Yes, I’m using a hyperbole, but I did like the idea very much.
Last weekend we had Guild’s annual celebration. About a dozen of us visited and most of us played games through the day. A lot of Commander was played, as well as Barbarians of Lemuria (which will probably be written about at some point in time by myself or maybe we can get Harri to finally debut in the blog) and Planarch Codex using the World of Dungeons variant. The last one was ran by myself.
After finding out that Lauri couldn’t participate, I knew there would be a need for more games, so in morning before the official start of the event, I printed out the The Calvino Cycle or, if on a Wintry Plane a Freebooter, a collection of scenarios Planarch Codex. I didn’t have time to get very deep into the system or the module itself, so I chose the second one, because I knew at least one of the potential players had played the first one.
The basic idea is this: The player characters have just emerged aboveground from a long trek into the depths of Malbor, a horrible place, with a complicated history. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. The scenario simply sets a starting point. Each player loses half of his or her equipment after which they roll three dice. Each result from an individual die gives the player something that happened in Malbor. These range from interesting to very bad. The players (and the GM) get to spice those up with details and some will echo in the future as well.
After that, there’s no instructions, only the question “What now?”
It doesn’t even matter if that “what” is very interesting. What happened in Malbor will affect the game enough to make even mundane “adventuring” worthwhile. The players will also pick up on the history they were given. Your job, as the GM, is just keep the thing moving. Players will entertain themselves with all sorts of drama. You don’t have to do any work beforehand.
This is the sort of thing I like from scenarios. A very open idea, but with a solid starting point from which to build the whole thing. The system is easy enough to improvise with. You don’t need to make stats for creatures beforehand or anything like that.
All of the scenarios from the Calvino Cycle appear to have similar open concepts behind them. Some have a bit more in terms of background, but none have any railroad for the players to follow.