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What’s Your Secret Campaign Crush?

I suspect every GM has an idea on the back burner [1] for a campaign that they’d love to try sometime, but never seem to get around to.

Mine is a hybrid MechWarrior/BattleTech game where the PCs are all ‘mech pilots (and the RPG stuff is handled with a different system than MechWarrior, which looks awful), with the cool bit being that when they get into ‘mech battles, we switch to the BT rules. I’ve had that one rattling around up there for around eight years now, and never had the combination of time, inclination and group to try it out.

So how about it: What campaign concept have you always wanted to run, but never had a chance to try out?

(I’m at GenCon from Wednesday, August 15th through Sunday, August 19th — two trips in a row makes for a busy month! As before, there will be a new post every day, but I won’t be able to respond to comments or reply to emails. I’ll be back with a full report next week — have a good time without me! — Martin

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#1 Comment By Jennifer Snow On August 17, 2007 @ 5:23 am

Actually, I’m running it now: Forgotten Realms + Psionics.

#2 Comment By Carolina aka Troy Taylor On August 17, 2007 @ 6:31 am

A mythological ancient Sumeria … boy, that one’s been on the back burner A LONNNNNNNG time

#3 Comment By Guy On August 17, 2007 @ 6:50 am

I purchased a time travel supplement for Space Master over 15 years ago called Time Riders. I’ve always wanted to run a campaign with it and I will finally get my chance this Thursday using d20 Modern.

#4 Comment By MountZionRyan On August 17, 2007 @ 7:17 am

Asian pseudo-historical fantasy, a la L5R, Kara-Tur, Usagi Yojimbo, Sengoku. I’ve run a few adventures, but never a campaign.


#5 Comment By Michael Huxley On August 17, 2007 @ 8:13 am

System: Burning Wheel

Setting: Renaissance era Venice; the city controlled by about a dozen powerful families

Plot: The players play a family recently fallen out of favor with the rest of the families – but they were framed. The game becomes a power struggle as the players climb back to regain favor and discover those who framed them.

#6 Comment By gospog On August 17, 2007 @ 8:33 am

Well, mine isn’t too secret anymore: Warhammer 40K.

And as of February of next year (fingers crossed), I’ll have an actual game book and supplement support. It might not turn into a campaign, but it will be played.

I’ve been waiting 20 years…

#7 Comment By Jennifer Snow On August 17, 2007 @ 8:39 am

Do you find that your Secret Game Crush is a game that you’d really like to *play* in, but no one else would even consider running something like that so you wind up doing it yourself?

I find that I nearly always wind up running a game because I really wish I could *play* in it.

#8 Comment By RudeMorgue On August 17, 2007 @ 8:44 am

Planescape, definitely.

Every time I mention it, I get a resounding “eh,” from my group, unfortunately.

The runner up was always “Anything set in the Forgotten Realms,” which has gotten considerably more support of late, so that’s what I’m running next.

#9 Comment By Sarlax On August 17, 2007 @ 8:44 am

PCs as political powerhouses, managing the affairs of the state.

Also: spacewestern fantasy.

#10 Comment By Reed On August 17, 2007 @ 8:50 am

Mine is probably a historical viking age campaign. I’d like to use the Riddle of Steel system. I am skeptical of being able to find a group with enough buy-in to learn the system and care enough about the history to even make it quasi-realistic.

#11 Comment By John Arcadian On August 17, 2007 @ 8:59 am

Jennifer Snow said: “Do you find that your Secret Game Crush is a game that you’d really like to *play* in, but no one else would even consider running something like that so you wind up doing it yourself?”

Yes definitely. All the games I would love to run are more or less ones that I would love to play in, but nobody else wants to run them because they want to play in them. I think that is one of the eternal GM wants.

#12 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On August 17, 2007 @ 9:10 am


#13 Comment By Darrin On August 17, 2007 @ 9:10 am

Pirates on the Spanish Main currently in session. Also a modern day thriller where the PCs are genetically enhanced spec ops/spies running from the government that has terminated their project.

John Arcadian said: “All the games I would love to run are more or less ones that I would love to play in, but nobody else wants to run them because they want to play in them. I think that is one of the eternal GM wants.”

I think this needs its own entry. I would take it a step further, I run games the way I wish someone would run them for me. I am at the point where I am giving up on ever playing again because I just can not stand other GM’s style.

#14 Comment By Ilwan On August 17, 2007 @ 9:27 am

I have actually begun working on mine. It´s based on the actual “coup of Zehlendorf” a famous bank robbery and taking of hostages. The group digged a tunnel from a nearby garage close the the basement of the bank. Then half the group entered the bank, taking employees and customers hostage. They spent some 17 hours inside the building, while their companions opened the wall into the tunnel. They asked for ransom, to save time for finishing the digging and to open all bank boxes (which was the real treasure). After 18 hours the SWAT team entered the building to find out that the criminals had dissapeared, leaving their hostages in the basement. (They were all caught some days later – but pretty bold bank robbery).

In the game the players will take the role of the robbers. They know they will need about 17 hours to finish the tunnel and to open the bank boxes. They will have to make deals with the police, to extend the time, before the SWAT team will take action. So they will have to negotiate for time, for an escape car, money etc. They will have to act against the psychologial threat of being inside a building surrounded by snipers and against each other.

This will also give the players the one-time chance of playing really bad guys.

Im looking forward to this.

#15 Comment By OUTRIDER On August 17, 2007 @ 11:17 am


I have been in conversations with one of the writers for the game and from what he tells me, if your a real fan of the universe, you should be very pleased with it

#16 Comment By Gyro LC On August 17, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

Spirit of the Century. High-adventure 1920s pulp.

#17 Comment By Scotticus On August 17, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

I’ve always loved the Robotech setting, mechs, equipement, etc. Especially Invid Invasion. But IMHO the rules for that RPG leave too much to be desired, so I would love to modify/adapt the Star Wars D6 rules and play that.

#18 Comment By Tedwrd On August 17, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

Ravenloft. I should finally get a return on investing in everything they published since 1980.

#19 Comment By Darth Krzysztof On August 17, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

Three leap to mind: a fantasy pirate campaign, a dark side Star Wars campaign, and a Victorian steampunk X-Files kind of game.

I had massive campaigns mapped out for Forgotten Realms, Planescape, Shadowrun, Al-Qadim, and/or the World of Darkness that never happened.

But honestly, I’m without a group right now, so ANY campaign is one I’ve “always wanted to run, but never had a chance to try out.”

#20 Comment By Protohacker On August 17, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

Rifts Chaos Earth.

I’d only do this so I could throw everything I had at the players just to see how much they could take before they snapped. The goal would not be to break their bodies, but to break their spirits. (My favorite character comes from Pre-Rifts Earth and is none too sane as a result. That’s where I got the idea.)

Somehow, I don’t see this going over too well in the group, so it’s just a crazy idea and won’t get played.


Another one is Decipher’s Lord of the Rings. But, my group is just not interested in being larger-than-life heroes, so it sits on the back burner also.

#21 Comment By Corrosive Rabbit On August 17, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

Something post-apocalyptic, but starting right from the actual apocalypse event. GURPS Y2K would be along these lines, as would S.M. Stirling’s “Dies The Fire” books.


#22 Comment By VV_GM On August 17, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

For the longest time I’ve wanted to run a Fudge game where the players are characters in a cartoon like the game Toon. I just think it would be a fun change of pace to play something completely silly.

#23 Comment By bignose On August 17, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

I’ve always been fascinated by the Traveller setting. I’d love to do a classic merchants-and-intrigue campaign ranging across the vast Third Imperium and its neighbours. Heck, even a rich campaign set in a subsector with a couple of dozen worlds would be fun.

Now that I have GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars, a complete setting book for the period when rising Terra first encountered the huge but declining First Imperium, that has been calling to me as well. Much the same campaign, with the scrappy Terran traders up against the hostile Imperium bureaucracy but also its often-friendly citizens.

Another setting book, Reign of Steel, is set after humanity lost the war against the machines, and the many demigodlike AIs have divided the Earth between them and pursue conflicting goals now that humans no longer challenge them. The human PCs would be up against enormous odds, but would have many opportunities to learn about the robots, help the human resistance, strike blows against the zoneminds, and maybe even try playing dangerous political games from an inferior position. This one I have little prospect of ever playing, since the PCs can never be a powerful force in the setting; even if they manage to stand up, they’ll still be in the dirt. I don’t know many players interested in that 🙂

I also like the original World of Darkness setting; any of Vampire, Werewolf, or Mage sound fun, so long as I could find players interested in being *subtle* about working within the world of humans, instead of raging around the world as amoral superbeings with no regard for the sheeplike masses.

#24 Comment By Peter On August 18, 2007 @ 3:22 am

i’d love to have a shadowrun campaign but I never seem to be able to memorise the rules.

#25 Comment By PlanetNiles On August 18, 2007 @ 4:46 am

Corrosive Rabbit – BTRC’s new edition of WarpWorld is along those lines and quite simply rocks. IIRC Greg said he wants playtesting over by autumn.

My personal crush is currently a time travel game I call Hypersphere, which I’ve seem to have been writing for many many years. It’s due to start once we finish playtesting WarpWorld.

Since my players seem to have fallen in love with EABA that’s what we’ll be using.

#26 Comment By Jennifer Snow On August 18, 2007 @ 6:58 am

Hey, Darth Krzysztof, you should hook up with my online chat group. I would LOVE to play any of the games you mentioned (with maybe the exception of Star Wars . . . I’d be willing to give it a try but the Star Wars universe never really appealed to me.)

I could also use another player for my FR/Psionics game. 🙂 Currently I have 2 players each playing 2 characters. I don’t mind a big party . . . 1 more person with 2 characters means I can make a practice of splitting the group into 2 4-person parties. It’s easier to RP two people if they aren’t in the same physical location.

#27 Comment By Jeff On August 18, 2007 @ 7:13 am

Mine isn’t a secret, either: Buffy in 1970’s London, with “Ripper” Giles as an occasional bad guy.

#28 Comment By Marcus On August 18, 2007 @ 8:15 am

I’ve had this idea for a campaign focused around an anti-hero that’s trying to slay all the gods in the pantheon for… well before I even started running games.

I actually got to run an adaption of the story to Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed, but the group never got far enough to discover what the mysterious dark army was all about.

Now there’s a comicbook out called Spawn: Godslayer, and I’m thinking about running a campaign in that world to lighten the creative burden (plus the art’s fantastic – the best way to sell any setting), but we’ll see if it ever gets off the ground…

#29 Comment By Dave T. Game On August 18, 2007 @ 11:56 am

I wasn’t reminded of this until your next post, but I would love to do a Superhero comic-book style game set in the DC Universe with character overshadowed by bigger names. I’ve yet to find a satisfying supers system yet, though…

#30 Comment By Midgardsormr On August 18, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

I’ve had a sci-fi game kicking around in my notes for years now that I’d really love to run. The PCs are members of a private black-ops organization trying to keep humanity at technological parity with an aggressive but mysterious alien race.

My huge, audacious dream would be to run it in an online format and have several play groups on every side of the conflict interfering with one another.

#31 Comment By clem On August 18, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

I have a ton of ideas in my files.
A few favorites:
The players are peasants in a realistic medieval feudal setting. They start as kids and (try to) grow up, avoiding plagues, starvation, and death by medical superstition as best they can. If conscripted, the goal is simply to not be killed by the enemy or executed for cowardice. Heroism isn’t an option. Great success would be getting apprenticed to a blacksmith or miller or entering the clergy or noble household service. Aging and typical lifespans of the era would be closely and mercilessly enforced. Players who would enjoy the game, unfortunately, would be very hard to find.

Players are Egyptian conscripts in the crew building the first pyramid. The twist is that they are followers of Set charged to prevent proper completion of the pyramid at all costs.

Silly over the top superheroes with absurd powers in a very gritty world.

GURPS Cabal/Atomic Horror mashup. Secret war of traditional monsters, sorcerors and ancient gods vs mad scientists, atomic monsters, and evil aliens. Will the “normals” find out? Will they strike back against both sides? Can they?

#32 Comment By GrapeSoda On August 19, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

Steampunk…if there are any Girl Genius fans out there, something like that but more US Westward Expansion (but, as a wise friend of mine pointed out, NOT like Wild Wild West).

#33 Comment By GrapeSoda On August 19, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

A friend of mine, who’s a little embarrassed to put it up here, has always wanted to run a fairy campaign.

“Fairies can be badass too.”

#34 Comment By Darth Krzysztof On August 19, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

Telas’s mention of Midnight reminds me of another wahoo campaign I always wanted to run: one where the mind flayers succeeded in extinguishing the sun. “That wasn’t the end of the world? Well, what happens next?”

I also like the idea of a TOTALLY new world: that is, immediately after the gods create the world, they create the PCs. I’ve been chewing on the logistics for awhile, but I figure that each PC is the representative of a specific god–that way, the player can create some details about the god, as well as the PC.

I’ve played in SO many games where the backstory was actually detrimental to the campaign; sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have NO backstory.

#35 Comment By Darth Krzysztof On August 19, 2007 @ 10:13 pm

Marcus, the anti-hero on a godslaying rampage is one I’ve been interested in, too. If the 4th Edition of D&D is too different from v.3.5, I might use it to nuke my world and start again. I’ve been planting seeds for such a conflict for twenty years.

#36 Comment By Calybos On August 20, 2007 @ 7:18 am

I USED to have a secret dream of running a Renaissance-era swashbuckling-pirates campaign, and for roughly a decade I pitched it to my group under various systems (mostly D&D minus the magic).

Then “7th Sea” was published, and my life’s purpose was fulfilled. I can die happy now.

#37 Comment By DNAphil On August 21, 2007 @ 9:50 am

I have two….

The first is a Samurai Game using Burning Wheel (and I just picked up The Blossoms are Falling supplement at GenCon).

The second would a be a D&D game with 12 Paladins sent on the ultimate quest, to save a world from the ultimate darkness.

#38 Comment By fruitbane On August 27, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

I have always wanted to run (or play in) a Fuzion-based Bubblegum Crisis game. I have the first book, but nobody else I know cares even a little bit.

#39 Comment By GilaMonster On August 31, 2007 @ 10:16 am

Chipping in late.

I’ve got two in mind, a Star Wars game set at the time of the great hyperspace war, several hundred years before the Knights of the Old Republic video game was set, and a futuristic (~2070) superhero game.

Once my current modern game finishes I am definitely going to run one of those, providing the players approve.