Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Campaign Ideas : Agents of the Weird

Part one (sort of) of a series. I am often blessed - or cursed - with a preponderance of campaign ideas. And there's never enough time to run them all, so some of them inevitably get shoved to the side. The thought occurred to me, a while back, that it might be useful to document these ideas somewhere. I may get to run them somewhere down the road, and having them all listed on my blog (linked by a convenient 'campaign ideas' tag) could be useful.

This is one that's been circling my brain in various forms for a while now, and it was brought back to the forefront by Warehouse 13, on the Syfy Channel. In fact, my ideas for the campaign date back to my first encounter with the GURPS supplement Warehouse 23, which in turn was inspired by the same source material that Warehouse 13 is mining - namely, the big government warehouse featured at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the beginning of that.. other Indiana Jones movie*.

* You know. The one with the monkeys.

The core concept of the campaign is that the players would create characters from various government backgrounds, recruited into a secret organization to protect America and the world from things the public does not need to know about. It's a very broad concept, and it has been mined by several games, shows, or movies* in the past, varying only in the type of secrets they keep.

* Men in Black, GURPS Conspiracy / Warehouse 23, Bureau 13, Warehouse 13, et cetera. Heck, Call of Cthulhu fits.

The campaign, as I envisioned it, would take the kitchen-sink approach to the weird : it's all true. Aliens. Time travel. Psychic phenomena*. Cults and conspiracies. Vampires and werewolves, sorcery and the supernatural. Some of the adventures would fit the Warehouse 13 mold - recovering a dangerous artifact, or dealing with one that was already thought to be safely contained. Others would be more violently oriented - wiping out an alien advance force before they can call in an invasion, or hunting down a vampire preying on the locals in a small town. And of course, it wouldn't always be obvious what the problem was - investigation would be a must.

* Doo doo, da doo doo.

I'd probably run it in Mutants and Masterminds, because although there are dozens of 'action agent' RPGs out there, I'd need something universal and big to handle all the 'weird' things they'd be dealing with. Savage Worlds, HERO, or GURPS would also work, but Savage Worlds doesn't give me the detail I crave, and HERO and GURPS are too much work. M&M is usually pretty non-lethal, but with a couple of optional rules thrown in, I could have the players actually worried about their survival, I think.

The first adventure or two could be the gathering of the team, introducing their setting, sewing some seeds of mistrust and ambiguity about the agency they work for*, that sort of thing. I even have a couple of adventure hooks that I've written up - and generating quick sessions would be a snap under this premise.

* I mean, you basically have to.

If I were to have the necessary free time open up right now, I might be reluctant to run it, because it intrudes on the design-space of my friend Eric's game - which is basically a Hellboy / Planetary-inspired 1970's Investigation game. Covering aliens, time travel, psychic phenomena*, sorcery and the supernatural, et cetera. I think I could distinguish them with the tone and lower power level of the PCs, but I'd prefer to leave it with room to breathe.

* Doo doo da doo.

Still, this idea resurfaces any time I think about starting a new game, mainly because of my love of the 'Warehouse 23 Basement' feature on the website for Steve Jackson Games. It has apparently been discontinued due to overwhelming web traffic, but it was basically a list of thousands of 'weird' items that users had submitted, that you could view randomly, one at a time. Fortunately, even though the feature was shut down, I still have about 4500 of its entries saved in a spreadsheet on my home PC. Almost any one of those is an adventure hook.

In fact, one of the items might have been a literal 'adventure hook'. There was some weird stuff on there.

No comments:

Post a Comment