Shockingly, the ladies of Team Bounty Hunter didn’t spring into existence upon meeting The Heroes. If you’ve been paying attention, you already caught a glimpse of their origin story back in “Dropping Some Knowledge.” In retrospect however, we thought it deserved more attention than a belated update. That’s because first impressions are crazy important, and their effects reverberate throughout a campaign.

When it comes to the setup in session one, everybody at the table has an agenda. GMs want to show that they’re more creative than “you all meet in a tavern.” Players want to establish their intraparty relationships. New groups want to make a good impression with an unfamiliar table of gamers, and characters want to advance their personal goals. There’s a lot of pressure to get all the gears to align, and it’s easy to psyche yourself out.

As is so often the case, a well-designed session zero can come to the rescue here. Taking the time to bring all stakeholders into the planning phase of the campaign gives players and GMs alike a sense of ownership, and is an easy way to build enthusiasm coming into session one. Take my group’s Dead Suns game. It may be an AP, but that didn’t stop my players from comparing notes and creating a unique take.

“So,” I said. “Did any of you guys know each other before the adventure?”

“Sure!” they chorused. “We all did!”

“Well then how did you meet?”

“We’re journalists! We work for the National Enquirer!”

“What? I mean, there isn’t a National Enquirer per se…”

“There is now! We’re gossip journalists! We’re joining the Starfinder Society to scoop the competition! We’re desperately poor because of all the libel lawsuits!”

There was laughter, back-and-forth brainstorming, and a crazy amount of creative energy in the room. It helped that we were planning this during the 2017 solar eclipse and were all in the mood for a sci-fi game, but I think that the group-sourced concept made all the difference. Getting everyone to buy into a unique premise transformed a standard-issue adventure into our adventure. It’s the same if you decide that you’re mystery-solving teens, part owners in a traveling carnival, or press-ganged students at Miss Spine Eater’s School for Unruly Young Ladies. Collaboration is key in TRPGs, and it’s a wise group that fosters that sense of teamwork from the start.

So how about it, guys? Have you ever created the premise for your campaign as a group? What crazy concepts did you come up with? Let’s hear about your wackiest opening premises down in the comments!


ARE YOU AN IMPATIENT GAMER? If so, you should check out the “Henchman” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. For just one buck a month, you can get each and every Handbook of Heroes comic a day earlier than the rest of your party members. That’s bragging rights right there!