Your favourite adventure, module, or premise...

A lot of games or game materials start with a basic premise or introduction which is brief and serves as an easy entry point for a story or an adventure.

Examples include adventure modules, basic ideas for a story or adventure, “seeds”, or “hooks”.

What is one of your favourite starting points for a night of gaming or a favourite premise for a campaign?

For example, Vincent Baker’s pirate game, Poison’d, always starts the same way:

You are on a pirate ship, and the ship’s cook has just killed the captain. It’s a tense situation and someone needs to take control! Meanwhile, a navy vessel is in pursuit, and will catch up at any minute and attempt to throw you all in jail.

It’s a potent and very simple start to a game, and illustrates almost everything about the genre that you need to know right off the bat. Clever and effective.

What’s one of your favourites, and why do you think it works so well?

Comments

  • What is one of your favourite starting points for a night of gaming or a favourite premise for a campaign?
    Fables of Camelot is this simple knighthood adventure game that many of you have no doubt seen in passing - basically a much quicker, more story-oriented and mechanically lighter Pendragon.

    The default start scene in that game is something I rather like: the knights of the round table are celebrating the Pentecost at Camelot. King Arthur is there, and a varied set of other arthurian figures as well, whomever the GM likes to have. New player character knights are introduced to the round table, the players get to self-introduce in whatever manner they like. The Siege Perilous is discussed, perhaps, or Merlin gives a prophecy, or whatnot. The king might refuse to begin the feast before "an adventure appears" because that's always what seems to occur in these Pentecost gatherings. Sir Kay drinks himself to a stupor that becomes worse and worse every passing year.

    If you run the game at e.g. conventions, you get to play that same scene again and again and again. It's also often the first scene of the session for campaign play, being the default start. The repetition has the dual effect of encouraging the GM to gild the lily with trained bits and gimmicks, and to expand the scene in various directions to have variety and not go crazy running it. The players also have plenty of opportunity to bring their own variety to it.

    My favourite adventure to start from the Pentecost, one that I often end up running for new players who haven't seen it yet, is the adventure of the white hounds: a snow-white stag breaks into the castle and scampers in the middle of the round table, only to be followed by a pack of white hunting dogs. From thence the situation develops into a fairy challenge fit for brave knights to prove their mettle, and unlike the usual knight tale the princess is introduced at the start (she's the stag) rather than at the end.
  • I love Psi*Runs basic premise. You only remember that you know each other, have some supernatural enemies and that you are chased. You also have a few questions. Run!

    Its pretty generic amd easy to build on.
  • That’s a great observation, Eero:

    I’ve often encouraged GMs who want to run a fairly flexible scenario to do so many times, because you can assemble a sort of “bag of tricks”, often by recycling the ideas of the players, which gives you a variety of tools to play that game or scenario in the future. And, as you point out, your natural desire for some variety provides a good counterbalance.
  • I fell hard for "In For a Penny" for Clockwork: Dominion. The RPG has a rich, detailed alternate 19th century setting with magic and fae and nephilim and weird chaos vs clockwork mystical building blocks and... you don't need to know about any of that for the purposes of this scenario. I mean, okay, there are fae blooded and beastfolk, generally the product of experiments. Now you know that. For the rest...

    There are 6 PCs. You're all members of a child street gang in London, the Penny Reds. Your leader, St. James, has gone missing. No one gives a shit if he lives or dies except the six of you. Go.

    Maps are great -- I've seen perfect magnified maps of the Titanic for one game, amazing maps of the cosmos, all of that. Here? Okay, here's a map showing about 6 streets of London. This is your turf, from here to here. Over here? That's the Cutter Street Gang, your rivals. This is your world. Your entire world, all you need to know.

    While I'm a sucker for Victorian Steampunk, you could lift the premise, and pretty much the rest of the scenario, just changing names and location. You can move it anywhere. Okay, maybe you remove a reference to fae blood or icky scientific experiments and tweak the two characters affected a tiny bit. It's not important. What's important is that your world is made up of 6 streets and 6 people you care about, and one of them is missing.
  • I fell hard for "In For a Penny" for Clockwork: Dominion.
    Thanks for the recommendation, the scenario looks very close to my taste! Unfortunately I cannot find anything about In For a Penny on the net. Could you elaborate more about tge structure?
  • My favorite premise is:
    You all wake up in the same room (space) and don't remember anything or who you are...

    Used by many games...
  • Giant's Craddle, Prax
  • I fell hard for "In For a Penny" for Clockwork: Dominion.
    Thanks for the recommendation, the scenario looks very close to my taste! Unfortunately I cannot find anything about In For a Penny on the net. Could you elaborate more about tge structure?
    It is a convention scenario which I got my hands on by a) begging to run it at AnonyCon and b) signing an NDA. I've since run it there and at Gen Con. The structure's pretty simple: Find out what happened to your leader. The GM should have a handle on the fairly simple timeline and on who knows what and what needs to happen to get them to talk. Presuming the PCs get the information, the next part is to use it and resolve the situation. There may or may not be physical combat. There will almost certainly be social combat. There may or may not be sneaky stuff. Anything more is spoilers turf.
  • Great!

    Also, I never heard about Giants Craddle. Such an interesting bang!
  • I like the Westmarches setup. You're in a boring town on the frontier of a weird and dangerous wilderness full of adventure and riches. Your characters all have reason to make forays out into the wilderness. Go do that!

    It's at once a clear starting point and a big open sandbox.

    Also blades in the dark pulls off a similar thing, throws you into the pressure cooker that is doskvol and gives you some clear immediate goals while also allowing you the freedom of a sandbox city.
  • I like the "you have a ship and [space/the ocean] is wide & [black/blue]" setup even though I've never really done it all the way. maybe for a future campaign
  • Favorite Premise by game:

    Burning Wheel: Warring feudal states / succession crisis. Lots of turbulence and vying for influence.

    Kingdom: You led the revolution. Now what? Lots of rich ground for issues of ethics and perspective that the system does best.

    Torchbearer: A magical cataclysm has caused a proliferation of monsters and dangerous powers, which the establishment is ill-prepared for.

    Blades if the Dark: The starting scenario in the text (death of a gang leader leaves power vacuum). Starts you off in an unstable situation. I think Blades is best when the players are free agents among more powerful parties (rather than lackeys for an established gang).

    Mouse Guard: Some towns have voted for independence from the territories. Helping them without breaking a tenuous diplomacy will be challenging.

    Masks: A state has decided to start a national team of young superheros as a media (propaganda) and social outreach (propaganda) team. The office grants substantial influence but they keep you on a short leash.

    Follow: Ragnarok
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