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One of the huge advantages of playing D&D (any edition) is that it has a truly huge base of adventures, both published and fan-made. Call of Cthulhu also has a reasonably large basis of both published and fan-made adventures, mostly by dint of it being quite old and having a very dedicated fan community.

What other systems have a reasonable base of ready to play adventures available? I'm mostly interested in free adventures, probably fanmade and am looking for total number of adventures available, I don't care if they came out 30 years ago. I am not looking for adventure paths or metaplots. I want short, episodic adventures I can run for my group, though occasional links between them is fine.

Background: I'd like a break from my Call of Cthulhu game, but I don't have time to write my own adventures. Ergo, I'd like to know what other options there are for me.

Games I know about already:

  • Paranoia had a few published back in the day

  • Dungeonslayers has a reasonable number on their website.

  • d20 Modern had a good number put out on Wizards of the Coasts website.

I see a lot of games with fan made monsters, items, rules, etc, but very few with ready to use adventures. What have I missed? Which games have had a large number of adventures created for use with them, how many, and where can I get them?

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Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/10023/… I think it's ok to differentiate all time vs new as opposed to free vs paid (though you need to pick one). Having said that, I've tried to improve the question a bit - clearly it's a bit weak because the answers are sucking. People, don't just throw out a system name. Does it have a "lot" of adventures? How many is "a lot"? Link to a list of them - where are the free ones, and where are the published ones? –  mxyzplk Sep 29 '11 at 7:43

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As you've noted, D&D (all varieties) and Call of Cthulhu have huge amounts of adventure support. Besides them:

Savage Worlds has a huge amount of fan support; the link goes to a forum thread cataloging more than 100 free adventures in all genres.

Also Mutants & Masterminds has a lot of adventure support from Green Ronin (here's a dozen freebies) and third parties through their M&M Superlink program.

Most of what Mongoose Publishing does has good adventure support historically; they put out a lot of support for Paranoia, Conan, Traveller, all their weird 2000AD stuff, etc. More paid than free, however.

Pelgrane Press does well too with adventures for their GUMSHOE-based games: Trail of Cthulhu has a whole bunch but there's also a couple good adventure collections for Mutant City Blues and Esoterrorists. Their new SF one, Ashen Stars, is shipping an adventure collection as the first thing out of the gate. Paid, but a couple free ones out on the Web.

Here's a suggestion - go to RPGNow and drill down on "Free Products," then "Adventures" and then open up "By Rule System" and you can see free adventures by system. Although sadly, the numbers in parens don't take "free" into account, so you have to click in and out a bit. Once you do, you see a pretty decent number of free adventures in there, though.

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Traveller Games

The database of episodic adventures for it is quite lengthy, counting only the commercial ones, at over 30. Adding the magazine ones pushes it well over 50.

Classic Traveller (CT) alone had 13 published non-campaign adventures (Adv 1 to 13), 7 double-adventure books with 2 each, (DA 1 to DA 7), 3 campaign adventures† (TTA, Tarsus, Beltstrike), 2 campaign frameworks‡ (Spinward Marches Campaign and Adv 0), 76 semi-detailed adventure seeds (76 patrons), 24 issues of JTAS at 1-3 short adventures apiece. (Note that CT is actually 2 editions: pre 1981 and post 1981, but the adventures and such are the same.)

Adding MegaTraveller's list, there are fewer: a dozen or so from Challenge Magazine, plus two campaign modules (Knightfall and Arrival Vengeance).

There are several dozen more third party adventures for CT.

Further, all the above can easily be run in the current edition, Mongoose's Traveller, with only minor modifications.

Acquiring the vast majority of the above mentioned is done relatively inexpensively.

  • The CT CD-ROM is available for $35 from Far Future Enterprises, and includes in PDF all the CT rulebooks, including Books 0-8, Adv 0-13, Supplements 1-12, DA 1-7, AM 1-8, The Traveller Book, Starter Traveller, The Traveller Adventure, Spinward Marches Campaign, Tarsus, Beltstrike, and Striker, plus several board games, and 1st Editions of Books 1-3 & 5.
  • The JTAS CD-Rom includes all the JTAS issues, plus all the CT issues from Challenge magazine. Also $35.
  • The Apocrypha and Apocrypha 2 CD's add several dozen more. These are 3rd party expansions for CT, including adventures, expansion rules, alternate settings. $35 each.
  • The MegaTraveller CD-ROM includes all the GDW released material for MegaTraveller. Sadly, it doesn't include the quite excellent DGP materials. It also includes the MT specific Challenge articles. Note that this is a much better ruleset than CT for many people. Also $35.

Note that the current ruleeset, Mongoose Traveller, has its own adventures; 1-2 short ones in every product, plus a 12-episode campaign free in PDF, plus an average of 1 adventure per issue since the mid 80's in their free house magazine, Skills and Portents While not exactly compatible with CT, the mechanics are close enough that the specific mechanics in CT adventures won't raise too many eyebrows, and character conversion is a matter of knowing which skills don't exist or are renamed in which edition, and accounting for those changes. The core book is $40, the adventures in S&P and the campaign are free PDF, and the corebook PDF is about $25... 760 patrons is quite usable as well, providing adventure seeds galore... 760 of them.

Also, there are a surprising number of fan-written adventures on the net. Well, not so surprising, given that the game-line's history starts in 1977... but still.


Notes

† the campaign advetures are quite easily broken apart and used as chunks episodically. Tarsus and Beltstrike both contain 5 episode mini-campaigns, plus a lot of ideas for further work in both settings. They were pricy at $20 in the mid 1980s... but as part of the CD, dirt cheap.
‡ These campaign frameworks won't meet your needs. They are setups with a couple of adventure seeds, and large meta-plot issues being covered. They provide a clear way to set-up and run a low-prep improvised campaign.

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Ars Magica

Ars Magica has many adventures available for it, as the plots of all the adventures of earlier editions (especially 4th) are quite compatible and the mechanics are absolutely trivial to update behind the screen. I've run many adventures from supplements when I had absolutely no clue what else to run. There are also massive resources available on the internet for adventures at various levels of preparation.

I quite recommend using the published 4th ed adventures for a mini-campaign in 5th. I've run the feast of the dammned (parts one and two) and had a lot of fun with it.

Adventures

Sub Rosa Fanzine: http://www.subrosamagazine.org/

List of lists of adventures: http://www.durenmar.de/cenaculum.html

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Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, and Earthdawn all had some very high quality material. Look at Atlas Games as they have published adventures for other games. Of course, you can get Over The Edge which has a gazillion story ideas in it.

Edit: Links: Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, and Earthdawn listing. You will get descriptions, reviews, and can buy them directly from there. Talsorian has a link list to fan sites that will contains some adventures and wikipedia has a list of all the published books. Personally, I would go with source books instead of adventures as they tend to cover more interesting ground. Simple google searchs can you get to lists for both Shadowrun and Earthdawn.

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Why the down vote? (read: how can I improve my answer? If you don't tell me why you downvoted, I cannot change it and make it better. –  Sardathrion Sep 29 '11 at 8:36
    
It looks like someone downvoted all of the answers to this question mate. +1 from me for the superset Atlas Games. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 29 '11 at 10:01
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I downvoted all the answers because of their low quality. Throwing out a system name "you remember had some adventures" is nowhere near a high quality answer to this question. See my guidance on the comment on the question. –  mxyzplk Sep 29 '11 at 14:39
    
@mxyzplk: without a more precise question, that's the best that can be done -- IMNSHO. –  Sardathrion Sep 30 '11 at 7:45
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@sardathrion hardly. Giving a listing of some of the adventures available goes a LOT further than just the system name... –  aramis Sep 30 '11 at 20:51

It's long out of print, but I remember MERP having plenty of adventures and campaign material.

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+1 all the early ICE supplements were really well done. Highly recommended, especially Court of Ardor with evil elves trying to destroy the Sun. –  Sardathrion Sep 28 '11 at 7:29

Other Options

Background: I'd like a break from my Call of Cthulhu game, but I don't have time to write my own adventures. Ergo, I'd like to know what other options there are for me.

Perhaps the answer isn't in published adventures, but in running a game designed for no-prep. Several rulesets are quite suited to this style of play.

Mouse Guard, despite having several published adventures (2 in the core book alone; several more in the new boxed set edition) is designed for a 5-15 minute prep per GM adventure. Further, it can easily be played very episodically, and is a snap to teach players. Prep literally can be as simple as "pick a mission premise, and one animal encounter, one weather event, one wilderness event, one mouse event." It's designed to minimize the need for prep, and to make the little needed prep very quick.

Several of the Fate system games are designed specifically for no-prep or prep as group session. Spirit of the Century is designed specifically for no-prep, seat of your pants, take your cues from the character sheets games. And it works. Diaspora uses the same engine, but has session 1 be campaign prep - the players provide the GM with the setting, the major plot hooks, and the character tie-is ... the GM merely needs to improvise the bad guys, easily done on the fly. Both even support "No prior generated character" play for both PC and NPC characters - yes, start playing before you finish generating the character.

Burning Empires - this is a campaign game, not really suited for one-shots. The rules are pretty strict... because it's very clearly side-versus-side, and the GM has very few additional duties past being one of the sides. With a larger group, say 5 or 6 players, the GM can even step out from that, and run it PC group A vs PC Group B. The GM doesn't even create the setting nor the scenes - the group as a whole does. In fact, due to the rules, pre-written adventures are nearly impossible to pull off.

Blood & Honor, Houses of the Blooded - These games, like Burning Empires, require a reactive GM, not a proactive one. Due to the nature of the task system, any pre-generated adventure is going to be dragged all over the place by player actions... they are excellent games, play quite well, but you just can not prep for them. And so, one doesn't. One inserts the Guest NPC or the Situation of the Week, and sees the mayhem evolve. having a general idea of a plot is accomplishable, but detailed encounters are not. And, like Fate system, NPC's can be filled in on the fly - come up with the concept, and run with it.

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Eh, I'm not a great improve DM. I prefer to have some sort of outline, then fill in the rest as I go. My 2nd favourite response to my DMing was when a player read the adventure I'd run for him and respond that he hadn't realized how much of it I'd been making up. However I still like having a template, plotline and stats ready to go. Just like a 2-3 page thing like most of the ones in the CoC core rulebook. –  Canageek Sep 30 '11 at 21:28
    
QUite literally, these games run themselves, once the players get into them. You asked for options; without suggesting these, the answer list would be incomplete for others, and due to the rules here, duplicate questions have to be closed and referred back to the first one... so, honestly, this answer isn't for you as much as others... but still, giving one of these a go is a very good "No prep time" option. –  aramis Oct 1 '11 at 4:11

Fiasco has something like 45 free playsets available from the publisher's website. (There are also two playset collections of three playsets each, the collections costing ~US$5, and the two books also have some playsets.) One of the available free playsets even takes place in Paranoia's Alpha Complex.

If you're simply looking for a short break from an existing campaign, Fiasco is an excellent option. There is no GM (everybody gets to be a player!), there is very nearly zero set-up beyond learning the rules, and games are one-shots of approximately 1-3 hours in length.

While each playset gives you a vastly different setting, the general theme of the game is "caper gone wrong," as in many movies; the game's subtitle is "A game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control." To quote the publisher's website:

Maybe some dude from youth group talked you into boosting a case of motor oil, but now your cousin is dead in a swamp and you killed him. Maybe you and your girlfriend figured you could scare your wife into a divorce, but things went pear-shaped and now a gang of cranked-up Mexicans with latex gloves and a pit bull are looking for you. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

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