WS-Varied Game Pitches
This is just a collection of potential campaign style game pitches for the Lords room. Each are developed to a varying degree as some are fairly new while others have been stewing for years. Each has notation for its intended tone, amount of social or combat, and how 'weird' it might be either from the start or when it gets rolling.
Note, that I tend to stick to the following golden rules when GMing (unless otherwise noted):
1. Sandbox style games where I try rolling with the consequences of what the PC's do. Intentional or otherwise.
2. NPC's are more than loot and XP dispensers and have their own goals and motivations. That said the time spent on those aspects depend entirely on how important a given character is.
3. Anything the PC's can do in terms of tactics or tricks the NPC's can and will eventually figure out themselves given enough time and exposure.
“This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” - (Ferdinand Foch, 1918)
"In 1918 upon eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the battlefields of the Great War fell silent and the world once again breathed easy. Many proclaimed that it had been the war to end all wars, and that with Germany disarmed at the point of a bayonet the future would no longer suffer the horrors that had been unleashed upon European soil. They said that science and reason would now stride forth, unshackled from its chains of misery and death, and with its burning light of optimism lead all of mankind into a new age. Others saw it differently, seeing the Treaty of Versailles as merely continuing the horrors that had been first birthed upon the battlefield; Dehumanization of the individual, the destruction of society as they knew it, even the apparent death of free will itself.
Despite these growing troubles the world, as always, continued to turn. Even the sudden invention of the Quantum Electrodynamic Engine by Canadian Professor Erick Freeman in 1921, in rumored secret collaboration with Nikola Tesla himself, did little to slow the roaring 20's down. The QED was a device that, through use of precisely formed coils of Uranium bearing alloy electrically energized to high potential, allowed a heavier then air device to repel the Earth itself, as if by magic. While the public dreamed of everything from flying cars to flying cities the Great Powers dreamed in secret of flying Dreadnoughts capable of seizing the sky from any foe who stood in their way. Despite the tight control Freeman maintained over the new technology, until his death a few years later in a tragic plane crash in the Canadian wilderness during a hunting trip, within a few short years later in a tragic by hook or crook every major power seemed to possess the secret.
Soon the Roaring Twenties and their illicit, booze fueled boom gave way to the sullen 1930's as economic depression, sparked by Black Friday in 1929, gripped the entire world though for a lucky few the party never stopped. Despite the sullen days for the economy progress continued to charge onward as the first flight of a commercial heavier-than-air lift-assisted craft took place on December 12th, 1933, with the Spirit of America traveling from New York to London in 24 hours. Many however didn't care, as riots over food, rampant unemployment, government bonuses for Great War veterans, and even race grew to be regular occurrences as the very fabric of society itself began to unravel. Something a few who had long predicted it since the end of the war took cold comfort in. The idea even began to emerge that democracy itself was finished causing people to flock to any radical theory that promised to fix whatever was deeply wrong with society, be it Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Technocracy, or even Eugenics.
As commercial flights of lift assisted craft became more common, Roosevelt's New Deal raised hopes for economic recovery, and the death of Prohibition the US raised hopes among some for a better future. However this did little to assuage the fears of the general population as the decade came to a close. For upon the horizon once again, the clouds of war seemed to be gathering. Fascism and Socialism were on the march, crying for the blood of their enemies, Hitler was growing bolder and more belligerent each day, the Nanking Massacre was ripping through the headlines, and there was even the outbreak of civil war in Spain as bloody fighting between Nationalist and Republican forces tore the country apart. Finally on October 12th, 1937, the HMLS^ Nelson, first of the long dreamed aerial Dreadnoughts, took its maiden flight. Queen Elizabeth herself declared it a defensive weapon, a weapon meant to bring an end to war itself and ensure the Great War could never happen again. However despite the attempt at reassurance, the launch's fanfare, or its attendance by foreign dignitaries, many feared this new ship would just herald the beginning of yet another arms race.
It is now New Years eve 1937 and the world stands at a crossroads. Down one path lies the peace and prosperity that had been promised for twenty years as the spoils of the Great War, while down the other hangs clouds heavy with the promise of conflict that threaten to dwarf the last war in both scale and ferocity. All while a most delicate game of intrigue and conspiracy plays out in the shadows. Only one question remains. In a world balanced upon a knife's edge, what will you do?"
^Her Majesty's Lift Ship.
Tone: Gritty Pulp, PCs are still 'real people' in the 'real world' but clearly stand head and shoulders above the common folk even at game start.
Social: Medium/High, depends heavily on PC choices.
Combat: Low/Medium, depends heavily on PC choices.
Weird: Medium, starts with a interwar era we'd recognize but with the recent development of practical anti-gravity called 'lift engines'. The potential only goes up from there.
"The world as we knew it ended that Christmas of 91, a cold war boiling over as the Commies breached the Rhine and France carried out its long promised retaliation. A thermonuclear spark that once struck quickly blazed out of control. Millions died in the resulting strikes with many more perishing in the unraveling of society that followed. Swallowed by a contaminated veil of silence lasting many years, the dead becoming part of the background radiation that now blanketed the Earth. Humanity was almost extinguished but life, as always, would try to find a way. In time new civilizations would struggle to arise but the scars left by the war have not yet healed and the Earth has not forgotten."
You are one of the lucky ones, born within the territory of the Phoenix Initiative based around the old pre-war town of Truth and Consequences, New Mexico. Nestled along the Rio Grand between the Black Range to the West, and both the the Sacramento and SanAnders ranges to the East the valley has remained relatively free of radiation and other contamination. The mountains on each side and the elevated levels of radiation to the North and South along I-25 standing as quiet sentries against the horrors of the outside world. Descendant from both survival minded locals and a detachment from the Army corp of Engineers tasked with refurbishing the nearby Elephant Butte Dam when contact with their superiors was cut off your people are hardy, resourceful, and determined to rebuild the world they once knew. Though opinions remained divided on seeking out survivors further afield, even as a growing population back home slowly strained the resources available despite heroic effort to keep pace.
Eventually the issue would be forced not by internal pressures but via an external event no one expected.
The Red August of 2039 found the Ranger border patrols, whom previously had to deal with the occasional lone bandit or small pack of mutants, inundated with a sudden influx of refugee's from the West. A ragged starving force numbering in the hundreds washing over them, many sick with radiation poisoning or already showing signs of mutation. Desperate men, women, and children who not only possessed the will to take what they needed but also the force of arms to do so. Training and discipline that filled the surviving Army Engineer founders with unease as they recognized its all too familiar roots. Cold soil and rock ran red with blood from both sides as the invaders were eventually broken, survivors either dispersed or captured. But the price was high for the newborn state and weeks of debriefings and investigations later finally gave four pieces of evidence that none could dispute.
1. That despite years of radio silence and isolation they were not alone.
2. That the natural barriers they had sheltered behind for decades finally had been breached.
3. That background contamination levels were decreasing to the point that previous deadzones could with preparation be traveled again.
4. That something had destroyed a smaller faction to the West called the Free State of Arizona that in many ways was similar to the Phoenix Initiative. Routed by a foe prisoners called the Iron Men; an opponent who possessed unbreakable armor, weapons that could burn a man down from the inside out, and craft whose passage overhead made no sound. Most alarmingly one that refused any attempt at communication and gave no quarter or mercy.
Thus after much debate Project Argus was born. Twelve teams of their best and brightest from any walk of life would each be trained as Elite Rangers, each assigned one of twelve pie shaped sectors of responsibility centered on the now small city of Truth or Consequences. Their goal to discover any friends, defeat any foe, secure any resources vital to The Phoenix Initiatives future survival, by any and all methods deemed necessary per each team leaders personal judgment.
You are part of one such team. Assigned to Sector Alpha you and your team are the first to step beyond your borders in nearly a half century. Your actions will become the stuff of legend, helping determine the fate of your nation and perhaps even that of the American Wasteland itself. Only one question remains...what will you do?"
Tone: Gritty Post Apoc with a very heavy dash of Fallout/Wasteland like Pulp for levity, PCs are still 'real people' in the 'real world' but clearly stand head and shoulders above the common folk even at game start. They can get sick, crippled, and even gear with bad luck can break however such things may not be permanent...for a price. But remember anything the PCs have to worry about also will affect the NPCs.
Social: High, lots of trying to win Hearts and Minds though depends heavily on PC choices.
Combat: Low/Medium, there are Bad Dude and Bad Things out there but a lot combat can be avoided often with guile or silver tongue. This is fortunate as when combat does happen its going to be rough and brutal even if the PC's do get a bit of an edge. Once again depends heavily on PC choices.
Weird: Low/Medium, viable mutations and mutants are known to exist while radiation /mostly/ works like we expect IRL. Though it can be as likely to give you a mutation, useful or otherwise, as it is to give you Super Cancer. And who knows what else might be lurking out there...
Gods of War
"Get out of here STALKER"
"Underwater Space Opera set on Earth After the End."
"The last thing you heard was the hammer of an outlaws revolver or the crack of a hangman's rope as you swore vengeance in this life or the next. Funny thing about oaths is they always hold a spark o power and something out there decided to hold you to it. Welcome back, partner."
Tone: Larger than Life with a bit of grit and light horror for flavor.
Social: Medium, depends heavily on PC choices.
Combat: Medium/High, depends heavily on PC choices.
Weird: High, you start as the undead freshly risen from your grave in the old west for reasons and methods unknown to you. Things will only get stranger from there.
"Outside of Rosewell, NM, in 1947 Earth made its first proper contact with alien life and learned that not only are we far from alone we are the intergalactic equivalent of a 3rd world nation sitting on top of a goldmine. Caught between numerous rival alien powers and our system astride a key jump point nexus the US and USSR have begrudgingly teamed up to keep the Earth free and her people unaware for fear of the damage such a culture shock could inflict. To this end they wheel, deal, politic, and plan cover ups with their frenemy counterparts even as they try to quietly make sure their side is the one who comes out on top the most as the cold war rolls on in the background.
Tone: Space Fantasy Cold War Pulp with Square Jawed American Heros, Wylie Soviet Agents, and Suave British Diplomats pitted against a number of potential mutual foes with only each other to rely on.
Social: High, intergalactic diplomacy and intrigue (both of the regular and Kirk variety) are the main point of the setting. Earth doesn't stand much of a chance militarily anytime soon should the Space Tanks roll in so words are the only real weapon of choice.
Combat: Low, there will be some fighting but it will likely be out of the ordinary and tied to the climax of various plots.
Weird: High, aliens are generally humans with funny bits for the most part with tech that is understandable in form and function even if very advanced.
Duty and Dusters
"Lord Fredrick Bartholomew Horatio, a wealthy and influential member of the House of Lords in a quasi-steampunk 18xx London. Gentleman, Scientist, Adventurer, voted Best Mustache by his peers three years running, he is the very definition of Victorian Upper Crust. His son, Ulysses Bartholomew Horatio ... is not. A useless fop with a spine of mud, ego only rivaled by the size of the moon, able to be outwitted by a stale loaf of bread, possessing the grace of a dead fish, and sadly sole heir to family title and fortune. You are part of the long suffering neko-house staff, under the stern guidance of House Steward Helga von Zyperkatze, that are not only responsible for the day to day operations but on personal request from Lord Fredrick himself quietly responsible for keeping Ulysses out as much trouble as possible. There is hope that with time and firm but soft guidance from both father and staff the boy will shed his foolishness and become the man his father has long hoped for. Unfortunately for you this does not seem to be likely anytime soon. Even Helga is rumored to be eyeing retirement at this point, to a place where the waters are warm and so is the..company. Which would naturally mean someones getting a Promotion if and when she leaves.
Thankfully you have the power of Neko-Magic and slapstick physics to help in the face of all these challenges.
Tone: Light hearted Slice of Life anime with Nekomaids, steampunk, cat magic, and where Status is tracked rather than HP for the sake of 'injury. Though on the rare occasion darker plots might occur for so called 'WHAM' episodes.
Social: High, overt violence is likely to just cause loss of status in many situations.
Combat: Low, what does occur is likely to be more of the silly/over the top variety. Yes, including Hammer Space Arsenals and being mildly inconvenienced/embarrassed via what should otherwise be fatal injuries.
Weird: High, its cat-staff in a steampunkish London with actual magic. Do you /really/ need to ask?
"XCOM, Lords edition."
Tone: Dark, Gritty, Violent and with the occasional splash of humor. Just like old school XCOM and UFO.
Social: Low/Medium, while some politicking and whatnot will occur most of the focus is on shooting filthy Xenos dead and Stealing their Stuff.
Combat: High, defend Earth, find the Truth...and kill it.
Weird: Low, while it will involve aliens and potentially other weirdness the game should remain grounded in a fairly 'realistic' tone with those concessions in mind.
"When the world fell in fire and blood it ripped away the masks of civility we wore. Demons, cowards, heros, lunatics, every man or woman who survived saw what they truly were inside. For some the truth broke them while others embraced it. One such man was Colonel Blackwell. He rose up from the ashes of the old world and forged ragged bands of marauders into a fighting force that would terrorize the western wastes for years, a threat so strong even the great oil cities with their vast black wealth could barely hold before his fury. The Blackhearts grew strong and fat from tithes of men and material ripped from the hands of those weaker then themselves. Then one day before a force of over a hundred vehicles and thousands of men he proclaimed a great crusade. The single greatest concentration of force the wasteland had ever seen before or since set off for the Northern Deadzone with naught but a skeleton crew to watch what little was left at home. They never returned."
"Two decades have passed since the Blackhearts vanished and those left behind fell upon each other in petty squabbling, the bandits groups they became mere shadows of what once was. A dozen fledgling city-states still look to the north with quiet unease as they fear Blackwells return even as they begin to plot and scheme against each other. Some worry that Blackwells return would be the end of our bastard civilization while others say it shall be its salvation. Still others say he's d dead and the old records are little more than stories now told to scare young whelps into behaving. Hmph. An ancient saying comes to mind, those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it."
Tone: Dark and gritty post apoc heavily cribbing off Mad Max with influences from Fallout and Wasteland. Roaring V8s, neo-pagen religions, and the day to day struggle to survive in a harsh new world where happy ending must be earned at the cost of blood and sweat. That said while the PC's will be better than your average survivor with odds weighted slightly in their favor they are far from invincible.
Social: Low-Medium; the dozen or so city-states (and smaller settlements between them) have recovered sufficiently that the great game of politics has recommenced as they jocky for dominance of the known wasteland.
Combat: Low-Medium; people will fight smart and when they do occur expect most of them to be short, brutal, and bloody.
Weird: Low-Medium; with the setting concessions in mine the world works much like one would expect. However the occasional mutation (sometimes beneficial) are known to exist and there are rumors of things like prophetic visions or magic often found where alcohol flows free but most dismiss such as little more than fairy tales...