Campaigns in a nutshell. Adventures in a sentence.


First Post
The Ol' Switcheroo

The party is from a small remote town high up in the mountains. One day, a bright light fills the sky and a horrible sound floats through the air. Rumors reach the village that the outside world is changed somehow; expeditions speak of cities of ghosts and of a black sky . Trade and communication ceases with areas outside of the mountain range. The PCs thus spend most of their low-levels doing standard PC stuff in the mountains (political intrigue, dungeon crawls, kill orcs, slaying dragons, rescuing princesses, etc.) All the while avoiding the outside world.

Occassionaly, groups of ghosts wander in and ravage the towns (to be beaten back by PCs). When the PCs are high enough level, they explore the area outside of the mountain range and find that not only are all of its inhabitants ghosts, but the land itself is ghostlike as well; Everything looks slightly translucent and polarized with a strange billowing shadow. The sky and sun are black. Towns are literally ghost towns with ghost horses, ghost buildings, etc. They are attacked on sight by the ghost creatures (template can be applied to anything, giants etc.).

Eventually, the PCs begin to notice more strange things. Through spying, they may discover that when unaware of being observed, the ghosts act "normally"; cooking, cleaning, drinking. In the outside world, everything is incorporeal. Treasure is near worthless since the PCs can't grab it. When PCs return to their home town, any dead PCs are there waiting for them. Unsure of how they got there but unhurt (no level loss).

By this point, it should be obvious. The PCs, their land and all of its inhabitants are the ghosts while the outside world is alive. You'd probably have to institute some house rules in order to make it work (no ressurection/ raise dead from the begining, if PCs die in their homeland they are DEAD, Healing spells actually work as inflict spells though you don't have to tell them that.) It would take some serious constant misdirection to pull this off, but it could work well as a short minicampaign. Inspiration (heck, pretty much the whole idea) from The Third Policeman

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From an as yet unpublished (heck, incomplete) short story of mine...

The Tales behind the Fables, episode 1

The door to the bar opens, revealing a dwarf with an odd-looking crossbow...and a few of his heavily armed buddies.

The one in front growls, "I'm looking for Prince Charming!" his accent thick and tutonic.

One booze-brave soul speaks up, "Why should we help you, ya short bastid?"

The lead dwarf snaps a shot at the speaker, shattering his bottle...all without looking.

"The scoundrel prince knocked up our beloved Fraulein Schnee-Weiß! He must be found to come back and be a vater vor his child!

"Prince Charming? The one who married Cinderella?"

A second dwarf speaks up- "Aye- and Rapunzel Langenhaar before her, along with the Princesses Contraria (she of the tender sensibilities) and Grace before her. The bigamist actually abandoned the woman who released him from his toadform curse"

"Said curse being placed upon him by his first wife, Arcania." a third dwarf, chiming in.

The first growls "We seek him out, over hill, over dale- through country after country...but we are not trackers and the world is vast. Will any among you join the quest to track down this philanderer for a taste of...dwarven gold? Will you help us bring justice to his children?"

Will you?


Staff member
D20Modern or Spycraft + Car Wars + GTA

Simply use D20M or Spycraft to roleplay GTA type PCs in the world of Car Wars. Use the Car Wars rules for your vehicle combat.

All you need to do is change the armor & ammo to D20M/Spycraft standards.


Staff member
Not so much a campaign idea, but a different way of starting up the party...

I saw the ads for Stonehenge, the new boardgame from Titanic Games that is really 5 games from 5 designers using the same physical board & pieces, and I thought you could do the same thing with the PCs.

The Game-master generates a set of stats (using the method of his choice), and lets each Player design his PC using those stats, freely re-arranging them to fit his concept.

Its similar to a point based system, but less flexible. It will force the Players to be creative. :)

The Green Adam

First Post
Speaking of starting a party...

In high school I had a reputation, both loved and loathed, for beginning campaigns 'En Media Res' (excuse my spelling at 2:30 AM). In the middle of the action.

Once adventure of Star Wars began when I said to one player, "That was close". The player's response: "What was?".

Me: "That shot."

Him: "They're still shooting at me?"

Me: "Well it was the govenor's wife."

Him:"Details, details. Am I closer to the door or the window? I want to know what I'm jumping through."

Another campaign began with my describing a player just waking up in his room and asking exactly what he did. When his feet touch the floor, his feet got wet. Between that and the rocking motion he realized he was on a ship. As he went about his business, the water on the floor rose, getting deeper and deeper. The ship was sinking. Weee!


Staff member
Use the British Murder Mystery model:

Start the campaign with a possible murder that might alternatively be a suicide, and the PCs are hired to figure out what happened.

Then, as they investigate, each NPC they encounter has some kind of quirk, habit or some such that is, in reality, an adventure hook. Perhaps the Butler is a high-ranking member of a Secret Society, or the Scullery Maid is the Lord's sister (unbeknownst to both), or the senior Huntsman is a spy.

If the PCs solve the murder/suicide, great...but if they get sidetracked by one of the NPCs, also great!


Staff member
Inspired by Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, the Poltergeist & Hellblazer stories and movies, and the beautiful, beautiful setting from 13 Ghosts:

The PCs are asked to investigate a haunted house, and shortly after entering it, they realize this is going to be a problem. Not only is it haunted, its bigger inside than out. Worse, its internal geometry is constantly shifting- rooms that you just exited dissapear. The room you're in keeps getting bigger. Or smaller.

Even the passage of time between rooms may differ...

Along the way, the party should encounter not only the beings that haunt the place, but also those who chose to investigate the house before them. Some are still competent but others are quite mad.

Run correctly, this could be an adventure that starts off at lvl 1 and goes to level 20.

(It will also be loved by players who hate to map, and hated by those who love to map.)


Staff member
Refining something I posted in another thread:

Air-Pirates of the Serpent-Spine Archipelago

A group of brigands living in the Serpent-Spine Archipelago have trained large predatory birds which they use to ride & raid passing sea vessels.

Using giant sized eagles or osprey (any giant-sized waterfowl will do equally well, including Albatross or Pellicans), they start by attacking from the air, dropping large stones from altitude as an opening gambit... following with arrows and fire if surrender is not swift.

Once just a hazard of doing business in the southern reaches of the Starfall Sea, they have added new tricks to their repetoir, including huge floating wooden platforms made from the hulls of ships they've taken, from which to launch attacks away from their bases...extending their power inexorably outward from the Archipelago towards the mainland...

(The concept works just as well if the pirates are riding giant penguins, Orcas or other marine life and attacking from below.)


Staff member
The 3 Ages of Nova Luna

Age 1: Age of Exploration

The XLIHTRE, a technologically advanced race decided to satisfy their curiosity about the universe around them by exploring remotely via completely automated interstellar starships the size of small moons. Each was sent out in a different direction on a mission to collect data and bring back samples of flora and fauna from many worlds. To that end, they also developed a (reversible) technology that compresses matter to 1/10000th of its normal size- a technology applied not only to the ships' supply of fuel and spare parts, but also to the specimens they were to collect.

One ship found a region full of worlds unlike any others- worlds where magic still worked- and began collecting specimens. The New Moon was a source of wonder and fear as the lights of its specimen collecting ray lanced down from the heavens, leaving behind naught but hemispherical gouges in the earth where they struck.

Inside, specimens were nested in habitats that resembled that of their native world, and eventually, . Unfortunately, the specimen containment technology had been constructed by a company that was controlled by organized crime, and the resultant machines had so many corners cut that the containmemt fields began to collapse shortly after having to deal with magic...and the specimens got free.

They began to explore their environment, expand into it, and inevitably, have conflicts.

(Note: at their new scale, PCs would find the nanomachines responsible for the upkeep of the starship would be as great a threat as the Replicators of Stargate SG-1.)

Age 2: Age of Empires

The ship has been overrun by microscopic empires that now cover 95% of the available space. Aerial races claimed the shelving. Races used to subterranean life have invaded the wiring. Some of them even mine the refined metals from the wires...

And then one scholar discovers the secret of the collection ray and its ability to shrink what it targets...and asks whether it can be reversed. (Whether it can or not should be answered by the DM before even running this game- either has consequences.)

This is the kind of knowledge that shakes the foundations of nations! Wars will be fought & assassination attempts will surely follow those who seek to possess that knowledge. Lives hang in the balance!

Age 3: Age of Arrival

After thousands and thousands of years, the ship has finally returned to the XLIHTRE homeworld.

How will the ship's creators deal with their rampant specimens?

Will they welcome them? Will they send in the fumigators?

Are they even still alive? Perhaps the intervening eons have erased the XLIHTRE from the realm of the living, leaving the populace of Nova Luna on their own on a completely alien world.


Players can play in any era- each has its own charm.

Are they among the first to be scooped up by the ship, participating in the exploration of the new world?

Or are they caught up in the struggle to control the technology of the collection rays 1000 years later?

Or are they among the first to be released on alien soil?

This campaign also allows the DM to mix and match critters & classes from various sources- just open up your D20 sourcebooks and go nuts- DarkMatter, Star Wars, DragonStar, etc. are all fair game.

Wookie Warmages? Check! Kender Jedi? Check! Sheshayan Ninja/Ghost Face Killers? Check!
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Staff member
An expanded version of something I proposed to Mitchbones some time ago, based on Larry Niven's "Night on Mispec Moor" (Niven's "Night of the Living Dead"- a soldier finds himself alone on a bloody battlefield...and the dead soldiers around him begin to come back to life when the sun sets), Army of Darkness, and Tremors*:

The Standard of Orcus

A group of travellers (including the PCs) is beset by a group of brigands, and flee across a moor that had once been the site of a major battle a hundred years ago.

The fleeing travellers are surrounded, however, and forced to fight. Despite being outnumbered, they manage to find a small, slightly rocky hillock where they form a circle and drive the brigands back- some using rusted weapons scrounged from the ground- just as the sun sets. As the last brigand flees, will-o'-wisps appear at the edge of the moor to prey on them, forcing the travellers to huddle on the hillock for safety.

However, blood from this skirmish has fallen on a scrap of cloth partially buried in the dirt on the side of the hillock. The cloth is a ragged battle standard devoted to Orcus- the blood reawakens its dire power...and all across the field, dead soldiers claw their way up from the dirt and head for the location of the banner!

And the battle standard is now grasped by an undead commander of no mean skill!

Can the party figure out why the dead have risen up...and can they undo this evil before it kills them?

*The action sequences in Tremors should dictate some of the action: some of the undead should attack from directly below the party, and the battlefield itself should contain other rocky outcroppings similar to the one the party starts on, to replicate elements of the final battle in this movie
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Staff member
A mini-campaign

The Apiary Masters of Cliffdale:

Cliffdale, a remote halfling village situated in a plain surrounded by high mountains gains acclaim and great wealth for their singular export...honey.

Its not just any honey...the town's various honey producers each have uniquely flavored blends, with such fanciful label names as "Royal Treant" or "Shambling Mound Morsels," sent out along caravan trade routes to be sold at ruinously high much as 5P per jar!

Eventually, this flow of wealth draws unwelcome attention. Groups of brigands have attacked the caravans bearing the tasty gold, leaving few Caravan Masters willing to risk their livelyhoods for less than 85% of the price of the honey.

Instead, the halflings opt to hire their own deliverymen, chosen as much for their honesty and integrity as their martial and magical might, and at much more reasonable prices. Since the bottles are so small, its easy for a group of adventurers to deliver the product to its final destinations without being noticed, and with almost no drop in deliveries.

However, the brigands know the money still flows to Cliffdale since the rare honeys still show up at the best tables in the land. They decide to attack Cliffdale itself, first in their seperate little bands, turned away by doughty halfling defenders and some of their hired men.

Then one man unifies the brigands into a large, unified fighting force with his promises of vast wealth and easy living once they learn the secret of Cliffdale.

When this force attacks, the secret is revealed...the halflings have actually have a variety of bees at their disposal sent out to gather pollen from all kinds of flora (including the sentient or mobile ones), including Giant Bees that visit the largest and most dangerous plant life around.

And some have even been trained as sentries and soldiers...and even steeds.

Cliffdale has now been under siege for over a year. One side or the other must yield soon...

In this mini-campaign, the PCs take on the role of 1) Natives of Cliffdale and/or 2) Mercenary Adventurers hired by the Apiary Masters for delivery & defense, or 3) Brigands.

Nuclear Platypus

First Post
*tape begins to play*

Good morning, Mr. Hunt. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a valuable item designated "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." You may select any two team members, but it is essential that the third member not be a muggle. You have forty-eight hours to complete the mission before it goes live. As always, should any member of your team be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions and J. K. Rowling will press charges with extreme prejudice. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

*cue Mission: Impossible intro*


Staff member

For D20Modern/Dark*Matter/Urban Arcana or any supers game.

Mysterious phenomena have been documented by media with increasing regularity. Unusual creatures being discovered in fishing nets that have no known relation to anything else in the sea...crop circles appearing while someone is filming...a waterfall of beer spouting from thin air...

Then scientists at Miskatonic University ( :) why not?) make an amazing announcement: Magic is real- its force is measurable by science and is either generated or focused by particular minerals. In fact, they claim, the Earth has a natural arcanoactive field that varies in intensities, just like its magnetosphere. Currently, that field is increasing, and scientists would like to know why.

To that end, they announce their intent to launch multiple expeditions into the world's deeper cave systems to get measurements, and are looking for volunteers...

The PCs are among the lucky few to be chosen, and delve into a cavern system in France, where they discover that not only are the scientists correct, but that there is a subterranean "fantasy" world that is slightly out of phase with what we call the "real world," and that is beginning to manifest itself with increasing regularity.

Sources & tools to consider: Second World Publication's Second World Sourcebook, Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, Flash Gordon, the John Carter of Mars and Slaine books, the Eternal Champion books by Michael Moorcock.


First Post
The Dying of the Dwarves

The dwarves once ruled the entire island-continent of Australia from their capitol in the land mass' central mountains. Long at war with the goblinoids, there numbers dwindled such that their king (at the urging of an evil, deceptive wizard) activated an ancient doomsday machine. The doomsday machine (true to the wizard's word) destroyed the goblinoids (mostly), but it also destroyed the dwarven cities and surrounding lands. The dwarven royal family (and their close advisors and soldiers) fled to the west coast where the evil wizard offered them succor, ultimately becoming the duergar and derro. The other great dwarven families fled to the east coast, pursued by the remnants of the goblinoids. Realizing that that their numbers were failing, the "good" dwarves have sent out a call for mercenaries, indentured servants, convict laborers, etc. from pretty much the rest of the world. These people (and the dwarves of course) are the PCs who must build new cities along the west coast, build a great wall along the western border of the desert created by the doomsday machine, venture into the desert to reclaim lost dwarven treasures, and avoid duergar/derro pirates raiding from the opposite side of the continent.


First Post
Dannyalcatraz said:
For Urban Arcana or other Modern Fantasy setting, a reverse version of Dream Park or Westworld:

A "20th Century Waterdeep" setting, in which adventuring would be the new televised sports or reality shows- "Survivor: Myth Drannor," "The Great Race: Dragonspine Mountains," "Monday Night Dungeon-delving," "The Graveyard 500" and so forth. PCs would either be pros or amateurs, depending upon the setting. Think "Rollerball" on magical steroids.

I'm there - hopefully we can use firearms.


Staff member
Worlds within worlds within worlds...

Inspired by the movies Cube/Hypercube/Cube Zero, Tesseracts, Dr. Who, fractals, and the description of the Abyss, this is less of a campaign or adventure idea and more of a method for randomizing a large/infinite space.

Buy a Classic 3x3 Rubic's Cube, a 4x4, or if you're adventurous (read: EVIL), a Rubic's Professor (the one with 25 blocks per side) ( Number each block face, so each now has a color and a number, such as Red 15, or Yellow 24. On the Professor, there are 150 spaces.

Randomize the Cube- your party starts in a room/space represented by a square of your choosing, say, Blue 13, which should be face up (parallel to the surface of the table). As the DM, you design a set of encounters in the space designated Blue 13- its size, occupants, etc, like you would any room of a typical dungeon, or a country or even a plane. There are 6 exits from that space, 1 to each side of the square (the cardinal points in 2 dimensions) plus one each "down" and "up," represented by the other sides of the Cube. When the party completes their objectives in Blue 13 and tries to leave that area, manipulate the square on the cube any odd number of times (you determine how many based on your campaign design). They must leave via one of the 6 exits, which will take them to another space, which will have a color & number which will cross-reference with your notes. Leaving via the 4 cardinal exits is easy- you go to the square in that direction. "Up" and "Down" may be randomized by any method you use. I plan on using 2d4- the first one determines in which direction I rotate the cube, the second, the cardinal direction through which the party exits. Double 1's means the party goes to the corresponding square on the opposite (face down) side of the Cube, and Double 4's means the party picks a square on the face-up side of the Cube.

The campaign ends (if you so choose) when the Cube is manipulated to having all 6 sides with single colors.

Obviously, with only 150 squares and billions of face combinations, you'll probably need to do some restocking...but that's the easy part.
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Staff member
For Supers campaigns:


The World's greatest hero, __________ (your setting's equivalent of Superman) has been righting wrongs for nearly 100 years, seemingly ageless, not slowing down in any way. It was an era of peace- he was the only super-being on the planet, so it was easy for him. Nobody knows his identity or how he got his powers. A stoic man, he barely talks to the press. All that anyone knows is that he has been an unwavering force for good, despite his...alienness.

Then, one day as he was delivering another batch of miscreants to prison, he seemed to be in agonizing pain. After dropping them off, he rocketed into the sky...and just as he reached the upper reaches of the atmosphere, he dissapeared in a star-bright explosion that leveled much of the city below, and causing skies around the world to take an unusually pinkish tinge for over a week.

Then, things got strange...

As the cleanup began, other people began to exhibit powers beyond the realm of human abilities- super strength, speed, flight...and many more besides.

As far as science can tell, somehow, __________'s genes survived his mysterious detonation, which dispersed globally via microscopic shards of his body, imbedding themselves in people around the world. Thus, his genetic information infected these people, creating newly empowered beings, called Scions of _________ in the press.

You are a Scion. You have the power to change history, for good or ill.

And, BTW- the reason for the explosion remains a mystery to this day. Nobody has claimed to be the one responsible, and neither detectivework nor science has revealed a satisfactory answer.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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