Is it possible to make a whole adventure, albeit a short one, take place inside a single scene? Kind of like a one-act play, but with improv and dice? I imagine it being really small and light, the kind of thing where you could bang through two or three little mini-adventures in a night no problem, but I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure. Has anyone tried this?
Continuing Missions has a small series of what it calls “teasers”, which are basically 1 or 2 character episode introductory scenes. These might provide some good inspiration. You can find them here.
I havent read it yet, but the best teaser name (judging by name only now) is “Ping Pong”. The possibilites there sound very interesting.
Again, JAM, I like your idea here.
It would be great for an intro to the system (for players and new GMs) and would be good fodder for one off games - to temp people into playing this system for the first time.
Reading those teasers, that isn’t exactly what I had in mind. (But I do think they’re a brilliant addition to play)
So, I’ve been fiddling with it, and this is my first idea:
(Warning, I run fairly heavy adult-oriented games, and this adventure does involve the subject of religion, death, and mortality as a central theme.)
Central Question: What is the cost of immortality?
Framing: The ship is in orbit around (arbitrary planet name), a barren and sterile world with liquid water oceans and breathable atmosphere. They are receiving a distress signal from somewhere on the surface, but sensors detect nothing but rock, water, and air. An away team was already assembled and dispatched. We open the scene with the players transporting to the surface. From here, things go crazy. The world is populated by extremely diverse beings with impossible physiology who call themselves gods. (Like, one has marble for skin, another has a hovering glass sphere for a head, etc.) They can indeed warp reality as they see fit and are very much godlike, with two exceptions:
- If anyone uses a tricorder, all they see is air, rocks, and water, as if what they’re experiencing isn’t real.
- They cannot predict the future, travel time, or read minds.
I’d give the GM a list of a dozen or so gods that they might want to use, and tell them to choose three. Each one adds an advantage and a complication to the scene. The complications are active and genuinely dangerous. The players interact with these so-called deities, but eventually someone will get injured, as the gods have no comprehension of mortality or suffering. Once this happens, they appologise and offer to turn the players into gods as well, manifesting a chair hooked up to a large computer system. The chair has a number of robotic arms sticking out the top of the headrest, each set with a frightening implement, including a rotary saw, pincers, syringes, and spike-shaped neural probe. It is up to players what to do at this point.
GM Knowledge: The population of the planet are all advanced holograms of an alien sort. They have been here so long they have forgotten their pasts and gone insane. They cannot leave the planet.
If the players try to use their tricorders to get to the distress signal, they just get lost in the swirling madness of the illusions created by the gods. They are literally going nowhere, aimlessly wandering around the same rocky valley. If they involve the gods in the search though, and can get them to care, they’ll simply manifest the source of the distress signal themselves.
The distress signal is coming from a skeleton wearing an old Starfleet uniform, holding a communicator. The communicator is set to send the signal. It is sitting in the chair that makes people into “gods”. Its skull is cut open like a jar. If asked who he was, none of the gods even remember him being on their planet.
The whole adventure takes place in one scene because it is just one situation with a single set of mostly static traits, with a wide variety of results. It has 3 simultaneously problems, and two hidden facts that can be revealed, adding wrinkles to the situation. Because it happens in one scene, the injured character has nearly no chance of death.
Part of the focus of the adventure is being creative and imagining up a mad fantasy world as created by the ancient and decaying minds of these holo-beings. The three you choose changes the nature of the situation the players will have to deal with while seeking the distress signal.
The GM should warn anyone who seriously considers the offer of immortality, that it looks like this chair is a murder machine, plain and simple. If a player actually decides to go for it and sits in the chair, they quickly regret it. Do not go into detail. Simply “the screams are horrific as the machine does its work” or something to that effect. Once it’s done the player gains control of their character again, but they manifest next to the chair as a hologram, and their every thought and whim can holographocally manifest for them, but they are now trapped on the planet. The character effectively becomes an NPC at the end of this mission, though if the players decide to return to the planet in the future, there’s no reason why the player couldn’t regain control of the character during that time.