Posted on May 25, 2011 by Nix
100 Horror Adventure Seeds by James “Grim” Desborough
100 Horror Adventure Seeds is not a ponderous tome of highly drawn out and detailed adventures that focus on the things that go bump in the night. In this collection the ideas that James sets down are designed to trigger the imagination, not to stifle it. He starts off, quite early in the book, with the trials and pitfalls of horror gaming in general and moves on to the relative usefulness of a more structured module. It quickly becomes apparent that James is not a fan of the structured module. He does admit that they are good introductions for a new Game Master to a system, but eventually these will hinder a Game Master due to their lack of GM creativity.
James then describes why a more traditional module format tends to fail, and the main reason is quite simply the players. A player tends to have this nasty tendency to think for themselves and to have reactions that are not completely scripted. It is true that a Game Master can nudge and coddle a group back onto the modules path, but then that strips the players of their freedoms. With this collection, I believe James sets troubled Game Masters down the correct path where the plot is highly fluid and adaptable.
100 Horror Adventure Seeds starts off with a short list of possible inspirational material, for long time Game Masters many of these will be familiar and often used premises for games. He endorses compact disc’s, novels, television, journals, pictures, and the players themselves. I would add newspapers as a foundation for a game premise, we live in a weird and wacky world after all. However, James suggest the simplest game plan as well: kill things and take their stuff. There are times when pure hack and slash is appreciated and needed to lighten a mood.
Once he walks the reader through his premise for the book the adventure hooks begin. I will not list and review each adventure idea. There are, as advertised, 100 plot seeds so reviewing each one separately would border on insane. The hooks he offers run from the simple zombie invasion, to the creepy evil girl, to secret societies bent on evil deeds. A stroll down any dvd isle will net a similar spectrum of ideas. Yet this books goal, a goal it accomplishes, is to ease the burden of the Game Master who’s creative neurons are refusing to fire. As a long time Game Master I have had that issue due to work, family, and other mundane drudgery that stifles us all to varying degrees.
Each adventure seed is set up in a similar pattern. The Game Master receives the basic premise, the zombie horde for example, and it is then briefly described. Once the adventure seed is planted, James offers up a few twists to keep the idea varied and fresh. Instead of the dead simply rising to devour our flesh, there is now an evil scientist or necromancer in control of the walking dead forcing them to do his bidding. With the twists established, James then writes out a short epilogue to the adventure allowing a simple two or three paragraph idea to blossom into a fuller campaign. It is honestly that simple and straight forward, and repeated 100 times with 3 twists per plot.
The ease of the adventure ideas is not an issue, but a blessing. It is both a primer for the novice Game Masters on how to plan a game and a collection to ease the wearied mind of a veteran Game Master when he or she has little to offer their players. I believe this book will be unimaginably handy for both the new and old GM’s, as having such a collection nearby is unimaginably handy. I picked this book up on a lark. I was familiar with the writer enough to recognize his name and intrigued enough by the idea that I bought it, and I am glad I did. 100 Horror Adventure Seeds is a worthy addition to my game shelf. Each plot is clearly and concisely written allowing a Game Master free reign to run with a story once it is rolling along.
Playability: 5 out 5- each idea had plenty of room of room to grow
Artwork: not applicable- the book was highly focused on it’s intent to pass on plot ideas
Writing: 5 out 5- James “Grim” Desborough had a clear vision of his intent and he accomplished it. Each adventure seed was cleanly formed, while keeping it as brief as possible
Review by Sean “Nix” McConkey