So let’s talk about the first RPG campaign I ever ran.
It was 2005. Or maybe 2004. Whatever, it was back when I was in my early twenties, I was in my last year of university, and I’d been accepted into a little circle of fellow nerds in Chichester (and I’m happy to say I’m still accepted in that little circle to this day). Mostly we’d chill out and play Magic until 3 in the morning, but I wanted to get into this whole RPG thing that I’d desperately wanted to do since I was about fifteen. So, one Amazon shopping spree later, I had the d20 Modern and Urban Arcana rulebooks in my sweaty hands.
A quick aside; d20 Modern is really, really fucking good. Some stuff is a little broken and needs fixing (it uses a tweaked version of D&D 3.5 rules after all), but if you want a solid generic system that you can use to run any kind of modern-day or futuristic RPG such as sci-fi conspiracy, post-apocalyptic action, 1920’s paranormal horror, or modern-day vigilante crimebusting, or anything else, d20 Modern is the way to go. Before I discovered Edge of the Empire and fell ass-over-teakettle in love with it, d20 Modern was my go-to system.
I wanted to run d20 Modern simply because I didn’t want to do the boring thing of running D&D. My concept for a campaign was to have players as agents of a freelance paranormal investigations agency; sort of like X-Files but without the governmental attachment. I was trying to think of a good starting adventure and flicking through the books for inspiration, when I saw one particular random adventure idea in Urban Arcana, which read something along the lines of “The heroes wake up one morning, and find the city inexplicably deserted.”
Seeing as I’m a bit of a nut for Silent Hill, I had my TOTALLY ORIGINAL, DO NOT STEAL plot; a little village in the British Midlands by the name of Elberwick goes absolutely dead. No phone calls, no local radio, no traffic going in or out, etc. There’d also been reports of disappearing persons and animals in the area, and strange weather. So, the players, agents of the paranormal investigation agency, get sent by their boss to go check out what the problem was. Which leads me neatly onto…
Edge, played by Emi, a sort of biker-chick/streetkid/cat-burglar/knifeophile. Was able to apparently pick locks without owning a lockpick set. Believed in giving everyone a chance to settle issues via diplomacy, even if you were a gribbly monster made out of abattoir spare parts. Also believed in carrying a sawn-off shotgun to assist in said diplomatic exchanges.
The Doctor, played by Ryan. Called The Doctor or Doctor Nasty because I honestly do not remember what Ryu named this character. Your typical genius surgeon/psychopath, the agency had recruited him for his amazing medical skills and were pretending to ignore his deranged mutterings. Would be chaotic evil in D&D. Fucking Ryan.
Frank Velthor, played by Gareth. A brilliant investigator unless you actually needed something investigating. The face and talker of the group, which is not saying much given the rest of the group. Kind of at a loss to use his people skills when assailed by tentacle monsters from the Dimension of Pain. Had a crippling coffee addiction.
Join me next time and I’ll discuss how this gang of misfits got on and how I learned a lot – and fast – about running a horror game.