A More Interesting Life

Recreating life as I go along

Tag: RPG (page 2 of 5)

RPG Idea – Crash Investigators

China Air Crash

This is an idea inspired by Michael Crichton’s novel, Airframe.

It involves the characters playing a team of air-crash investigators, who find something strange during their investigations. It would be best suited to a modern or near future setting, although it could work in space opera as well… Even Fantasy, in a setting that features air-travel.

For a system, I would use on that focuses on investigation, Gumshoe would be ideal, although really any system could work.

The are several ways to make the investigations more interesting, or perhaps use them to lead into a deeper story.

In a campaign focusing on air-crash investigators, you could start of with a “simple” crash, with no strange elements, but there are several ways you can take this.

  • A body of somebody not on the passenger manifest is found on the crash site
  • Several crashes have something in common, perhaps they all have a passenger with the same name, or happen at the same time of the day.
  • The crashes are due to a manufacturing defect in the plane model, and the company is trying to cover it up.
  • A crash is actually somebody’s attempt at covering up a murder
  • A plane crashes, but there are no records of it anywhere, no flight log, and none of the passengers seem to have any records, and the markings are in an unknown language… Where did it come from?



Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox – Review

I have never really used terrain in my RPGs, except purely as scenery. For those of you wanting terrain to play a bigger part in your encounters, Terrain Toolbox, from Sneak Attack Press, gives a lot of options.

Advanced Encounters - Terrain Toolbox Cover

Terrain Toolbox is a 32 page PDF, with the first part taken up with an introduction, and an overview of how to use terrain in encounters, and a specific set of rules. Each terrain is considered a level, which measures the effect of it. There are some mathematical oddities in the rules , for example, a terrain can do low, medium or high damage, but a terrain with low damage at level 1 does 1d8 +2, while a terrain with high damage does only 1d6. At higher levels the damage numbers start becoming what you would expect.

The bulk of the book is taken with terrain examples. They are extensive, and useful to almost any game, with plenty of variety, and suggestions on how they could make an encounter more interesting. The emphasis is firmly on their use in a combat encounter, and a discussion of other ways to use terrain would have been very interesting… Perhaps in a future supplement?

The layout of the book is very good, and it is easy to find the relevant terrain. It does not use any PDF features, but with its short length it does not really need any.

The Terrain Toolbox is available from RPGNow for $4.95, and is perfect to add depth to combat encounters, preventing them from getting stale.

This review is for the Pathfinder version of Terrain Toolbox, there is also a version for 4e available.

Dislaimer: This is a review of a free copy the I got from RPGNow.

The Stars are not right

Class C Stellar Engine

This idea is for a far future setting, and would work well with some Lovercraftian overtones.

Stellar Engines are theoretical ways to move a star around… So that got me thinking to how we could use them in a game, other than as a cool piece of scenery. Of course, entire campaigns could be run on one (perhaps as an alternative to a Dyson sphere setting)

In a first contact style-game, the first hint we have that we are not alone in the galaxy is when one of the nearby stars starts moving closer. Do we try and get somebody there, to say hi, or do we broadcast to them, hoping for a response?

For a more Lovercraftian twist, in a space opera setting, perhaps a group of well-funded cultists are tired of waiting for the stars to become right, and have decided to shuffle them into place, ensuring the rise of the old ones? The campaign could revolve about a group of workers working on building the Stellar Engine, who discover that the company doing the funding is actually trying to awaken the Great Old Ones.

In a similar vein, the game can take place once the star has already started moving. Or perhaps the characters are building a stellar engine in order to prevent the stars from ever aligning?

RPG Idea – Price of Beauty

This is one of those ideas that prove that you can get ideas anywhere, in this case it is a monster inspired by contemplating beauty treatments.

The Beautifier looks like a giant worm. big enough to swallow a person whole. Its digestive system is not actually strong enough to wholly digest a person, instead its gut enzymes cleanse and rejuvinate the skin.

Since the trip through the digestive tract takes about an hour, a person needs to have some sort of oxygen supply while undergoing the treatment.

There are several ways to use such a creature, it could be a background detail in a SciFi Setting, or a focus of a mystery, as a person is found suffocated with extremely soft and clear skin (somebody whose air supply failed during the treatment, disposed of in order to avoid lawsuits)

In a more post-apocalyptic setting, some of the beautifiers have escaped, and now roam the cities, still trying to beautify people…

Finally, perhaps they are a naturally occurring organism, and the players are hired by a spa in order to catch a couple of them.

RPG Idea : Deathtrap Maintenance

This idea was originally inspired by the stories The Trouble With Death Traps and The Ghost in the Death Trap, both by Marjorie James.

The setting is a very cliched, standard fantasy one, and the players are a groups of builders, smiths and planners whose job is to build and equip dungeons for those that want them.

The characters would have to deal with the poltergeists union, dissatisfied clients (a bit tricky when the client in question is a thousand-year old Litch)

There is still room for a classic dungeon crawl in such a campaign… Perhaps an trap needs to be reset deep in the dungeon, and the originals blueprints have been lost?


RPG Idea: Fantasy Characters in the Modern World

This is an outgrowth of a thread a read a long time ago on RPG.net (which I will not link to, since I cannot find it). It discussed what would happen if a bunch of High-level Player Characters from a typical fantasy setting somehow came to our world.

In my opinion, I think the result would be complete chaos, involving loss of life and property destruction on a massive scale (i.e. standard PC behavior)

So, we can use this in a game. This time the characters would be the people investigating these events, and trying to figure out how to deal with the superpowered troublemakers that have suddenly appeared.

For a more interesting game, you can do this with two groups, one playing the fantasy characters, and the other one the modern ones.

RPG Idea: Conflicting GMs

I got this idea while writing my article about the Adjustment Bureau, but I thought it deserved a post on its own.

In this game, we have two GMs, each one trying to guide the party to a separate goal. Perhaps the GMs are representing feuding Gods? Or, they are just an abstraction, with one GM trying to help the party achieve their goals, while the other one acts to prevent them.

Of course, there will need to be some sort of currency expressing what each GM can do, and how often. Perhaps each has control over one aspect of the setting?

Anyway, this is just a rough idea, which would need to be expanded and detailed a lot to turn into a proper game, but I think it could be a fun experience.

RPG Idea: Housemates of the Antichrist

This was an idea I had years ago, originally intended for the Buffy system, since I think it would fit in well with the Buffyverse… It could work just as well in other systems (I think Dresden Files might actually be a better fit)

The idea is simple, all the characters are friends at university, living together, and sharing a house. The only problem is, one of them is the antichrist, prophesied to doom the world, raise hell, that kind of thing. IF it was up to him, he would really prefer to just stay at home and play video games, since he is basically a good person at heart.

So, most of the game will be taken up with the character and his friends dealing with the forces of evil trying to recruit him, with the occasional do-gooder that has decided to kill him, since he is Eviiil. I think this could make a fun darkly comic game.


RPG Idea: What Happened to Humanity?

Like a lot of my other ideas, this one could either be truly awesome, or fail miserably when tried in practice.

The characters are all intelligent robots, dong something far away from Earth, perhaps setting the ground work for a colony on Titan, with no direct human supervision, and no little or no contact with Earth.

After a while, they realize that they have not had any updates, or requests for information from Earth for a long time, and their queries go unanswered.

Being independent AIs, they decide to investigate, and use some of the construction machinery to build a way to get back to Earth. There they find that humanity has disappeared.

The players are playing the robots, trying to figure out what happened to their human masters, as they slowly piece together the puzzle, the players will play through brief vignettes of the humans in the days leading to whatever happened to them.

RPG Inspiration: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is based on the Story “Adjustment Team” by Phillip K. Dick. Like pretty much all of the movie versions of his stories, it is entertaining, but does not do justice to the original.

Adjustment Bureau Poster

The Adjustment Bureau is a 2011 movie, directed by George Nolfi and starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Michael Kelly. (IMDB page)

Anthony Mackie

Small things matter

The entire movie happens because the main character does not spill coffee on himself at a correct time.

Perhaps the characters are playing the adjustment bureau? and their job is to implement the small changes necessary to maintain the plan.

Unclear goals

I find it interesting that the Adjustment Bureau never lets its operative know of the full plan. When the coffee plan does not work, if Harry had known that the point of it was to make the main character 10 minutes late, it would have been very easy for him to engineer something.

I am not really sure of what the application to games of this is, but I did find it very interesting.

Seeing things you are not supposed to

I like the idea of the characters getting to see things that they are not really supposed to. Perhaps the characters in a fantasy game get an artifact allowing them to see the machinations of the Gods. How will the characters react when they find out that the war which killed thousands of people, including their loved ones, was just to settle a bet?


I love the running through doors idea… I really need to add that into an RPG one day… Not a 1005 sure how to best handle it, though.

Adjustment Bureau Fate book


The whole movie is an example of how players deal with a railroading GM… Trying anything possible to get out of the railroad… Really, most of the time, just give the characters somebody trying to force them to follow any kind of plan, and you can watch them struggle against it, by any mean possible.

The Adjustment Bureau

Trust no one with a hat

I just really like the idea that some innocuous characteristic suddenly becomes threatening. Perhaps the characters in a fantasy setting are told not to trust anyone with clean hands? Or perhaps, no-one wearing gloves.?

Adjustment Bureau Agents

Not really bad guys

Finally, I like the fact that the antagonists in this movie are not bad guys… They do not really want to make the main character suffer, they are just sticking to their plan, which is never explained in the movie (if memory serves me, in the original story their purpose was to prevent a nuclear war). In a sense, the plan called for the characters to reach their full potential.

I have always like having morally grey antagonists, who oppose the characters for a good reason.


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