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The Heroic Spark

by Mike on 29 April 2024

Here's an easy house rule to streamline the integration of a new character into an existing group. When the new character shows up, state:

"Looking into their eyes, you see their heroic spark – noting them as a stalwart and trustworthy fellow adventurer."

This statement bypasses 20 minutes of narrowed-eyed suspicion, threats, and in-world paranoia as your current characters decide whether to trust this new adventurer to join their group. You, as players, all know exactly why this character suddenly showed up deep in the dungeon.

Player characters are special. They have an actual human being behind them – one seeking to make their character the central focus of their take on the story. They're not just some disposable NPC or monster the characters happened across.

We can clarify the heroic spark and get back into the action instead of wasting time building trust in a group when we all know how it's going to end – of course we trust them. They're the player character of Pat, whose former character got thrown off of a 150 foot deep cliff into a pool of boiling mud. We know why they're here. Let's skip the trust building. You look into this new character's eyes and can see them as a stalwart and trustworthy fellow adventurer.

Unless everyone agrees, your game shouldn't hinge on these sorts of inter-party trust questions. If this sort of trust-building is part of the game, discuss it with your players during your session zero.

Seeing the heroic spark also doesn't bypass the need for the character to introduce themselves, talk about their background and goals, and give the other players an understanding of who they are and what they want. That's important too.

But let's bypass the tedium of taught bowstrings and intimidation checks and get the new character into the group.

Show characters the heroic spark of new companions joining their group and get back to your adventures.

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