From publisher blurb:
In the past four decades there have been millions of words written about character creation. There are scores of books on worldbuilding, and notable volumes on fantasy adventure design. For some reason, though, little has been written about the nature of parties.
To be sure, we do talk about “party balance”, and the generally accepted “one of each” approach. The roles of a fighter, a spellcaster, a healer, and a thief are presumed to be necessary. We don’t tend to question that default much, examine why it’s that way, or consider alternatives.
The composition of a party is generally relegated to the category of character creation. Back stories are examined and interwoven, but that’s often as far as it goes. An excuse for why these disparate characters are working together, and continue to work together even when they dislike and openly distrust one another, might be cobbled together as a convenience. Rarely do we look to the composition of the party itself as a worldbuilding opportunity, or a source of ongoing story hooks.
I wrote Party Theory in order to address some of these overlooked opportunities. In these pages I draw upon things I’ve done since I first started playing 1st Edition AD&D, and found the “you meet in a tavern” trope to be weak sauce. Long before story gaming made connections between characters a standard feature, I was looking for ways to strengthen the party. Before MMO’s solidified tactical behaviors for groups and guilds, I tried to find reasons for people to form teams and work together.
To be clear, this is not a tactical book. This is about leveraging your party to create stories within your game. It’s system-agnostic, so you’re not going to find any crunchy bits. It’s not setting-specific, either, so there is no fluff. What you will find are thoughts and advice on how to take what you already have, with the mechanics, worlds, and parties of your choice, and use them to create a better tabletop roleplaying experience.