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63

Your options are sort of limited here. You're asking: "In an age where people have not built any large above-ground structures, what sort of large above-ground structures are there?" You need to either reach out to fantasy or think outside the box. Natural, mazelike terrain Open-air passageways through an icy tundra, or cracks in its ice. Effectively a ...


44

The thing with science fiction settings is that when technology creates a problem for the PCs, it can also generally create a solution. Part of the heist genre is figuring out what the alarm systems are and getting your hands on the gadgets you need to neutralize them. Other valid tactics include social engineering tactics like bribing or impersonating the ...


36

The traditional dungeon is really a literal 'node-path'. There are encounter locations represented by rooms connected by linear hallways. Really, the rooms are just physical places where combat, plot-points, or background color / descriptive bits can be handed out. The hallways are just the way you get the players from one node to the next. With this ...


28

Paperwork In most contemporary or near future settings, any time there is any sort of alert, there will also be an incident report. If a guard has to fill out a report every time he hits the alarm, s/he will make darn sure s/he has a situation requiring all that extra work. Your automatic alarm is going off? grab a hand-held and go check it out. Is ...


27

I hate railroading and GMs breaking immersion to enforce their hackneyed vision of "the plot" so I figured I needed to contribute another perspective in the answers. Try not being completely in love with the specific idea of "there at night" you have. So they can go there during the day, and it's still scary. You can employ fog, rain/snow, and/or thick ...


26

There are several choices. Just make it night. No matter how long it looks like it should take them to get there, they get there just after sunset. Might feel like railroading, but in a horror setting your players shouldn't mind too much. You can even use it to play up the creepiness factor: in the movie Army of Darkness, at one point the sun sets ...


22

For a one-off, treat it as a short story, rather than a chapter of a trilogy or an episode of a TV series. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Self-contained story. Its plot must resolve to everyone's satisfaction. It's ok if a thread or two are left dangling, but the main story must end. Pick a central theme of your adventure, which can be summed up ...


22

Some ideas: I built a city in a ravine. The ravine was about 300m across and twice as deep. A town had been cobbled together inside the ravine. It was a maze of stairways, catwalks, multi-level plazas, rooftops, and arcades. A river flowed through the bottom of the ravine providing food, water and sewerage disposal. Two cranes at the top of the ravine ...


22

I ran a game where players had their spirits projected into the realms of the damned and they were damn1 glad to get out of there by the time they'd escaped. Wraith: the Oblivion is a game you should consider having a look at for ideas but there are several things (depending on your world) that can threaten those who are already dead. Insanity – There's ...


21

First and foremost: get a handle on your player's senses of humor. If you've a group that loves slapstick but hates punning, the "dungeon of alliterative animalia" likely isn't going to be fun. The remainder have worked for me. Absurd names. Mayor Dinky Winky the Underequipped of Phallidon. A beggar who proudly lists his lineage to 10 generations of ...


20

Finding out why the elven magic has stopped working could be a very interesting adventure! The direction of the adventure largely depends on how magic "works" in your setting. This is only really limited by your imagination and what you and your players will enjoy. Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 1. Magic comes from the gods, ...


19

Here are some suggestions that would be different enough that they might make things interesting: Swamps. This works best if they are bog-like and have islands of solid ground linked by pathways that are surrounded by quicksand/mud/water. This also allows for unexpected surprises if they get too close to the edges. Rooftops of a city. Say, for whatever ...


18

I'm going to lay out an easy, step-by-step method that is in parts inspired by and borrowed from a book of plots I own. What you'll get as a result is a situation to drop your players into and see what happens. Eureka by Engine Publishing is an excellent book of adventure plots that are designed to be adaptable to any game and any genre. The format of the ...


18

I'd recommend the 5x5 method which discussed on the in detail on the critical-hits.com blog in the context of both adventures and campaigns The basic idea of this technique, is that you take 5 ideas: Overthrow the evil empire Prevent the sorcerer from ascending to demon-hood and 3 more... and so on, and then for each idea create 5 milestones that will ...


17

"Step away from that alarm, rookie. We don't need the 5-0 kicking in the door and making everybody play nice. When you've been here as long as I have, you'll realize that a night like this is a night to have some fun. Why did I sign up to be a security guard if not to lay down some pain every once in a while? Let's go kick some ass!"


16

A good and effective robbery that isn't a typical adventurer's smash and grab has a number of components: Recon Infilitration Securing the Objective Exfiltration These are all interesting and present exciting role-playing opportunities. Player may choose to preemptively plan or to assert that they have planned off-camera and make it up as they go along. ...


16

An appeal to role would fit very nicely here. Lawbringer: The bad guys will only operate at night. It is your job to catch them in the act. Msytical Ingredient: The mystical ritual can only be completed under the jet black sky of a new moon. Appeal to masculinity: "I double dog dare you to spend the night at [X]!" Appeal to Curiosity: "You can hear ...


15

Conventions are tricky beasts. Ask anyone who has demonstrated a system (new or old) or run a tournament they will tell you to live by the saying "your best laid plans will never survive engagement with the enemy". The best rule-of-thumb I use for conventions is KISS (Keep It Simple Sammy). Remember in any presentation what your are trying to do. You have ...


14

The very simple answer is: you don't. Roleplaying is about making decisions that have consequences. As a Game Master, it's up to you to make those consequences interesting and fun, but that doesn't mean they should always be beneficial to the party or the characters that incur them. If the players set off an alarm, then they will learn pretty quickly that ...


14

Wizards.com itself has a massive collection. Finding exactly what you need can be tedious, but for sheer volume it's hard to beat the wizards.com galleries and archives. The Art & Map Gallery and the Map-A-Week Archive are both free, and give access to most of the maps published in D&D 3.5 physical volumes and adventures (though not the content ...


14

Before you got much further, I want you to consider the possibility that you already know the answer. This is possible because you already told us the answer: If they took the ability to cross over into the NeverNever (the spirit world) then that would tell me they wanted NeverNever shenanigans, if they took Spider Walk then that would tell me they ...


13

I think the single largest thing you can do to make sure that everything works smoothly is to make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations. You are welcome to have any level of paranoia/security you want, as long as your players understand that going in. If they know it's there, they'll plan for it. If they're unaware for carefully ...


13

Your one shot game has to complete itself. It needs a distinct beginning, middle, and end that will all take place in the same ~4-8 hour session. While obvious, this is actually a pretty big deal since a lot of what happens in the game can be considered filler from a storyline perspective. What I mean is that when you're running a campaign, you might ...


13

Several come to mind without violating the Fantasy level of tech. Forest platforms (ala the Ewok City on Endor in Return of the Jedi, or the Wookie cities in Christmas in the Stars). Maze-like canyons and cave systems with open ceilings in parts. island-cities like Venice or pre-conquistador Tenochtitlan. Hanging cities like some of the abandoned Anasazi ...


13

Oblivious Sage already made a perfect reply, but I just wanted to add that scary places can be just as awfully scary in daylight. Perhaps the players get to the haunted forest and experience all kinds of unsettling stuff as they travel through it by day - something moving beyond a cluster of trees, objects and people appearing and disappearing where they ...


13

You walk into a giant cave, floored with clouds. There is a single golden platform, floating in the sky near the precipice you stand on, like a boat docked on the shore. Engraved on it is the arcane rune XIII. A short distance further you see your destination: another platform extending out into the clouds. The platform is large enough for ...


12

One word: conflicts. Conflicts drive action and plot. It sounds like you already have a grand scheme, but you want to drive the day-to-day adventuring within it. To get there, I'll build an example as we go. We'll look at three levels: the grand story, the region, and the local neighborhood. The Grand Story Let's assume the overarching Grand Story is a ...


12

Dungeons are often man-made, so why not try something with a more natural feel, like an overgrown forest, jungle or swamp? If it's sufficiently wild and untamed there'll be more than enough vast thickets and fallen trees that effectively block off routes and reduce the connectivity. Mist or fog can be used to reduce visibility and it can be very easy to ...


12

This specific question might be too localised, but I can easily answer the more general question. Even if there was a problem with that setup, that's no so much a problem as an opportunity to ask, "why?" Why is Creature X and Creature Y cooperating when normally they wouldn't? Creating unusual situations, then asking yourself how the heck that came about, ...


12

It sounds like they mistrust the Fate system to deliver competent combatants and are looking for "insurance" on their fighty stats. This doesn't mean they dislike the system, just that they don't trust it to behave in ways favourable for them playing competently. They may be using these super-abilities as a crutch, or insurance, to ensure that their ...



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