By Carl Rigney.
The usual PC team appears to be a random group of strangers who happen to be on hand at the start of the first scenario, who then stick together because of what they've been through. I've been thinking of some other possibilities for starting groups and wanted to plumb the depths of others' imaginations for more ideas. A possible drawback to these is that the characters may wind up too similar to each other, but as PCs die and new ones are integrated, they'll evolve into a more heterogenous group.
A bunch of friends who grew up together and entered the Triads together, who may be gangsters but are basically good at heart.
A police special squad formed to fight the triads / drugrunners / gunrunners / pirates. A subtype of this is that nearly everyone gets killed off in the opening scene by a pre-emptive strike and the PCs are missed or survive, and now have the advantage that the bad guys think they're dead.
An Ascended TacTeam which has been ordered scrubbed, so they're on the run from their own friends until they can prove that <fill in the plot>.
The staff of a pirate Internet Service Provider, providing net access to Hong Kong when they're not being shut down by the government. Following up on strange e-mail messages, they start to uncover some of the secrets behind recent mysterious goings-on. (I like this one mostly for Gretchen's concept of the "Two Fisted Sysadmin.")
A street gang being pushed out by the Poison Thorns, who get swept up in the secret war and prove that they not just punks, they're heroes.
A Monster Hunter team from 2056 whose captives break free in the trip back through the Netherworld and are running loose in 1850/modern age, so the team has to gather them back before anyone notices.
Members of the Emperor's Harem, out to thwart the Lotus (also known as "Never trust a man with no ...")
If you want more varied characters, how about starting the action with everyone meeting in a prison of some faction; they break out together and have to stick together to make their way clear, by which time hopefully they've grown to like and respect each other enough to stick together. (Much mutual saving of lives is useful here.)
For other ideas, see Ross Thomas' novels about Wu & Durant, such as "Out on the Rim" and "Voodoo, Ltd" with clever and dangerous people double-crossing each other in the ring of fire.
Last modified: May 22, 1996; please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.