Name some of your best Party Origin methods


We all know the trope of "everyone meets at the inn" for Day 0 party formation, but have you seen better ways of playing this out? Or do you just write a backstory for the way everyone met? I like to actually play out how the party meets because it lets the group form bonds on their own and builds unity. But I hate the awkward "Everyone introduces themselves" too. Has anyone seen it done in a particularly interesting way?

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All players awaken in the same unlocked jail of a dungeon. No one remembers their past (class abilities and skills are "muscle memory). People seem to hunt them for something they did, but they do not remember what. The party work together to escape the dungeon and the nearby village and figure out what in hell is happening.


I don't like the prisoner background. "All the PCs are the survivors of a shipwreck/plane crash/failed hybernation chambers" works better for me. Also, the idea that they are professionals and hired for a job and have to work together is a nice easy way to get them together.


Summoned by the King/Noble/Dragon etc... I had a game where the local dragon was in hiding and needed heroes to help him. The PCs received the summons instead.

A cursed Deck of Many Things was supposed to bring a 4th level fighter to help out, but brought 4-1st level PCs instead.

Lately I have been letting the players tell about their backstory and how they all met before getting to the adventure. The last one is the Stormwreck Box Set and the PCs all ended up on a ship heading north for various reasons before is crashed.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Has anyone seen it done in a particularly interesting way?

So, I saw this one in a one-shot game of Feng Shui, but there is no reason why the technique cannot work for any other game.

In media res to a moment of crisis: "You all are falling, plummeting really, from 30k+ feet. You look back and see the airliner you jumped out of above you. You see the bad guys opening their parachutes below you. You don't have a parachute.

Roll for initiative."

Play through the scene until the PCs are all on the ground. Then cut to scene change: "Three days earlier", and begin the adventure that leads to that scene.

Yes, it is a touch railroady. Nobody minded that.


I tried to have a mega overplot once and started 3 campaigns the same way like some sort of Groundhog Day. The intent was to have a BBEG controlling time and each new group of PCs were trying to fix it. Each campaign went on its own way and did things which some was connected to the overplot. It fizzled out before I could pull the curtain back. A couple players did mention on the third time the same group of goblins were hiding in the same place for the ambush that something might be going on. I guess a partial win.


Uncomfortably diegetic
The OSR game Beyond the Wall probably has my favorite approach, with the characters as young adults from the same village, and every PC using a playbook that helps randomly create connections between the characters.

My current game had the PCs as prisoners in a labor camp, who were then shipwrecked on an island.

I genrally start my games at higher levels, so I pretty often have the characters simply be experienced adventurers who have been in a party together for a while.

I have a hearty dislike of the "You're all strangers who have met each other in a tavern and decided to go dungeon diving" trope, so I try to avoid it whenever possible.


Dragon Lover
The campaign I am currently DMing had the players crash land on this proto-world long thought lost by the gods and other beings of the greater multiverse, and deciding to venture out from the small off world settlement they were recovering in to explore the greater world, deciding to do it together because several heads are better then one.

A standard beginning for my group has always been that we have been individually invited by a third party to do a job together, and each member was chosen because of their skills, or reputation, or some other reason that could prove important to the client. Sometimes one of the players acts as the liaison for the mission, other times the DM has an NPC for us to meet for the mission. Sometime the job goes well and the group, seeing the potential for more jobs/money/power, continues to work together to fulfill future contracts. Other times things go wrong and the party must stick together in order to protect our own hides from the slighted parties, or to get revenge on a backstabbing patron.

We have also done the typical origin of all of us happening to enter a town where something goes horribly wrong and our characters end up forming a makeshift team to try and fix said problem. One time it was a town getting attacked and we all jumped in to help defend it, another time a strange disease causes the town to be put under lockdown and our characters try to find the cause or a cure in order to help save people/get us out of the lockdown so we can leave.

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