Tempted to start my players without a ship and give them an opportunity to steal one. Only issue is without a ship what is holding the PC’s together? What are they as a group at the beginning if not a crew of space adventurers? Anyone have good non-ship openings?
I generally prefer starting with the assumptions that PCs already know and work together a little. Having to “bring the party together” always feels awkward for me.
The last SWN game I started I had all the PC's tell me why they might have angered a powerful company. I started them out without them knowing each other, but in a death-trap (placed there by the 'EvilMegaCorp'), that they would have to work together to get out alive. It worked out well
Planetside salvage team who manages to find or piece together a way offworld
... Or prisoners escaping a space station together.... Or evacuees from a disaster thrown together by circumstance....
As a GM I also feel awkward bringing the party together. So, my usual approach these days is to have players tell me how all their characters know each other or, at least, their relationship to a situation that brings them together. Like
, I might have some overall premise players should adhere to, but I generally place the burden on them.
For example, in the first adventure to kick off a fantasy campaign a well known and much loved cleric was missing. I asked players to come up with reasons why their PCs would want to find out what happened to the cleric, and how all the PCs happened to contact each other and meet up at the local tavern to share information and plan next steps. Most of my player explanations were pretty straightforward, and not all of them were particularly deep, but it was enough to get things going.
In your case +Chris Wolf , during character creation I might say "I'd like to start off the campaign in which the party doesn't start a ship but will have the opportunity to get one. Why are all of your PCs sticking together?" The players will come up with something serviceable enough to get the campaign rolling.
– I have had luck with that approach too. Last couple sci-fi campaigns I ran (based in the Mass Effect setting), I started by suggesting to players that they might be crew of a Spectre's ship, a smuggling and salvage team, an exploration and research team, or agents of The Shadow Broker, or something else they suggested. (They went Shadow Broker-turned-Cerberus in the first game, and freelancer/smugglers in the second.)
Another option is to say the group was a ship's crew, but the ship got destroyed (or even starts the campaign on its last legs, like right in the middle of an evacuation).
I always have the party members pick one of the characters and they define how they know them for me. I usually end up getting a couple of adventures out of the back stories.
I like the Mongoose Traveller rule: get an extra skill level (so, Level 0 becomes Level 1 in SWN, or no skill becomes Level 0) if the players can connect two or more characters together.
I've had groups start with ships, and without. Depends on the game you're playing. I liked starting without, as it makes the players hustle a bit: they had to do a job in order to raise the cash to get the parts and passage to the ship that one guy had stashed away in an asteroid. It needed lots of repairs, and the transit in-system via slowboat became a bit of an adventure itself.
As david heard said (not able to find him as +), start somewhere around the table and ask, how do you know the person next to you? Continue around the table. Both players must agree. The dynamics the players choose can surprise you.
You beat me to it, +Josh Peters - I was going to bring up Mongoose Traveller, too. Choose two events from your background history which other PCs were involved in and gain a relevant skill level for each event. If everyone spreads their connections evenly, then each character has established relationships to four other characters (the two from your events, plus two others who put you into their events), which should be enough to keep the group together even if a few PCs die and need to be replaced.
I think it's on the players to figure out why they are together. You have the rest of the sector to worry about.
Thanks all! Good thoughts.
Ask the players how do their PCs know each other and why are they staying together. This is a collective responsibility, not only the the GM's.