Steal An Adventure Tonight

Last Saturday night, my group wanted to play a game. Cool, I'm down with that. We had a little trouble deciding what to play. 4-Color Heroes? D6 Horror? Maybe some D&D? Most of the indecision came from me, the GM, because I didn't really have anything prepared. I had a simple 4C adventure, but no one seemed very enthused about that. I had nothing for D&D, but I would have been willing to wing it if everyone would have been willing to play old-school Basic or Labyrinth Lord. We had last left off on our homebrew horror game (which Joe Nelson tried out last week, too, check it out here), but I was really unprepared for that. I'm shitty at writing horror-survival-supernatural adventures at the best of times. Trying to run one ad-hoc would have have been a total train wreck.

I really, really wanted to put a picture of Amy Winehouse here, but at the last minute decided it would be too inappropriate. So here's a kitten instead.

Usually my horror games are basically Dungeons & Dragons, replacing the Dungeons with Creepy Old Houses and the Dragons with Zombies. I try to set up some spooky atmosphere but it quickly devolves into players beating on undead minions with crowbars, or blasting them with shotguns. I honestly don't even know how to write a horror adventure, let alone run one. What do I do when my players want to play one?

Then it hit me. A few months ago, a buddy of mine was starting to GM for the first time, and was trying to decide what game to run (he settled on Battlestar Galactica). I gave him some suggestions and pointers, advice which I should probably think to take myself from time to time. As I recall, there were two major suggestions, that I think any new Game Master should take under advisement:

1 - Play what you know. This either means a system you've played before, or at least a world/setting you're familiar with and enjoy. If you've never GMed before, and you've never played F.A.T.A.L., and you're not into violent misogynistic fantasy, then you're probably going to have a pretty crappy game.

In all honesty, setting fire to the rule book is really the best one can hope for from a game of F.A.T.A.L.

2 - Find a pre-written adventure and steal it.

It's that rule #2 that I forget about all the time. For a new GM, it's a godsend. How are you supposed to write an adventure for a game you've never played? The first couple of pre-written adventures I ever ran were bad, so I've always gravitated away from running someone else's work. That's stupid and short-sighted of me. When running a game that I've never played before, why would I try to reinvent the wheel when thousands of people before me have already figured out that square wheels don't work?

So, for my d6 Horror adventure, which I modeled after Call of Cthulhu, I went to the source to find a prefab adventure module, from Chaosium's website. There are dozens of free modules there. Not all are great, but they provide excellent framework and are easily adaptable to my own needs. A few Google searches provided many more links.

There are lots of places out there to get good, free, download-able adventures. Using someone else's adventure is not a dirty thing to do, nor do I think it's wrong to tweak it to serve your own ends. If you're in a rush, or have a new system, it's a great way to get started quickly.

So how did it go? I've have to let you know. We never actually got to play last weekend - family commitments and all that - but now I am ready to go at the drop of a hat for next time. It's nice being prepared.

Though not as prepared as this guy. He's definitely ready for something. I doubt it's a relationship with a woman.

Anyone else have great places to find free adventures? Lemme know. Robbery is the sincerest form of flattery.

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  1. Joe NelsonJuly 27, 2011

    I run a good 90% of my games from a nearly completely improvisational standpoint, having learned early on that detailed plans exist only for my players to crush beneath their evil little heels, but when I'm burned out and need to run something there are plenty of good places to search.

    D&D Adventures ( has a lot of material for 2e and 3e, though some of the links might very well be dead as it seems the site hasn't been updated in a long while.

    Also on the D&D front, Dragonsfoot ( has a ton of adventures, almost all for 1e or 2e, some of a very hit-and-miss quality.

    RPGNow and Drive Thru RPG have a lot of free adventures as well, if you take the time to search.

    And of course my absolute favorite would be the one-page dungeon contest ( One page means easy to read and adapt, especially the ones that favor more generic settings and ideas.

    Actually, I'd really love a standardized website devoted to free adventures for a variety of settings. It's tiresome to hunt and find just to get one that suits your system/genre.

  2. I do love me some pre mods for those nights where I just didn't have time to finalize my own plots.

    A site dedicated to collecting those various free adventures would be phenom.

  3. CDGallant_KingJuly 31, 2011

    I am way too out of practice to run completely off the cuff, and for PBEM games there's always tons of time to prepare and react (usually too much).  As I get older and have less free time I become more and more appreciative of pre-made adventures.

    Those are some handy links.  I wonder whatever happened to John's plan to create a list of useful gaming links, hmmm?  Are you reading this John?

  4. CDGallant_KingJuly 31, 2011

    Hear, hear.  And as I said above, John (, get on that. :-)


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