It’s that time again! Time to celebrate our hobby with a bunch of vlogs, blogs, and other media. I’m not much on the vlogging, so here we go. The first prompt was SCENARIO. I decided to go literal with this prompt, so let’s talk about scenarios — adventures, modules, scenarios, whatever you want to call them.

Adventure “modules” have been around since the early days of D&D. A lot of folks don’t have the time to work up their own adventures, so having a packaged story with bad guys and maps, etc. is a great help. It’s also how my company, Black Campbell Entertainment, got started. I had a ton of stuff I had written up for my Hollow Earth Expedition game, and with Jeff Combos’ blessing, we started throwing out modules…scenarios…for people to use.

It’s funny, in some ways, that adventure modules (even in our city sourcebooks for the 1930s have them) have become part of my side gig. I never use them. That’s not true; I never used to use them, but lately, the quality and length of the adventures for some of the new games have allowed me to save time jumping people into a new game without me having to do all the foundational work. Even when I use them, they’re rarely in the form they were published. The GM has to adapt the adventure’s plot line, the timing and beats of the scenes, and the characters to suit his or her game group’s personalities and interests.

So here’s a few I did use recently. The group has been playing Alien by Free League out of Sweden, and Lex Arcana by Quality out of Italy. Both were games that i had a few ideas of where i wanted to go, but no clue of how I wanted to launch. As a result, I wound up using Andrew Gaska’s excellent Chariots of the Gods scenario, but with some tweaking. Mostly, this consisted of dropping the Montero subplot, and sticking much more tightly to an exploration/ rescue vibe. The players knew they were playing in an Alien game so they were much more cautious than some might be, which let to reduced change of infection from the Engineers’ “black goo” on the hulk, Cronus, which they were investigating. Once things finally went awry, they worked well together, and managed to keep the death toll down to one particular character vs. the monster; the rest died after the scenario ended when the sleeper android offed them — but they weren’t told that. Satisfied with the first run, the group was wiling to give it another go, so I went with a short campaign in which another ship is sent out to recover Cronus for Lasalle Bionational, which was jumped the Weyland-Yutani sponsored mission from the published scenario. The McGuffin — Cronus — had landed on a nearby world due to damage from the published adventure and decades of floating through space. I used the published adventure as a pilot, to jump start a new campaign with characters designed for or by the players.

I didn’t do this for Lex Arcana. We have been playing a D&D campaign set in an alternate Roman Empire that was originally low magic but has been increasingly more classic fantasy as the “old gods” return. I was more interested in Lex Arcana as a resource for that campaign, but reading the rules, I was intrigued. One of my players is a fan of Roman military history and the other I met while we were doing our graduate work — he in late antiquity, the period the game takes place in. instead of using a module to jumpstart the Lex Arcana game, I banged up a short mystery about a haunting in a small Raetian town to get the characters together, then used the published scenario Beyond the Limes to move them into a place where they could face the enemies of the empire.

Another scenario I used was The Minoan Affair quickstart for the game The Troubleshooters — a new RPG that Kickstarted last year, is currently being distributed by Modiphius, and which should have the physical books showing up soon. This game was based on the 1960/70s Franco-Belgian adventure comics, like Tintin and the like. I backed it on a whim, but i tried it out with the wife and daughter, and they loved it. It was a spur of the moment “Let’s game!” moment and I needed something fast — the perfect thing for using a module.

There are other scenarios I’ve bought over the years, but more to mine them for ideas — Odyssey of the Dragonlords for D&D 5e (and excellent Greek-styled campaign!), Ghosts of the Saltmarsh, for Tales from the Loop the Our Friends the Machines and Out of Time compilations. I’ve got everything published for Space: 1889 — but again, I never used these modules for the scenario, but for the material they had that could be cribbed for my own ideas.