The Alphastream Game Design Blog
I’m fortunate to have Ian and Justin of the Going Last podcast in my home town. They put together an incredible undead-themed May of the Dead event, bringing together a relentless horde of authors providing adventures, monsters, PC powers, and all kinds of cool contributions. You should really check it out, even if you (like me) aren’t much of a horror fan. (Edit: Ian and Justin have both over time ceded their place on the podcast, but it continues to be a great podcast.)
I put together my own contribution. I created an adventure called Last Stand at Camp Starfall (download link – now including conversion notes for 5E!). While I admire horror, and I like it in small quantities and in certain ways, I mostly like it when combined with other genres. (For example, I had fun adding some horror aspects into The Five Deadly Shadows). Last Stand at Camp Starfall pulls together a number of campy horror and sci-fi elements. You will find two of my favorite monsters in it as well – an attempt to show how much fun the least heralded monsters can be.
Part of my inspiration for this adventure was my April DDI article on Vegepygmies. I wanted to provide an example encounter or two for how those could be used. (You can easily strip away the campy humor and make use of those encounters). I also wanted to go back to the concepts behind Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and explore that space (pun intended) where genres come together. I wanted this to be a fun adventure, the way it can be an absolute blast to pause a D&D campaign and play a session of Gamma World… except in this case you could do it with the same PCs you are playing in your D&D campaign. Or, a DM could drop this in unexpectedly, surprising PCs and players with the true horror.
On the Going Last site I wrote a blog entry (now reposted here) about the adventure and the idea of mixing sci-fi and fantasy. Many gamers think of Expedition as being this anomaly that perhaps went too far in bringing sci-fi into D&D, but in actuality those elements have been in D&D from the very beginning and have come back far more often than you might think. The history of D&D adventures really starts with lasers. (You can obtain the pdf of the second version of Temple of the Frog here.)
I hope you enjoy the adventure and the blog entry. What has it meant for you to have horror and sci-fi be part of D&D? Are there lines that should not be crossed, genre-wise? Is it fun to inject spores in a PCs’ face and then hand them a laser so strange they don’t know which side to point at an enemy? Did I go too far with that last room in the adventure?
(Originally posted in 2012 on my WotC blog)