Saturday, May 18, 2024

Detectives in Space, Desperate Cowboys, Freezing Barbarians, Mystic Pilgrims... Or all of the Above!

Looking to start a game? I have some campaign ideas that might inspire you.

How I Pitch my Campaigns

When I am ready to start a new campaign, I put together a handful of "pitch documents" that give the players a taste of what they might expect with the game. The style of my pitch documents varies a lot by mood and inclination.

Recently my wife and I concluded a one-to-one Fabula Ultima campaign, and have been, after a couple of false starts and a few weekends where life just got in the way, looking to start something new. I recently prepared a document with four campaign pitches for a one-to-one game based on our current leanings, taste, and media intake.

As this could be a useful tool for assembling a group, I thought I would share a (slightly tidied up) PDF version of the document.

Pitches May 2024

Generally speaking, I give a fictional preview either written like a movie trailer, or a summary of precipitating events written like the back of a book cover.

Then I create a couple of paragraphs explaining the game of choice, the role the PCs might start with, and what kind of overarching experience I hope to provide.

I used to add in some evocative art hunted down on Pinterest. These days, I try generating something custom using an AI. It seems like a good, non-commercial use for the tool.

The Pitches

In this case I have a Scifi Detective Noir that is drawing a lot on Philip K. Dick, as well as an old favourite podcast, Black Jack Justice; a natural fantasy story based on a fusion of Babylon 5: Crusade, The Slayers: Try, Legend of Mana, and Sorcerer Hunters; A cowboy story that is intended to be a massive and dark expansion of my Vulture Rock wargame scenario played in Cowpunchers; and there is an AD&D scenario there inspired by the copious amount of Manowar that has been on my CD player in the last week (I'm also on my 15th play-through of Skyrim).

Feel free to steal and use these, and I am happy to answer questions, if you want more information about how I intended to use them.

But these particular campaign pitches just didn't sing. They weren't quite what we were looking for.

Trying Again

I sat for awhile trying to think of what I might try differently, and started taking the most appealing elements of each into a totally different beast.

I am currently enjoying the novel Hyperion by Dan Simmons as well. If you're not familiar, it is a dark and surreal (and much more serious) science fiction take on The Canterbury Tales which involves a group of pilgrims being sent to their deaths on an alien world, telling about their experiences on a previous voyage there. Hyperion is a pretty influential book in science fiction media, but is not itself very well known. If you have played Borderlands, Bio-Shock, Mass Effect, or Amnesia games, you have probably heard a lot of references to it.

I decided to blend my four campaigns together: a dark western story, but with a mystery focus, set in my own science fiction world, to which I would add in some heavy metal notes. And while I was at it, I decided to toss in some elements of Mass Effect and Borderlands (a fantastic Sci-Fi Western setting)

 What I ended up with is a frontier space colony world full of ancient hyper-tech ruins that can create miracles, where runaways, psychics, criminals, and cultists are rampant. I called it Adaro

I've written a lot about realizing a science fiction setting in the past. One thing that I find to be axiomatic is that if you are not using an established setting, you need to work a lot harder to tell your players about it. When I write science fiction pitches, I add a lot more detail to it before I pitch it.

Adaro is written as a series of three monologues from very different perspectives, and two dossiers written for a government agent, plus a couple of definitions, and I feel it does a great job of doing heavy lifting.

Steal This Planet!

Tragically, it just didn't sell to my wife as a home game setting. However, i feel like Adaro might be just the thing someone else is looking for, so I am going to toss the pitch document up here, and see if any of my readers want to steal it and make it their own.

Download it as a PDF here:

Adaro: A Mythic Space Western


  1. Have you tried her with a Space 1889 style setting? Victorian steampunk sci-fi/magic.

    1. How did my reply to this dissappear?!

      That sounds too cool not to try!