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.
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!