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GMing concept garage sale. Everything STILL must go!

Posted By Matthew J. Neagley On January 11, 2010 @ 12:30 am In Tools for GMs | 20 Comments

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Herein you’ll find a handful of campaign seeds that are currently wasting away on the back burners of us gnomes, most likely never to be run.  I like to think of this article series as a sort of holiday tradition. Not only is it in the spirit of giving, but since the holiday season puts most games on hiatus and gaming lulls are potentially fatal, having a handful of new ideas at the ready is a useful early January tool.

This year fellow gnome Kurt ‘Telas’ Schneider also got in on the action, providing us with an excellent offering. Thanks Kurt! Just like last year, the only “price” for using one of these ideas is that you  tell us how it went, and also like last year, we want to hear what’s on YOUR back burner.

Shallow Cove:
1212522_vieste_italy_3An idyllic main street town out of the 50’s sits atop whitewall cliffs, a winding switchback road leading down to ivory sands arrayed around a crescent cove. Perched on the shoreline is an abandoned cannery, a rusting testament to the town’s industrial past. The town is currently  experiencing a population boom as families from a high standard of living city nearby buy homes in Shallow Cove, taking advantage of the lower property costs and the small town values to raise their families. What these settlers don’t know is that a war is brewing in the side of Shallow Cove unseen by adults, and their children (the PCs) will be caught between the local fairy courts as the Unseelie court and it’s manipulated teenaged thralls work to usurp authority from the Seelie court and their child heroes to release the entropy the Seelie has kept at bay for far too long.

Great Below:
1186903_deep_downAn underdark campaign featuring exploration, discovery, diplomacy and trade as the PCs search for other underdark natives and civilizations, from lizard-like half-men who farm mushrooms in the mucky runoff from the enormous bat cave above, to a roman-esque  outpost from the elemental plane of fire.  Most uniquely, magic in the setting is gained from discovering and performing rituals with or making totems from parts of great god-beings including a massive albino bat, a mile-long luminous fish found in a mineral laden underground sea, a velociraptor lord who haunts a steam filled maze, the morbidly obese lord of the ghouls, and others.  The hang-up that kept me from running this game was a shamanistic magic system, but it looks like Radiance House’s Secrets of Pact Magic might just be what this setting needs.

Cacophony:
835848_gravesI originally wrote Cacophony as a Halloween one shot. It dealt with a pest control system that turned people with immature brain activity into zombie-like monsters. It wasn’t terribly good, but it was fun. More interesting was the campaign idea that came from discussing the original adventure with YMIAT owner (and till recently fellow gnome) Patrick Benson. The campaign goes like this: Run a short arc for ANY large-scale zombie apocalypse scenario from outbreak to the PCs discovering the cause and (helping) put a stop to it. The day is saved, end with a brief epilogue how the PCs have their 15 minutes of fame for their role in saving the world. Make sure the scenario hits two points really hard: humanity’s ugliness when desperate (looting, sacrificing others for their own well-being, etc…), and hard, hard, hard decisions (Do you help others at your own expense? Is it OK to execute zombies when there may be a cure? Can you kill a bitten friend or loved one?). Cut to a decade or so later, when small outbreaks of localized zombie activity begin to occasionally resurface. These new “nests” range from a couple clumsy and helpless corpses wandering around a funeral home to hives of advanced super zombies that require national guard intervention. This resurgence of activity prompts a “Where are they now” special featuring the PCs and an offer of a “Zombie Hunters” reality TV show in which they investigate and evaluate zombie nests.

Sands of Time:
335458_the_hell_cayman_islandsThe PCs live and adventure in a collection of uneasy city-states. Conflict happens often, and life is hard chaotic and short. After a story arc or two establishing the status quo, cue the barbarian diabolist invaders! Sweeping in from a previously impenetrable mountain range, the barbarians quickly take several city states, and begin to gather resources to continue expansion. Checking on friends or relatives in the conquered city states, the PCs discover something interesting. Despite being barbarous demon-worshippers, the hordes are surprisingly well organized and have begun building infrastructure and public works which, among other things, means that conquest has actually improved the standard of living in the fallen city states. At this point, the campaign becomes a “hard decision” model. Who do the PCs side with? Rulers of city-states change with alarming regularity, so it’s unlikely they have loyalty to a particular one, but there’s a clear “us vs. them” dynamic, further aggravated by the fact that the barbarians are diabolists. Regardless of which side the PCs choose, the stakes become more dire late campaign, when they discover that the invasion is cover for a search for the physical body of the demon lord possessing the barbarian leader, which was buried centuries earlier in the middle of a shifting desert when his cult was purged by rivals.

Night Eternal:
565459_vampireTucked away at the back of the Nightspawn rulebook, you can find a suggestion for a historical campaign featuring their immortal shape shifters, but it would work equally well for any type of immortal. While they suggest running a historical campaign chronologically, the Night Eternal game is a bit different. Make immortal characters and then play fast and loose with chronology. Today we’re exploring the French Revolution. Next week, we’re playing in ancient Sumer. The week after, we’re in the modern era. You can approach this any number of ways, from asking the players to make characters, then defining statistical low and high points, and pinning them to time periods and using that scale to estimate what the character sheet should look like in any given era to, and this one is my favorite, just make shit up. If the PCs are grossly more powerful during the French revolution than they are in the modern day, life’s just funny like that. As long as you stick to each character’s Sine Qua Non, (except for the occasional game where deviating from that formula provides the fun) everything will be fine. That, and discovering why makes a kickass adventure hook for sometime in the future.

From the Desk of Kurt:
kurt-telas-schneider (1)I’ve saved the best for (almost) last. Kurt provided me with this blurb when I asked if anyone else had campaigns they would probably never get to, and I’ve got to say it sounds really intriguing:

The party members may be anything, but have one stipulation – they must work for or with the same organization.  This may be a religion, a guild, or some other kind of large and diverse organization, but they must all be somehow strongly associated with it.  The initial adventure will draw them together and result in the party meeting their ‘sponsor’.  To a large degree, the sponsor’s role in the organization will be determined by the consequences of the party’s actions – success, failure, and collateral damage (if any).  The sponsor may take the role of Wise Patron, Traitor to the Organization, Change Agent, or something else entirely.

Stolen from RPG.net:
I have no claim to these two campaigns, I just think they’re incredibly kickass. You can find pages and pages of material for them at their original locations.
What may be wrought with this Hideous Might is a supers campaign where all super heroes come from secret government experimentation with the Mythos.
The City Built around the Tarrasque is a setting where the immortal tarrasque has been imprisoned and an entire society founded around keeping it from escaping, while (not so) slowly being corrupted by it’s influence.

It feels good to get all these off my list and available for everyone else. How about you? What would you like to get off your back burner?

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.




20 Comments (Open | Close)

20 Comments To "GMing concept garage sale. Everything STILL must go!"

#1 Comment By penguin133 On January 11, 2010 @ 8:29 am

Your mind’s like mine! I have loads of Campaigns and Dungeon ideas; for instance one is a Warhammer 40K Chaos Dungeon, where anything can happen and the “Party” are Space Marines trying to rescue an abducted Inquisitor.
I once ran a Homebrew Car Wars campaign as a semi-RPOG too.
Ian Winterbottom

#2 Comment By callin On January 11, 2010 @ 9:37 am

I have a couple simmering in my head that I have not had time to get to yet.

Drow-Players are drow within the stereotypical drow city. The game would be full of political intrigue as they try to make their way through an evil setting. As a twist I would ask the players to be a neutral to good alignment.

Land of the Lost-As per the TV show wherein the players fall into a world of dinosaurs and stone-age technology.

My Blog-http://bigballofnofun.blogspot.com/

#3 Comment By zozeer On January 11, 2010 @ 11:50 am

Gosh where do I start. I have a few.
The big one I have swimming around is a Star Wars Rebellion era, the players are a rebel strike team.

The one that I would love to run is a time travel game. The basic outline is that the players are maintaining the timeline, and have no control over their ability to time travel (at first), Then enter the BBEG that is trying to break time before the Nukes start flying, but in the process is doing something far worse. (that last part has changed 5 or 6 times in the last week).

And as always, I would love to run a gundam game.

#4 Comment By drow On January 11, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

the PCs are templars in the service of a dragon king of athas. they are sent forth on missions to ferret out and eliminate treasonous elements of the city-state. to help them, they are issued brand new, experimental magic items from the arcane foundries of the dragon king. and they each have six clones. trust the dragon king! the dragon king is your lord!

jurassic park + zombie apocalypse.

star wars, shortly after the events of the return of the jedi. the empire is collapsing, as imperial force withers and the navy is shattered. regional governors attempt to consolidate control of their systems, but must contend with imperial loyalists, rebellion forces, and neighboring warlords. even the rebellion ceases to be a cohesive entity, as member worlds and units find themselves caught in local conflicts. against this background, a rebel strike force has been sent against one of the last loyalist star destroyers. the PCs are members of the boarding party, left adrift. the loyalist commanders are dead, but the star destroyer itself is badly damaged, their starships were destroyed in the battle, and they are utterly cut off from the outside. they will have to contend with any remaining stormtroopers, decide whether to repair the enormous vessel, and what to do with it afterward.

#5 Comment By penguin133 On January 12, 2010 @ 10:19 am

Another one I have planned for years, the Conan story “Red Nails” with two tribes feuding to the death in a vampire-haunted, labyrinthine Lost City.
Or Atlantis, which the players accidentally Timeslip to; they have only a day or so to prevent the Sinking of Atlantis!

#6 Comment By ZedZed77 On January 12, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

Dnd 4e >The PCs are all convicted murderers, imprisoned at a location in the elemental plane of fire or some such. They are each a member of one exotic monster race or another. Together they must outwit their githyanki and archon guards in order to escape the slammer.

Mutants and Masterminds >Deep in the mountains, Dagon’s disillusioned lover runs a ski resort whose halls each lead to a different world. Connected only via their strange affiliation with the interplanar lodge, the PCs must figure out why they were called together – and why so many of the worlds seem to deal with the PCs deepest secrets.

#7 Comment By Monoxide On January 12, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

My last campaign, which never made it too far, Was a 4E campaign set in Waterdeep where the ‘villain’ was taking on the hidden lords to try to establish democracy and a free economy. (Breaking up the guilds). It was all about give and take for the party where neither side was really good or evil. To make matters worse the side of change had access to a printing press. I loved it, the PC’s like it. Too bad it never got finished.

#8 Comment By penguin133 On January 13, 2010 @ 3:30 am

Yet another concept I remember from the Eighties that went down well was “The City”, Darzek, which I mapped carefully and which had many “Encounter Areas” like Pandrik’s Pleasure Gardens where anything could be had for a price and where you could easily get shanghaii’d, I included secret passages and cheating gamblers.There were also the Royal Tombs, illegal entry and ghost-haunted. There were also many factions, Guilds and Police, Thieves and Smugglers. POh and an ongoing feud of “Montagues and Capulets”.

#9 Comment By Foolster41 On January 13, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

I’ve had a few ideas, but I’d still like to use them.

One idea was a campaign world with an outsider and his daughter who were outsiders taking over the world. I had quite a few minor plots planned out taking place all over the “World” including a few Shakespeare-themed plots (My dad, who was going to be in the party was a non-gamer and had a degree in acting).

I’ve also toyed with a stalker/post-nuclear apocalypse scenario and a setting where everyone’s a high school that’s also a secret soldier, ninjas, robots, time travelers or psycic etc. (based on animes like Haru Suzamiya)

#10 Comment By Damocles346 On January 14, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

I ran part of a game in college that died out because of silly things such as homework. Sigh…

You could throw this into any fantasy type setting if you want. The world has been taken over by a BBEG and the PC’s don’t like that. They hear about this ancient hero who stopped a different BBEG back in the day, and they hear that it may be possible to go revive him and have him save the world. I know right, sounds like a bad idea from the GM side. But, when they get to and revive the ancient hero, they find out that he was placed in stasis until they could figure out how to remove the essence of the other BBEG that became embedded in the hero when the BBEG died. So, now they have to BBEGs to deal with, take it from there.

Also, the ending of this particular story had the PC’s fighting on pieces of a moon that are falling through the atmosphere. I thought that was cool…

#11 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 1:36 am

the stars became right, and the old ones awakened from their millenia-long slumber. we fought, and nuked, and fell back. now humanity itself is on the brink of extinction, with only a few strongholds left standing against the starspawn and the nightmare hordes. we believe we’ve discovered how to activate an ancient artifact known as the stargate, and are preparing to send our first expedition through. it remains to be seen whether it shall be our hope in these desperate times, or the final means of our end.

#12 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 3:37 am

the PCs are time lords during the last great time war, wielding time travel and paradox as weapons against the daleks. can they stand against the dalek emperor, the nightmare child, and the could’ve been king and his army of meanwhiles and neverweres, to save not only gallifrey, but all of time and space, forever?

#13 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

a world of scattered city states, each home to a patron god, each old and powerful. each is also slowly dying, deteriorating from age and rot within and under attack from the monstrous hordes which roam the surrounding wastelands. magic is relatively common. priests of the temple walk the streets of their city, bringing the might and glory of their god to its populace. sorcerers lend their arcane talents to the trade guilds and armies, and wizards contemplate ancient draconic manuscripts seeking the keys to power. however, magic items do not exist — magic is drawn from the spirit, and cannot be permanently set within inanimate matter. D&D 3.5, gestalt.

#14 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

USS Alpha, Stardate 3245.2, ECH (n.b. Emergency Command Hologram) log. The ship’s computer has activated the entire emergency holographic crew, including myself. The ship’s actual crew is missing, and our location is unknown, though we are in orbit of a planet. Sensor readings of the planet are inconclusive, which the ESH (Emergency Science Hologram) believes to be related to the ionized radiation of a nearby star cluster. The computer has stated that the crew’s disappearance is related to the planet, but has no further information. I like this computer, it seems friendly. I have assembled a landing party, consisting of myself, the ESH and EMH, and a complement of ERSH (Emergency Red Shirt Hologram), and we are preparing to beam down.

#15 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

it’s the year 2050. a world of chips and cyberdecks, pervasive computing, pervasive armament, and megacorporations bigger than god, where gunbunnies rule the streets and haxxors rule the shadows. the PCs are mercs, deckers, and corporate agents, the front line in a decades-long war against the spammers.

#16 Comment By drow On January 15, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

what if a group of snobby art critics were somehow sent from the middle of a posh gallery opening in new york to the world of dungeons and dragons? bonus XP awarded for noting how bourgeois the orcs are, observing how the treasure hoard of the dragon, which incidentally is about to eat the party without a nice cabernet sauvignon or merlot, makes a scathing social commentary on class structure despite wealth, and searching through the nine kingdoms of the elves for a decent goat’s milk brie.

#17 Comment By SwiftFire On January 18, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

I have a campaign idea that’s still coming together, that involves massive orrery-like structures, one on each plane. Each machine has one stationary ring and numerous orbiting rings. The stationary ring represents the home plane while the orbiting rings represent the surrounding planes and their relativity to the home plane. One could lock the orbiting planes into the home position with the appropriate “keys”, three keys per plane. Activating one key starts the meld process, this materializes as visions or apparitions that remain immaterial. The second key causes some of the creatures and monsters to become real, posing a real and physical threat to everyone. Once the third key is activated the two planes meld creating an amalgamation of each plane, picture a very literal “hell-on-earth”. There could be many different paths that this campaign could follow, all depending on which planes a locked for example: abyssal/material, celestial/material,limbo/celestial. It would seem appropriate that locking all the rings brings the end of times in some way. The adventure would be to stop this from happening and to keep the keys from falling into the wrong hands.
Like I said still underdeveloped. It would likely be in a fairly traditional D&D setting, low tech and such, with lots of magic and a wide availability of uncommon PC races. Not necessarily that original, but sounds fun regardless.

#18 Comment By bySwarm On January 18, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

Sands of Time sounds like a fun idea to run. I’ve also played/run a couple variations of Kurt’s before. One was a D&D campaign where all the characters were bastard children of a powerful wizard. By being bastards, we were able to make a variety of races as long as they were half-human. As the campaign progressed, we discovered that our father was training us to become his death knights for after he became a lich. In one that I run, the PCs all work for a salvage company in Privateer Press’s Iron Kingdoms and were eventually members of the Llaelese Resistance. Both were a lot of fun.

I’ve got some ideas stewing around that I still plan to put into the bySwarm setting project. We are accepting concept submissions until February 20, so there’s not a lot of time left if you are interested in submitting your own that haven’t gotten any farther than ideas.

#19 Comment By drow On January 19, 2010 @ 10:31 am

@17 that’s an awesome hook

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