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Not Another Tavern! Creating Engaging TTRPG Openings

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

We open in a basement of a long abandoned farmhouse. Our cast each know the events prior to their waking here but not where they are. Footsteps are heard upstairs and one of the crew spots a door through the darkness and directs one of their new companions to break it open so they might all find their freedom. The planks snap and they are bathed in the green tinted light of the forest surrounding them, their journey has begun.





I never start my campaigns in a tavern. Not because it’s overdone (although yes, it is a stereotype for a reason) but because I want my players to start working together and relying on each other right out the gate. This kind of opening sets the precedent through story that they are expected to work together and gives them an instant feeling of accomplishment through doing so.


 

There are countless ways to execute this kind of opening but a few rules I like to apply to it:


1– Have limited to no NPC involvement:


I prefer for the players to not have NPCs to lean on for support for the opening of their game, if an NPC is involved I suggest they be part of the problem or too weak to help the party.




2– If it includes a combat task have it against non humanoid combatants (or

at the very least undead) :


If you’re trying to establish a combat heavy game, or trying to introduce combat mechanics to this new set of players who need to learn how their powers will mesh together it’s better to not give them an easy opportunity to talk their way out of the situation. This is also likely to keep party members from having a good reason to avoid the combat for moral reasons.




3– Try and make it a multi step process:


It is best if multiple group members are able to help solve the problem, or at least if the problem be open enough that it might be approached in different ways. This will allow more than one player to have a natural introduction. It will also encourage conversation and cooperation between the group which is what we are trying to endorse.







To get you started we have created a 20 option table, roll or read for inspiration on how to start your new campaign or one-shot:





<- Download the entire table for FREE here.



When we open our campaigns like this we are also more welcoming and aware of each different person’s play style. The players are put in a position to play immediately regardless of their willingness to roleplay introductions or their understanding of how the game works. Some people do love to introduce their characters and start roleplaying right away but for other people that doesn’t come so easily. These kinds of openings mix roleplay with problem solving and stat usages so everyone can introduce how they might benefit the group without having to speak in character if they prefer not to.


This also helps parties of people who might be less familiar with one another break the ice naturally. However, regardless of if you're a seasoned group of friends who play TTRPGs every week or a brand new table starting on their first adventure we recommend shaking up the way you start your campaign by introducing problem solving and ability usages right from the start.


 


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Pantsless Chap
Pantsless Chap
Nov 03, 2021

I think my favorite Not a Tavern! roll is 8. You get to fight rats (maybe), and it gets the party working together on something obviously circumstantial. Build that foundation for a team! I like it. I want to test it out.

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