sorry it died, where all seven (or was it nine?) PCs were given a vision of ominous doom that included the other members of the party.

In an entirely reasonable reaction to Destiny starting to Screw With Your Life, every single one of them independently decided to hit the bar. Some things are universal, I guess...

Runa
2008-02-29, 11:55 AM
I still don't get how taverns can get people to meet up and go on an adventure together. Never happened to me, never used it

My favorite intro was in the basement of an Agony dealer's house. The owner came back to find us all squatting and using the rest of his juice, so he rallied us up to work for him

...it never occurred to you that strangers randomly meet up in a bar and subsequently decide to do crazy stuff together (for instance, sleep together), or that tons of people have tendencies to be impulsive and do crazy things after drinking... in real life?

Or that any wandering adventurer would surely know that if they're looking for something to do or some quick coin to make, all the juiciest gossip could probably be overheard in taverns?

Or that (as I pointed out with my group above) something can't happen at the tavern that forces them into action, such as somebody outside being attacked?

Or perhaps the idea of the party being pre-arranged through a common contact, and meeting in an obvious and easy to locate public place?

Or the concept of non-fighting oriented adventures?

Really? You can't think of anything that would allow the tavern setting to allow strangers to have a reason to interact and/or do stuff together? Really really?

I'm ever so slightly inclined to think you might lack a little imagination. :smallwink:

Just a little, though. Tavern settings can also easily be a poor setup, if your group is all strangers to each other and intended to go on some big adventure together. This is why earlier, I made sure to mention things like "tailoring it to the party".


I hate introducing characters. First impressions last forever. I've made mistakes - once, I introduced characters (a couple IRL) by saying "X you see Y across the market place. Y owes you 2 silver pieces." thinking that it would be paid back after their first 1000gp loot bag, and everything would be fine. But NOOOO... it ends up being a big massive thing, and an excuse for them to hold grudges... bring their personal issues against eachother into the game... I like to think it had nothing to do with those guys breaking up. :|

...any couple that could get that worked up over something so trivial isn't worth worrying about, and probably would have found something equally stupid and inane to channel their "personal issues" through anyway. Game issues are game issues, and any sane person should be able to tell the difference between in-character, out of character, or game plot and reality. Don't blame yourself for that one in the least.:smallconfused:

-Runa

SpikeFightwicky
2008-02-29, 12:23 PM
The worst introduction I've ever experienced went something like this (this is back in 2nd ed., and the DM was dating one of the PCs...):

- PCs are all in the same town, but don't know eachother. Big evil demon thing attacks the town. The PCs all end up fighting it, and each one is defeated handily (though not killed). The DM then has the demon spout out this long monologue about how mortals are weak, and then she introduces the final PC (her boyfriend), who (magically) has a magic item that allows him to slay the demon in a (would-be) epic fight. The game only lasted about 3 sessions, as none of the players were very interested in being (NPC) PCs in their game.

After that debacle, a tavern intro would have been paradise.