The White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam: Closing Thoughts

scenario-slam

Back in September last year, the White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam kept literally handfuls of voters enthralled for weeks. I always meant to write down a few closing thoughts, but for one reason or another never got round to it. Anyway, finally here are a few reflections (crafted from the finest quality electrons folks!).

Initial Choice

My initial choice was put together in half an hour, fuelled by wine and over-enthusiasm, based on my recollections of the scenarios that I most enjoyed “back in the day” (© Dirk the Dice). It quickly became apparent from Twitter that I should have opened up the choice to the twitterati. I had many tweets asking why particular scenarios weren’t in the list, so sorry if your favourite didn’t feature in the initial thirty two. Honourable mentions go to Irilian, The Watchers of Walberswick, and Rough Night at the Three Feathers (among others) – all great. While I liked the knock-out format, if I ever do another vote-type thing, I’ll open up the choice. (Hmm…)

Dungeons & Dragons

In the land of RPGs, D&D is king, sweeping all before it, rolling critical after critical, never missing a saving throw. And yet, only one scenario, Troubles at Embertrees, made it past the first round. (I’m not counting The Lone and Level Sands, since that was a RuneQuest scenario really.) Some real gems, like The Lichway, The Halls of Tizun Thane (the finest scenario title of all time?) and Operation Counterstrike, fell at the first hurdle. Why?

My own theory, for what it’s worth, is that while the crusty ol’ grognards among us have stuck loyally with the early editions of many games (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller), that hasn’t happened with D&D. From what I read on Twitter, it appears to me that as new editions of D&D are released, gamers move with the times, and switch to the newer version. There’s a lot of love for 5th edition out there – a testament to the great job that Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford and crew have done on the latest version. So, scenarios for AD&D 1st edition (or Original D&D), aren’t so relevant, or loved, by current players. Shame, but so it goes.

(Is anyone still playing AD&D 1st edition? Answers on a postcard, or alternatively in the comments.)

Some Disappointments

A few other disappointments: the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay scenarios disappeared faster than the D&D ones, as did those for the Judge Dredd RPG. My favourite Traveller scenario, Amber to Red (go here for some more thoughts: The GROGNARD Files: Episode 3 (Part 1) Traveller RPG), was knocked out soon after, and the great Ghost Jackal Kill, for Call of Cthulhu, only made it to the quarter finals. It lost on penalties to The Black Broo of Dyskund. Now I like some pestilential, chaotic goatkin as much as the next High Priest of Malia, but Ghost Jackal Kill has it all. Oh well, that’s cup footie I suppose.

The MLR Experience

Perhaps the least surprising thing about the whole #ScenarioSlam was that it was won by a scenario from the pen of Marcus L Rowland. Of the original 32, no less than seven were written by him; he seemed to be able to turn his skills to all genres – fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, horror, the mean streets of Mega-City One – every scenario had a compelling plot, great scope for the GM and players to improvise around the theme, and a quirky style that told you: this is a Marcus L Rowland scenario. I think Call of Cthulhu in particular suited his talents, and brought out the best in him. Ultimately, Curse of the Bone was a worthy winner.

86-curse-of-the-bone-2

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6 thoughts on “The White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam: Closing Thoughts

  1. I don’t see editions to be an issue. I’ll happily use a scenario with any edition (or system sometimes!). For example, I recently used a couple of WD Judge Dredd scenarios as “side-treks” in my ongoing MongTrav Judge Dredd campaign. Likewise, I plan on using some of the (A)D&D scenarios in the 5th Edition campaign I’m running for my 13 year old son and his friends. Finally, I’ve even used a WD D&D fantasy scenario in a Pirates of the Spanish Main (powered by Savage Worlds) campaign!

    Great scenarios are great scenarios regardless of when they were published and if people aren’t willing to spend a little time altering the stats to their favourite system then that’s their loss. For me WD (and Dungeon and Imagine magazines) are some of the best resources I have 😀

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    1. Maybe I’m unduly skeptical. I hope so – I’d like to imagine GMs are prepared to adapt and convert scenarios for other editions / games, or at least steal good ideas from them. It just seemed to me that 1st edition scenarios must seem like ancient history to the cool hip kids running 5e these days.
      These days, with little free time for older grognards, where real life keeps getting in the way, the idea of “instant” scenarios – as developed by Monte Cook Games for Numenera & The Strange – is very appealing. I wonder if it’ll extend to other games?

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  2. It was great fun and I look forward to future slams.

    I’ve found the opposite of what you suggest – there seems to me that there are people playing D&D in its many forms – thanks to the open game license, there are lots of people sticking to their home-brew version of the original rules.

    Perhaps the results were skewed by the constitutents in the electorate? I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that there were Chaosuim supporters in the ‘handful’ of participants.

    Perhaps next time, we can learn from the present government and gerrymander the results by eliminating undesirables from the electrol roll … Yes, indeed … A bit of politics

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  3. Perfectly acceptable theory, which may be true. Looking back through the back issues, there was some damn fine AD&D material. Eagle Hunt was a really good adventure but I could never get my head around the chandelier map thing.

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    1. It’s possible I’m just not visiting the right blogs or following the right Twitter accounts, but most of the chat I see online about D&D relates to 5th edition. People seem to have embraced it enthusiastically, but that leaves me with the feeling that the “old ways” have been left behind. I could well be wrong though. And having said all that, I’m keen to experience 5e for myself. (Even if I do have to play a cleric to do so.)

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