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It’s that time of the year again, where as a belated holiday gift, I hand out my accumulated B-string campaign ideas from the previous year. Lucky you!  The real gift however, is the ideas in the comments section from readers.

These are not only great campaign ideas, but they can be dropped into an ongoing game as a new location hook. And if you’re on the lookout for a new campaign idea, maybe for New Year New Game? don’t forget that we have 3 years worth of previous articles.

Play Within a Play:
33445_6947Based on a joke character I ran years ago, this campaign has two layers. The inner layer is a standard campaign in a normal system.  The outer layer is that you’re not playing that game. You’re playing the players of that game. To that end each PC has a handful of skills (resolved like bennies) such as “Bribe the GM’s sweet tooth” “Flirt with the GM” “Find rule loophole” or “Cheat like a madman”. In addition to these game-breaking skills which can be used to twist the game in your favor,  the meta-players are a dysfunctional lot, so “in character” arguments about loot division, cheating, or who slept with who’s girlfriend, intra-party backstabbing, and general asshattery are the rules of the day.  Have fun with it!

Better late than never:
1358440_82303597Originally conceived around White Wolf’s Vampire game, An elder vampire learns of a ghost ship drifting in the sea near an isolated port. This ship was delivering a powerful artifact and diplomats. The PC’s elders want these, but they have one problem: It’s not their city. The PCs are transported to the city and tasked with grabbing and holding control of enough of it to receive the lost ship and it’s contents when it finally docks.  While written for Vampire, with minor tweaks it could work for almost any setting.

Dwarven Junkyard:
796383_71035677Dwarves are prolific builders, engineers and mechanics, but even dwarven technology breaks down and gets obsolete from time to time and is thrown into one of the “bottomless” chasms near their underground cities. In these nighted depths, tribes of humanoids of all types fight for the precious resources from above led by their cargo cult shaman and tinker kings, jury rigging and repurposing what they can and quarreling over choice caches of refuse.

What about you? What campaigns do you have backburnered that you’re unlikely to ever run?

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.



14 Responses to GMing Concept Garage Sale, 2012

  1. Hmm… Let’s check the old OneNote hopper here…

    An Age of Sail campaign during the Napoleonic wars. Can steal, er, borrow encounters from Aubrey/Maturin, Hornblower, and Bolitho books.

    A Dresden Files-like setting in 1920′s New York City. The construction of the Empire State Building, the crash of the Hindenburg, and the Great Crash of 1929 are all caused by the supernatural bad guys, and the heroes are in the middle of it.

    A Firefly-like setting. Yes, it’s been done before. The heroes are the captain and crew of an independent cargo ship out on the edge of civilization struggling against the inherent dangers of space travel, running below the radar of the imperial government, and steering clear of the VERY BAD THINGS that are out on the rim.

    Heroes in Time: Kronos is the head of the Temporal Integrity and Continuity Squad. The TICS live in an interdimensional space outside of time and observe the unfolding of events in human history all at once. Rogue time travelers often try to manipulate historical events to gain wealth or power and the heroes of TICS have to stop them or foil their plans when the consequences of such interference result in the ultimate extinction of the human race.

  2. I can’t take full credit for this, it was brainstormed with one my players:
    Lovecraftian horror set in the world of deep sea archaeology. Archaeologists set up a base on the sea floor with the intent of thoroughly exploring the wreckage of the Titanic only to discover that what the Titanic hit weren’t no iceberg.

  3. Here’s a couple of ideas that I will probably never get around to:

    Star Wars setting: Run a short clone wars game where the PC’s are all clones. Running guard duty on a rim world sounds easy, until the separatists decide that it is the next strategic location they need to control. Now the party is thrown into chaos when their commanding officer is killed and they are running low on heavy weapons. To make matters worse, help is days away, fighting in the core worlds.

    Fantasy (D&D) setting: Brave adventurers are need to settle the new world! The kingdoms have started a mad dash to settle the new found continent, and need strong men and women to blaze the trail ahead for them. Protect the fort, build the stockade, hunt the marauding monsters, and deal with the local “savages” who threaten the colony. But in the colonies, there are no shops to spend that gold, or armorers to replace broken equipment. How will your adventurers deal with this issue?

  4. Mountains of Madness, a classic “reverse dungeon” style campaign in Call of Cthulhu

    Timelords of the Republic, time travelling Jedi work to protect the Star Wars timeline against interference

    Dark Gondor, adventure in the Fourth Age, as the forces of Sauron are scattered and the kingdom of Men is slowly corrupted by the One Ring

  5. Gangs of Venice- Gangs of New York in renaissance Italy. There is a thriving underworld with bosses, underbosses, people who are connected to the mob, unconnected criminals, and various people with differing levels of involvement. Crime wars and fighting/ fleeing the guards. But, these are criminals with honor.

    Star wars Clone Wars era: the party is a group of clones brought together for special ops missions, these will not be made public, or known even to the senate. These clones answer only to the chancellor. The cool part, for me, is that each character will have the same 1st and 2nd level. They are clones, trained identically, and fought in the same early wars. But they were sent to different worlds and different campaigns so they developed different skills (the next 2-3 levels before the campaign starts).

    Arabian style game- the party is a part of a resistance trying to free the cities form efreet control. There are corrupt leaders, tax men who swindle and steal, corrupt guards/watch. The resistance just suffered a huge blow in a neighboring city and many of the safe houses and contacts have been compromised. The resistance is now crumbling and turn on members are turning on each other to save their own skin.

    The Matrix: Feng Shui rules model this very well. This is a few years before the One is found. The party is the crew to one of the ships and undertakes missions to get information, free minds, contact the oracle, and find a way to defeat the machines. Time is always against us.

  6. Bioshock, either before the riots as citizens and notables, or after as explorers. Maybe they get trapped and have to forge an alliance with one of the factions to escape. Is escape even possible?
    Shadowrun or SLA Industries using the Apocalypse World rules.
    EVE Offline.
    Transformers, after the first Michael Bay movie. Autobots and Decepticons gather to Earth and the war continues in secret. Forgotten Transformers are found in long sealed vaults, and must choose their side – or become one.

  7. My idea is based on the novel, I’m working on. It’s a tectonicly active island chain with farie origins. Other races like elves and dwarves are present, but rare. Magic is uncommon and feared. The human population is divided into two types- Magils, who can use magic, and Civls, who can’t. The magils have long since been exiled to the isle of Cre Is, in the center of the chain. The players are either magicians or exorcists, and they run into a bunch of baddies that litter the folklore of Northern Europe.
    I’ll do this with GURPS 4e

  8. Hey gang,

    Just joined here is my first comment.

    I have had many campaign ideas in the past. Here are two most recent ones though.

    The idea is based on the Xenaphon and the Ten Thousand story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabasis_(Xenophon)

    Only the difference being it is set in the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic setting. If you know the story of the video games Revan And Malac a pair of Jedi head off intothe unknown region searching for the “Star Forge”. Well the preise of the game is that deep in the unknown regions a group of the fleet that are with Revan and Malac start seeing Revan and Malac turn to the darkside and disagree with what they are doing. This is found out by Revan and alac and they betray this portion of the fleet and attempt to destroy them. A large part of the betrayed fleet survives and now they face the rather difficult and long journey ahead of them to get back home to the republic.

    The second story I have is based on videogame. The Game was called X-Com : Apocalypse
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-COM:_Apocalypse

    The premise is that there is a group of aliens fromanother dimesion that are trying to invade our dimension. The government has a responce by creating a group specialists tasked to stop the aliens. The setting is in a futuristic cyberpunk world that would be ideal except forthe pesky aliens. The aliens themselves are not only doing physical raids on the populus at large but also try to infultrate the corporations that basically run the planet.

    In an X-files type twist the players play “normal” poeple who survive and alien encounter and are recruited into the X-com organisation. The game would involve corporate espionage, investigation and a healthy dose of kick alien ass action. The players have to deal with minimising property damage, political pressure from the government via corrupt corporations and in general surviving attacks from the aliens.

    I am certain I have a few ore kicking around but I have taken up too uch space as it is.

    Spideydave

  9. Let’s see. I have two games I’m likely to never play.

    First, Bunnies and Burrows. I wanted to do this almost as an experiment to get away from the tactical d20 stuff I’m so accustomed to. I also really think the whole concept is cool.

    Second is a game where players will start at the dawn of humanity and they will play I’m different times in the world. I want the adventures to influence the next phase of the world including the enemies, magic, religion, etc. If the game went well I’d add time travel to it so the players would have to travel back to previous adventures and protect them from alteration.

  10. a D&D campaign where the PCs all begin as gnomes trapped in a dungeon, forced to write scroll upon scroll concerning game theory and the proper application thereof. at night, the trolls come.

  11. @all – Thanks for the ideas! I may steal some of those!
    @Spideydave – Welcome to the stew!
    @drow – I think I may have played that one before…

  12. Kurt "Telas" Schneider

    Matthew – Your “Play Within A Play” sounds like a Fiasco setup… I’d play it.

  13. @drow I think I am still playing it.

    We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they (trolls) mostly come at night… mostly.

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