Happy GURPSDay! It’s once again time to feast on all the GURPS-y Goodness that Thursdays bring.
Meanwhile, the Gamex 2016 convention is coming up in just about a month, so I started thinking about what game to run. I eventually settled on an adventure where the PCs are household guardians of sleeping children, protecting them in the night from the Boogeyman and his wicked minions. So this week on Game Geekery, I’m looking at how that spark of an idea becomes a ready-to-run convention game as part of the “Adventure Creation” series.
Once the entire adventure is complete, I’ll post it here (notes, character sheets, etc.) for download.
Like a lot of games, this one was initially inspired by a picture.
I had seen this online last year and immediately saved it to my ginormous folder of “cool pics for inspiring games.” Then a few days ago, around the time when I started looking towards Gamex, I came across it again. “Ooh,” I thought. “I really dig that. Maybe a game about magical creatures who protect children as they sleep?”
This is the “elevator pitch” step, taking that initial spark to something more concrete. Noodling on the magical protectors idea a bit, I whittled down the bajillion stories that suggested to one that sounded fun: “As children sleep, they are vulnerable to nightmare creatures sent by the Boogeyman, who feeds on their fear. Luckily, every child has magical protectors to keep the forces of evil at bay.”
Hmm, not bad. I can work with this!
This is where that general idea gets molded into something that will fill a four-hour game, and give me enough of a framework that I can get on to what I consider the most important step… making the pre-gen PCs.
So, refining the above, I decide that the Boogeyman sends his minions to attack children in the night, feeding off their fear of monsters and nightmares to make himself more powerful. To protect them, the Fairy Council ensures that every child has one or more magical guardians (the PCs) to keep the household safe while they sleep. But on this night, the Boogeyman’s attacks are unusually powerful… and he actually kidnaps the parents of certain extra imaginative children, a flagrant violation of the Eternal Laws. The Fairy Council responds by sending the PCs on a quest to the dream realm to confront the Boogeyman directly and rescue the parents.
Ahh, finally! To me, the PCs are what it’s all about. I only prep until I nail down just enough about the game to be able to make strong pre-gen characters. They’re the heart and soul of the game, and once they’re done I can use them to fully flesh out the rest of the game details.
Normally, I try to limit to four pre-gens for a convention game, but for various reasons I needed six this time around, so…
Looking at what I have so far, I figure the PCs can be the guardians of two young, very imaginative children, a brother and sister. That means I need three guardians per child. Eventually, I come up with the family cat, the dog, one toy for each child, and each child’s imaginary friend. I then make a list and start jotting down some notes.
Guardians of Billy, age 7:
Shadow, black cat. High Stealth, Perception, has Claws.
Soldier Man, toy. Military warrior, high(er) DR.
Tim-Tom Toot, imaginary fluffy monster (possibly with a flatulence problem). Sociable and affable, kind of a “gadgeteer,” able to pull useful items (sometimes) from his backpack.
Guardians of Sarah, age 9:
Barkley, dog. High Tracking, Perception, has Bite.
Z-Rex (Zoomer Chomplingz), toy. R/C dinosaur, high(er) DR.
Valorious McMane, imaginary unicorn. Healing powers, can “sword fight” with her horn.
Looking over the party makeup, that’s two “hearty adventurer” types (Shadow, who’s also a stealther, and Barkley), two dedicated fighters (Soldier Man and Z-Rex), a “face” and gadgeteer (Tim-Tom Toot), and a healer (Valorious McMane). That covers most of the usual bases — characters are done!
“Done” for this step, of course. Now that I have a rough idea of the adventure from Step 2 and a rough idea of the PCs from Step 3, I can start tightening up details and actually getting things down on paper in the next few steps: Step 4 – Adding Detail (creating 4-5 scenes, making NPCs), Step 5 – Finalizing the Characters (with the adventure finished, making the actual character sheets/folders to be given to the players), and Step 6 – Final Details (all the last minute polishes and tweaks that, if necessary, can be skipped in a pinch).
That will have to wait until Part 2, though, next week. I hope this series continues to spur on your own GMing creative juices, and help you work out your own best system for getting games from the churning chaos of your brain to concrete pages you can use at the table. See you next week!
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A behind-the-scenes look at putting together "one-shots," from idea and first notes to the finished adventure. Here are the five most recent posts, or select "View the entire series."