Introducing new characters:
In my experience as both a player and a DM, groups do not stay stagnant for long. At some point someone wants to invite another friend to join or another player has to leave. As parties change size it is important to find a compelling reason for new characters to join the party. You could just plop a character in the middle of the story or magically have them appear, or retcon them into the group. Honesty as the DM it is your call.
D&D is as much about killing monsters as it is story telling. Dropping a character into the party randomly does not feel like good storytelling. In the two different groups that I DM, I have added 4 total characters to the groups. In my home group I spent time working with the new player to gain an understanding of their backstory, who they want their character to be. I spend time sharing a little of what is ahead, not in detail, but enough to allow them a glimpse into the story and the group dynamic. Spending this time with each player allowed for a better storytelling mechanic as an introduction.
My home group just started on the “Curse of Strahd” campaign. The opening scene to this adventure was a confrontation with Strahd, who easily defeated the group. We ended one session with the entire party unconscious. When I planned this I always intended for them to somehow end up inside a shelter of some kind. We had a player who wished to join, and they sat in on the session to get an idea of where they could fit. Thankfully this player chose to be a Bard! The Bard class has a spell that allows them to create a hut.
The characters awoke in the next session inside a strange hut, hearing an unfamiliar voice singing outside. The details of the new Bard fit with where I wanted to take the party, we tweaked a couple of details and our new character shows up in a mysterious, but story driven way.
In part 5 of Crusaders and Dragons we introduced two new characters. In this case I knew that the party was heading toward a camp and it would be a good spot to introduce characters. When the gates to Camp Vengeance open, the new characters Wandsa and Jeska are pretty much the first people that the party sees. An NPC is quick to share that these two new characters are on a similar mission.
In both examples of character introduction I didn’t have to go very far out of my way to weave in the introduction into the story. While you can spend time creating an epic entrance, which makes the new player feel more powerful and special, it is not necessarily the way you need to go. If your party is visiting a tavern, there may be a character that has heard of their exploits, or perhaps one that seems to be leaning too close for comfort listening to them talk. Simple tropes could easily bring in a new character. The important detail in all of this is that your players enjoy the game.
We pick up this session immediately after the Crusaders have healed the most critically injured and sick in Camp Vengeance, which is not at all what Mara Hill wished for them to do. However, their assistance to the camp earned them enough good will that Mara was compelled to release them (if anything she threw them out of the camp).
Attempts to acquire additional soldiers from the camp are declined, and Mara gets more and more angry as the interaction goes on. The Crusaders, and their new friends Jeska and Wandsa, leave the camp, spending about 15 minutes trying to steal a boat from the camp. Most of the camps soldiers choose to turn a blind eye and eventually Bryce slices the rope and they head off.
They travel down the river for hours, the sun beating down on them, making the journey uncomfortable. Eventually they spot some ruins on the eastern bank and decide to investigate. Wandsa shares that she senses some sort of magical aura in the ruins, and decides to channel detect magic to help pinpoint it. Alex talks to crocodiles before they dock and explore the ruins.
They quickly discover that some of the flora are carnivorous, Bryce is lured and then trapped inside of a Mantrap, which the Crusaders quickly deal with, freeing their friend. The next area they are not so easily fooled and deal with dangerous plants from afar. The crusaders climb out of the garden onto a terrace, however as they reach the top of the stairs the hear a clicking noise coming from multiple trees. It appears something is watching them!
What is hiding in the trees? Is the soul monger hidden in these ruins? Tune in next time to find out what shenanigans the crusaders get into next!
-Manderson, the Son of Mander
Curious about our adventures? Check out the replay of the episode below!