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Gming Concept Garage Sale, 2011

Posted By Matthew J. Neagley On January 7, 2011 @ 8:16 am In Tools for GMs | 3 Comments

559646_yard_saleSomehow it seems surreal that we’re on the third of these yearly articles. Like the last two years, here are some campaigns from the minds of the gnomes that we want to share with anyone who can use them. As usual, if you’ve got a backburnered campaign of your own, share it in the comments!

If none of this year’s offerings catch your eye, try the past years’ articles, especially the comments, where there are over 25 additional ideas donated by our readers!

Zombie Strike Force
1064003_dead_handIn the Zombie Strike Force setting, zombies possess human level intelligence, and though they crave human flesh, they can make do with nearly any form of meat product. This means that zombies who behave themselves coexist alongside the living and aren’t kill on sight, at least not in most areas and situations. Zombies are contagious, and different zombies are contagious to different degrees (some must kill a victim, others can spread the affliction through skin to skin contact or even via airborne pathogens). This, their food source, and the relative newness of the undead make most interactions between the living and the dead strained at best. However, Zombies are also incredibly durable and possessed of an impressive array of natural and supernatural abilities, making them invaluable in tactical exchanges and most governments and militaries have small zombie strike forces to deal with high level threats and deadly zombie outbreaks. Zombie Strike Force is a two-pronged campaign focused on the difficulty of being newly reborn monsters in a society on edge, and crunchy tactical combat utilizing a mix of zombie powers and hardcore human elites.

Metamorphosis Gamma
1187317_cockroachGamma World is currently taking the internet by storm, and there are new tools for it cropping up all the time, like the official character generator from Wizards, and Critical-Hits’ Junkulator, a random junk generator. What isn’t as well known as this internet darling, however is that Gamma World started it’s life as Metamorphosis Alpha, a game about a world ship exposed to strange radiation, it’s crew and biological samples killed or mutated en masse and reduced to a primitive tribal state, the knowledge of their surrounding and mission lost in their slowly decaying ship. The original setting material for Metamorphosis Alpha is available as an affordably priced PDF from RPGNPW and includes plenty of hooks and ideas for a Gamma World campaign.

Time Elephant
706153_clockWhen Kurt designed this scenario for GenCon, it was called A Stich in Time, and you can read about it here. But I couldn’t help riffing off of it and making it my own. The PCs, amped up version of the players (so the IT guy is a gadget wizard, and the guy who takes a karate class is a martial arts expert, etc…) are a modern day team of “time agents” who are fixing errors in the timeline created by a rival terrorist group. During the campaign, which is mission based, revolving around The PCs getting briefed of an error in the timeline, and going back in time and repairing it, two things become apparent. First, there’s some huge horrible error to the timeline that no one but the players seem to be aware of (for example, maybe Germany won WWII and Hitler’s grandson rules the world with a tyrannical fist) and second, that errors in the timeline still leave a “shadow” behind for alert observers (for example, If Lincoln isn’t assassinated and the PCs have to go back and make sure Booth manages to do the deed, they might notice a sensationalist rag with the headline “Lincoln shot dead at Ford’s theatre” but it’s just a story about the attempted assassination with a dramatic title to grab readers. The final chapter of the campaign, is the PCs being approached by a rogue faction in the agency to deal with the historical elephant in the room. Upon success, however, the PCs discover that their actions have not only righted the timeline but prevented the invention of time machines and stranded them in the modern world… as their players and the shadow of the real timeline sits before them in the form of an RPG.

That’s it for the GMing concept garage sale 2011. Share your unused campaign seeds below and somewhere someone else will get some use from them!

About  Matthew J. Neagley

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, Matt fights on ongoing battle with GMing ADD, leaving his to-do list littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily, his wife is also a GM, providing him with time on both sides of the screen.




3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Gming Concept Garage Sale, 2011"

#1 Comment By Roxysteve On January 7, 2011 @ 11:09 am

I’ve always wanted to do Jack McDevitt’s “Benedict” universe and storyline as a Traveller campaign setting.

The premise is simple: Humans have a stardrive and have expanded into space widely. In all that time they’ve had civilizations rise and fall, and the artifacts from those civilizations have great worth to collectors of antiquities and museums alike.

Benedict (and the player character clones of him) is an independently wealthy finder of such things. He sells most of what he gets and gives the rest, plus the site coordinates, to the local museum in his city (who love and hate him)

The research/adventure aspects are the very stuff of a great RPG, and the settings are very evocative.

Most sought after? Flatware with crests, uniforms and hardware from ships. Benedict’s motto is “let’s hope they glazed it” because anything more fragile than a plate (such as photos, paintings, paper documents and worst of all, digital records) won’t survive the hundreds of years between whatever disaster overtook the owners and his finding them.

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, I highly recommend “Polaris”, a great locked-room mystery.

Hehhehheh. I’d forgotten Metamorphosis Alpha. I played that once, back when the Atari Console was The Bees Knees and “Galaxian” was state of the art.

#2 Comment By Sarlax On January 7, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

Mage: Astral Inception

From the title, some of the inspiration for the game is obvious. In Make the Awakening, there is Astral Space, which is the some total of humanity’s dreams and unconsciousness. Although astral space generally reflects humanity’s thoughts, changes there can alter the way people think.

One of the big problems in Mage is paradox, reality’s rejection of magic. The premise of Astral Inception is that that players enter the dream world of humanity at large and run missions in specific dream realms that will make that which was “forbidden” in the realm now acceptable. For instance, the PCs enter the Dream Realm of War and convince opposing generals that negotiations are in order. They then go to the Dream Realm of Prisons and release a wrongly convicted inmate. Every time they make such a change in a dream realm, the grip of Paradox on the waking world is weakened.

The twist: The PCs play by the rules of the realm in which they venture. Sometimes, this means a world like the Fallen World (the “real world” of Mage) and they use their normal characters. In other realms, though, the system is actually different: The players create a new character to reflect the original PC’s personality in the new realm. When they enter a realm of high fantasy to defeat a lich king, they make D&D characters. When they want to be evil-turned-heroic superhumans overthrowing alien tyrants, they make Necessary Evil PCs.

#3 Comment By David Aarons On January 20, 2011 @ 2:52 am

Oh man, I have so very many unused campaign seeds.

One fun if simple idea I came up with last year that I haven’t gotten to run yet: I’m With The Band.

Our dimension isn’t in a good place. It’s impossible for the human mind to really comprehend dimensional geography, but basically, what we know as reality is smack in the middle of a really bad neighborhood, wearing all the wrong colors.

Wherever lots of people gather (like, say, big cities), the fabric of our reality stretches and distorts. Sometimes, small holes open and dark energy from the surrounding dimensions leaks in. Other times, BIG holes open and unthinkable horrors leak in. Either way, bad news.

Enter the Special Investigations Agency, a US government organization dedicated to keeping the evil out and keeping the public blissfully ignorant of the all-encompassing potential for squishy tentacular doom. See, that kind of thing has a tendency to foster panic in your average voter.

Problem is, people also tend to notice when unearthly weirdness is gurgling at their doorstep, and it takes a decent crew with some unwieldy, decidedly noticeable equipment to fight off demons, myths, legends, and other such unspeakables, clean up the mess, and seal the holes. Someone’s bound to notice. That’s why the SIA has sorted out a rather unorthodox solution: Rock bands!

Think about it: touring musicians have a few band members and some roadies, plus a manager or agent or whatever. You know, an official-looking man in a suit that covers business issues. Right there, you have your crew. Send a black van of secret agents in sunglasses and a big truck full of strange equipment somewhere, and people are going to ask questions. Send a rock band in a tour bus with a truck full of strange equipment, and they’re going to buy tickets, and you can hide the otherworldly happenings in plain sight. And, conveniently, they’re SUPPOSED to be touring, so it won’t be suspicious when they blow into and out of town in a hurry.

The SIA can detect hotspots where supernatural jiggities are about to or have recently gone down. When they find them, they send the bands to take care of it. When nothing’s on their radar, the tour continues as normal (although normal bands probably don’t check for and exterminate nests of vampires around each venue).

Players are band members of one such band of musical operatives. The SIA probably approached them after they achieved their fame and signed them to a very different kind of major label.

The SIA imbues all their operatives with certain powers to assist them in their battles. What they don’t tell them is that they do so using the very same dark energy that leaks through.

This energy is called embric, and the SIA isn’t sure where it comes from. Embric is unpredictable even under the most controlled conditions, and in the field, in its rawest form, fresh from dimensional tears, the effects are often terrifying. Mutations of nearby natural creatures may occur, or embric storms, or temporal anomalies.

Furthermore, the SIA aren’t all they claim to be. They’re not the good guys. In fact, the heroes would eventually learn that the boss is Cthulhu himself. He’s not as big as you’ve heard, and he wears a nice Italian suit, but he’s definitely not to be trifled with. Think a seriously powerful supernatural Mafia don with a squid for a head. He has plans of his own, but he’s not the only game in town, so he’s using the players to keep his competitors down while he plays the board to his advantages.

Vampires are more common than most other monsters, and there are two varieties.

High vampires are the sort that can blend in with humanity, and are fairly similar to the vamps from the Buffyverse, if a bit less Always Chaotic Evil. They’ve retained their intelligence and personality. The bloodlust, however, is very strong, and can quickly eat away morals. High vamps have no difficulty crossing running water and are immune to garlic. Crosses will make their flesh burn if they touch their skin, but they are not deterred by the sight of them.

Low or feral vampires have almost no trace of humanity left. Many can’t even speak, and the ones that can speak in fragments. These are the ones more likely to form nests: packs of feral vamps that hunt by night. Ferals cannot cross running water, and garlic is like chloroform to them. They will cease attacking and sometimes flee at the sight of a cross, and under no circumstance will they enter churches. They’re usually young vampires whose sanity didn’t survive the turning, though they can rarely be very old high vamps who starved into madness.

All vampires share some weaknesses: They can be killed by a wooden stake to the heart, beheading, or fire, direct sunlight will quickly (within ten seconds of exposure) set them ablaze, and they cannot enter a residence unless invited. Crosses and holy water burn them, but will not kill them.

There is a faction of high vamps that call themselves the Ascended. They’re not pansy-ass sparkly vege-vamps (animal blood will do in a pinch, but those who survive on it alone are usually treated with derision by all other vampires); they do feed on human blood. But they never take enough to kill. They have their own agendas. Some of them are vampire supremacists who look down on humans as livestock, but most of them just recognize that compromise is necessary for survival.

The tone of the campaign I intend to run would be lighthearted and fairly silly with an undercurrent of dread and a healthy dose of drama. Scheduling is just a bitch.


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