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I have had an annoying issue where all my players make characters that don't adventure and have jobs! This makes it really hard to incorporate them into the story and gives them very little backstory (as they want to never have met the rest of the party).

How do I get the players to stop this and go adventuring?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ they dooo ignore plot hooks Mike Q, and by "deal with" i mean to get them to adventure. KorvinStarmast thank you, the edit is helpful. Also thanks for the idea Premier Bromanov \$\endgroup\$ May 20 '18 at 20:35
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You aren't playing the same game.

It sounds like you and your players are virtually playing different games, or at least very different styles.

As with so many other questions, the answer is talk to them, but the specific question you need to answer as a group is "What style of game are we playing?" and potentially related "What system should we use?"

It seems you expect to play with a group of adventurers that go off exploring and killing things. Which is fairly stereotypical and common for D&D.

It sounds like your players are looking for something else. Perhaps intrigue within a small area. D&D can support that, though there are other systems that might be better. Mage: The Awakening characters for instance often have day jobs and often focus on city level events. Entire chronicles can be run without leaving the city or abandoning a day job.

Either of these play styles can work very well, but everyone needs to be on the same page about it. So you need to discuss everyone's expectations about the type of game you will be running.

Get everyone together

This is a tangent from your core question, but you mentioned they want to have never met.

This is not inherently a problem, but you do want to get them all together quickly. How you do that depends on the type of game you intend to run.

For an exploration/adventure game, I often declare by fiat that they all know each other and even that they have already formed a group working together. They may choose to flesh out how or not.

For a more intrigue based game, I often create a reason they all come together in the first session. Perhaps some powerful or wealthy quest giver summons all of them and directs that they work together. Perhaps they are simply all called to the same social event where they may choose to work together as problems arise, or work against each other.

But regardless of how you do it, an in-person game will work better if you force all characters into the same place very early in the process.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A popular (with DMs) start to such a campaign is to have the characters meet in jail, arrested on trumped-up charges. By the time they have escaped and worked out who dislikes them all, they should be used to working together. \$\endgroup\$ May 21 '18 at 8:09
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What you need is a thing known a plot hammer, the favored tool of DM's with players who don't want to follow the adventure you want them to.

Some ideas to try:

  • Their home town/city is attacked and they find themselves in the same group fleeing for safety.
  • They are wrongly accused of a crime and are sent off to work in a mine for the rest of their lives. They find themselves in the same cage together and eventually an opportunity to escape arrives.
  • A mysterious occurrence happens and they are teleported together to a place they've never seen or heard of.
  • They all have jobs? Find a reason for some wealthy person to have need of people with their skill sets.
  • An invading army is coming and they are conscripted into service. They get chosen for special duties due to their lack of experience as soldiers.
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Let them have their jobs and their backstories

Assuming you're all on the same page with what you want your campaign to be (if not, get on the same page), you need to craft a reason everyone is together.

If you take a look at many adventure stories, they are often filled with parties that don't know each other, characters with their own separate backgrounds, and even non-adventuring characters that get sucked into the action. Having characters that aren't adventurers makes for a compelling story (and it seems your players agree)

Think of Bilbo Baggins. Never did anything exciting, never went on any adventures. And then adventure is thrown in his face. It's practically Deus-ex-machina'd into his face, and you can be just as blunt as that if you wish. Think of Paul Atreides, nobility thrust into godhood by circumstance. There are a myriad of examples for each character type you can use.

But here's the fun part...

Let your players be involved with the reason they are together

A lot of DMs like to begin a campaign with a "session zero", where you roll characters, get on the same page, create backstories, and generally talk about what you want the campaign to be or what you want your characters to do. I'd advize a similar strategy and you can do this midway through your campaign if you need to. Have a session where people explain their characters, motivations, and what they want their characters to do in the long term and make a point that you're trying to bring them together on an adventure. Because while you cannot modify PC backstories, your players easily can. Collaborate on a reason everyone comes together, a conflict that forces the party to assemble, and where you hope to go with it. I'd also recommend having one or two ideas of your own to submit before you start the session to see if people can work into it.

Collaborative story telling is really fun, and the more your players can be involved with the story, the better. Its one thing to be along for the ride, it's a whole other thing to help build and explore the story. You'll find too that even in many cases where the DM has absolute control over the story, you often talk about sessions in between sessions, and your DM gleans ideas from your conversations. This is the same idea, but more explicit.

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I would recommend talking to them outside of the table. If that doesn't work then give them some crisis that slightly debilitates them and shoves them into the adventure. That way they will understand that they gotta adventure.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if railroading the party is a good thing, that might make them not want to play at all. If you can save the game by changing the system then that might be the best place to start. Of course talk to them first is a good idea, but shoving them into something they don't really wanna do feels almost counter-productive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thatguy
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thatguy In this case, it appears the only way to get the adventurers off of top dead center ... a little railroad here and there isn't bad. It's when it's all railroad that it becomes a problem. We advertise that we embrace all playstyles here. \$\endgroup\$ May 20 '18 at 16:10
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Don't start at the beginning.

You don't need to start at the beginning of their adventuring lives - you can jump into the action after they've been at it a few years. When I start off a new campaign, I don't usually say "everyone make characters". I give a bit of a brief, precisely so this problem doesn't crop up. Something like:

"You have had a run-in with the authoritarian theocracy that rules the nearby lands, and have had to leave the area. You eventually hooked up with a band other people who'd also run afoul of the law."

or

"You are working with or for a mercenary band operating out of the Golden Islands, and have been participating in the internecine wars of the archipelego for the last few year."

or

"After Ravensgate was destroyed by the invading horde, there has been a constant stream of refugees to the more secure lands of the interior. For whatever reason, you find yourselves among them.

I find this gives the players a few hooks to use to build an interesting character, with a connection to the campaign, as well as getting all the players in roughly the same geographic area.

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