Dresden Files one shot, need help

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Jake Sullivan
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Dresden Files one shot, need help

#1 Postby Jake Sullivan » Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:49 am

I am making a contemporary one shot adventure that falls somewhere between The Dresden Files and Call of Cthulhu. The problem is, I have no idea what type of adventure to run and none of my players have played SW before. I do have their pre-gen characters though (see below). The basic idea is they are individually criminal elements or about to cross over into crime, because life hasn't turned out well for them. They each have an interest in the supernatural.

Character #1 - Tony Hawks, former game designer, found guilty of computer hacking. Currently works at a struggling "mom & pop" computer store as IT and security expert. Has always felt there was something more to the world (conspiracy theorist). Has working knowledge of Spanish and some Italian.

Character #2 - Juan Valdez, former gang member, former US Marine and convicted bank robber, now an auto mechanic at a struggling "mom & pop" automotive and repair shop. Unbeknownst to him, he is a werewolf (but he has growing suspicions). Speaks Spanish.

Character #3 - Jack Sparrow, a divorced and former 747 Delta Airlines pilot who survived what should have been a tragic accident from N.Y. to London. Retired and is slightly insane. He sometimes gets consultant work working for the US NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigating airline crashes. An avid art collector and rare Hungarian book collector (some items in his modest collection are stolen). Speaks Hungarian and has working knowledge of Latin.

Any help is greatly appreciated! 8)

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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#2 Postby Elf_NFB » Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:21 am

A MacGuffin Run. You don't want to jump into the Mythos Deep End right away. But have the players need to get an idol before a Cthulhu cult gets it. Make it a mashup of Call of Cthulhu, Maltese Falcon, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. BOOM! A one shot that can turn into a campaign.
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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#3 Postby Jake Sullivan » Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:36 am

Elf_NFB wrote:A MacGuffin Run. You don't want to jump into the Mythos Deep End right away. But have the players need to get an idol before a Cthulhu cult gets it. Make it a mashup of Call of Cthulhu, Maltese Falcon, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. BOOM! A one shot that can turn into a campaign.


Elf_NFB, that's brilliant! :twisted:

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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#4 Postby Snate56 » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:15 am

"Call of the Raiders of the Lost Falcon"!
A sausage and egg McGuffin...


:P
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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#5 Postby kronovan » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:29 pm

Snate56 wrote:"Call of the Raiders of the Lost Falcon"!
A sausage and egg McGuffin...


:P


Damn, wish you hadn't restated it that way. I haven't had breakfast yet and now I'm hungry. :P

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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#6 Postby galu » Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:29 am

I don't really know what Dresden files is, but here is a method I often use.
Opening scene: a lead each points to scene 2, 3 and 4
Scene 2: a lead points to scene 3, a lead points to scene 4
Scene 3: a lead points to scene 2, a lead points to scene 4
Scene 4: a lead points to scene 2, a lead points to scene 3

This way you have 4 scenes which are very likely to come up during play, and have room for a few extra scenes if necessary.

Example (please forgive the actual encounters, I didn't really have time to think up something interesting). It is also more Buffy then Cthulhu. (no idea where Dresden files are in the Cthulhu - Buffy axis :) )



scene 1 (combat)
The PCs are in ambush, trying to disrupt a summoning ritual. (ask them questions on how they got the leads. If they don't have ideas, tell them in a few flashbacks)
They are late to the party tho, and a ghost, demon, whatever is summoned in the middle of the fight and flees the scene!

Leads:
- there is a picture of a pretty girl in a summoning circle (-> scene 2)
- there is an address called "HQ" in the mobile app of one cultist (-> scene 3)
- they can try to identify the chants, if someone speaks latin (-> scene 4)


Scene 2, Amber (insert "stripper name" here, like Jewel, Pearl, etc.)

The lady on the picture is well known if the characters try to track her down. She has a folder for possession of marijuana and other light narcotics in the police (contacts: police, investigation or hacking rolls), she works in a stripclub in the evenings (contacts: underworld, streetwise), and studies spanish literature on the local university (streetwise, contacts: uni).
Leads:
- she has strange dreams, but she can sleep well when stoned (these dreams require a skilled occultist to decipher -> scene 4)
- she is being watched, followed by a cultist from the same group the PCs just defeated (the cultist reports to "HQ" -> scene 3). They are actually planning a kidnapping (or even attack the stripclub!)


Scene 3, cultist HQ
The cultists actually identified the location of Amber, with the help of the demon they summoned. (not what they wanted, but it works anyway) At the moment, a few of them are in the HQ, a few of them at Amber's workplace.
Leads:
- a surviving cultist can be persuaded to tell where the others are (-> scene 2)
- they wanted to perform a detect person ritual, but summoned a demon. He doesn't know actually what it is, the PCs must find an expert themselves (-> scene 4)
- he is a pawn, he doesn't know why Amber is important, they got the instructions during their dreams



Scene 4, identify the chants

If someone speaks latin, they can start identifying the chants. Since the PCs don't have their own occult library, they might want to have a peek into one. If they look for a library or an expert, the searches (streetwise, investigation, contacts) point to Mme Margot, a brothel madame+witch, who has a cool occult library, and is willing to help.
- the chants were detect person gone wrong (summoned a spirit/demon instead of detecting)
- the Mme can help them find Amber (with a spell -> scene 2)
- the Mme can be used as a medium to communicate with "the gatekeeper", who is a neutral spirit. This spirit can tell them where the summoned demon is. (scene 3)


Will the PCs be able to prevent the kidnap of Amber?
What are Amber's dreams about?
Why is Amber useful to the cult?
Where is the summoned demon, and what are it's aims?

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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#7 Postby Sitting Duck » Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:29 am

galu wrote:I don't really know what Dresden files is


It's a series of urban fantasy novels by Jim Butcher about Chicago PI Harry Dresden who happens to be a wizard. It was also a short-lived TV series which got a considerably mixed reception from the fan base.

(no idea where Dresden files are in the Cthulhu - Buffy axis :) )


One of the supernatural threats in the series are beings known as the Outsiders, which have a definite Lovecraft vibe to them.
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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#8 Postby Elf_NFB » Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:33 am

Snate56 wrote:"Call of the Raiders of the Lost Falcon"!
A sausage and egg McGuffin...


Isn't that how most quests end up... really.. :D
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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#9 Postby Jake Sullivan » Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:17 pm

Outstanding! galu. 8)

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Re: Dresden Files one shot, need help

#10 Postby galu » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:55 am

Jake Sullivan wrote:Outstanding! galu. 8)


This approach of structuring an investigation served me well, originally this idea is from Justin Alexander.
node-based scenario design on thealexandrian.net
sample adventure 1 sample adventure 2

I like it because
- 4-5 scenes provide enough material for about 2 hours of gameplay, and there is enough time to allow the players to fool around. (what if the players check out the university, _after_ finding Amber? Why not let them, might be fun)
- by having some fixed scenes I can plan encounters which are very difficult to improvise (eg. chases or interrogation)
- also, this way, I can design some scenes where a player can really shine (eg. use a skill only he has, like boating or kn: engineering)
- by not having too many fixed scenes, the players cannot really go off the rails, as there is basically none
- because each scene has 3 clues pointing towards it, it is very unlikely that the players will avoid it completely, so it is very rare that your preparation doesn't come up in actual play, or going to waste


edit: one other thing came to my mind. Kevin Crawford (Sine nomine publishing) wrote this book called "Silent legions", which is pure gold for modern era horror stories. Since you are a Savage Worlds GM, you will not be able to use about 1/3 (the d20/OSR character classes, skill lists, etc.), but the rest is basically a "do it yourself SleepingAgedOnes mythos". I mean is that the flavor is very familiar, but if one uses the random tables to generate the mythos, gods, aliens, servants and cults you will have your own mythos. Familiar, but yours. As a horror GM's kit, that book has to be the most useful book I ever bought.


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