I am loving this series!

I think one of the reasons why there’s so much “meet at an inn and kick off a quest” beginnings in fantasy is because it’s so easy and natural to start with creating those lovable characters you mention. “Here’s this guy and here’s what he’s like, and here’s this other guy and this is what HE’S like.” And once you’ve created this quirky group of rag-tag heroes, THEN you sit down and think, “right, what’ll I have them do?”

At which point, it’s mighty tempting to introduce a big Encroaching Evil or Magic McGuffin to force them to action, because once you’ve posed all your GI Joes and lined them up next to each other, it can be hard to think of them as anything but a single mass – or rather, hard to think of any conflict or story *within the group* that would drive the plot forward. Which is a dang shame, because a group of ANY kind is the single most potent source of drama in the known universe!