It’s funny, the question I hear/read a lot is: how do you come up with adventures. If find this odd because – as my home group will attest – I am constantly coming up with varied adventures, so much so that my group is often hopping between genres and periods. We’ve settled down now since I’ve promised a minimum of a year’s campaign, but I am still constantly mapping out adventures or campaigns in my head.
There’s a bit of time until I start hyping the Kickstarter for Nefertiti Overdrive (coming in January! Save your allowance!) so let’s talk about building stuff. Since I do want to keep reminding people about Nefertiti Overdrive (not going to lie to you) and since presently my home group is involved in a globe-trotting 1930s supernatural pulp adventure, I’m 20going to use these two styles/genres as my examples.
The hardest part of this to explain is the source of inspiration. It’s hard to explain, because for me, it is everywhere! I get inspiration all the time from comics, stories, novels, histories, TV series, movies, radio interviews – seriously, anything can provide inspiration.
Probably the best recent example of a great piece of media for inspiration was the Star Wars: Rebels pilot. This thing is made for inspiration, given that it is built from inspiration provided not just by other Star Wars stories but also from other modern speculative media.
At its core, Rebels is about a group of kind-hearted criminals working for the greater good. It’s Firefly by way of Robin Hood. The pilot was used to intro a new member to the crew, the point of view character. The story around which this was wrapped involved a prisoner rescue caper.
This is pretty easy to bend both to Nefertiti Overdrive and 1930s Pulp. Nefertiti Overdrive is about a group of legendary heroes led by a princess of the deposed dynasty. The new dynasty and that dynasty’s fearsome allies – the military superpower of the era, the Assyrians – view the group as criminals, but the PCs do not target the common folk, only the representatives of this new order. Sure, the PCs don’t travel around in a space ship, but the main story of this episode is set on a single planet, which could be a single area or even town for Nefertiti Overdrive.
For a campaign, I’d take the concept of working as criminals to fund opposition against the new regime. From the episode itself, I’d take the prisoner rescue mission and have the targets of the rescue former soldiers of the princess’ dynasty. This would be a great insert if someone new wanted to join the group. If they wanted to play the plucky young street kid who is having a moral awakening, that’s fine, but if they are going to play another epic warrior, the PC could be a leader of the imprisoned soldiers.
Applying the concept of Rebels to 1930s Pulp works pretty well considering the number of actual civil wars, invasions and rebellions ongoing in that period – leading up to World War II. I’d take Rebels and place it in Japanese controlled Manchuria (where I also set the first adventure for my home group’s campaign) mostly because a fair knowledge of the region and my absolute adoration for the Good, the Bad, the Weird.
The PCs would be freedom fighters with ties to both the Korean independence movement and the various criminal organizations and warlords operating in Manchuria. Instead of a group of prisoners, there would be one political prisoner the group needed to free, but he or she is being held with a bunch of other prisoners, some criminal, some political. Manchuria’s a pretty big place, and maybe the group has a hidden aircraft that they use (in place of the spaceship in Rebels) allowing them to travel quickly and appear as if by magic. I could steampunk it up and make it a kind of VTOL aircraft, part helicopter, part airplane.
That’s honestly the easy thing – using inspiration to create a high-level campaign concept. There’s inspiration everywhere, and if you aren’t using it directly (playing Firefly in the Star Wars universe), you can easily adapt it to what you want to play.
You can find the Building Stuff series here.
You can find the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rules here.