Tuesday, 19 August 2014

RPG a Day, Day 19: Let me tell you of the days of high adventure(s)

Some time ago I said this:

And I stand by that. Don't get me wrong; Masks of Nyarlathotep (here and currently on sale in PDF, here in print) is amazing, but I don't think it's game-defining in the way The Enemy Within is. In fact, arguably Masks is very different from the common run of Call of Cthulhu scenarios. It would be the ideal culmination for a long campaign, taking the action to a new and larger stage. By contrast, The Enemy Within is pretty much the defining WHFRP scenario.

But that doesn't make either of them my favourite published scenario.

To be honest, I am not in the main a runner of published scenarios, certainly not as written. I ran my D&D group through Matt Finch's Tomb of the Iron God some months ago, but only after completely redoing the lower levels, changing the monsters in the upper levels and generally stretching it to fit my game. Which is, of course, what old-school scenarios are supposed to be used for. And I used to run a lot of Call of Cthulhu and TMNT scenarios back in the day, but these days I feel like my own scenario-creation instincts are sound enough that I can design things for my own game without too much trouble.

So, favourite scenario ...

... if it is the scenario I have run the greatest number of times, that's probably "In Media Res," which appeared in issue 10 of The Unspeakable Oath and was subsequently reprinted in one of the The Resurrected volumes. This is a little one-shot Call of Cthulhu scenario by John Tynes, although I like to think of it as an Unknown Armies scenario before there was such a thing. In it, the players find themselves standing around a murdered body, wearing uniforms from an institute for the criminally insane, clearly having participated in some kind of horrible murder ritual and with no idea how they got there. It's a nice simple start-off premise, and I have run it several times, each time as a live-action game. I monkeyed with it a bit every time to make it fit the location it was being played in, of course.

Alternatively, my most-run scenario may be "Caesar's Weasels," which appears in the TMNT and Other Strangeness corebook. I talked about this great game back on Day 2 or 3, and this has been my go-to scenario every time I've run it, if only because a) it is very simple, b) the villains are kind of sympathetic, and c) the central conceit has that kind of "Flash Fact" level of scientific plausibility that you might find in a 20-minute episode of a Saturday morning cartoon.

I'm not sure either of these is my favourite -- like, if you asked me, I wouldn't name either of these -- but the evidence suggests that I do keep coming back to them. I think it's no coincidence that they're tight, self-contained done-in-one stories, which may be something that appeals to me in a scenario. If I'm going to be running something huge, I feel as though I would prefer to customise it a little more to fit my group and its needs, which sort of disqualifies it from being my favourite published scenario.

I'm sure I've probably left some things out, especially scenarios I've already mentioned ("The Cooks of Cuirnif," Forgive Us) but if there's something you feel like I've slighted, let me know!

(I have never been as fond of "Jailbreak" from One Shots as most people seem to be.)

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