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Bringing New PCs into an Existing Group

About two weeks ago I was talking to Ben over at Ben’s RPG Pile and we decided to co-write an article outlining a variation on the cooperative party building method.  What follows is the result of our collaboration, in which Ben did most of the work… Thanks Ben!

You Look Questworthy!

Hello, My Name is…

New character introductions are a common conundrum for any DM. The scene is ripe with tantalizing role play but sadly, it often becomes a drive-thru experience. Well, not anymore. It’s time to take a stand.

Thankfully, DM Samuel has already shared his wisdom when introducing an entirely new group of characters to one another. You can even listen to it unfold here (click link when new page loads).

So, as a fun follow-up, let’s now turn our attention to adding some new individuals to an already existing group. We’ve got some helpful player interaction recommendations and a series of friendly role play-inducing questions to ensure you get the most out of this bountiful opportunity.

The Rules

As the DM, you certainly want to give the group as much role playing flexibility as possible but a few ground rules never hurt. In terms of places, you have the right to veto a name or setting that does not fit within your campaign. Also, handing out characteristics that negatively impact or unnecessarily make fun of a character in a hurtful way is a bit overboard so remind the group to keep it fun and light.

The Scene

Your party has narrowly escaped a dastardly battle. Only three of the six characters now remain. The start of the next game session will require an introduction of these “replacement” PCs to the group.

The Prep

As DM, you will need to pull the players aside ahead of time and prepare them for the next session. You will remind them that their PCs know absolutely nothing about this new group. It’s important that the surviving PCs play off the initial answers from the new characters. Do a couple Q&A examples.

Encourage them to play loose and have some fun. You can pass them this handy handout and nudge them to utilize some or all of these questions. The survivors must establish trust and credibility in order to welcome anyone into the group.

The Questions

The surviving player’s PCs will be asking some of the following questions of the new PCs.  The DM’s role here is that of the moderator. For example: Ask the players to clarify or expand upon their answers as needed. Point out a question if the situation calls for it.  Make suggestions if a crew member freezes or looks lost. Encourage players to make up their own questions. Also, allow the “new” PCs to ask questions of the “recruiting” group as well.

Q: How do you know each other?

Q: From where on our map do you hale? (show a map while asking)

Q: Who in your group is the bravest, hardest hitter, sneakiest, most temperamental, etc?

Q: Who is the leader of your group? (leader in personality, not DnD 4e role)

Q: Has your group lost any members? How? Why? (ask follow-up questions here)

Q: Do you have a hated enemy? Who is it? Why?

Q: Is your group on a quest of your own? What is it that you seek?

Q: Any wacky quirks about which we should be worried or made aware?

Q: Have you seen or heard of [existing story clues – places, people]?

Q: Why should we deem your group trustworthy?

Q: What is your greatest challenge as a group?

Q: Who/What is the most powerful foe you have bested?

Note: To establish background, an existing party member could ask any of the above questions to the new characters. However, any of the questions here can easily be a two-way street, and the DM should encourage this as an interaction between PCs, not simply an interview.

These questions make sense, right? Why not give it a try? Surely, you want to avoid these common Meta Gaming traps:

As you walk down the hallway, you bump into another party. Names are quickly exchanged. Treasure-split terms are set. You continue walking down the corridor.

Or…

You are sitting in the tavern and two men enter.  They are obviously skilled adventurers.  They approach you and explain that they are looking for a job.  You agree to let them join your group.

Remember, role playing is the responsibility of the player and the DM – not the edition of D&D you’re playing. It’s time to take a stand.

About the Guest Author

Ben Bertrandt is the co-founder of Gamers’ Inn in Mesa, Arizona. He also co-created and currently maintains Ben’s RPG Pile – a social network of D&D gaming goodness. You can enjoy his weekly blog of product reviews, watch a how-to video on YouTube and read his endless banter on Twitter.

I’m quite happy with Ben’s take on adding new players to your game – try it out and let us know what you think.  And if you enjoyed this article, go check out Ben’s site – you won’t be disappointed, I guarantee it!

Until next time, DM Samuel and Ben wish you good gaming…

~DM Samuel

About

DM Samuel is the Editor-in-Chief here at RPG Musings as well as the podcast editor for The Tome Show. He is also a host of the gaming podcast Play on Target. He plays all manner of role-playing games and boardgames and continues to learn new games all the time (and new things about old games, too). Sam lives in Upstate New York with his wife and their game collection. You can follow him on twitter @DMSamuel.

6 Responses to “Bringing New PCs into an Existing Group”

  • Great post, Sam and Ben. Perhaps next time, my groups won’t have to resort to “You seem trustworthy…”

  • […] DMSamuel’s Website (RPG Musings, and the article mentioned: Post with Ben) […]

  • […] out the excellent article“Bringing New PCs into an Existing Group” […]

  • […] Cooperatively adding a new PC to an existing group from RPG Musings […]

  • […] with FATE in general, as we were) but dynamic. Aiding that was something I have SHAMELESSLY stolen from DM Samuel of RPG Musings infamy, which was basically a sort of interactive questionnaire to easily and […]

  • […] Cooperative Party Building Revisited […]