D&D 5E Official material to help character motivation/party cohesion

Cruentus

Adventurer
I agree with @delericho about having a very simple baked in group reward element.

The other thing is that we DON’T do elaborate backstories. Maybe where you originated, and maybe a character goal (or if you want to lean into a Bond, Flaw, Ideal), but thats about it.

The characters are together to go adventuring (since they’re first level, well, my games start there), and their backstory and connectedness builds out of the adventures they have, and the times they save each other, etc.

All of this is also managed in a Session 0 where the expectations are all laid out for the campaign. I feel like you almost have to work to cause problems as a player.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
MCDM's Kingdoms & Warfare book has a chapter on being a part of an organization with a group patron and the advantages you gain for being a part of it. You can be a...

Adventuring Party
Martial Regiment
Mercantile Guild
Mystic Circle
Nature Pact
Noble Court
Religious Order

From what I remember of how Matt Colville talked about it... this whole system is doing what it seems was being asked about (unless I misunderstood.)
 

Jeremy E Grenemyer

Feisty
Supporter
Anyway, I think that's quite enough from me, any thoughts?
I'm right there with you. I too wish WotC would produce material that helps bind individual adventurers into a proper party of adventurers.

I say this knowing the real magic is always going to be at the table. When players figure out an interesting story that brings the party together, that's always for the best.

There are some groups that don't or won't care about party backstory, of course, and all power to them because they'll hit the ground running.

So, for those who do care, what's the best kind of content? For me it's content that helps plant the characters' feet firmly in the ground of the world they're exploring. A Dungeon Master can start with a "what if?" and add an unusual situation that would occur in the game world. The situation is meant to be a sort of unifying event that binds the characters to one another.

(I spent some time thinking about this years ago. I had an idea for "party backgrounds" that didn't pan out.)

I'm not an Eberron guy (my vibe is the Forgotten Realms), but I'll give it a shot. What if the characters...
  • Wake up on an uncontrolled airship engulfed in flames, the wounded contraption on course to crash into the side of a mountain, or low-flying and about to run head on into a lightning rail unless somebody does something quick.
  • All appear out of nowhere, none of them knowing each other, in a cramped chamber dominated by a stone table with an open, glowing blue book on it that's partially concealed by the freshly dead body of a Master Inquisitive, the inquisitive's murderer just scampering out the only door of the room as the characters materialize. The characters are able to learn they were imprisoned in that book, some perhaps for hundreds of years...
  • Are all members of dragonmarked houses and wrongly convicted criminals. They didn't plan the prison uprising, but they all escaped in the conflict that nearly destroyed the place. The characters aims to prove their innocence by unraveling the scheme that ensnared them all however many years ago.

 

MockingBird

Adventurer
I look at their background, chosen or made up, and work out a underlying reason to why they chose to go off on an adventure with the individual player. My stepdaughter for example, she's a druid and we determined she has a strange book that she's partially been able to translate but needs help to translate the rest. She needs to find a scholar or a library to do more research. That's her reason for sparking out into the world. She just happens to meet the other characters who also have goals of their own. The big things that happen (the adventures we run) they stumble into. Eventually they will have the resources or info to accomplish their goals. I know this isn't ground breaking and many of you probably have way better methods but this has worked for us and it gets them engaged and gives them a "reason".
 

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