In every campaign I run, I look for new/unique (to my players) ways to bring my players together at the start. I love reading about these from other players as well, so I thought I would share a few of mine.
This second idea (see the first) is one I used for my very first 4th Edition campaign.
Last Man Standing
The first game of this campaign began with me describing the troubles facing a small town. Compounding the ordinary issues that befall many small towns was an issue that many were not facing… regular trouble with Goblins.
The town was constantly harassed by them, or at least those on the outskirts were. Recently, it had become hard to recall a night were a farm was not raided, or cattle not stolen/killed. In fact, there were occasions recently where the Goblins had become so bold as to sneak their way into this small town to raid very specific targets. Of course this was very troubling – Goblins using excellent tactics, and showing great restraint to achieve very specific goals.
The problem was that while these incidents were occurring more and more frequently, nothing was ever done about them – at least nothing of any significance. The local guard appeared either reluctant or were too inept to act.
Everything came to a head one night when a large raiding party swept into town and began what would be a days long run of destruction. This consisted mostly of careless destruction, but was coupled with spurts of sophisticated tactics aimed at taking out key targets important to the defense of the town (of which there were very few).
Unfortunately for the players they all found themselves caught in this town with no immediately clear way to escape.
They were told beforehand that they would all be starting in the same small town. They knew which town and where it was located. I had also told them to think about what had brought them to this town – it was completely up to them. After my description of the events above, I confirmed what they had began to assume… this town being assaulted was the town they were all in.
I described how the local guard (led by a man whose name I don’t recall) reacted to the attacks almost immediately by going to few Inn’s and Taverns and strongly suggesting that any who could SHOULD be out helping defend the town. This call went up throughout the town and the players indicated that if they heard this, they would indeed go to help.
With that, I described how the young fell first, followed by the weakest, and that after two nights at the edge of town they had been pushed into the town proper. Fights were now taking place in alleys or even within various building themselves.
Finally, I described how the numbers (around the PC’s) began to dwindle until the four of them found themselves barring the doors of a random building, fighting off Goblins to do so.
“And so here you find yourselves, just the four of you, trapped in a building somewhere in town. The Goblins you were fighting seem to have given up on trying to get through the doors and by the looks of it, through nearby windows, have decided to move on to easier targets… what’s the plan now?”