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!).
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.)
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.