Where here, it's play what you want. If the character end up fighting each other, then so be it. IME sooner or later a vaguely-coherent party emerges from the chaos, but the chaos part is fun too.
Sure, if you are looking at this as only one night in the span of years, that can make sense. When I have to wonder if I'll get ten sessions out of the group before it breaks apart due to scheduling conflicts, then we don't really have time for two or three sessions of in-fighting until we get to the story
Known each other less than an hour? Are you running AL, then, or a store game?
I only run for friends, or someone vouched for by someone already in the game.
Online, school clubs, sometimes even friends will vouch for each other, but I don't all the friends of my friends, or the person they met who said they were interested in the game.
And again, this is why I keep stressing that your way may be fine for you, but it doesn't work for everyone. I don't have the luxury of a friend group who has been playing together for years. Never have.
And while in the field act like a well-oiled team of commandoes, always doing the optimal thing in the optimal way.
Nope, not for me, thanks. Give me characters that think and act for themselves, as independent people with their own lives beyond the bounds of adventuring.
Are you not an independent person who has your own life just because your friends are part of that life? I don't give one frick about acting like commandos in the field. In actuality, they often act like fools and idiots. But the point is that many of these characters need to like each other, to be willing to risk dying for each other.
And when you reach that point where you are willing to die for the person standing beside you, you don't just write them off when you get to town as not your problem. Their dreams and ambitions become something you are invested in, because you are invested in them.
It's marketed as a team game, though IMO that marketing and in-book presentation is way too specifically geared toward the model of four players each playing one character with nobody else in the party; I say this because the game (at least, the 0-1-2-5e versions) can easily support a wide variety of party sizes, player mixes/numbers, and so forth.
It is marketed that way, because that's how people play. Sure, the 4-person team is a bit small in my estimation. I've often had 5 to 7 people. But I also know if you sit down and tell people "hey, we need six people playing two characters each to play this game" you aren't going to get a lot of bites. People want to play 1 character. Maybe they have a companion or a familiar or pet or what have you, but they have one character. For all the reasons I've laid out. And that isn't a problem.
Sure, you CAN play the way you do. But that isn't the expected baseline of the game. Just like you can play six games of chess at once against six people, but that's not how people usually play.
Where I just accept some long-term player turnover and shorter-term character turnover as being an inherent part of the game, just like rolling to hit or having classes and levels.
I'm very glad for you. However, that doesn't mean that it is unhealthy for the game to not push us towards character turnover being a major part of the game. It is fine that the game doesn't want character turn over to be a major part of the game, until the adventure or campaign is over.
The 3.x MMs were complicated, particularly once you started layering on templates. 5e's not as bad, but still reminds me a bit too much of M:tG rules. (don't start me on 4e monster design...)
Okay? At this point I don't understand if you have a point anymore.
So the hook isn't finding out about the secrets of the Lost Mines of Phandelver? 'Cause that's what it'd be for me, regardless who-what I was playing. Any character-story hooks are secondary, at least until the character's been around a lo-ong time.
No, it isn't. Maybe they want the character to learn the secret of the Lost Mines of Phandelver, but they don't care as a player. They know they could Google it if they truly wanted to know. And sure, homebrew campaigns you can't Google, but their investment in the world is based around their character. The homebrew world they are playing in is no more wondrous and mysterious than a dozen others they could be exploring. What is unique is this character, in this circumstance. That is what they care about. Those character hooks are the entire point.
If by 'planning' you mean designing out their character's 1-20 build path, good!
No, I mean planning like "I plan on saving my brother" or "I plan on being a famous swordsman" or "I plan on being part of the Council of Mages". Because it is all pointless and worthless when they know the truth is "I'll probably die in three combats" You can't have long-term plans for your character's story if you don't expect them to survive.
With us, several key backstory elements are randomly rolled during char-gen. Further background can wait until the character's shown it has the chops to stick around a while.
Good for you. When I have players who make backstories, they have goals. They have stories. They don't make the character with the idea that this person is probably going to die so it is best not to get invested.
I know you play that way. I know you enjoy playing that way. But that doesn't mean that this way I am describing is toxic to the game, or likely to kill the game.
Running away isn't winning, it's losing but surviving. If we're getting smoked with three out of eight of us down and three others on their way down, if the two remaining aren't looking to grab the nearest Flying Octopus there's something wrong. Grab what you can, get out, and find a way to avenge the dead.
I meant in terms of something like "Get that Holy Relic out of here, so they can't finish the relic." Running away with the McGuffin is winning, in that instance.
And for us, the way we play, those two aren't looking to grab flying octopi unless there is a way for them to get six more people on board. They don't want to avenge the dead, they want to prevent their companions from dying. And fleeing to save their own skin isn't seen as a good thing.
First off, I should mention that the BBEG led with loudly proclaiming "I'm here to kill [another PC] just like I did once before!" then launched into a brief monologue, so it was pretty clear accepting surrender and taking prisoners wasn't high on his agenda. He then animated about 50 skeletons to bog us all down; I-as-Thief recognized the threat and started getting out of there while he was monologuing, meaning I didn't get stuck in the mess of skeletons and could move freely (this was a mostly-open-field outdoor scene, broken up only by some low ruined walls).
Second off, in fairness they have only marginal reason thus far to care much about my Thief. She's new to the party (this is her first adventure with them) and hasn't exactly come across as a paragon of virtue (because she's not!), so yes - her death would likely mean less to them than that of any of the more established characters.
Okay? So, this doesn't change anything about how I'd have run it in my game. And it sounds like you are proving my point rather well.
If I've a 1% chance of dying while trying some longshot gambit, the risk is considerably lower than if I have a 50% or 60% or 80% chance of dying; meaning that the sense of accomplishment in both surviving and pulling off the gambit is much greater in the latter case.
And unless the opponents in the fiction would say something like the bolded in-character, I won't say it as DM out of character. Far too metagamey.
And I don't care about it being too metagamey. You can't make a meaningful decision in-character if you don't have the proper information. I'm not going to hide the situation from the players, because I'd specifically want to avoid the "if we disarm he'll just kill us". I'd be offering a choice to the players as well as the characters.
And frankly, you put too much stock in the chance of death. There are often far worse things that can happen instead of death. Getting captured and all your gear stripped away because you took a dangerous gamble and lost the party the fight can be far more devastating than "oh, thief #4 died, oh well, next dwarf up."
And, again again again again, just because we like different things in the game, just because the game is designed for a playstyle you may not like, does not mean that this playstyle is bad for the hobby. I'm trying to explain to you why it works for us, why we enjoy it, why we can look at a 1% chance of death and see a 67% chance of failure and say "okay, this is an exciting gamble" Investment in the characters is a powerful tool. And it works.