I first came across this question posed by Roger Brasslett on the Pen & Paper RPG Bloggers Google+ community, he covers his own favourite non-TSR adventure module on his blog; the question was originally asked by Erik Tenkar on his blog. Both Roger and Erik posed the question to the RPG community to find out what people’s favour (non-TSR) adventure was, it started me thinking about my own (lack of) history with adventure modules.
I’ve never been a massive user of the pre-pared adventure modules myself; I generally find that I have to make so many notes to adapt them for my players and so that I can keep track of them that it’s no real extra work to come up with my own adventure from scratch. This isn’t to say that I don’t possess any adventure modules, i’m a great supporter of GMs borrowing and taking stuff from published books since we all something need a boost of ideas or don’t have enough time to design everything from the ground up; there’s not only nothing wrong with taking inspiration or elements from published materials, but I would positively encourage it, an inspiring book or adventure module can often send your thoughts down avenues and into areas that you might not have even considered before.
To answer the question though, my favourite adventure module (although it possibly only loosely fits that label) is the Orpheus game line from White Wolf. Orpheus was a limited line/experiment for the previous old/core world of darkness that was spread across six books; the first featured all of the standard rules, campaign background, etc that you would expect to find in any world of darkness game, positing the discovery of technology that allowed certain people who had suffered near death experiences (NDEs) to project themselves in a spirit form. The game has the normal character splats for a world of darkness game, you pick a shade (banshee, haunter, poltergeist, skinrider or wisp) that your ghostly powers focus on and a lament that describes how your character projects:
- Hue: weaker ghosts who are created from the spirits of people who have used a supernaturally addictive drug known as Pigment.
- Skimmer: those who can project their souls from their bodies using meditation.
- Sleepers: people who can only project when interred in a cryo-tube.
- Spirit: a naturally occurring ghost.
Your character belongs to or is recruited to be part of the Orpheus organisation, a group that has blossomed to make use of the new technology for various means (mostly making money from shady contracts).
Now you might be thinking that this doesn’t sound very much like an adventure module; however, the great thing (in my mind) about this campaign is that each of the following five books not only advanced the rules but also the metaplot running behind the game line, covering the fall and rise of Orpheus and leading up to secrets threatening the lands of the living and the dead. As a huge fan of the oWoD Wraith: the Oblivion setting, from which Orpheus draws a large amount of its metaplot and game flavour (although knowledge of the Wraith setting is not obligatory or necessary to enjoy the game) I thoroughly enjoyed the concept behind the gameline. Many times during the book it makes references to using a movie model as inspiration, although to me it feels more like a good TV series, with each book ending in some sort of cliffhanger; I remember waiting as the books were originally released to find out what was going to happen next in the storyline.
If you’re interested in a the Orpheus setting which combines, in my mind, the best elements of the World of Darkness, Wraith, ghost stories and the Ghostbusters film then the pdf and POD versions are available from DriveThru RPG: