In previous posts I shared my thoughts on some of the steps that I go through when crafting a new campaign. Now I want to impart some of my ideas on how you kick things off and get the players hooked on what the campaign is going to be about. I have already written before about the importance of giving the players some built in motivations for their characters and basic background information for them to frame their characters around. When we created the characters we used that session to establish the relationships they may have with one another and provide more detail about the setting and their individual backgrounds. I have definitely been guilty of "murder hobos meet in a tavern" in my earlier GM days and have fell back on the old "you are all from the same Kaer / Small Community" trope as well. This time I wanted things to be a bit more unique for each player, which provides its own challenge on why they would band together. I will cover that as well.
I always recommend that whatever your first session consists of, it should be both grounded in the familiar yet with filled with enough twists to keep things fresh. I mentioned before that I wanted the campaign to revolve around 3 themes, and that the themes were tied to 3 of the "main" characters. For Novice characters there is only so much you can do to challenge the players, so a lot of what you want to do at first is develop the world and give them a mystery to solve. For some of your players you will be introducing them to they system and setting for the first time. For some you may only be introducing them to a new rule set. I already laid the groundwork that the various allies of the Player Characters can tie them all together. On this particular adventure I chose Amuze' and Jolon as the focal points because of their association with the Trading House Achura. Achura would have reason to seek out adepts and hire them, so I was able to introduce the others with the promise of silver and a chance to begin their adventuring.
The tried and true, albeit, familiar entry level method of fantasy adventuring is the Caravan Guard job. It's easy to grok for the players. It lets ANY person that has ever played a fantasy game go in with the expectation that SOMETHING will attack the caravan, allowing them to get familiar with the combat system. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a great entry level adventure idea and simple to execute. The problem is of course that if you have ever played an RPG in ANY form, you have done this before. I knew I had to twist it up a bit. I decided to bring the players very quickly into a mystery and some of the politics of Travar. The job they were being publicly sent on was to ensure that caravan of trade goods would make it to the mining community of Kaer Blackrock and back. The real reason was to go and investigate the disappearance and attacks of other Achura caravans. I also let it be known that similar minerals mined from Blackrock were being traded by a rival of House Achura at prices that were undercutting them. I wanted to establish three ideas before I even sent the team on their first adventure.
1. This was going to by a mystery/investigation adventure. They were going to be integral to gathering information for House Achura about what may be happening to their caravans.
2. By making this an Achuran operation, and having a character whose background was Achuran, I established a party leader. Leadership can evolve naturally, but by making someone responsible for "making the call" right off of the bat it tends to streamline the analysis paralysis that happens when a group does everything by consensus.
3. I let slip a bit of info that sets up a potential enemy, this rival House to Achura may bear some responsibility for the misfortunes. It puts something on the radar for the players to at least inquire about on their travels. In my mind I know whether this is a Red Herring or if there is truth to this, but it gives the players some base line to start their investigation.
With a goal to achieve, a decision maker in place, and a potential foe in mind, they are ready to set out and begin their adventures. In the next post I will discuss what I feel are appropriate challenges for 1st Circle characters and how I set up encounters and frame the adventure.