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5E Running Rime of the Frost Maiden

Phandelver is explicitly a "first time playing" adventure. Anything after that first time requires at least a little more consideration by the GM for how the party comes to be a party. "Hired to guard the caravan" is the thinnest, weakest "background" this side of "pressed into service by the Flaming Fist."

For my part, I am going to have the PCs all connected to different towns and know people in each of them so that when they go there, there's a real reason for them to care about things happening. I am also starting the PCs off at 3rd level so they will have a bit of "heroic mystique" about them, so there's a reason for locals to ask for help.
The thing is, there is no reason for the PCs to know each other, or even be in the same town. And none of the starting quests involve recruiting a group of disparate individuals to do X. They all start off by assuming the PCs are already a group, but the quests are too low level for them to already be a group, unless everyone in the party already shares a backstory.
 

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MarkB

Legend
What it lacks, from what I have read so far, is a mechanic for bringing the PCs together as a group. I'm not planning on running it for several months yet, but I guess I will have to study the backstories the players come up with and then figure it out.
I think that's deliberate. Bear in mind that the book has a set of secrets recommended to be given out to players at the start. This isn't supposed to be a cohesive team who already know each other - it's meant to be a disparate group brought together by circumstance, who very much don't yet know whether they can fully trust each other.
 

Reynard

Legend
The thing is, there is no reason for the PCs to know each other, or even be in the same town. And none of the starting quests involve recruiting a group of disparate individuals to do X. They all start off by assuming the PCs are already a group, but the quests are too low level for them to already be a group, unless everyone in the party already shares a backstory.
I don't understand the complaint. The adventure is designed for a group of PCs to come into the scenario and start fixing stuff. It is inherent in playing D&D as a group to have the players and DM figure out how everyone knows each other. The adventure doesn't need to tell you how to do that part.
 

I think that's deliberate. Bear in mind that the book has a set of secrets recommended to be given out to players at the start. This isn't supposed to be a cohesive team who already know each other - it's meant to be a disparate group brought together by circumstance, who very much don't yet know whether they can fully trust each other.
The secrets make much less likely that they would come together at all, without a strong incentive. And the adventure lacks a "circumstance".

For example, one of the starting adventures involves the players being accosted by a fisherman whilst walking along the quayside. Which would work if they already knew each other and so had reason to be walking together, but doesn't work for total strangers.
 

Reynard

Legend
I think Frostmaiden has done something Avernus did not: it has created a sense of being a "campaign sourcebook" with lots of tools for running a campaign in Ten Towns with a strong through line surrounding Auril. But it is not actually "an adventure" and for me that is a big plus. I prefer to have a location detailed with lots of things to interact with (NPCs and side quests and mini dungeons and whatever), a strong thematic element (never ending winter and the inevitable doom of Ten Towns) without forcing me to railraod the PCs from one end of the adventure to the other.

Obviously, that's not what everyone was looking for, but I'm pretty happy with it on first blush.
 

Reynard

Legend
The secrets make much less likely that they would come together at all, without a strong incentive.
I think this is a player problem. Players should be responsible for figuring out why their characters are adventuring together and why they will stay together. I really dislike lone wolf PCs in what is ultimately an ensemble story. And they need to be willing to bite the hook, too. Everyone sat down and agreed to play the adventure. The DM should not have to bend over backwards to get them to actually go on it.
 

MarkB

Legend
The secrets make much less likely that they would come together at all, without a strong incentive. And the adventure lacks a "circumstance".

For example, one of the starting adventures involves the players being accosted by a fisherman whilst walking along the quayside. Which would work if they already knew each other and so had reason to be walking together, but doesn't work for total strangers.
If you're starting them off in one of the smaller towns, there simply isn't much town to go around. If they're in the town, they're more or less together by default.
 




Reynard

Legend
If you want the knucklehead to bite the hook you need to make the bait look interesting.
Well, ostensibly the knucklehead doesn't want to get in the boat, but that's the whole reason the player showed up.

As a GM, I am adamant that players need to create characters that want to engage in the adventure/campaign at hand. I do not want PCs that refuse to work with the group or have personalities and backgrounds that drive them away from the adventure. It immediately throws up a red flag for me. Players like that view the game as about them, individually, and the story they want to tell about their character being more important than the game and group as a whole. I don't even like it when players create their PCs in isolation. I want a session 0 with everyone talking about their characters, both roleplaying wise and mechanics wise. Again, it is a group activity and everyone is responsible for supporting and contributing to everyone else's fun and the success of the game as a whole.
 

Reynard

Legend
On topic: Do we need player character secrets?

I am not convinced we do. I need to read the material more in depth but I am being hard pressed to see what benefit it will have that outweighs the likelihood of it creating intraparty conflict.
 


MarkB

Legend
On topic: Do we need player character secrets?

I am not convinced we do. I need to read the material more in depth but I am being hard pressed to see what benefit it will have that outweighs the likelihood of it creating intraparty conflict.
Yeah, I'm still figuring that out. It's mentioned that some of the adventures contain suggested triggers for some secrets, but without scouring through all of them in depth it's hard to tell how well they'll work out.

I don't feel like they're something that can last through the majority of the campaign. The players who patch into them will probably do something with them within the first few adventures, and the others will probably forget they have them after awhile.
 


Having read a bit further, Easthaven has a couple of events that could serve to bring the PCs together: a séance and a public execution. It looks like the best bet for a starting town to me.
 

On topic: Do we need player character secrets?
No, it's presented as entirely optional.
I am not convinced we do. I need to read the material more in depth but I am being hard pressed to see what benefit it will have that outweighs the likelihood of it creating intraparty conflict.
It depends on what kind of game you play. At our table character secrets are common, because otherwise they are just too nice to each other...
 

Reynard

Legend
Having read a bit further, Easthaven has a couple of events that could serve to bring the PCs together: a séance and a public execution. It looks like the best bet for a starting town to me.
I figure the PCs will be from around the area -- again, so different PCs will know different NPCs in different towns to make the transition to adventure easy in those place -- and that they will know each other in their travels etc... I haven't decided on an instigating even yet, but since I am starting off at 3rd level (my players want the survivability and completeness of character concept that comes with that) it doesn't have to be one of the two starting quests.

Relatedly, I do plan on counting XP rather than milestone leveling with this one, since it is a nice open world with lots of things to do. Even though we are starting at 3rd, I am going to make them earn all the "back XP" before advancing to 4th. They will get to feel competent while they clear the rats out of old ladies' cellars.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
On topic: Do we need player character secrets?

I am not convinced we do. I need to read the material more in depth but I am being hard pressed to see what benefit it will have that outweighs the likelihood of it creating intraparty conflict.
You don't need them, but some of them do provide solid story hooks that tie into NPCs, locations, or quests. Others are just cool. Despite the hype, none of them are actually likely to turn party members against each other in any long-term way.
 

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