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Character Hooks
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manfred's comment on 2008-10-02 07:55 AM
I posted one from Kinslayer and there will be surely some more.

This has grown into an excellent resource. Praise it with great praise! Go to Comment
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manfred's comment on 2009-06-06 06:43 AM
Infiltration Squad

A terrible villain, maddened arch-wizard, or an alien invader has tried to do what these people usually do - and failed. Before the plans could be really unwound, they were taken out by some random heroes, lab accident, betrayed by disloyal flunkies, or even defeated on the field of battle. Whatever, the end of his story is the beginning of yours.

The PCs are members of a completely different species (orcs, trolls, demons, aliens, ...), transmuted/genetically altered/whatever to resemble the typical species of this world. Some of them might have been volunteers, but after the horrors of transformation none of them roots for the villain (they might even had a role in his downfall). Some of them may have been sold out or duped by their families or clans, been criminals or just picked up by random. Now they are seen as monsters by anyone that knew them. So where do they go? Try their luck with the people they look to fit in. Maybe they were released by the original heroes as captives and feel impressed and/or duty-bound.

- they will have some some serious misinformation about this world, generating fun for the GM and players
- on the other hand, they might have useful, exotic skills and abilities (and some quirks... they are experiments after all)
- they better keep their exact origin a secret
- their conditioning is not complete, but they may discover to have some odd compulsions :)

The problematic part is to not let them devolve into sociopaths, that have no connection to the society around them. It may provide for a fun entry into a new world.


The Manchurian Candidates

The PCs were captured by the bad guys or the opposing side in a war and brainwashed. They were freed or could escape before it was completed, but find themselves without memories in a war-torn land. They need to find out who they were and fight off the compulsions the other side has already implanted in them... they would be also of great interest to their own side, so they need to be careful. Could make for some intense roleplaying. Go to Comment
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manfred's comment on 2009-08-09 04:59 PM
Good Ole Patsy

The PCs are the followers, apprentices or employers of true, authentic heroes (the players can design the larger-than-life heroes for fun). Riding out to yet another noble quest, the powerful group is hopelessly overwhelmed, falls to a truly lethal trap, or is burned to a crisp by a dragon, whatever suits best. And who stays behind? Yes, their unqualified underlings - and their only option is to run. They need to find a way out, while the old way is sealed, fight through or trick the lesser servants of the main bad guy, hold on to anything left from their masters, survive and get back to civilization. Not that they would be much appreciated, but at least they will be alive... and may already have a mission for life. Insert any latent disagreements and the usual trouble that comes with inheriting someone's position, and fighting to be recognized as such in the first place. Go to Comment
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manfred's comment on 2017-10-22 10:25 AM

(seen this somewhere else before but missing here)

War is over

After years of fighting, the war is finally over and things are slowly returning back to normal. Only a fool would disband the troops which are used to killing and looting and unleash them upon the general population. Fortunately, the High Command isn't staffed by fools. The existing army units are slowly dissolved, integrated into militias and similar outfits and carefully released from service. Some lucky deserving people are rewarded with land and positions. A few of the worst and most bloodthirsty end up executed. Some are sent into the colonies, work details or other milder punishment forms.

That still leaves a large bunch of miscreants that cannot be easily let go.

The PCs are problematic soldiers, camp helpers and hangers-on that find themselves assembled from several units that no longer exist. Like some other groups, they are given orders to perform a specific task - spy on the enemy, take out some monsters, figure out what's happening, find a random thingy. The tasks are designed to keep them occupied for a time and if they pissed off their superiors may be outright deathtraps.

The Command fully expects that many of these folks will die or desert in the process. A few might prove useful and become troubleshooters or adventurers. Some may go criminal but that's unavoidable and with a death sentence for desertion will hopefully stay far away.

The players can choose some rather problematic characters and can choose to go any number of ways from redemption to darkness.

Go to Comment
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Ria Hawk's comment on 2006-02-20 03:43 PM
For reasons unknown, there are suddenly several assassination attempts on different people. They are complete strangers, have no knowledge of each other, and may even live in different cities. Why is this? Are the attempts related? Who wants them dead? What are they going to do about it? Go to Comment
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CaptainPenguin's comment on 2006-02-20 03:38 PM
Usually, I have my Insane Teleporter Wizard, Mahgbahdin Vague (Copyright), attack them with a teleportation spell that deposits them in some location nearby another one of the players. Go to Comment
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CaptainPenguin's comment on 2006-02-20 03:40 PM
Well, as Moon-man said, the Frog and Mahgbahdin Vague are heavy-handed. I've been accused of abusing power more than once for doing that. Go to Comment
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MoonHunter's comment on 2006-02-20 03:36 PM
Soccer Riot: (Tourney Riot.. insert appropriate game). It is like a natural disaster, just more fun.

Everyone lives in the same building/ tenement.
If the people involved are secretive, had the "wrong message" or "mcguffin of choice" dropped off to the wrong room, with another person's address. As they are untangling their things, they realize somehow they have been sucked into some kind of plot... all because of a wrong address... now people are after them

A variation on the above is: Everyone eats/ drinks at the same pub/ cafe/ starbucks. (Yes my world has a starbucks or three... temporally/ dimensionally displaced people are common there).
Some of these places have mail slots that they hold things for people. Misplaced messages.
An event occurs there... and they are there.
Tables are busy, and they end up drinking/ eating together. The first time is contrived. The second or third time... they are friends and do it on purpose.

Can you say Laundry Service? Most civilized types will give a few copper for the locals to wash their stuff. Characters can meet at the "shop front" or can try to return items that are not theirs.

All PCs have the same mutual frield. They will meet each other through this non adventuring friend. They go to parties, or drink together. PCs will then find out they actually have much in common with the other PCs. This mutual friend might be a supplier of adventuring good or maps....

Everyone is on the same coach/ stagecoach. After three days with each other, even the most secretive will say something.
(Handy things stagecoaches, they are trains for the fantasy set. ) Go to Comment
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MoonHunter's comment on 2006-02-20 03:38 PM
Or the Mythic Blue Fog that engulfs people and deposits them some where and some times when else.

Heavy handed, but sometimes effective. Go to Comment
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MoonHunter's comment on 2006-02-20 03:42 PM
They all need a favor from The Wizard (note capitals). They may or may not have known each other before hand (traveling on the same boat, staying in the same inn, what ever). The Wizard is willing to take his services out in trade.

2) Insert Prince, where you see Wizard. In this option, one of the players could be in the employ of the Prince, as a spy upon the group. This could evolve into employment.

3) If the quest of the game is religious, you could have visions and dreams drive the characters in the same general direction. They will meet up together eventually and work towards the common good (or evil or chaos, or law... depending on the diety). The advantage of this is the group will be compatable allignment/ moral positions.

(of course the evil church could send in a ringer) Go to Comment
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Pacificat's comment on 2006-02-20 03:36 PM
I like some of those ideas, it will definately change the start up of most games that I have played in this setting. Other settings don't tend to have such a hard time starting, but I think these are some real good ideas. Go to Comment
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Ylorea's comment on 2006-02-20 03:45 PM
The fist group of adventurers I brought together, where not as lucky that they could choose their friends or their employment.

They all where kidnapped by a group of pirates who where going to sell them on the nearest slave market.

Theirs was the choice, try to break free.... but..... There are too many pirates still aboard to just "leave" by yourself.
So the only real option they had was to break out, free the rest of the adventurers and then try to get of the ship.

Of course getting of a ship is not as easy as all that, as the cells are located on the lowest level.. Go to Comment
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Cheka Man's comment on 2006-02-20 04:04 PM
Thank you Manfred, I enjoyed that article. Go to Comment
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Cheka Man's comment on 2006-02-20 05:27 PM
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Kinslayer's comment on 2006-02-20 03:57 PM
One of the most effective methods I have personally employed was taken from the "I Kill Puppies for Satan" rpg. The first session starts with one player describing his or her character. The second then describes his or hers, and how he or she knows the first. Then, it follows with each character, each describing themselves & how they know the previous pc's.

Another method I have employed with some success, is to have all of the pc's in the same mercenary company. I know from my own experience that you meet many different types of people in the military, ones far removed from your own normal spheres. Mercenaries in most rpg's allow the pc's greater freedom of action, and will more readily have diverse skillsets in a small group--plus you usually don't have to all wear the same outfit. As the historic mercenary was responsible for his own equipment & training, this fits most pc-types better. Variations on this can be for the pc's to control the company, or as low-ranking troops assigned various missions. It certainly helps if the players know that this will be a mercenary campaign in advance, or there is a risk that one or more will create characters that absolutely do not belong in a mercenary group, due to skills, equipment (or lack thereof), or have prepared backgrounds that are very much opposed to joining a free company.

Midian uses a built-in mechanism for grouping the characters. The default backgrounds assume that each character is a lower-class peasant from a small town in Formour, and that they have never left the immediate area, nor been involved in any real battle. It is much easier to gather everyone together, if most of the group are old friends who grew up together.

Various players of Midian have started something of a guild culture, similar to those found in MMORPG's. This gives the pc's a common employer & home base, along with a reason to stick together--mutual support is the main reason to join an adventuring guild. This also makes it easier for later characters--or even starting an entirely new campaign--if everyone joins an established guild. It doesn't hurt matters any that the concept of a guild as a group of characters spills over into the guild as a group of players--synonymous with a gaming troupe. Go to Comment
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Kinslayer's comment on 2006-02-20 04:02 PM
I use this one. As my game lacks easy access to money (e.g. rats that drop 200 gold coins), the assumption is that the characters are all essentially bums. "Adventurers" start poor, cannot keep money long, often have twisted or circumstancial morals, have few social ties (if any), often dress oddly, and are always moving about, In other words, they're hobos. Go to Comment
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Kinslayer's comment on 2008-10-02 07:52 AM
It is foolish to let loose mercenaries or even regular soldiers into your populated areas. Even those still in the service are usually kept occupied to help keep them out of trouble. For the stragglers of a unit built just for the war, you march them out into the hinterlands for 'border patrol' before you fire them. Presto: instant player-character party without the "you meet in a bar" scenario. Go to Comment
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Ancient Gamer's comment on 2006-02-20 03:54 PM
I felt like organizing various hooks into the 6 genres that I could think of.

Old mates:
This group has already been formed. Whether they are family members, village friends or an old band that has adventured together many winters, they are probably going to work together.

A special case of the Family member character hook could be them being the children of some former PC(s). They could end up in all sorts of trouble when they are confront with their parents enemies in addition to those they make on their own. (Introduces the parents as possible saviours if they do something stupid(A twist of the "mysterious stranger" phenomenon))

The professionals:
This group belongs to the same organization. They may be followers of the same church, members of the thieves guild, guards in the same caravan or soldiers in an army. They get assignments and are supposed to work together. This group is extremely easy to work with as they'll have to do what they are told. Problem: The organization probably deals in similar activities. Armies kill people, Thieves Guilds steal from people, caravans go from A to B, etc... The adventures involved might easily grow very similar to each other.

Friends of Misfortune:
The PC's don't know each other but unfortunate circumstances demand that they cooperate. They may have been at the scene of some crime together or they may have gotten lost, shipwrecked, abducted by the mists of Ravenloft, had their souls spirited away from their bodies(trapped in "the astral plane" by some malign entity that inhabits their bodies and trouble the nation?"), etc...
Point is that they must rely on each other to get out of that mess. Problem: This group may have no incentive to stick together once they have solved the problem.

Forced cooperation:
The PC's have been geased, threatened, released from jail, chosen by a power/god, etc... to do a task. They must cooperate to reach a certain goal. Once that is done, they are freed... or so they are told. But will such useful tools get so easily of the hook? This hook is superimposed on the characters by some individual or organization(as opposed to "Friends of Misfortune which is superimposed upon them by bad luck and circumstance).

Common goal:
Some problem/mission is shared by the pc's. They'd better pool their resources and deal with it. Problem: No reason to stick together afterwards. This hook is similar to "forced cooperation" and "Friends of Misfortune" except that it is not forced in any manner.

Why don't we play together?:
The PCs are drifting around and suddenly they meet each other. "Hey lets team up and battle evil!". The fantasy standard "meet in a tavern" might be a variation of this. Problem: It's just plain dumb. Players might sabotage such introductions and find something else to do.
Exception: If the players take their time to talk to each other, develop friendships and explore common interests this hook might be reasonable. It depends on the players and the circumstances their GM creates for them. Go to Comment
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Ancient Gamer's comment on 2006-02-20 04:05 PM
Only voted Go to Comment
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Ancient Gamer's comment on 2007-09-28 02:16 PM
Scrolls such as these are great for the GM that wants something new this time around. Third level dwarven fighters meeting in the tavern and carrying longswords + 1 are only exciting for a very limited time. Go to Comment
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       By: Michael Jotne Slayer

The nations of the Kolm surpasses all other barbarians in their wilderness of life. Thoug they do just bear the likeness of men, of a very ugly pattern, they are so little advanced in civilization that they make no use of fire, nor any kind of relish, in the preparation of their food, but feed upon the roots which they find in the fields, and the half-raw flesh of any sort of animal. I say half-raw, because they give it a kind of cooking by placing it between their own thighs and the back of their horses. They fight in no regular order of battle but by being extremely swift and sudden in their movements, they disperse, and hen rapidly come toghether in loose array. They spread havoc over the vast plains and flying over the ramparts, they pillage the camp of their enemy almost before he has become aware of their approach. They are the most terrible warriors for when in close combat with swords and flails they fight without regard to their own safety, and while their enemy is intent upon parrying the thrust of the swords, they will entangle him with their chains so that he loses all power of walking or riding.

Excerpt from "The peoples of the world" By Taklamarian court-scholar Guliman Amon.

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