1Shot Reviews – Undead Edition

July 16, 2022

This month, I followed the trail of some good one-shot adventures, and discovered two fantastic ones that are worth checking out… especially if you’re a fan of the undead (and honestly, what kind of GM isn’t…?)

Spoilers ahead!

Tomb of the Savage Kings – Classic Mummy Horror

Dungeon Crawl Classics has a fantastic collection of sword and sorcery-styled one-shot adventures. They are all very thematic, do a good job of surprising players, and are all pretty deadly.

Tomb of the Savage Kings fits this bill to the tee, but it grabs, embraces, and embalms the spirit of classic mummy movies. The PCs are asked to set out to an ancient pyramid to rescue a young woman who was captured by a evil mummy. Inside the small pyramid, they’ll find traps, secret rooms, and a menagerie of inspired monsters, one of which is wins my “monster of the year” award — a Mummy Juice Elemental. This thing grossed my players out even as it splattered them across the room.

Tomb of the Savage Kings is short enough to be run in one session, and if you enjoy other fantasy games, it’s easy to port to other systems — though I definitely encourage using a deadly system if you do so, to make sure the horror of the pyramid really comes through.

You can check out my video review (and tips and tricks on how to run it great) here:

Night Train – Classic, Lethal, Old West Horror

If you’ve visited my site before, you probably know I’m a fan of historical horror adventures. And the old west is a fantastic setting for creepy horror (just ask the poor nuns who live at the Blasphemous Bordello).

Night Train is probably one of the earliest published old west horror adventures. It’s a classic, and was written back in 1997, not too long after Deadlands was released. Does it still hold up 25 years later?

Sure does, partner. Night Train is an excellent introduction to Deadlands and old west horror both. The PCs stumble upon an abandoned train station and soon discover someone – or something – is rolling up and down the train tracks killing innocent folks. What starts as a creepy investigation slowly ramps up into a wild west action movie, with the PCs needed to board a train filled with undead monstrosities and stop it before it destroys town after town.

Night Train has a reputation for its deadliness (the Tomb of Horrors of Deadlands, maybe?). While that makes for a fine horror one-shot — after all, getting killed by vampires on a runaway train makes for a fantastic finale — it’s easy to tweak to tone down the sheer onslaught of that final encounter. My players all barely survived, but it was an epic finale, with heroes barely hanging on to an out-of-control train, flaming vampires everywhere, and Cherokee riding up alongside to take the entire operation down.

If you’re interested in old west horror, check this adventure out. While it was written for the original Deadlands system, it’s a piece of cake to port to whatever you want. (I ran it using GURPS Deadlands, so bonus points for my players still managing to survive, but it would work great in Call of Cthulhu: Down Darker Trails too…)

You can check out my video review (and tips and tricks on how to run it great) here:

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