Role-playing campaigns often start in a bar, public house or other public meeting space. Players take turns describing their PC in general terms, sit at the bar and wait for the plot hook to sink in to their back and adventuring begins. There is nothing wrong with this, but it feels forced and artificial. Yes, I understand the GM needs some way to get the players together, but that is no excuse for not making it more entertaining. Hence this post. I came up with a fun, if not original idea to bring my Nightbane campaign party together. Here is the setup. The evil overlord plans a massive sacrifice to kick off his invasion and sends his minions to sacrifice every living soul in a downtown Los Angeles high-rise.
Within said high-rise dwell three of the PCs. The Native American mystic has a small sub-let, one of Nightbane PCs is a teenagers (and still unaware of what he is) living with relatives and the other Nightbane is a homeless, slightly addled ex-soldier squatting in a foreclosed apartment. None of them know each other, but in comes the plot hook.
The CIA assassin.
After weeks of preparation, the PC assassin infiltrates the building on a mission. His target is a famed lawyer (also an Evil Overlord minion) that needs “removal.” Sadly, our fearless assassin chose the wrong night to visit this building…
The next events take place simultaneously, but game mechanics require I deal with each player individually. Admittedly this is not a great way to run a game with 75% of the players not playing. That said, it went relatively quick and did not seem to lag too much. My first victim is the teenage Nightbane. One of the Nightbane supplements has a mind-controlling parasite called a “Flesh Lamprey” that is always great fun. Imagine a leech the size of a poodle with tentacles that climb inside your brain. Oh, and it slowly eats you alive after gaining control. Good times.
Our poor teenagers hears a crash in the next room and a skittering, crawling sound. As he investigates, the power fails and he scrambles for a flashlight. All the while, the skittering grows closer…
Fumbling through a drawer the teenagers grabs a flashlight and flicks it on, carefully scanning the room for the skittering’s source. Initiative rolls fly and, well, the teenager did not win. His last conscious thought is horror as the lamprey leaps from the darkness, attaches itself and starts eating. The newly controlled teenager/snack shambles towards the door, heading down the hall and a date with a sacrificial altar.
The CIA assassin makes it up to the same floor as the possessed teenager. The assassin’s easy lope down the hallway stops as a man emerges from an apartment. Wearing a grey jumpsuit the assassin freezes when he sees the face…it is his face! Falling back on a lifetime of violence, the silenced 9 mm pistol slides from the holster and plants a bullet squarely in the newcomers chest, blood sprays but the doppelgänger does not stop. It furiously attacks with supernatural strength and hideous glee. More shots strike the strange being but it will not die.
Our homeless soldier (soon a Nightbane) hears the hallway struggle outside his apartment squat and investigates. A nightmare of bullets, blood and flailing fists greets him in the hallway. After watching the doppelgänger shrug off multiple bullets, the soldier enters the fray with a combat knife. Between the two heroes, the doppelgänger falls and they are left with only a puddle of melting goo and many questions.
At this moment the door opens and the lamprey-lunch teenager staggers on the scene. After recovering from shock at the pulsing nightmare attached to the teenager, the soldier and assassin strike, killing the creature. United by blood and horror, the three decide to flee the building.
Moving through the building the party comes up on two men loading an unconscious figure on a cart. Some parts of the building endured a sleeping gas attack and the last player, a native American mystic succumbed. Actually, the player failed to make a character in advance and took so long building his character I used him as another plot hook until the PC reached completion. It worked out well as it game the party an opportunity to follow the men to another floor where a sacrificial altar hungrily awaited.
Minutes later a rescue attempt lead them to the cult’s lair and the first party fight of the campaign.
I had a rough idea how to do this, but I was not certain it would work or worse, be dull. That said, it went better than expected and now the PCs had a reason to cooperate and fight together besides “the GM Said so.”
I hope you found this little tale informative and I welcome any other “party forming” ideas. Drop me a comment.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer