My friends and brother enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons, but unfortunately, we just can’t commit to a lengthy campaign. To satisfy this itch, this year I thought, Why not plan amazing one-shot adventures instead? Invest the time in creating a few really solid adventures instead of a drawn-out mediocre one?
The first one-shot: Pumpkins and Prisons, a Halloween adventure. We played the day after the holiday, everybody dressed in costume and eating candy. Here’s how the adventure went down.
This adventure was a mash-up (a Monster Mash-up) of Halloween movies and TV shows. I created six characters for the party of four to choose from, all drawn from media properties that seemed appropriately Halloween-y to me: Edward Scissorhands, Carrie from the Stephen King novel, the Bride of Frankenstein, Count von Count from Sesame Street, the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, and Dreary the Dementor from Harry Potter. Carrie and the Bride ended up not being chosen.
I used a striped-down ruleset from 4th edition. All characters were level 1 with made-up classes. They had the standard ability scores and skills, speed, initiative, AC, and a basic weapon plus 3-4 special attacks. Characters sheets for each character are included at the end of the post.
With the characters out of the way, I had to plan the scenarios. Once again, drawing on classic Halloween stories from media properties, I planned a three-act adventure, taking rough 3.5 hours to play. I created some fun miniatures (pics to follow) and away we went!
Being that each character is from a different fictional universe, I established a basic plot line to get them all in the same spot.
The Count was trying to go to sleep and was counting sheep, as usual. After he counted the 13th sheep, he could count no more! His mind went blank. He looked out his window at the full moon, which turned into an eye that winked at him. The eye became a portal and sucked him into another dimension.
The Scarecrow, having just received his diploma from the Wizard of Oz, watched in jubilation as the Wizard and Dorothy took off in the hot air balloon. What the viewer did not know, however, was that the Wizard created a rift in space-time so that he could travel back to Kansas. After the balloon passed through the rift, a backlash happened, sucking all manner of people and objects into the rift as well. The Scarecrow, being made of hay and extremely light, was sucked into this rift and flung to another dimension.
The Dementor used to work at Azkaban prison, but following the destruction of He Who Must Not Be Named, many Dementors were released or destroyed. Dreary escaped, wandering the world aimlessly until he arrived in the world of Edward Scissorhands, along with the Count and the Scarecrow.
Scenario 1: Saving E.T.
Edward’s world is a colorful, pastel suburbia where everybody is happy. Our heroes are transported here following the events of the Edward Scissorhands movie. Edward has descended from his black castle after all and the city welcomes his presence. Our heroes meet on the streets of suburbia on Halloween night. Kids in costume are trick-or-treating, but suddenly, our heroes hear a cry for help.
Who should appear but E.T., the Extra Terrestrial. E.T. needs to go home, and points to Edward’s castle, above which is his spaceship, coming to save him. E.T. is running, though, from government officials: G-Men, in white plastic suits, are chasing after him. He requests help and safe passage from our heroes.
The goal? Get E.T. to the spaceship before the G-Men capture him. If the G-Men capture him and take him off the edge of the board, game over.
This scenario was a lot of fun, especially given the way the heroes were playing. Edward proved the most capable fighter, slaying three or four of the G-Men.
The Dementor had a few successful attacks, but was never able to pull off his Kiss of Death, which would suck the soul out of a living creature, turning them comatose.
The Scarecrow had a good run. His opening move was a haymaker punch, a punch so powerful his arm flies off in the process. He could always retrieve his arm and reattach it, but he never did. He finished the entire game with only one arm.
The Scarecrow also had an ability called Jelly Brains. The Scarecrow, having his diploma, was the smartest of the group. He could grab people, turn their brains into jelly, and then absorb their intelligence, increasing his overall intelligence stat by 1. Obviously this move is extremely unbalanced, but for a one-shot scenario, I included it just to see how big his brains would get. He jellied two of the G-Men’s brains.
The Count was having a terrible time. His abilities center around counting things, and dealing damage or healing based on what he counts. At one point, the Scarecrow summoned a murder of crows to scare away one of the G-Men. My players thought this would provoke an “opportunity count” for the Count, and I thought that was a great idea. The Count successfully counted the crows; now to determine how many he counted. I let him roll a 1d100, and whatever number he achieved, that’s how much he would heal his teammate, the Dementor.
Incredibly, he rolled a 9! That number is so low, not even enough to fully heal the Dementor. The players had such bad rolls this scenario, getting at least three critical misses, along with general misses for most of their attacks.
And the AC of the G-Men wasn’t even that high. I thought the G-Men were quite weak, actually, but my players just couldn’t hit them.
At two points the G-Men caught E.T. and dragged him closer to the edge of the board. One of the G-Men was getting frustrated, so he took out a pistol and shot at the Count, exploding his arm in a puff of cotton and foam. The second time he tried shooting the Count, he had a critical miss. His bullet strayed toward the G-Man holding E.T., and I rolled to see which would get hit. Unfortunately, the G-Man shot his partner, who died. My players concluded that the shooting G-Man was clearly the least intelligent of the bunch.
One other fun mechanic of this scenario was the trick-or-treaters themselves. Being that everybody was a monster, they could scare the kids, steal their candy, and then eat it to heal themselves. A successful scare allowed them to roll a 1d6 for candy corn, each corn healing 1 hit point. It was quite fun to describe what the trick-or-treaters were dressed as, and then what the monsters did to scare them.
Sometimes the trick-or-treaters ran away on their own. My players realized that with all the gore in the streets (mostly due to Edward’s slicing) would scare the kids off, so a few of them went in houses and disappeared from the board.
The other fun part about this mechanic is that the players had to use the OPPOSITE of their charisma scores for a roll modifier. These were monsters, so I thought, the less charismatic they were, the more successful they’d be at scaring kids. Edward and Dreary had negative charisma scores, so they got a bonus. The Scarecrow and the Count, however, were naturally very charismatic characters, so they weren’t as successful at scaring kids.
Eventually the G-Men were dispatched and E.T. went home. As his spaceship was leaving, it created another dimensional rift, which sucked our heroes away to the second scenario. My players decided to handle this scenario with brute force, but I had planned another possibility. I thought they would just grab E.T. and run to the castle. I also thought they would talk to E.T., and I planned on giving them all Reese’s Pieces as a reward, but no, they just let him walk to the spaceship on his own and leave without saying good-bye.
Scenario 2: Escape from Alcatraz
Our heroes found themselves in a prison, each in separate cells. They didn’t know much, but they knew they wanted to escape. Edward picked the lock of his cell (as he does in the movie), but failed the lock-pick on the Scarecrow’s cell, permanently breaking the lock.
Dreary tried to freeze the metal bars with his ice attack, but failed.
The Count, being a small muppet, slipped through the bars.
The Scarecrow tried calling for the guards, hoping he could bluff them out of their keys. The guards show up, and to everybody’s surprise, they are Gummi bears! The Scarecrow immediately abandoned his bluff and jellied the brains of one, causing the other to sound the alarm.
The warden entered the prison, Count Chocula, followed by his henchmen, Franken-Berry and Boo-Berry. Count Chocula asked the Scarecrow what was going on, but the Scarecrow immediately jellied his brains as well, something I wasn’t expecting. Now that the main villain of this scenario was stupified, I had to think of an appropriate response.
Count Chocula spills his plan, as all idiotic villains do. He says he is tired of being Lord of the Breakfast Cereal Mascots, and wants more power. So he recruited Franken-Berry and Boo-Berry, and then enslaved the Gummi bear race and the Sour Patch Kids race. As he was amassing his army, our heroes teleported into his world. He’d heard of their exploits, so he jailed them. After explaining his whole plan, he leaves the prison.
Eventually the heroes escape, and stupidly, decide it’s best to “split up” a la Scooby Doo. The Scarecrow and the Count leave one exit, Edward and Dreary the other. Edward and Dreary immediately set off the alarm. The heroes realize they are on Alcatraz prison, the “inescapable” prison. Sour Patch Kids and Gummi bears flood the courtyard.
The Scarecrow, now being much smarter, reads from that ancient tome, the Necronomicon. He doesn’t know what it does, but in this instance, it fuses three Sour Patch Kids into one super kid. The super kid attacked the Count and Scarecrow, but eventually they dispatch of him. The Scarecrow was badly hurt and retreated back to his prison cell.
Edward and Dreary dispatch some enemies, and eventually engage in combat with Count Chocula and his henchmen. Dreary finally succeeded in sucking the soul from somebody, leaving Franken-Berry a comatose mascot.
Count Chocula, badly hurt and bleeding chocolate, fled to Count von Count and appealed to him as one count to another, one fictional vampire to another. Count Chocula asked if the Count wanted to join him. Chocula identified (mistakenly) that the Count was the most powerful hero, and promised that, in exchange for his loyalty, the Count would get command over the entire Trolli enterprise, all the Gummi bears and Gummi worms and Peach-Os and Apple-Os. The Count seriously considered the offer, but decided to remain good.
The Dementor was disappointed, thinking that having the Gummi bear army on their side would be a huge advantage.
Eventually Boo-Berry and Count Chocula were killed, and the Sour Patch Kids and Gummi bears were freed from their slavery.
Once again, my players didn’t approach the scenario like I thought they would. As the battle progressed, I added more and more Sour Patch Kids and Gummi bears to the map, hoping they’d be overwhelmed by the odds. I hoped they would actually try to escape Alcatraz, and was curious if they would find a way to accomplish this task.
Instead, as before, they preferred to neutralize all threats instead!
The Sour Patch Kids and Gummi bears, released from Count Chocula’s slavery, assisted our heroes in finding a getaway boat. Another black portal opened in the distance. Our heroes entered it, hoping this would finally bring them home.
Scenario 3: The Great Pumpkin
Our heroes materialized into the world of Charles Schulz. The Peanuts gang was hanging around a pumpkin patch, a bonfire lighting the night. Charlie Brown encountered the party, explaining that everybody had finished trick-or-treating, but Linus was still waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. Charlie Brown asked if our heroes could wait by the fire, just until Linus fell asleep.
The Peanuts gang. Back row: Charlie Brown, Linus, Schroeder, Snoopy, Marcie. Front row: Lucy, Pigpen, Peppermint Patty, and Sally.
The Dementor, low on health, decided to scare Charlie Brown to take his candy. Dreary used its soul siphon scare tactic, which sucks the soul out of the child, but then puts it back in. Charlie Brown watched from above, a disembodied soul, as his body cowered helplessly below, skin turning white and wrinkled. As soon as Charlie Brown’s soul re-entered his body, he dropped his bag, having no idea what just happened, but knowing it was bad.
The joke, though, was on the Dementor. Charlie Brown’s candy bag was filled with rocks, as every house he went to gave him rocks instead of candy.
Suddenly, ghosts appeared in the pumpkin patch! The Boos from Super Mario Bros. surrounded our heroes, and slowly inched toward Linus.
The heroes fought them off, scaring them away, dematerializing them with the Necronomicon, or dispelling them with their weapons. In the process of fighting the Boos, the Scarecrow read too greedily of the Necronomicon, opening a portal to the netherworld which sucked two Boos away…along with Schroeder and Snoopy.
The battle over, everybody looked toward Linus, who was chanting. The heroes realized too late that Linus wasn’t waiting for the Great Pumpkin: he was summoning the Great Pumpkin!
He turned his security blanket over and revealed an arcane pentagram, painted in the blood of the Little Red-Headed Girl.
Linus exclaimed, “For years, everybody laughed at me! They said the Great Pumpkin didn’t exist! Now, I will show everybody that they were wrong!”
The Dementor commented dryly, “This is what happens when you bully people.”
Linus leaped atop the Great Pumpkin, riding it as a general commanding his army. Our heroes battled the pumpkin, slicing off arms and eyes before finally subduing the beast.
Linus, covered in the pulp of his hubris, cries and says, “I never meant for this to happen! I’m sorry everybody!”
But our heroes had no sympathy. They demanded to know what happened to the Little Red-Headed Girl, whom Linus assured was safe, albeit hurt. Our heroes, though, came up with a fitting punishment: they burned Linus’ security blanket, and told his parents.
Did you like this adventure? I created character sheets for everybody, but as I mentioned, I purposely didn’t spend much time balancing them as I knew this would be a one-shot adventure. If you’d like to use them for a base, though, the PDFs are available for download.
Bride of Frankenstein Character Sheet (112 kB)
Carrie Character Sheet (85 kB)
Count von Count Character Sheet (72 kB)
Dreary the Dementor Character Sheet (84 kB)
Edward Scissorhands Character Sheet (115 kB)
The Scarecrow Character Sheet (82 kB)