Five Concepts to Kick-Start a Short Campaign

This one’s for RPG Blog Carnival April: Humor in gaming.

Not long after I began this blog, I wrote a post on ways to begin a campaign, pointing out many of the common beginnings that get overlooked as clichés because everyone remembers the tavern opening, and finished one paragraph with the following sentence:

While I don’t think anyone’s done amnesiac jail escapees on motor-scooters all roaring to the same intersection of hallways just as their vehicles break down, I imagine it’s only a matter of time.

One of my friends made it very clear that he liked this game concept. It got me to thinking about other crazy ideas I could bring up, and what came out was:

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  • The Fated Meeting. Amnesiac jail escapees on motor-scooters (or in other systems, insert appropriate transportation) all roar up to the same place before their transportation simultaneously gives out, as mentioned earlier. Who are they? Why are they here? Why were they in jail? What memories have they lost, and how did they lose them? What happened to their rides? What happens now?

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  • Cthulhu of the Century. Imagine, if you will, Call of Cthulhu using Spirit of the Century rules. Featuring a fight against the titular elder evil himself. Lots of potential for hilarity even in the beginning, but then you get to the crowning question: How many ways can your players tag the Aspect “Eats 10d10 people per round”?

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  • Ninjas on a Biplane. Inspired by phrases a couple of my friends have used. If biplanes make everything awesome, as one puts it, and if another’s affirmation that everything’s better with ninjas is true, what happens if you have a ninja army clinging to the wings of biplanes? And then you’d need to put them up against pirates in zeppelins….

Our adorable overlords

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  • The Secret Masters of Everything. Everything you know is wrong. For millennia, the direction of history has been determined by a small elite group of individuals: the Cabal of Familiars (or Cute Mascots, depending on system), ‘pets’ or ‘harmless companions’ of history’s movers and shakers who together decide what will be allowed to happen. The PCs discover and investigate the existence of this cabal, answering questions that will shake their beliefs forever. Who are these creatures? How have they achieved such power? CAN YOU RESIST THOSE EYES?

Lizard with agenda

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  • The Secret Masters of Everything, Version 2: On the Shoulders of Giants. As in “The Secret Masters of Everything”, the world is controlled by an elite cabal of familiars/animal companions/sickeningly adorable mascot characters. Only instead of trying to reveal and overthrow these secret overlords, the players ARE the Cabal.

Best of all, these scenarios can be mixed and matched. Amnesiac prison escapees are the only ones who can stop the return of Cthulhu. Ninjas and pirates battle their way through the skies according to a plan by the Cabal to wipe both sides out so that their robots will reign superior. PC groups representing both sides of the Secret Masters scenario get into an endless match of chessmastery and countermoves trying to eliminate each other. For added chaos, try using all of the above at the same time.

Alternate suggestions? Attempts to run one or more of these messes yourself? New aspects of each to be played up? Fire away.

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