My Next RPG Campaign – Choosing a Story

Today, I continue my journey towards my next RPG campaign. In my last post, I offered up my reasoning for leaving Dungeons & Dragons aside for a time and moving to Fate Core. A big part of that is wanting to tell stories that aren’t in a high fantasy setting. So now, I’ll expand on my one thought storylines and maybe figure out which one I’ll run.

Burned Spies

Originally, this started out as Cold War spies. As a big James Bond fan, I really like the idea of a spy thriller. However Bond is a solo character. He has supporting characters in M, Q, Felix and Moneypenny, but they don’t get the same camera time Bond does. And shared spotlight is important in role-playing. So this idea morphed from 60’s to the modern day and became a bit more like Mission Impossible or a mashup of RED and Burn Notice. The players are former intelligence agents burned by their former employers. After that it’s up in the air. Did they deserve the burning? What is bringing them back into action?

The prompt is good but I don’t have a good plot idea. I can fall back onto the tropes but I don’t think that’s where I’d like to explore at the moment. For this idea to work, I’d need to look for more inspiration and a plot outline that strikes me as interesting and fun.

Retired Adventurers

This story idea is mostly a vehicle for allowing high level play in Dungeons & Dragons. The players are characters that have long since retired from active adventuring. Their deeds are sung by bards. Their faces are known by even the most remote town. Their wealth was enough to buy large private spaces. They’ve spent the past decade (or more) enjoying the rewards of their service. But the apocalypse is here and it’s here to take everything that they treasure away. Now, the heroes must un-retire, unite the kingdoms and take on one last adventure to save the world.

I like this prompt a lot and it shouldn’t be difficult to design an apocalyptic threat worthy of drawing the characters back into the world. But this story brings me back to Dungeons & Dragons and I’m just not ready to return there yet. But this is an idea I’ll be keeping around.

Star Trek

One of my favorite settings. Space, futuristic society and technology, exploration, and teamwork. It has all the ingredients of a great TV show, which I find a lot of similarities in RPG storytelling. I doubt my ability to do the setting justice. And I’m just not sure my players would be interested. I know a few of them are fans, but enough that the setting would be compelling?

So it’s a setting prompt but not much beyond that. Perhaps waiting for next year’s Star Trek movie and the new TV series will ignite my imagination and help me come up with a plot that is fitting for a Trek-based game.

Star Wars

Another great science-fiction setting. And as Star Wars is more action oriented than Star Trek, probably a bit more fitting for my group. I think this one is a bit easier for me to get into because I don’t have the massive depth of knowledge that I do for Star Trek. I’m a fan but I haven’t consumed every possible piece of content that has been created.

I think it’d go over better with my players and it’s certainly boosted by Episode VII’s release in December. But, I’m currently playing in a Star Wars campaign and don’t think I’d enjoy running one simultaneously. Plus again, no plot ideas yet.

Lovecraftian Horror

While I’m not widely read in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I have very much enjoyed playing Elder Sign and Eldritch Horror. I think my recent appreciation for the genre has grown from my brief time playing The Secret World and one of the recent D&D campaigns I was in. In addition, the few times I’ve run horror sessions in my D&D campaigns, I’ve found them to be some of my best work.

Fortunately, Lovecraftian Horror can work in any setting really and certainly could be paired with the Urban Fantasy idea below. But I feel like I’d need to spend some time reading up on Lovecraft before fully committing to a campaign like that. Also, I have concerns about Fate and horror, as Fate heroes are considered a cut above.

Superhero Team

My love of superheroes spans decades now. I fondly recall the days of the X-Men and the rise of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises. Now we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I haven’t read comicbooks until recently, the action has always captured my imagination. In addition, one of my favorite games, City of Heroes allowed me to be a superhero of my own design. I think I’d like to explore a street or small city scale story set in the MCU, like Daredevil or Jessica Jones.

The biggest strike against superheroes is that part of my group played Mutants & Masterminds with me a couple years ago. But this one is in contention for the top tier and I know a couple of my players would love it. But one of the players who would like it the most is taking a temporary hiatus. Might be best to shelve this one for a later date.

Urban Fantasy

Magic in the modern day. Obviously, The Dresden Files are a prime example but Constantine, Hellboy, and Buffy all present interesting takes. Could easily be combined with Lovecraftian Horror to give it more focus. But other than the setting, I don’t have any particular plot ideas that have stuck with me thus far.

Pulp Heroes

Early 20th Century adventuring. Heroes, villains and dungeons. Indiana Jones being the primary inspiration. It’s close enough to high fantasy that the transition would be hopefully smooth and comfortable. It also has a solid formula for a story that works. Granted it revolves around a Macguffin, but that is very much a in trope for the genre.

It doesn’t need a ton of planning, as the story can flow around travel and adventure centered on recovering the Macguffin. It’s a recently historical time that none of us lived through but everyone knows about. Stories set in this period are very action-oriented which seems like a natural fit for Fate.

Conclusion

After due consideration, I find the Pulp Heroes setting to be the best for my next story. It should provide a comfortable transition for the mechanics as the action will be very much like what you’d expect in Dungeons & Dragons. So, next time I’ll dig in to the resources I’m using and my preparation for this next campaign.

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