This is a collection of ideas for one-shots, which I think would all work as introductions for their respective systems.
Genre: pseudo-historical fantasy
Werewolves of Lübeck
It’s medieval Europe, and all the myths are true. Angels measure the courses of rivers and ensure that the trees shed their leaves at the right time. Demons tempt men into sin and cause plagues. Saints intercede with God on behalf of the living. Fairies live in the wild places and fear civilisation and the touch of iron.
Magic is real, however everyone hates magi. Even the families of magi hate their magi relatives. Even magi hate other magi. Magi are supernaturally hateable, it’s just something that comes with the ability to use magic.
The greatest magical breakthrough in history, which enabled the forming of the Order of Hermes, the organisation which governs magi, was a spell which makes you not hate other magi, and the theory of magic which came from the same brilliant inventor.
The PCs are a group of young magi who have set out to establish a new base of operations, away from their stuffy teachers and superiors in the Order of Hermes, and have claimed a couple of crumbling towers on the outskirts of large village.
The local villagers and their priest shun you, but that’s about what you expected. The nearest other magi, who live in a much more impressive castle a few villages away, are a bit put out that you’re encroaching on their turf: they’re not actively hostile, but they’re not overly friendly either. They’re polite.
And today the village chief, shame and fear plainly visible on his face, is bowing before you begging you to deal with a werewolf which has been attacking the villagers these past several months. This is the first you’ve heard of the situation but, well, they don’t talk to you much.
Call of Cthulhu
Genre: pulp horror mystery investigation
All of these scenarios are set in 1920s New England, as presented in Lovecraft’s fiction. For most people, the world is a normal and thoroughly human place, but for those in the know—or those who are very unlucky—there are darker and older truths lurking out there.
Motel on the Lake
A banker, Gerald Frazer, has contacted the PCs to help search for his missing son James.
James, a bit of a young rebel, abandoned his studies at the Miskatonic University in Arkham because he missed his girlfriend in Kingsport. Nine days later, James has not arrived. The last his father heard from him was a phone call from a motel. What could have happened on his journey?
This is a Pulp Cthulhu adventure so it’s more action-oriented than regular Call of Cthulhu
Professor Lionel Finch, friend of the PCs, has contacted you for your help in investigating a strange auction.
The auction is for a “disintegrator”, a device which can apparently destroy any physical object it’s pointed at. The professor has seen compelling photographs, which he has been unable to prove frauds. The inventor of the device is an engineer of no great genius, who claims he stumbled upon the principle which makes the device work, and is selling it because he doesn’t have the scientific knowledge to develop the device any further. Frankly, it seems a bit hard to believe that this nobody found something which will revolutionise physics if true!
The professor hopes that the device is an elaborate hoax. But he worries it’s not. If it’s the real deal, could not this device end the fragile peace and plunge the world into a second Great War?
Genre: high-powered apocalyptic fantasy
Everyone is Rand (from The Wheel of Time)
Magic is considered an abberation, something evil and shunned, by the good people of the world. They say that the cracks which sometimes open in the earth and swallow fields and buildings whole are the lingering effects of those ancient wizards who went mad thousands of years ago and tore the world apart.
These days one order of magic remains, the Conclave, which sends its agents out in search of those with the potential to use magic, bringing those into the fold who will come, and killing those who will not. They say that one sworn to the Conclave cannot lie; but they also say that the truth you think you hear is not the truth that was stated…
The PCs are a bunch of young villagers from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, so small it’s almost forgotten by the country which it is nominally a part of. You’ve always been normal salt-of-the-earth types—sons of farmers, daughters of innkeepers, that sort of thing—until recently, when you have begun to develop what can only be described as minor magical powers.
To make matters worse, there have been sightings of monsters in the woods and hills around the village recently. The first sightings were around the time you noticed your new powers, come to think of it.
To make matters even worse, two agents of the Conclave have just arrived in town.
You are level 0 Godbound, normal humans who have received limited use of some of the divine Words of Creation, and are on the verge of awakening to your demi-godhood.
You can become a level 1 Godbound and gain your full powers at a time of your choosing, or at a time when the GM thinks you are under a lot of stress (physical or mental). This won’t be subtle, everyone nearby will know some powerful magic has just happened.
If brought to 0 HP while level 0, you will automatically level up and enter a Divine Fury.
Genre: bronze age fantasy
All of these scenarios are set in Glorantha, a fantasy bronze-age setting, specifically in the lands of the Colymar Tribe.
Defending Apple Lane
The PCs are caught up in a raid on the hamlet of Apple Lane by Tusk Riders, mercenaries previously employed by the Lunar Empire and turned bandits due to the empire’s collapse.
Apple Lane fell on hard times during the Lunar occupation, and currently has no Thane to defend it. Can the heroes save it from the bandits?
The Varmandi, a clan of the Colymar, have fairly little arable land. Their wealth is their livestock. While most of the animals are raised for food or to work, a small number of them belong to the tribal temple and are sacred to the local Orlanth cult.
It is early Dark Season, the first snow has fallen, and the wild animals are getting more bold. The PCs been recruited to deal with a pair of saber-toothed cats which have been threatening the sacred cattle.
Genre: far-future sci-fi / space western
Annic Nova, with Space Pirates
It’s the far future, spaceships travel between the stars, and all of human space is ruled by a military / trading empire called the Hegemony of Man. But in many ways space is the new Wild West: space travel isn’t instantaneous, faster-than-light jumps are limited in range and take a week to execute, so news takes a long time to travel.
The PCs are a collection of travellers—a group of people who roam the stars, doing odd jobs to pay off the galactic mortgage they had to take out to buy it—and have been offered a juicy contract by the Hegemony Military.
The military is conducting a large-scale operation against a group of space pirates operating somewhere beyond the border of Hegemony space. You and several other ships have been contracted to hunt the pirates down. You’ve been given a list of systems to search and six months to do it in. If you find any signs of pirate activity, you’re to jump back to a military staging area and report your findings.
You’re now four months into your mission. You haven’t found any pirate activity yet, but you have developed your approach for searching for them:
- Jump into the outer reaches of the system.
- Scan the immediate area for ships.
- Fly to a gas giant and siphon hydrogen fuel.
- Conduct a more thorough search of the system, examining planets and asteroid belts.
And now, once again, the bubble of hyperspace encasing your ship begins to boil away as you approach the end of another jump. In moments, you will arrive in the next system on your list.