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Currently, I'm playing a campaign with a couple of friends and we're about 5 sessions in. My character has a single purpose, which is saving his mother who has disappeared. For that reason my character has traveled a long way, to the place where the story my DM picked out, starts off.

My Problem

My character was designed to be a loner assassin type, and his purpose in life at this point is saving his mother - who has suddenly disappeared and is, of course, very important to him. This makes random goblins or a succubus seem like someone else's problem even though these were put in the story to make the party come together.

The party

The party has six members, including myself. So far my DM has not given my character any reason to stick with the party. He has given my character hints, that prove the mother has been in the same town. But other than that, nothing that leads me to believe that the undead, who is ravaging the nearby towns, is the reason for her sudden disappearance.

Furthermore, he has no bond with the other party members, he just met them. At this point it would be more logical for him to go solo or hire people to help him achieve his goal.

It feels like I'm being forced to make my character go with the party against his will, because I'd have to stop playing him if he didn't.

Looking for ways around the problem

Personally, I think I made a mistake during the creation of this character in being too single-minded and being a loner type who doesn't care for the other PC's, whom he just met a couple of days ago.

He kind of misses the two things, which I think are reasons for a character to keep going down the main story or stick with the party instead of going straight for his personal goal. These reasons are bonds with other PC's or a link to the main story.

This leads me to believe I should just go back to the drawing table and create a new character with a different personal motivation to join so it will work with the main story which is now possible because of the information I now have from playing part of it. Instead of going in blind and make a personal goal which is too different from the main story, like I did with my current character.

On the other hand the DM could give me a hint (or a more obvious hint, I could have missed it), which leads my character to believe that following the current trail of bodies the undead has left behind leads to his mother.

Currently I'm trying to figure out, how I can keep playing my character without having to change his personality or his goal and stick with the party.

Are there any other ways to fix a character, other than the two options I mentioned above?

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Change Your Character (And Yourself)

It’s a crummy world in which no one ever changes. You can change your existing character in two ways if you think like an author:

  1. The other PCs barely know your character. You can objectively change things about them that simply haven’t been revealed yet. Maybe your PC always did have a soft spot for elves or whatever. Maybe they were having a real bad day in the first session because it was their missing mother's birthday or something. You can incorporate or change on the fly anything about your character or their background not yet revealed to the audience without it being causing issues with retcon.

  2. People change. Maybe one of those other PCs saves your PC from death and he, like people do, has a come to Jesus moment and decides he does care about other people and isn’t going to be such a dink. See where they need to go and move them there (like, I might add, just about any fantasy/scifi story you will consume in any medium does with their characters).

These are the obvious direct solutions. The more pro solutions (which kinda mirror the others in terms of being split along design time/play time) are:

  1. Stop designing characters that need the GM or someone else to spoonfeed you to keep them in the game. That’s not their job, it’s your job. Any overly simplistic “loner” character is not good for most games.

  2. Avoid “My Guy” syndrome. Real people are complex. There’s people I know that are single-minded but not to the point of being feral about it. You, the player, decide what your PC does in any situation, not “them.” There is no them. You make choices that contribute to the fun of the table instead of taking it away. And you justify it (frankly, or not) in your character’s mind-space however you need to.

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The DM cannot make your character care. That has to come from you.

A DM can do a lot to keep the PCs together, but there's only so far the DM can go before it straight-up becomes railroading. Since many groups (like mine) really don't like that, it falls to the players to give their characters at least some reason to keep the party together. I've been fortunate so far in that all my PCs have given me a reason for them to stick together, or at least given me something that I can use to keep them together sensibly. But if they hadn't done that, and any of them had decided their character had no reason not to leave, I can't really do much to stop that without stepping on player agency.

So what can you do?

Well, you have a few options.

1. Just have him leave.

One option, which you've already mentioned, is to have this character go ahead and leave, and roll up a new, more group-oriented character. Though this may not seem ideal, it does allow some interesting narrative opportunities down the road, as your pc now becomes an npc who is still active in the world. Crucially, it becomes an npc with personal ties to the party - it doesn't have to be anything incredibly deep to still be meaningful to that character. If the DM decides that he succeeds in saving his mother, this allows him to return. It also allows the DM to decide later that his quest eventually leads him to once again cross paths with the rest of the party.

2. Meta-game

A second option is to do as mxyzplk's answer suggests and change some aspect of your character to make him be more group-oriented. It may break your idea of the character, but frankly it sounds like you're already in that kind of situation. By forcing a loner type character with no bonds and no motive to stay in the group, you're already breaking the character. So, what do you do? Why, you meta-game!

"But, isn't meta-gaming bad?" I can hear people say, to which I reply, "SOMETIMES!" I do think that there is good and bad meta-gaming (and by "meta-gaming" I mean "using out-of-character knowledge to influence in-character actions and decisions"). Most people that I have talked to consider it bad form to use out-of-character knowledge to make things easier for the pc. Now, whether that kind of meta-gaming is good or bad is really up to the DM and the party as a whole, but that's a different conversation altogether and isn't at all the kind of meta-gaming I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about is meta-gaming used specifically to help make the game more fun for the players (including the DM). For example, it is (probably) more fun for both you and the party if everyone's character has a reason to travel together. That is out-of-character knowledge, but you can use that knowledge to make in-character decisions to make exactly that happen - whether by altering the character's background somehow or by intentionally making choices that make him become more and more attached to the other PCs. This kind of meta-gaming will keep you (the player) mindful of both your own and other players' (DM included - they're supposed to have fun too) enjoyment of the game, and is actually healthy and beneficial to the group as a whole.

And yes, as mxyzplk said earlier, this does also include recognizing and avoiding "My Guy" Syndrome.

As far as application of the principle, I might suggest making this character become attached to the party. Alternatively, you could have the character decide that, even if they're not moving as fast as he would like, that he obviously stands a better chance of rescuing his mother with the party at his side - perhaps he believes his enemies too dangerous to handle alone, and doesn't trust another adventuring group to be as capable? That way, you haven't even broken the character to make this decision!

3. Talk to your DM

Hobbamok already said it, but it never hurts to hear it again. Almost any problem in a table-top can be resolved by just talking with your DM and working out a solution with them.

And for that, I do have a few suggestions.

First, remember that it is not the DM's job to motivate your character. It is the DM's job to provide the setting and to determine the consequences of the party's actions. And to have fun, without stepping on someone else's fun. So you can ask the DM for help coming up with a stronger motivation for your character, but you cannot fairly ask the DM to come up with reasons and make your character care for you. That isn't why the DM is there, and they already have enough on their plate managing the world around the party.

So with that in mind, here is what I might do.

My first impulse would be to ask the DM to help me come up with a stronger reason to be in the party. I would come to the DM with suggestions, and let them decide on something that fits within their narrative. This might include discovering that her kidnappers are the same people the party is after, or it might involve those people killing her, turning your character's quest into a quest of personal revenge... aided by useful allies (a.k.a. The Party)! But... that second suggestion gets borderline Edge-Lord, and I don't know if that's the character you want to play.

You could also talk with the DM about the possibility of actually rescuing her before the end of the campaign, and then realizing that the Big Bad actually still poses a threat to her! That way, if your character wants to continue to protect her, he has to take down the Big Bad. This option would have the added bonus of letting the Party see him in a moment of tender vulnerability as he reunites with his mother, and those moments of vulnerability are typically what bring people closest together. Then, the DM has the choice of getting her safely out of the way while your character focuses on the long-term threat, or of having her decide to actively oppose the Big Bad, forcing your character to remain an active part of the group if he wishes to protect her.

But, don't expect the DM to come up with all of this on their own without you bringing it up. Remember, they're already creating the entire world your pc's interact with and are already playing every character that isn't a player character. That can get taxing, and it makes it difficult to come up with material to address one player character. So talk with your DM.

TLDR: You have to fix this

No matter what option you go with, you are the one who has to act on it. The DM can only do so much, and other players have no control over your character at all. Whatever action you take, whether it's to have the character leave, to change the character, or to work with the DM to give him better reasons to stay, it has to be initiated by you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I tossed in some bolding to highlight a critical point that you make in part 2 paragraph 3. That whole point, about all of the players having fun, looks to me like the backbone of your answer. Not sure if you want to add further emphasis, but that point really is important.(and the +1 came with the edit) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 22 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using out-of-character knowledge ("we're the protagonists of a story", or "I heard the DM's interaction with another player about something my character doesn't know") is different from trying to achieve out-of-character goals. I wouldn't even call that meta-gaming. There's a meta / out-of-character aspect to how you're playing your character, so meta-gaming could be a term for it, except that term already has a more specific meaning of using out-of-game knowledge about the game world to inform your actions. (And yes, sometimes that can be not a bad thing, making the game more fun.) \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Feb 23 at 2:16
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Convince yourself that this is too big for you alone. You need a dependable group of allies to help you carry this off. You looked around and found no one suitable for hire. You'll have to create your own. You have fallen in with this group and decided they will have to do. Now you have to mold them and get them skilled enough to be useful to you. You have to overcome your own tendencies toward loner-ship and learn to work with a team. I don't know if you have revealed your goal to them and if they are already committed to helping you.

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Believe it or not, you actually have a reasonable solution detailed within your question.

At this point it would be more logical for him to go solo or hire people to help him achieve his goal.

So, he does hire people. And he just so happens to have recently met a certain group of qualified adventurers to hire, thanks to the encounters with goblins and a succubus. Being a new character, he probably doesn't have enough gold to hire them immediately, but he can offer his services instead. "Assassin type" sounds like a Rogue, so maybe the party would be willing to help him find his mom if he is willing to protect them from traps and open locks while they fight the undead.

There are other potential solutions as well. Especially if he's of good alignment, he is unlikely to be happy that undead are running around killing people. Even if he's completely selfish, those undead might kill someone who has information he needs about his mom! Even if that's not the case, he could go ahead with fighting the undead in the hopes of earning renown or trust with the townspeople, so they'll help him achieve his goal.

As time goes on, he will grow a bond with the party which will keep him tied to them. Looking for mom can be a secondary but still very important goal. Who knows, maybe the party will take to it and it can become an epic sidequest.

You character can work towards his goal while also working with the party; you'll just have to be a bit flexible.

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Weird approach:

Maybe he starts to see traits/behaviors of his mother in some way so he starts to fall in love with her/idolizes her or whatever (that could turn out weird, though).

Alternative:

Talk to your DM. He runs the game so he could spread rumors that the main bad guy is kidnapping the elderly or whatever, just anything that aligns the direction of your player with the party. They have different reasons to fight BadGuy, but since they are the most trained around, instead of hiring randoms and/or going solo, your PC would naturally team up with them still.

[Maybe in the Castle of BadGuy you would want to split up and search for your mom in the dungeon, but by then the group has had enough time to bond/save each other's lives, etc. to stick together/talk the priorities out.]

Yes your character might not perfectly fit in here, but it's not like you're an evil maniac and 4 paladins; your character can fairly easily get in the group and a good DM could lay the groundwork for it.

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Here are some specific ways I think you could "change" your character and still keep him mostly the same (because as the other answers have said, you have to do something):

Your character could think that he needs money to achieve his goal. This would be the perfect motivation for him to adventure with a group. He seeks treasures/rewards.
It doesn't even have to be the best way to achieve his goal, he just has to believe it himself (maybe he could have saved her at an earlier point if he had money, maybe he grew up rich and thinks everything can be solved by money, maybe she is held for ransom, maybe he needs money to pay spies to gather information).

Or you could add that he thinks he needs to get stronger to save her. That would solve the problem of altruistic deeds of the party.

For example the paladin wants to help the poor village for free:
You could get by with just the money motivation (you owe us/pay us by working for us) but a motivation to seek challenges and become stronger (gain xp) basically fits every Story that your party could ever get tangled up in.

And then, during the adventure, he forms a bond with his group. He may even realize at some point that his friends were what he really needed to achieve his goal.

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So your character doesn't have a specific lead on where she is in the town? If not then just blindly running around or openly asking questions isn't going to help him - the people that took her are going to be hiding her from people stumbling around in the dark. They already took her so you have to assume they're better resourced than you. Also, you're mortal - that's important to remember. You're not an action move hero, though your character may badly want to be. You're a really good stealthy guy, maybe, but your blade is only going to silence so many foes. Then even if you get to your mom? You'll likely have to fight your way out while protecting her. (Also you may want to consider a little harder that your mom is involved with the undead. It'd be a fair thing to be afraid of. There's a super dangerous problem that just so happens to be in the same town as your disappeared mom? You gotta assume, clue or no, that it's very possible they have her.)

In the end your character needs 2 things (As others have said): Resources and people he can trust to help him find her and rescue her. He has the party for the latter, and for the former he needs to do things to earn resources - political, social, material, and monetary. He can do that by helping fix this undead problem even if it isn't connected. If his name, or the party's, gets out there? His mother might hear it and be able to give him a clue to her whereabouts, or it might just give her the hope she needs to survive.

To help with cohesion, and out of his desperation to get the help he needs, he can probably explain his mom's missing and it's made him kindof narrow-sighted. Most the other characters will likely even understand. They have mothers too, after all. In fact, talking to the rest of the group about details of the disappearance could be beneficial. One of them could have known your mother, or had relatives who did, or know some clue about who did it. Even better, if letting his name be known is a concern - someone might kill his mom if they know he's looking - they can help hide his name if they like him enough. The party can be your face while you stay in the shadows, because you may very well need someone for that too. It may seem early, but you're desperate and these people are good enough to be fighting undead with strangers for the betterment of others. You can trust them more than some sell-swords already and you need their help.

In the end though its as others have said: Your character's going to have to evolve, but there's no reason it should have to feel forced or unnatural either. You have plenty of evolutionary seeds planted, so harvest the ones you like. You can even keep a certain aversion to things - closeness, bawdy drinking, etc. If the group's silly? Become the 'bemused despite myself' straight man. If they're loud and unsubtle? Become the guy who hangs back and shadows and watches for dangers to them like a guardian hawk. If they're all selfish? Become the 'selfish helper' (I do for you, you do for me later) kindof character, or if they're all super caring and understanding? Then become the 'long suffering soldier in sour armor' who does things for the good of others while his own pain aches in his chest because it's what would make his mother proud of him.

Remember too, that even with that change you can still be as driven and focused as ever when a lead does come up. Get excited when it does, maybe even cut a person off with impassioned, detailed, and maybe even seemingly out-of-form questions. (Remember to apologize in character after - you'll have reason to be that intense for a moment after all, you just won't be so overly intense all the time as a tradeoff and he shouldn't want to tick off his allies).

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