log in or register to remove this ad

 

Mundanity for Adventure/Campaign Inspiration

MGibster

Legend
I was inspired by another thread to look into Boot Hill, a role playing game set in the Old West from TSR with three editions published from 1975-1990, and I ran across an adventure titled Ballots & Bullets. (This is one of those games WotC has a disclaimer on saying that it "may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time" and rightly so I think. I just wanted to make you aware that you'll evidence for why WotC felt the disclaimer necessary in the quote below.)

Ballots & Bullets said:
It's 1882 and Cochise County, Arizona is the wildest part of the wild west. Rustlers are everywhere Indians and badmen lurk in the hills. Robberies are common. Against this setting, two hostile political factions struggle for control of tiny Promise City. And YOU are there ... as a gunman or lawman, a hired hand or campaign worker ... OR as a candidate for office.

I've been kicking around the idea of writing a Deadlands scenario around the election of a mayor, city council, or even county sheriff and I was absolutely intrigued to find that someone beat me to the punch in 1982. In most role playing games the PCs are doing something rather fantastical like investigating eldritch horrors, exploring ancient dungeons and relieving the current inhabitants of their possessions, or tooling around the galaxy defeating evil empires. Boot Hill lacked the supernatural or fantastic that were common in most game settings at the time so that does help explain why something like an election could serve to drive the action of this module. But using something so mundane in a setting with fantastic elements might be fun?

So I'm thinking it might be fun to have adventure concepts that are grounded in mundane aspects of life. Maybe some D&D adventurers get their start because they're members of the Baking Guild and they need to win the favor of the king in order to protect their charter against an upstart guild trying to worm its way into their racket. There's got to be a ton of normal slices of life that can be used for excellent adventure fodder. Any ideas?

 

log in or register to remove this ad

zarionofarabel

Adventurer
A large portion of TV shows do not feature fantastic elements of any kind, yet are full of intrigue or drama. In fact, it's only in recent years that the fantastical elements of fiction have become more prominent. Shows like 911 and the Chicago family, feature dangerous and dramatic situations with no fantastical elements. There's also ones like The West Wing or Law & Order that are highly dramatic with little or no violence and no fantastical elements. TV and movies are a great place to look for ideas for interesting and dramatic situations that can be mined for ideas. Fantasy and Sci-Fi is really a limited exposure genre when compared to regular dramas or mysteries.
 

MGibster

Legend
A large portion of TV shows do not feature fantastic elements of any kind, yet are full of intrigue or drama. In fact, it's only in recent years that the fantastical elements of fiction have become more prominent.
That's certainly true. I've always though it odd that the majority of role playing games feature the supernatural or science fiction as key elements of their settings.
 

In a game my wife is running I once spent 3 solid sessions campaigning for our local tavern's barkeeper to get elected to the purely honorary position of "Banana King," as part of the annual Banana Festival. We spent some of the time investigating the suspicious death of a local councillor too.

Mundane? More like fundane.
 








aco175

Legend
I would think you need player buy-in first. Remember 2e where you rolled for background and you could get 'no skill of measurable worth'. All these people were farmers and dung sweepers and such that could not roll smith or jeweler. Today, you could make a background called "no skill of measureable worth' or maybe 'nobody special' and have that s your background. It may not be as cool as criminal or soldier, but still, someone needs to be a former farmer.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
So I'm thinking it might be fun to have adventure concepts that are grounded in mundane aspects of life. . . There's got to be a ton of normal slices of life that can be used for excellent adventure fodder. Any ideas?
I would think you need player buy-in first. Remember 2e where you rolled for background and you could get 'no skill of measurable worth'.
This. The game can be as exciting as peeling potatoes for a horde of hungry cooking convention attendees, and the players will love it - if they like that sort of thing. I would enjoy a game about an election, but I would want an entertaining element like being the thief who steals the speeches after they're written, or possibly the assistant in the earpiece who messes with the politician during his speech until he interrupts himself to say "now let me finish!"

I guess my minimum fantasy requirement is that a game must include the risk of incarceration or bloodshed. Not necessarily on a session-by-session basis.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So I'm thinking it might be fun to have adventure concepts that are grounded in mundane aspects of life.

Well, the TV show Leverage is mostly based on entirely mundane abuses of power in the real world. There's already a role playing game for it (Cortex-based), but it can be inspiration for all kinds of shenanigans.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
You could run a satisfying game of Night's Black Agents without the vampires, you just need to create a non-vampire conspiracy setup that's interesting enough.

The "Mythic Britain" campaign is almost low-magic enough to run as a purely historical campaign as it is, the same could be said for much of the Mythic Earth series for Mythras.
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
That would actually be a great way to start off low-level characters.

I imagine that there could be an adventuring season for just the standard run-of-the-mill person who doesn't have a grimdark origin story.

Like, there's the planting and the plowing and the harvesting. But there are also long stretches where there's nothing doing. Who's to say that there aren't a bunch of Luke Skywalkers out there who are bored to tears with farming and spend their free time taking on mundane quests for a pouch of silver pieces.

Not everything has to be trying to be stopping an invasion of slaadi. Those rats in the tavern cellar aren't going to get cleared out on their own.
 

pemerton

Legend
In most role playing games the PCs are doing something rather fantastical like investigating eldritch horrors, exploring ancient dungeons and relieving the current inhabitants of their possessions, or tooling around the galaxy defeating evil empires. Boot Hill lacked the supernatural or fantastic that were common in most game settings at the time so that does help explain why something like an election could serve to drive the action of this module.

<snip>

So I'm thinking it might be fun to have adventure concepts that are grounded in mundane aspects of life.
There was an election scenario ("Vote for the Goat") in the City of Greyhawk boxed set.

When we played Wuthering Heights much of the action took place in a book shop.

In a recent Traveller session one of the PCs had to write a report that would inform an Imperial officer's decision about whether or not to implement First Contact protocols.

In the Burning Wheel game where I'm a player, sparks from a cooking fire set a wizard's tower alight; my character wasn't able to extinguish the flames.

The sample scenario in The Dying Earth rulebook involves a cooking/eating competition.

One of the knight PCs in our Prince Valiant game is hopelessly in love with a woman (the Countess of Toulouse) who is not his wife (the daughter of the Duke of York).

The stakes of RPGing don't need to be exaggerated, provided that the actual game play is reasonably compelling.
 

pemerton

Legend
Not everything has to be trying to be stopping an invasion of slaadi. Those rats in the tavern cellar aren't going to get cleared out on their own.
If the main payoff from playing the game is imagining my character defeating foes, I think rats may be a rather non-compelling foe.

If I'm being invited to imagine my character in such an ignominious context, I need something else at stake in the fiction to make it compelling.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
If the main payoff from playing the game is imagining my character defeating foes, I think rats may be a rather non-compelling foe.

If I'm being invited to imagine my character in such an ignominious context, I need something else at stake in the fiction to make it compelling.
I would argue the main playoff is "overcoming obstacles."

Sometimes those obstacles are compelling foes. Switching it up, of course, keeps things interesting!

Asking a bunch of adventurers to, say, clear out rats or help get someone elected or plan a feast allows the players an opportunity to use their abilities in new, fun ways!
 

That's certainly true. I've always though it odd that the majority of role playing games feature the supernatural or science fiction as key elements of their settings.
I think that there was an early divide in the industry...
Cutoff date of about 1983...

The TSR games (including D&D, AD&D, BX, Star Frontiers, Boot Hill, Gamma World) generally lacked social skills, but did have Charisma. Cutoff placed to exclude FASRIP Marvel.
GDW had a significant number, but their use as social skills instead of paperwork skills varied widely from group to group.
ISTR that RuneQuest (by Chaosium) had some as well; Later editions certainly do.
SPI's Dallas was pretty much nothing but social skills. It also was a total flop.
FBI's Tunnels and Trolls lacked skill-like abilities, but had a robust system for testing Luck, which many GM's used with the other attributes. Given that some of the solos have charisma checks to influence NPCs...
Palladium's Mechanoids trilogy and Palladium FRP have an appearance attribute, and a sort-of-social attribute, but provides no means for using them in the mechanics, and derides the use of game-stats over in-character dialogue, it's pretty clear where Siembieda falls.
Victory Games' James Bond RPG has social skills.
FASA: STRPG has social skills. Mods for RP advised.

GDW¹, Chaosium, Victory Games, SPI: Social Skills modified by RP.
TSR, Palladium: No social skills, limited use of social attributes.
FBI, FASA, GDW¹: present but not emphasized.

We know which one was the "winner"...
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top