The first sci-fi horror RPG one shot will be the “farm of the future” idea. It provides a basis for a variety of encounters and offers opportunities for the premade characters to shine.
First Elimination: Haunted House
I’ll start off with the adventure idea that was the first to be eliminated: the haunted house. While the idea is fun, and would provide a good horror story for a gaming group if delivered correctly, there are some serious problems that I don’t think can be avoided if I were to go with the idea.
At first, I thought the problem would be with the encounter structure. I thought that there wouldn’t be enough types of varied encounters for the party to overcome. I was worried about creating combat encounters against something other than the scummed. Thieves would need to try to break into the house, or something just as arbitrary. But, I could have the party encounter the scummed multiple times, and his abilities would include him being able to make people hallucinate monsters. The fights could all be in the party’s head. Before the final boss encounter, the old couple could reveal their intention to kill everyone, which would be a dramatic non-scummed battle. So this idea wasn’t scrapped because a lack of encounters.
Instead, I’m worried about the party not being able to live up to its potential due to the house being a small space. The party includes a man with a flamethrower, a hulking cyborg with a giant hammer, and ranged railgun-wielding characters. The party needs more wide-open space to better use their abilities in combat. The house is supposed to get burned down by the old couple, not the party. The corporate R&D also wouldn’t be able to use his connections, which would be a missed opportunity. I feel like the other two ideas are better optimized for the character’s skills.
The Winner: The Farm
I’ve decided that the first One Shot RPG adventure will be the futuristic farm idea.
The farm allows for a wide array of encounters, such as rescuing innocent workers, fighting off crazed livestock, and even fighting the facility’s robotic security systems. Each part of the food supply chain could be a different location that the party explores. I may also add in some encounters with the scummed where it gets away; encountering the villain multiple times during the story helps establish it as a threat.
The biggest draw is that the facility has a lot of outdoor space, which means that the flamethrower, heavy, and fallen captain can use their weapons and abilities to their best extent. The heavy won’t have to worry about knocking the whole game setting down when she swings her hammer, which would have been a problem with the haunted house. The flamethrower can burn overgrown plants so the party can escape or to advance the story further. The corporate R&D can use his connections to gain special access or information around the facility, or even be marked as a target—the food company doesn’t want the body modification company gaining any intel. The chimera hunter can use her knowledge of venoms to reveal that the food is being poisoned. Players will be able to use their selected characters in meaningful ways.
The thing that I need to work on the most is the scummed. I need to decide on its abilities and how they’ll relate to the story. I need to figure out how to frame them as a good person who was twisted, and provide compelling reasons to try the cure or to even leave them alone. Those will be decided upon in a future article.
Overall the thought of the different farm processes leading to a variety of encounters, the party being able to use their abilities, and the cool architecture of the solar-panel towers make this the best choice for the first adventure.
Runner-Up: The Cult
The runner-up was the idea of the cult of the old god. This idea is kind of in the middle, it provides some fun aspects, but wasn’t as appealing to me as the farm idea. It’s not as wide-open as the farm facility, but still could provide more open space than the singular house. There would have to be some arbitrary encounters, or I’d really have to work on the scummed’s abilities. Dealing with the brainwashed cult followers would work really well for the captain’s and flamethrower’s personalities, and players who play as the heavy would have fun butting heads with the cult leader.
With the narrative of the first One Shot RPG selected, I can start to nail down the finer details. The first aspect is to create the scummed, turning them into an interesting villain with unique powers.