Some Adventures Don’t Work… My Failed Starts

November 20, 2023

This adventures blog now has over thirty free adventures for my fellow GMs to use, steal, or draw inspiration from! But just for fun, I took a look at how many adventures I started… and then never finished for a variety of reasons. Often, writer’s block comes from a lack of inspiration, a game design problem, or just getting distracted by something else.

Looking through my various folders on my PC, here’s some adventures I’ve started and failed to finish… and why that happened.

Railgun Road

While I’ve never run an extended post-apocalypse campaign, I’ve always enjoyed one-shots set in bombarded, Max Max-style wastelands. I set out to write an adventure where a gang of motorcycle thugs with three very distinct, crazy personalities, attack the PCs’ home town… and they’re asked to set out into the wasted desert to get revenge on them. This was fun to write, but I got distracted when I got enough calls from fans who wanted a cyberpunk game, and I instead channeled my energy into Amethyst Reign.

The Savior Countdown

After seeing a couple great Mission: Impossible films, I decided to write an action adventure that channeled the spirit of those movies. The adventure began with half the PCs kidnapping an international criminal on board an international flight, while the others waited on the ground to escape once they parachuted to safety. After writing this initial scene, I struggled to figure out a great plot to continue to carry the action forward, and gave up. I would later reuse this opening scene in the pulp adventure, the Curse of Sekhmet, modified to a 1930s setting.

Stealing Dead Mule

I found an old Boot Hill old west adventure that inspired me, Ballots & Bullets. In this unique adventure, the PCs enter Promise City as strangers, and then get deeply entangled with a very corrupt election, where they can help various candidates win the mayoral race, or even become mayor themselves. I thought this was a unique and excellent premise for an adventure, and decided to reboot it into Stealing Dead Mule. But then I quickly soured lost inspiration once the news cycle decided to talk about nothing but “stolen” elections, and too fatigued by the concept, gave this one up.

An Edgeless Murder

With this fantasy adventure, I decided to take a stab at a tough genre — an Agatha Christie-style “cozy mystery.” The PCs play friends who take shelter at a lonely inn on the edge of the wilderness, only to find a murder has just taken place there, and it’s up to them to solve it. Lacking a lot of fantasy mainstays like big bads, battles, and sprawling settings, this one was set up to be a quiet, investigative session. Unfortunately, I struggled to write all the tangles of a murder mystery in a way that I found made sense, so the adventure sits unfinished, about 80% completed. My conclusion – RPG murder mysteries are hard. One day I’ll go back to it.

The Scourge of Triton

While it’s not one of my most popular adventures, the mythic Greece Honey Tree of Pelion is one of my favorite adventures to run new roleplayers through – especially teens. Everyone gets Greek myths, it’s fast-paced, and players always have fun with the NPCs in it. I have a sequel mostly written, The Scourge of Triton, which pits the PCs against an angry Poseidon, a giant boar, and Spartan spies. Unfortunately, it never felt like it was as great as Honey Tree, so I’ve been letting it lie fallow for a while until I figure out how to make it flow better.

In time, I may return to these adventures and finish them. Or melt them down and use their best bits in future adventures. Time will tell!

If you’ve thrown out some otherwise great concepts, tell me the story of their failure in the comments below.

Related: Use Your Outtakes – The Curse of Sekhmet

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  1. 30 hits is something to be proud of.
    I feel ya on mysteries. You need a weird crime and a lotta clues, then you add the suspicious weirdos.

  2. Damn! My son was just asking for a Mad Max RPG adventure. Railgun Road would’ve satisfied it. All of these sound great.

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