Here is my latest thinking about the ‘stuff I’m itching to run someday’. Interesting how things evolve: see my posts in early 2020, early 2019, 2017, 2016 and 2014 of things I was itching to run in prior years.
COVID-19 has caused our group to go virtual, and running games online lends itself to a different play style than in-person gaming. With that in mind, if opportunity arises in the next few months, here are things that are the top of my list to run, in rank order preference. Many of these settings use the Cortex rules, which should be released by September 2020. I’ve got a pre-release version which can tide me over for now.
1st Place (Tie): Firefly (Space Western)
Find a crew, find a job, keep flying. A post-Unification War space western using the Firefly RPG (using a slightly older version of Cortex, but 95% the same as Cortex Prime) with a couple of house rules imported from Cortex Prime.
1st Place (Tie): Trinity (Superheroes)
A Smallville inspired superhero setting set in a small town, probably in the 80s, back in the days before cell phones.
Uses the Cortex Prime rules configured to emulate a simpler, streamlined version of the award winning Smallville RPG.
This setting would use a Dresden-styles Pathways exercise to collaboratively build the setting and thereafter would be a sandbox with a lot of player-drive roleplaying and interpersonal drama in addition to supervillains.
Perhaps we could build the town based on Trinity, Texas: https://goo.gl/maps/XKfC4JhjBchCpsmM7
This location has a few things that I think could make for a great sandbox:
- Local High School with the Tigers mascot.
- Think of the creepy things that must dwell hidden in the nearby Davy Crockett National Forest, named for the legendary pioneer, which contains more than 160,000 acres of East Texas woodlands, streams, recreation areas, and wildlife habitat.
- Several small lakes plus Lake Livingston. What lurks beneath the water there or in the adjacent Trinity river?
- What supervillains might escape from the nearby Eastham, nicknamed the “Ham”, a local prison (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastham_Unit).
2nd Place: Crime Fighters (Superheroes)
Mid-30’s alternate reality superheroes noir setting, this time set in NY City. Uses the Cortex Prime rules configured to be a simpler version of either Marvel Heroic Roleplaying or Smallville.
3rd Place: Heroes of Britannia (Historical)
A continuation of the setting introduced in this one-shot set in historic England in the 790s. You play Saxons struggling to survive amidst politics, feuds, and the rising invasions of the Danes.
If I am running this, I’d prefer to use my own D6 home brew rules including Mass Battle rules, which I think played well in our one-shot.
Honorable Mention: Tales of Xadia
It’s not out yet, but should be in open playtest soon. I like the TV series, so I will be keeping an eye on this setting, particularly the adventure support they provide.
Here is a list of other campaigns that I’d potentially be interesting to run at some point.
Sandbox City Campaigns
- Mage Cops™ (Rarescape) — Wizard constables tackle crimes-of-the-week in NYC. I do want to run this someday, but want to wait till Rarescape is out of Beta and is stable and robust.
- Dresden Files (Dresden Files Accelerated or Dresden Files RPG (older Fate edition)) — Original Dresden Files universe characters in a city TBD. (Holding off till I read more of the books).
- Crimefighters (2d6 or Cortex) [Lack of 1-sheet adventures. Sandbox: High, Recurring NPCs: High, Campaign Module: No, Minis Prep: No] — Mid-30’s alternate reality Super Noir setting, this time set in NY City.
- Redmark City Campaign (D&D) [Sandbox: High, Recurring NPCs: High, Campaign Module: No, Minis Prep: Yes] — Levels 1-8 game set in city-state of Redmark.
- World of Greyhawk City Campaign (D&D) — Levels 1-8 game set in the World of Greyhawk, perhaps run as a campaign with shared GMs.
Pulp / Space Opera
- Battlewagons (2d6 or Atomic Highway) — Mad Max meets Speed Racer. Inspired by “Gaslands”, a reality-TV show featuring car combat between desperate people eking out an existence on the devastated Earth.
- John Carter of Mars: Phantom of Mars (Modiphius 2d20 system, simpler than the Star Trek 2d20 system) — Uncover the nefarious conspiracy of the mysterious organization known as the Eidolon as you adventure your way across Barsoom to save the people of the dying planet. Phantoms of Mars will take your heroes on a journey full of pulp-action, intrigue and heroism as they race to uncover the Eidolon conspiracy and see just how far it has spread. (Would be great for theater-of-the-mind and podcast Actual Play).
- Firefly: Civil War (Firefly RPG) — Epic mini-campaign conclusion to a Firefly campaign Todd, Mason and Stan were running a few years back.
- Firefly: Sandbox (Space Western) — (Firefly RPG) [Great for sandbox adventures, no minis needed, great for podcasting, 15+ page adventures but no one-sheets] A Post-Unification War series of adventures where the heroes get a ship, find a job, and try to keep flyin’. It will feel a lot like the Traveller campaign but the rules are more like Fate with a focus on fast-moving story and less on hard science.
- Star Trek (Investigation/Sci Fi/Stellar Enigmas/Starship Battles) — (Cortex or Star Trek Adventures) [Sandbox: Low, Recurring NPCs: Medium, Campaign Module: Yes, Minis Prep: No] Despite continuing tensions with the Romulans, Starfleet remains focused on its mission of exploration. A key area in achieving that end is a massive swath of unexplored territory at the edges of known space within the Beta Quadrant. Informally known as the Shackleton Expanse, this remote region spans dozens of sectors containing hundreds of uncharted systems. Until recently, little was known about the Expanse save for what little data long-range sensor probes had collected and the stories and legends that were culled from independent traders who claimed to travel in and near the Expanse. You are Starfleet officers who explore strange new worlds and boldly go where no one has gone before.
- Star Wars: Brak Sector Rebels (WEG d6 1e) [Sandbox: Medium, Recurring NPCs: Medium, Campaign Module: Yes, Minis Prep: No. Additional House Rules: Grenade Rules, wild die, use standard initiative (all declared actions on your turn like Savage Worlds, not segments), verify healing rules.] — The Brak Sector is a sector of space that serves as a staging area for Imperial Navy missions into the Outer Rim Territories. Rebel forces have made substantial gains in this former mining sector. Characters start as low-level, small-fry free traders but over time, exposed to the evil of the Empire, they join the Rebellion and become embroiled in events on a grander stale. It will be a part-Sandbox/part-military-missions campaign. GM notes: will use random encounters and plot seeds in the ‘Star Wars WEG RPG (D6) – Galaxy Guide 06 (1st Ed) – Tramp Freighters (40027)‘ book for ‘Savage Tale’ type adventures, but also use this books Plot Point Campaign (a 5 adventure campaign outlined on pp. 63-68, with the 5th, climactic adventure likely spanning several sessions).
- Star Wars: Scum and Villainy (WEG d6 1e) As above, but with a Bounty Hunter theme and setting more like The Mandalorian rather than Rebels.
- Star Wars: Legacy (WEG d6 1e) As above, but after Episode IX in a new universe (same tropes of Empire and Republic and Jedi, but original events).
Hard Sci-Fi Campaigns (Traveller)
- Blood & Steel (Imperium RPG, Traveller, or Rarescape) — After investigating a space anomaly, a group of fighter pilots find themselves on a starhopping quest to save humanity. (Think Battlestar Galactica) (Not very sandbox, and not a lot of recurring NPCs)
- Traveller RPG: The Deepnight Revelation Campaign (Traveller RPG) [Kickstarter books ship around July 2020] A converted heavy cruiser, Deepnight Revelation is one of the most powerful exploration vessels ever commissioned. Equipped for a twenty-year voyage, she will carry the Travellers on an epic journey from Charted Space to the edge of the Orion Arm. Deepnight Revelation must forge a path through uncharted systems and the territory of unknown alien races. Everything she finds will be new, and if she meets with disaster there will be no rescue.
- Eris Beta-V (2d6) [Requires significant conversion. Sandbox: High, Recurring NPCs: High, Campaign Module: Yes, Minis Prep: No]
— Think Firefly or The Expanse. A team of explorers investigates a magnificent ringed gas giant with its numerous moons. Ancient artifacts of enormous power can be found among the rings and asteroids. Every moon is a unique world to be explored. When the system’s valuable commerce is threatened by unscrupulous agencies, the team must root them out and put themselves at great risk on the icy fringes of interstellar space.
- Scientorium (2d6) [Requires significant conversion. Sandbox: Medium, Recurring NPCs: High, Campaign Module: Yes, Minis Prep: No]
— Hidden away by sheer distance and forever shrouded from the minds of the curious lies a mammoth artifact from the previous galactic age, the library of Scientorium. Its strange experience chambers offer passage to a million histories on a million worlds, secrets and technologies undreamed of. Now abandoned by all but its automated security systems and enigmatic caretakers, its workings are oddly twisted and jealous, meting out reward and punishment in equal measure. This is a classic science fiction saga, an epic journey across space and time in the vein of Niven or Heinlein!
Fantasy Campaigns (D&D 5e)
- Eberron (Pulp Fantasy) — (D&D 5e) [Great sandbox tools, have most minis, lots of organized play but lacks 1-sheet adventures] Eberron is a war-torn world filled with magic-fueled technology, airships and lightning trains, where noir-inspired mystery meets swashbuckling adventure. We’d have multiple GMs and use the highly-rated 13-session Convergence Manifesto series of adventures produced by Eberron-creator Keith Baker. These D&D 5e modules run 4 hours each and form a connected story arc.
- Greek Campaign: A Greek inspired setting could be cool, using either the WOTC ‘Mythic Odysseys of Theros‘ (also see here) or ‘Odyssey of the Dragonlords’, with some inspiration from Evil Hat’s ‘Agon’. Also see this.
- Middle-earth: Eriador Adventures (Adventures in Middle-earth/5e) [Sandbox: Low, Recurring NPCs: Medium, Campaign Module: Yes, Minis Prep: No] — While our Saturday group adventures East of the Misty Mountain, to the West in Eriador, other mysteries await. Delve into the ruins of overgrown Fornost, walk amidst the cairns of the Barrow-downs and venture to the lair of the Witch-king of Angmar himself, the ancient city of Carn Dûm — if you have the courage!
- Middle-earth: Adventures in Erebor / The Lonely Mountain (Adventures in Middle-earth/5e) – Adventure in Middle-Earth using the other setting guides. (Deferred to after Mirkwood campaign)
- Middle-earth: 4th Age Quest (Adventures in Middle-earth/5e) – Adventure in Middle-Earth a millennium before the Lord of the Rings. “Know this, people of Gondor: were it not for the selfless souls in Arnor who with flashing blades and spilled life-blood fought against the Witch-King and his foul blight in Angmar, our free lands would not have known peace, and our bright cities would long ago have crumbled into forgotten ruins.” (Deferred to after Mirkwood campaign)
- Middle-earth: 2nd Age Adventures (Adventures in Middle-earth/5e) – Adventure in Middle-Earth in the 2nd Age, inspired by the upcoming Amazon Prime series. (Deferred to after Mirkwood campaign)
- World of Redmark: Caress of Steel (D&D 5e) – New sandbox D&D campaign based on the 80’s Rush albums ‘Caress of Steel’ and ‘Fly By Night’. (Not on the table for now due to work required to run this)
- World of Redmark: War in Welcant (D&D 5e or 2d6) – New sandbox campaign inspired by Game of Thrones.
Horror / Urban Fantasy
- Solomon Kane (1600’s Fantasy/Horror/Monster-Hunters)— (2d6 RPG) [Not a sandbox, but 50+ one-sheet adventures and a plot point campaign. Great for episodic adventures. Simple conversion]. Cut a righteous path in a world of evil! You have seen the path to redemption, a road paved in the blood and bones of the evil you must defeat to save the world from its unholy taint. Face that which preys on men’s dreams, their fears, and their very souls. Walk The Path of Kane. Your enemies span the globe, reaching out from every shadowy corner of all four continents. Men, magic, and monsters of the darkest hearts and basest desires threaten the very world you tread. Humanity is lost without the will and steel of good folk like you.
- Rippers (Victorian Era Monster-Hunters with Superpowers) — (2d6 RPG or Cortex) [City-based campaign to some extent (in London), 50+ one-sheet adventures and a plot point campaign, great for episodic adventures, more complex conversion.] To the ordinary people of Victorian society, monsters are but silly superstitions or the cheap fiction of the penny bloods sold on the streets. But you are far from ordinary. You have seen horrors fearsome enough to stop a brave man’s heart, and you have lived to tell the tale. You are a Ripper—one of a secret band of monster hunters dedicated to saving humanity—and the horrors that stalk the night are your prey. To aid in this struggle, Rippers extract the essence of these monsters’ powers and use them to enhance their own abilities. But be warned, by taking such horrific measures you risk losing your mind…or worse. Torn between the need for greater power and the threat of terrifying insanity, you must choose how best to fight the creatures of the night. Choose well, for if the Rippers fail humanity is lost!
Mini-Campaigns (~ 3-6 sessions)
- Reich America: The Shadow Covenant (2d6 RPG) — Resistance fighters uncover a terrifying secret about the Final Reich.