In which I address the idea of concept-parties and wonder aloud why no player has ever done this. I wrote that previous sentence a while ago to give myself an idea of what I wanted this post to be about, but I think I'll keep it, since it sums up the topic so nicely.
My players always talk about high-concept adventuring parties. From bands of traveling performers, to all-dwarf parties out to lead a new colony of dwarves towards the foundation of a stronghold, they are way into weird conceptual parties. At least, in theory. And yet, whenever nit gets to grit, they wind up making a composite of semi-standard archetypal men that fill out the roles one always expects in a D&D party and going forth like any great adventuring company to conquer. Why is this? What drives them?
I think, perhaps, the natural curve of the game is too alluring to deny in many cases. It's the rags to riches, zero to hero, shit covered peasant to lord of the manor tale that draws them back over and over again. Surely, you can begin the game as a band of gruff dwarves looking to settle a new land... or you could just begin the game as adventurers and, when you reach high enough level, your dwarf could peel off to do that. It's the level 1 conundrum, the backstory question. For in AD&D you play out your backstory. The stuff that happened before you were level 1 is like high school and middle school are today: they certainly help shape you, but you're still unformed when you reach that first level. I think it was Gygax who said that backstory is what happens between levels 1 and 3.
Are there any high-concept adventuring parties that you've run/been a part of/wanted to run? I'm wondering just how many people succumb to the allure of the basic D&D narrative and skipped the entire high-concept phase. There were a lot of suggestions in the "complete books of" series for all-wizard parties, all-dwarf parties, etc. We've just never exhausted the possibilities of the main D&D setup (which would be impossible) nor has everyone grown tired of it.
That being said, a band of performers is the stated "next party" if the Hounds find themselves in a TPK situation. Though, since they're levels 4-5 I doubt that'll happen any time soon barring some major miscalculation like openly assaulting King Anundarien's palace.