Players Advice: Why Are You Adventuring Together?

Exploring dank caverns, crumbling lost cities and undead infested, bone-filled tombs is a dangerous job. It makes sense to do it, then, with people you know and trust.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

I recently discussed why individual PCs may adventure. It’s also a good idea to consider why the group as a whole has formed. Adventuring is, after all, a perilous profession and it makes sense to do it with others who share your goals and aspirations.

Sadly, all to often (in my experience), a group of adventurers has no real reason to be together beyond the hunt for treasure and experience. That’s a shame, as a common hook or interest can add depth to the roleplaying experience and provide an important campaign theme.

Beyond sharing an individual PC’s goal, a group can form for many reasons. The following list presents some of the most common:

  • Childhood Friends: In this group, the party have known each other for many years. They know and trust each other and look out for each other. A downside of this kind of group is that it can be hard to justify the inclusion of new members if someone should fall during their adventures.
  • Defend The Realm: The PCs are natives of the same kingdom. Perhaps orcs raid from nearby mountains or volatile border areas are rife with banditry. This group goes where it must to defend the kingdom.
  • Mercenaries: The group is gathered by a patron to accomplish a specific job. Their incentive to trust one another is their  handsome pay for a job well done. It is easy to add new members to this kind of group.
  • Powerful Patron: The group may be outfitted or sponsored by a powerful patron such as a nobleman, archmage and so on. In a group of this sort, all its members should be loyal to their lord.
  • Religious Order: In this group, most if not all of the members belong to the same religious order. Their goals and missions must fit with the faith’s belief system and priorities. If a party member is not of the same faith as his fellows he must have a compelling reason to travel with the group (and for the group to trust him).
  • Self Interest: The adventuring band could form in the crucible of battle. Perhaps individually the adventurers are travelling with a merchant caravan or resting in an inn when it is attacked.  The group must bond to survive.
  • Strangers in a Strange Land: Perhaps the adventuring group forms in a distant land and its members band together because they are the only foreigners in the vicinity. The party could be comprised solely of a specific race – such as a group of dwarves adventuring in a human land – or simply be strangers banded together for self protection. Escaped slaves and shipwrecked travellers make an excellent nucleus for an adventuring group.

Help Fellow Players!

The list above is by no means comprehensive. Does your group have other motivations to adventure? Did I miss something blindingly obvious? Tell us what they are in the comments below and help other players add depth to their roleplaying!

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “Players Advice: Why Are You Adventuring Together?

  1. My group was formed when a horde of zombies attacked the music festival we were all attending/performing at. We found and defeated the evil necromancer who created them and then we learned about more problems/enemies and decided to go after them.

  2. One of my favorites was the party were all pall bearers at the funeral of a Duke they were related to. They had to carry the casket into the family crypt in a seaside cave. When they came out a Sea Hag riding a broom harassed them, repeatedly asking for “The MacGuffin”. Of course over a dozen character levels later they learned that the item in question was in the crypt, buried with the body they had carried in there:)

    for those that aren’t familiar with the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin

  3. These are some good ideas to help the group stay cohesive or band together. It is really tough when a group doesn’t have the means or motivation to work together.

    Some of the favorites I have used.
    Prisoners
    Slaves
    Thespians
    Outcasts

  4. My 2ED Al-Qadim group was started as a bunch of kids from the same mountain village who were seized by slavers. They were freed by a local iman and a cell of holy slayers. Fast forward a year: 3 are involved with the temple that freed them and the other 2 are still in town. Instant party!

  5. I’m in the very early stages of planning out an all-drow campaign group, knowing full well some of the pitfalls of the drow behaviours relates to the treatment of those of their own race.

    Is the reason the group start out together something the group should come up with? Or is it okay for the GM to select this (even if it adapts and twists over time)?

    • I would definitely have your players’ input in this. If they can get behind and buy into the reason for the group being together they’ll be much less likely to slaughter each other at the drop of a hat (assuming you are playing evil drow). As the GM, though, you should feel perfectly within your rights to make some suggestions as to why the group is together–something that feeds into the main focus of the campaign would be ideal.

      Good luck!

      • I once had a character that was part of a military group. We were thrown together into a company and had to learn to get along with one another. Our platoon was sent on simple missions at first then we moved up to a large quest.