It's been done before, but is still a point that all GMs should be wary of. I've seen many variations on points one and three, but two is new to me. It seems like a recipe for party conflict, so I was surprised that it actually worked out as a party building exercise. Do you think it would work for a smaller group? And were the bonds forged during this period strong enough to keep the group together after they left the enclosed space?
This is an important topic and a good opportunity for GMs to be creative.
The best example I have is the DM who got the entire group together *outside* the tavern while crossing the street. He used a rather annoying halfling thief (who I swear was some kind of agent of Chaos with all the trouble he caused) to draw us into an innocuous-seeming confrontation. That one moment propelled us into a storyline that involved dark gods and werewolves with silver teeth.
The most involved campaign I ran had a built in "tavern" sequence. All of the PCs had one reason or another to be on a world far from the core of civilization. Once the aliens invaded, everyone naturally drew together as part of the resistance. Go to Comment
Useful stuff. I've always hated the inn encounter to get people together. I'm a cleric, what am I doing at an inn? I'm an angry sorcerer, I cast darkness and just safely leave the stupid brawl. I'm a barbarian, I'm gonna smash in everybody's faces indiscriminately until I'm either passed out from exhausted or ale or until I'm knocked out.
There's always a better way, but there is still something wonderfully esthetic about starting a game with a good old throw down. Go to Comment
4. The Tournament:
A challenge is issued by a well-known lord to any who wish to attend. A grand tournament will be held, and the winner will receive a worthy prize.
The idea here is that everyone has a reason for traveling to this big town for a tournament. They can complete in melee, archery, or mage dueling. Non-combative types will be attracted to the surge of people and market goods (aka. cheaper stuff). Each contestant will have to compete in a single or double elimination type tournament against standard fare peasants, hunters, workers, a few militia, and a few off-duty city guards. It is explained that the fight is only to incapacitate or land a certain number of blows on your opponent, not to kill. Each victory should come with a small compensation, and the players will likely have to fight each other at some point. At least one of the contestants should be a disguised antagonist (covertly or obviously, your choice). I used a red-eyed figured in black armor who wielded a spiked chain and whose touch would cause burns. This figure later turned out to be a skeletal spellsword. The victor should get something worth the effort. I had a powerful seer tell the victor his future.
At the very end, you should crash the party. I had dragons drop thousands of bones onto the city and then had a necromancer animate all of them as skeletons to attack the city. This was all a distraction for the black night to kidnap someone important and run off into a sewer. While all of the others are distracted, duty calls the players to save the victim or fight the evil together. Afterwards, you can have someone hire them as a team or give them a good carrot to chase. Be careful that you don't challenge them too much to start with because many of the players will have exhausted their spells and abilities already from the tournament.
This method of getting the party together gives the players the option conversing and getting to know each other at will, and most of them will already be familiar with the roles of the others from the tournament. Players can also choose to remain mysterious while still having a good reason to stay with the party. Go to Comment