Which concept sounds the most fun to read?
Sci-Fi life after death
19.28% 19.28% of votes
Universe as a simulation
4.34% 4.34% of votes
5.75% 5.75% of votes
Elfling alternate
2.81% 2.81% of votes
Vanilla Adventure
6.26% 6.26% of votes
It takes a village
17.75% 17.75% of votes
Bored Aliens + Giant Robots
5.75% 5.75% of votes
8.94% 8.94% of votes
D&D Apocalypse
29.12% 29.12% of votes
Total: 783 vote(s)

A note from SmokeyBear

After much distraction and procrastination, I've finally finished my revision notes and know where the story can go next. 

While I was working on that my mind wandered and I came up with a handful of other ideas. I'm going to keep working on this story primarily but I want to decide which one of these ideas to work on next so I can start laying the groundwork.

Vote for whichever setting/outline you think you'd like to read. 

SCI-FI life after death

MC Dies

Wakes up in an HR office (virtual space)

Aliens are recruiting laborers

  • They have a strict ban on AI or autonomous systems and need manpower
  • A satellite recently deployed in the Sol system can record people’s brains just before death and make them a clone that picks up from there.

MC signs up for a second chance a life (younger healthy clone body, adventures in space…)

Gets a choice of basic training/conditioning for a particular field

  • Can buy more later
  • Neurons and muscles are more elastic/ responsive to training
  • Ability is quantified with stats and skill levels
    • Maybe reaching skill level thresholds justifies investing more into you and you get a related stat boost for the next time you are cloned (or in a year, whichever comes first)

Wants to fly a spaceship

Space mining and trucking are the only introductory piloting gigs, he picks mining

  • Reasons he can get flight experience and graduate to something cooler.

Winds up in a human-male only space station in an otherwise uninhabited system

Immediately takes a ship out

  • Ignores warning about using the simulators first (I can just use autopilot…)
  • Loves it, has access to all music ever made on earth
  • He’s bringing back his first haul and guessing how long it will take to get a ship of his own when he gets sabotaged by the local big dog
    • Play within the rules (fake engine malfunction, put the onus on MC to dodge)
    • Rely on HQ’s indifference
  • Offer to take part in subduing dangerous wildlife/xenomorph/bioweapon as recompense for the destroyed equipment and the clone body.
    • Free month of training followed by X kills/objective-points achieved
    • Will give him an edge in selection/consideration going forward.
    • He takes it for the enhanced reflex package and video game sounding setup.
    • Can do cool episodic missions (protect the scientists, map the tunnels, respond to distress signal…)
  • Distinguishes himself and gets enough credit to buy his own mining ship
    • Starts with sensors (defensive vs saboteurs and to help finding mineral rich asteroids).
    • Upgrades it over time

Searches some asteroids with cave systems

  • Excuse to EVA

Finds the AI ship. Explores it, doesn’t recognize any of the tech except for something that looks like a battle suit (power armor)

Meets the AI computer

Makes a deal with it

Buys the asteroid and starts building stuff like refineries…

  • brainstorm base building ideas (anti-asteroid weapon, Hab-unit, Reactor...)

Uses it as cover to repair the AI ship

Maybe he plans to go back to earth and tell everyone (life after death and such)

  • Need something he’s getting out of the deal besides the adventure
  • A kick-ass ship I suppose (long-range stealth exploration-vessel)

Even when he gets out of his starting system, there will be a long way to go to get home.

Plenty of room for adventures and pursuit by the aliens who cloned him.

Maybe have him learn that there are thousands of clones of him scattered through the galaxy in different mining operations.

Universe as a Simulation

Humanity and earth are NPC’s in a simulation (video game) made by aliens

A techy Johnny Appleseed (type to kick a hornet’s nest just to see what happens) gives a random kid the keys to a basic stealth ship and control of an auto-factory in the asteroid belt.

Manipulates the game to expose him to the interface

  • (some class-related ability to take NPC’s into your crew)
  • He can take him into his crew then leave the crew so the kid becomes a captain and keeps the interface so long as he keeps his ship.

Kid bootstraps up production capabilities

Builds a cloning facility and hab unit on an asteroid

Then he builds a “badass pirate ship”

Drops in on his friends with the spaceship of course and takes them into his crew giving them access to the interface too.

They play out superman-esque tropes using sensors to find the bad guys and overwhelming tech to subdue/vaporize them.

They treat it all like a game but everyone else is scared shitless of the kids with an alien spaceship.

Things get even more tense when some of the crew are assassinated and then they come back a few hours later for revenge.

Eventually the UN hammers out an official charter for the kids accepting their services in return for official recognition as heroes… So long as they stick to certain guidelines (rules of engagement… Non-lethal weapons)

When things finally calm down and the MC is expanding from Captain into Admiral other “players” show up.

The Kids are suddenly all that stand between the earth and those who would enslave the people, and exploit the resources until there is nothing left. They’re just NPC’s after all…

Elfling (Intro rough draft)

The seat belt pulled tight across my chest before throwing me back. The vibrations running through my seat sputtered out. I had to open my eyes to find the door handle. The old chrome button that I pushed in with my thumb made a satisfying thunk as I popped the door open. The fancy topiary work in the middle of the gravel horse-shoe drive barely registered. I made a point to keep my eyes forward as I walked around the front of my Dad’s ancient pickup. I turned them down as I mounted the granite steps.

Mom’s impressively uncomfortable looking heels came into sight and I stopped. She pulled my headphones down around my neck. I could still hear the electronic music pretty well but now I couldn’t make use of the sound canceling feature.

“Hi, Sweetie. Did you get all your homework done?”

I nodded and muttered an unenthusiastic “Yeah.”

“Of course you did. You’re always so diligent. I got a present for you. It’s up in your room, why don't you run inside so I can have a word with Henry?”

She kissed me on the forehead and ushered me inside. I put my headphones back on. The sooner I could get clear of the crossfire the better.

I stopped in the kitchen and grabbed a sugar-free zero-calorie vitamin water out of the fridge. It wasn’t good, but it was carbonated. The pack of brown-rice cakes was about as flavorful as styrofoam packing peanuts dusted in cardboard but it was the only snack Mom approved of besides raw veggies. She was way into the healthy vegetarian lifestyle, that meant I was too.

When I got to my room, I dropped my backpack by the door and dumped the snacks on my desk. I glanced over to my bed. A gift-wrapped box with a golden bow sank into the fluffy comforter. I ignored it and flopped into my leather desk-chair.

It always felt wrong sitting at this heavy wooden desk in a leather armchair with brass studs all around the edges. It felt more like the desk belonged to someone else. Like a powerful executive in a trim suit would walk in one day and ask what I was doing there.

I waved my hand over the desk and it booted up. It took about three seconds before the bay-window in front of my desk minimized, revealing my real desktop. I checked on a few gaming news streams to see what I missed over the weekend.

The World-Enders, the leading clan in the popular MMORPG Ragnarok succeeded in their bid to defeat Nidhogg. A dumb sounding name for a terrifying 3-mile long dragon/serpent that eats castles for breakfast but that’s what happens when you try to translate from old-Norse to modern-English. I started downloading the five-hour-long raid video and by the time I popped a rice-cake into my mouth and kicked back, it had started playing.

I jumped as my headphones automatically synched to the video and nearly blew my eardrums out. Jesus, they know how to start a video. I was staring directly down a toothy maw. My first thought was I’ve seen meaner looking snakes. Then the roaring serpent lunged. It covered hundreds of meters in the blink of an eye. I made out a skull wedged between its teeth just before the screen went black. That skull was roughly the size of a city bus and it looked like it used to belong to something like a T-Rex. A moment later, my screen switched to a new POV, this time from much further away and higher up. It was a glorious view, probably from someone with a flying mount. The dragon, whose hobbies include gnawing on the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil, rampaged through an army of eighty-thousand max-level players like a bear in a chicken coop. Toppling siege engines and freezing large swaths of the battlefield in an instant with its icy breath attack. I popped open my fizzy water and settled in for a good show.

A few minutes later my headphone chirped and a call-waiting icon bounced up and down in the corner of the screen. I accepted the call and the wall to my right faded to reveal Tyler sitting on his bean-bag chair with a bag of chips in his lap.

“Yo Jack! Welcome back to the land of the living!”

“Hey Tye, You see this raid yet? It’s crazy!” I pointed at my screen. Tyler craned his neck to the side.

“Dude, I was there. Nidhogg is no joke.”

“Yeah right. Pics or it didn’t happen.”

Tyler smirked and flicked his hand. A scattering of images with his elf-assassin in various touristy poses with the rampaging dragon in the background superimposed themselves over my screen-wall. One GIF in particular made me spray crumbs across my desk in a burst of laughter. Tyler’s character thrust his hips just as the dragon unleashed his breath attack behind him. The spray of frost blowing away the army was more than a little suggestive.

“Nice,” I said, noting the view counter. That little clip got a surprising amount of traction. A shit-eating grin stretched across Tyler’s face.

“Yeah, the World-Enders aren’t super pleased. They put a ten-thousand gold bounty on my character.”


We exchanged an air-five through the screen. Anything that could boost our online presence was a good thing. Too bad we wouldn’t be playing Ragnarok anymore. Getting the drop on World-Ender hit-squads was always a crowd-pleaser. They had a well-deserved reputation as bullies.

It was our dream to be pro-gamers, earning enough through subscribers and in-game item sales to support ourselves. Most people who try this end up like the cliched starving artist. We weren’t going to settle for eeking by. We had our hearts set on becoming rock-stars, elite players who attain both riches and fame for their in-game exploits.

“Speaking of awesome, is that what I think it is?” Tyler asked nodding towards my bed.


“Well open it already and let's see!”

I fidgeted.

“I don’t want to tempt fate. I’ve made it this far but I don’t think I’ll have the willpower to resist if that’s what we expect.”

“Come on! How can you just leave it there! You’ve gotta look even if it’s just to confirm our plans.”

“I don't know…”

“Come on, unbox-it! Unbox-it! Unbox-it!”

“Fine!” I threw my hands in the air.

He wasn’t going to leave it now that he had seen the bribe, I mean gift, my mother left on the bed. I walked over to the matte-black box. My feet felt heavy and my heart thumped against my chest. My hands actually trembled a bit as I reached out and pulled the loose end of the golden ribbon. The box fell open and a creamy egg-shaped helmet stood proudly on my bed.

“Duuuuuuude! It’s real!” Tyler could be a total fanboy sometimes. He practically squealed.

“Looks that way,” I said as I closed the box back up.

“What are you doing? Don’t you want to set it up?”

“I just told you I don’t want to tempt it. I know I won’t be able to resist if I start playing around with this thing.”

“At least let me see it from a little closer,” Tyler whined.

“Just zoom in on your recording later,” I said unsympathetically.

“You’re no fun.”

“We’ve only got hours left until launch. If we could hold on for three years, we can hold on until midnight.”

“I guess you’re right.” Tyler moped “But I want a full run-down tomorrow at school. You have to tell me everything!”

Tyler dropped the subject and we distracted ourselves by analyzing the fight with Nidhogg. It was totally one-sided until the world-enders managed to crack a couple of its scales. From then on, teams of players tried to infiltrate the dragon and kill it from the inside. While that sounds easy enough, the wurm was chock-full of parasites just as oversized as itself. We were completely caught up in the action, shouting at the screen like idiots when a contingent of infiltrators took on a miniboss.

The heartworm wasn’t mini at all. Its sheer size let it swallow players whole and shrug off devastating attacks. While it was snacking on players or simply smashing them against the fleshy walls, it shed smaller monsters like a dog shaking off water. Swarms of acid-spitting maggots beset the dwindling group of players from all sides as they tried desperately to create a foothold while their armor and weapons melted under the assault.

That was when the video froze.

“Sammy dear, It’s almost time for dinner. Your mother will expect you in five minutes.” Gretta’s polite voice intruded.

“Okay, Gretta. I’ll be right down.” I assured the maid before turning back to my friend. “I’ve gotta go Tye. See you later.”

“Alright, See ya. Don’t forget, I’m going to want a full report tomorrow.”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll make sure to take plenty of notes,” I assured him before the wall faded back into existence between us ending the call.

I popped into my bathroom to wash my hands and face before heading downstairs. Grace was on the landing when I left my room.

“What’s up noob-face.” She taunted. Her favorite pastime was trying to get a rise out of me. She had plenty of practice over the last few years and was getting pretty good at it. The same could be said about me though.

“Just trying not to barf. You know you’re not supposed to keep the bag of kittens after you drown them right?” I said, holding my nose as I pushed past her.
“That’s called sweat! Maybe if you ever exercised you’d know about it.”

“No thanks, I don’t see the point in getting all worked up trying to get a ball through a hoop.”

“That’s right, you only care about your fake worlds where everything matters sooooo much.” No one could slather sarcasm onto a sentence like a teenage girl.
“It matters just as much as those shiny bits of plastic you collect.” I shot back
“You mean the trophies I earned? Real people acknowledged my skill and hard work and gave them to me.” I laughed in her face.

“You think because you have some plastic that your achievements are somehow more real? It’s still fake. Part of a made up game with made up rules. How is that any different than my games?”

“Because it’s real you idiot! You’re just going to be a stupid pimply virgin forever!” She stormed off before I could get another word in. I thought about shouting after her, telling her to take a bath. I decided against it. There was no point in getting her too angry right before dinner.

I took a few deep breaths and unclenched my fists. No matter what she says, her words can only have power over me if I let them. So long as I didn’t let her get to me, I win.

I continued the breathing exercise Dr Rothchild taught me. I could practically hear her voice telling me how hate can be toxic. Holding onto hate is like getting stabbed in the back and then holding onto the knife, keeping it in the wound, doing your attackers work for them. Healing can only begin after you let go. When I was calmed back down I descended the stairs and made my way to the dining room.

CH 2

Gretta served up a steaming plate of brussel sprouts, tofurkey, and wild rice. I sat on one side of the table with Grace. Mom sat on the opposite side facing us. She was bent over a display as always. Her fork poked halfheartedly around her plate until she managed to spear something by chance and bring it to her mouth. Sometimes it looked like she wasn’t even aware she was eating.

I understood of course. She was busy. Lots of people depended on her and it would be selfish to demand her attention. Grace was likewise absorbed in her social media, chatting with friends that weren’t here. If I didn’t have my face in a screen as well it just felt awkward. That’s why I was browsing the web. I navigated to the countdown out of habit.

The thumping drum beats marking each second that brought the coundtown closer to zero blared through the dining room speakers. Mom was startled out of her usual concentration even as I jumped to mute my display. Grace kept her eyes on her own screen but a self-satisfied smile grew on her face. She must have messed with my settings before I got down here. With a few taps on the table shutting down her display, Mom turned her attention to us for the first time in the meal. She smiled.

“I take it you’re excited for launch?”
“Who isn’t?” I said noncommittally while pushing a sprout around my plate.

“I’m not.” Grace pulled a face “I have an actual life” Mom gave her a stern look and Grace pretended to be contrite but her punishments never went further than that.

“That puts you squarely in the minority Grace. Trillions of people have been looking forward to this game. You won’t make many friends by making fun of all those people.”

“MmHmm” Grace agreed while paying more attention to her display.
“In fact, I have decided to include you in the closed beta!” Mom announced with the air of a gameshow host trying to hype up a burnt-vomit colored set of patio furniture.

“What?” Grace and I shouted in unison.

“Our R&D team wants to test how people with no gaming experience react to the headset. I thought you might enjoy the opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you’d rather not have experience with the most talked about and highly anticipated gaming innovation in the last decade, I suppose I could give the headset to someone else...”

Mom always knew just what incentives to dangle. She had a natural talent for cajoling people. That’s probably why she had risen so high through the ranks of the Genesys Enterprises entertainment wing. There was no way Grace could resist the bump in social status that would come with her involvement in the closed beta.

“I guess I could give it a try. If it’s stupid I’m going to throw it in the garbage though.” Grace grumbled. That was typical. She was just given an invitation to the closed beta, something I had to beg for, something most gamers would kill for, and she was complaining. Then she turned to me.
“I bet I can beat you in this stupid game.”

“I thought online games didn’t matter?”
“Oh, I don’t care about the game. I just think it would be fun to embarass you in front of all your precious followers.”

“Grace! That is enough. I expect the two of you to play nicely. You should be more mature than that. I want to make it clear. These headsets are a privilege. I will take them away if they become a problem.”

I groaned. Grace would have no issue with losing her headset if it meant I lost mine too. Mom just gave her a huge shield to use against me. Now I’d have to be pleasant to my sister of all people if I wanted to stay in the beta.

“Don’t moan Samuel.” mom admonished “If you don’t give me a reason to take it away, I won’t. It’s as simple as that.” She grinned, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

“You might be happy about this next bit of news. The techs say it will take some time to calibrate the headsets so your little old mom convinced them to allow participants in the beta to log on six hours early. You won’t be able to start playing but you can roll your character and get a feel for the interface. Close your mouth when it’s full honey.”

I snapped my jaw shut and swallowed the half-chewed veggies and rice.

“You’re serious?” I asked while glancing at the clock in the corner of my display. It was 6:43. I didn’t wait for a response and dashed off. Mom called me back to the table and I scarfed down the rest of my meal. I took the stairs three at a time while still chewing. I felt almost weightless as I flew up the stairs and down the hall. I burst into my room and made for the bed. In seconds I had the smooth egg out of its box and I was carefully lowering it over my head.

The comfortable padding expanded slightly, holding the helmet snug. I felt around for my bed and laid down as little fans and servos whirred at the edge of my hearing.

“Initializing Genesys Enterprises Eggistensial Experience Helmet No.155628” A soft reassuring female voice informed me.
“Facial scan complete. Thank you for participating in the New World closed beta Samuel Jackson Forrester. Social-Media scans show that you have complied with the information black-out and are eligable for hardcore mode. Warning: Hardcore mode is meant for experienced players and is not recommended for anyone who is new to role playing games. Would you like to proceed in hardcore mode?”

“Yes!” I shouted.

“Acknowledged. Do you understand that seeking gameplay-related information from sources outside of the game itself will result in character deletion?”
“Yes” I said, less enthusiastically.

“Acknowledged. Initializing Full Dive synchronization.”

Over the next five seconds the background whirring rose in pitch and volume. I thought I smelled maple syrup for a second and then I was standing in an empty white room. It was a perfect cube with no doors but one entire side was occupied by a floor to ceiling mirror. A snow-white humanoid shaped.. Thing looked back at me from the other side of the glass. I raised a hand and waved. It raised a fingerless blob at the end of its arm and did the same. Looking down was surreal. My body was replaced by this virtual manakin. I tested my range of motion. I squatted, jumped, pinwheeled my arms, and went through a basic yoga routine. The feedback was unreal. It really felt like I was there. I expected some lag or an uncanny-valley effect because they were still developing the tech but I couldn’t tell it apart from reality, besides the weird almost-body that I was in. Time to do something about that.
“Menu.” My voice sounded flat and mechanical but a list of options hung in the air in front of me a moment later.
“Begin Character Creation”
“Acknowledged. As you are playing in Hardcore mode, you will be assigned a race at random. We will scan your social media profiles and preclude any races you have experience with from this list.”

A giant colorful wheel appeared in the air in front of me and began to spin. As it slowed to a stop it looked like it was going to land on a vicious looking saurian creature but it just barely tipped into the next box where a puny but slightly overweight person smiled out at me.

It felt like I was falling, or maybe sinking into the floor and I saw the wheel rise into the air. I stopped shrinking at maybe four and a half feet tall. If felt like hundreds of small hands were pulling or pushing at my face. I watched in the mirror, a little queasy as my features were molded like clay. When the process ended I stepped closer to the mirror and took stock of what I had to work with.

Small, mousy brown hair, glittering green eyes, a hint of a gut, a button nose, and ears that tapered ever so slightly at their tops. I pulled up the menu again and enabled notifications.

You are an Elfling! It is rare for an Elf and Halfling to fall in love. It is even more rare for that love to bear fruit. As a result, these diminutive, stealthy, magically gifted creatures are often underestimated. Jolly by nature but tenacious when roused, Elflings make for stalwart companions and fearsome enemies.

Racial Traits:

  • Small: 30% bonus to DEX, 20% penalty to STR and CON
  • Low light vision (you can see up to 50 meters in semi-darkness)
  • Born Naturalist (Innate magic of the Elfling race)
  • Lucky (+5 starting luck, +1 luck per level)

Racial specialties:

  • Climb, Heal, Hide, Search, Listen, and Spot

“An Elfling huh?” Now my voice sounded high and buzzy, like I had just inhaled a bunch of helium.

“Great, how am I supposed to get followers when it sounds like I’m applying to the lollipop guild?” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the funny voice. Maybe I could work with this. It’s not like I had a choice, that’s what made the hardcore mode hardcore. The combination of hardcore-mode, access to a helmet and a unique character should attract tons of viewers but I was worried about the racial specialties.
It looked like Elflings were natural scouts but no one wanted to watch a player do a sneak and peek before fading away without any conflict. I’d have to push my build a little outside of this race’s comfort zone if I was going to attract a following. That said, the STR and CON penalties pretty much ruled out any kind of close combat. I could probably do something with the increased nature affinity and healing specialty but supporters weren’t the most exciting to watch either. It looked like I would have to go down some sort of thief route. Shimmying across rafters while guards patrolled below should be tense enough to keep excitement high and everyone likes epic loot.

I was getting ahead of myself. I still didn’t know anything about the game. That wasn’t because I was lazy, it was by design. Hardcore players were supposed to figure out everything in-game. There was no point in coming up with a detailed strategy based on assumptions.

One possible issue worried me though. If I just shrank by over a foot, wouldn’t my balance be thrown off when I log in and out? I took an experimental step forward. The foot whipped out faster than expected but I had no trouble transferring my weight and taking another step. I pattered across the floor, each quick step compensating for my shorter legs and I moved at about the same walking speed I was used to. I spent a while testing my new character and discovered that it felt a little easier to move around if anything. Could that be the DEX bonus in action? I opened up my new character sheet to check on the numbers.


Race: Elfling

Level: 1

EXP: 0/100

STR: 8

AGI: 10

INT: 10

CHA: 10

CON: 8

DEX: 13

WIS: 10

LUK: 15

HP: 80

SP: 80

MP: 100

REP: 0

Not a bad start. Assuming that ten across the board was standard I had a 4 point head start right out of the gate. On the other hand, I’d never put much stock in luck based builds, preferring to rely on skill. After all, if you keep gambling with your characters life, the numbers will eventually catch up to you.

I could usually spend hours agonizing about my character names but thanks to the halfling side of my character’s heritage, one jumped into my head almost instantly. “Samwise” was accepted and I gave a little cheer. It was rare for the first name I picked to be available. I would have to thank mom for getting me a little head start on the other players.

I spent a while exploring the menu and playing around with the effortless interface the helmet provided. It wasn’t until a pop-up notified me how late it was getting that I reluctantly logged out. There was no way mom would let me stay up for the midnight release, not with school in the morning. That didn’t mean I couldn’t wake up early and get a look at my starting location though.

Elfling alternative

The VR beta testers are each randomly assigned one of X unique characters with their own personal unique questline. All the conventional players have a standard starter-village experience.

  • Elfling-grows up on a volcanic island with unique magical plants (hawiian theme, boars, chickens, Stone-Bear area boss)
  • Time limit before volcano erupts and he has to be gone with all the plant samples he can bring.

I could also swap out the fantasy setting for a SCI-FI one

  • Elfling → xenomorph
  • Choose a Mimic specialization (hunter, brute, overmind as other options?)
  • Can adopt the form of a creature when consuming it if you have enough biomass stored.
  • Keep stat boosts from consuming different kinds of animals.
  • Takes on a human form and has to keep his true nature a secret from all the people so he can have a more normal experience. He doesn’t really like being different monsters.
  • Sister gets some kind of space magic princess (sailor moon style)
  • Does her best to get in his way and discover/reveal his ‘gross’ secret.
  • The World Enders capture her and sell her off so MC has to save her
  • They join forces against the World Enders rallying players and NPCs to their cause.
  • They win the contest but there’s talk of favoritism and rigging the contest so they quietly give up the grand prize for some in-game concession. (bringing some NPCs back to life, Undoing the World Ender’s war-crimes...)

Vanilla Adventure

Starter village, setback (broken sword?), garbage quests, advantage

  • Some specialized damage dealing melee class (monk/combat-cleric?)
  • Gained by doing odd jobs at the village temple

Move to a dungeon town, save a noble’s invalid child from kidnappers (reflexive response)

Get beaten near death but the intervention was enough to let the guards catch up.

Put into a jail until the victim can clear things up

  • Victim had an honorable upbringing. Wants to repay his debt.
  • Problem with his eyes, MC can give instructions for making basic glasses.
    • Built into a monstrous mask
  • They become the core of a party.
  • MC gets training + room and board from the noble family
  • decent income from the glasses patent but not much demand or supply.
  • Work their way through the dungeon until it’s time to move on to a bigger city
  • Guilds start making things troublesome, making it harder for independent adventurers
  • follow a street-rat/pick-pocket (into a trap, they lose her and have to track her down)
    • Eventually get her to join the party. (she has issues with authority which is why she’s still an independent operator.)
  • Get more treasure than before, avoid traps, save the remnants of a party
    • Get a CC mage

It takes a village

It might be nice to have a game world that revolved around base building. Pioneer setting. Choose a landing site on the “new world” and go from there.

NPC’s arrive every day and many stay in the towns at the landing sites but as players develop settlements they will spread out. (appeal is the town-stat that attracts NPCs. Fame can attract more settlers, it also attracts raiders and such.)

Player goes out surveying. Strives to be the first person out there to get the valuable claims. Lacks preparation as a result. Follows waterways with trade in mind. Sets up his ‘flag’ in a picturesque valley. (not too far from starting location, might be able to set up a toll for trade passing through his valley eventually.)

Claim can be contested until a structure is erected.

What tools does he need?

  • (woodsman starting class)
    • axe+bow+tent+skinning knife+cloth armor (sneak bonus)
  • can he get away without nails at the start?

Build a town-hall

Have to fight off a few animals and interlopers

  • Animals are chased off with a threat display
  • Other players outnumber/level/gear him and chase him off.
    • They continue work on the town hall and MC swoops in with a last minute ambush and takes it back.
    • Finished the town-hall

Now he can recruit 5 villagers.

Gets a guard, a trapper, a gardener, and two builders

He has to work with the guard and trapper to defend the place against players who want the primo location.

  • Guard stands lookout (requires extra food?)
  • Trapper feeds the people and helps with defences
  • Gardiner produces food and flowerbeds (increasing the settlement’s appeal and pop-growth)
  • Builders make stuff (well, lumber mill, tower, walls, sheepfold/rabbit pen…)
  • MC can harvest wood and hunt to supplement food stores.

His friends log on over the weekend and they pat him on the back before going adventuring/scouting in the nearby area

  • MC wants to stay behind because the settlement can be raided and pillaged (if not taken)
  • Talked into going with his friends because his character is the only one above level 1.
  • He doesn’t let them bully him into taking the guard with them though.

Find an abandoned village. Signs of a fight, have to clear out scavengers, totem left in the center of the village.

  • Take the totem back (+1 settlement fame per day, +2 settlement spirit per day)
    • Communion: Shamans can commune with the totem, sensing nearby wildlife + other abilities
  • Get back to see raiders, take them from behind and the group spends a while repairing the damage before training their skills a bit. (the fight in the village was too much for them, they missed while MC with plenty of axe-practice on trees wrecked the opposition)
  • They do assorted stuff (rogue scouts and finds herbs for the gardener, warrior spars with the guard, shaman communes with the totem)
    • The town has to play a role as well.

The conflict should start as MC vs other-players but shift to MC-vs environment as his party discovers more about this “new-land” (why are the natives all gone?)

brainstorm structures/upgrades (going to have to only have a few options at the start (tech tree))

(structure list omitted)
(I have an intro rough-draft for this one too. It's messy but basically someone in high-school or College, completely focused on getting into the NFL gets suspended/expelled for assaulting a cheerleader. (it wasn't him, he was getting bullied by a jealous QB who lost control and hit the girl when she tried to intervene). His absentee parents send him the Somnus Capsule and he tries out the game because it is supposed to be good for you. I have an idea where the pod works by putting you into REM sleep and you "dream" the game. REM is the most restorative part of sleep so maintaining it for extended periods theoretically would be better than traditional sleep. This one would lean towards base building more than any of the other ideas.)

Bored Aliens + Giant Robots

The galaxy is old, another civ is hyper-advanced, post scarcity, lost purpose, turned to games

The aliens made a game that uses other civs instead of AI/NPC’s to populate it.

Probe/node gets to our solar system

Announces that anyone can join the game (beam-me-up-scotty style)

  • They don’t age while playing
  • Credits earned in game can be used to buy real items (hamburger materialized out of pure energy…)

People jump ship into the game, leaving their jobs behind

World economy collapses and martial law is imposed

In the game - Earth is a protected zone for the next decade.

People pool their resources to build a huge space ship/fleet

A military puke who’s overeager to test out his new toy attacks the first aliens he makes contact with

The fleet gets EMP’d or something and everyone involved is taken prisoner.

  • They can’t log out until they are rescued in-game
  • Aliens are holding them for ransom/reparations for the damage caused by their fleet.

MC’s parents were in the fleet

He lives on basic assistance with his parapalegic sister until he’s old enough to log in.

Martial law is still going strong. People are conscripted into the in-game space-force which seems adamant on repeating it’s previous mistakes.

<1% of the population is unable to log in.

Some of them work for the govt, others became oliver-twist style crime-bosses with children making up their “family”

Lots of abandoned children make for easy prey.

He and his sister are huge giant-robot nerds (like their parents)

He comes up with a plan to hide from the gangs and the govt.

Collapses a tunnel or something when he comes of age and lives in an isolated bunker.

His in-game earnings lets him provide food/water/air/computer for his sister.

He starts on the only other planet discovered by humanity

It’s basically a junkyard. He starts learning how to be a scrapper/engineer

Builds robots designed by his sister with the goal of rescuing their parents.

He only really makes headway when he starts cooperating with alien species

Cockroach-type alien colony on the junk planet.

He gets decent sensor-tech from them…

Eventually sister joins in the game when she’s old enough.

Dedicated Giant-robot pilot. She kicks serious butt and MC becomes more of a mechanic/diplomat. He’s the fixer, she’s the breaker.

Do something fun where MC finally meets the alien race which imprisoned his family and what looked like a scary-space-croc on video monitors turns out to be only a few inches long, more like a newt.

You can also have some fun with aliens on entirely different evolutionary pathways. (no eyes, no ears, communicate by smell or sign language. Photosynthesis makes for a slow-moving, deliberate, thoughtful species that looks on consumption as barbaric and primitive while they live in primitive settings, kinda like ents but with an ego more akin to elves. Impressive biotech reactors or something though)

Story/gameplay loop of finding then befriending the aliens to get access to their unique tech.

The main antagonist should be other humans.

  • Govt views him as a traitor/deserter (standing orders to capture him? Labor camps?)
  • Gangs view him as an easy, isolated target. Sister is his achilles heel
    • Nice for the switch when she becomes an enforcer in-game
  • He has to try and convince the Military to be less aggressive. Ending should happen in the UN with an impassioned speech punctuated by an assasination attempt. Maybe even a successful one.
  • There is possibility for escape into the game which could continue the conflict
    • Keep the humans fighting each other so the conflict doesn’t inconvenience their neighbors
    • Earth splits into factions and MC becomes the figurehead for a new “resistance”
    • Opens up possibilities for giant-robots vs traditional flotillas of steel boxes mounted with guns and missiles.
    • Maybe even as part of a deal with the space-crocks (parents for human-infighting)


DIvorced dude only living for his daughter’s sake in a futuristic, overpopulated earth city.

Ex-wife drops by to brag that she won the lottery and MC would never see her daughter again.

  • Colony ship lottery

MC signs up for the Fore-runner program.

Sent out as a brain-in-a-box controlling a small craft

  • Faster than the big colony ships
  • Get there first
  • Set up colony site
  • A successful forerunner can become very rich and influential in new colonies
    • (eventual clone body is on the table)
  • MC wants to stick it to his ex-wife and set up his daughter for success

Takes the bare minimum equipment so he can get there first

  • The planet is inhabited by insects with metallic exoskeletons
  • They eat metal (like the forerunner probes)
  • MC has to gather other forerunners (his competitors) and establish a colony site so his daughter can be safe on arrival. There’s no allowance for colony ships turning around and returning home without resupply. (weighs/costs too much to bring double the resources/life-support necessary for the trip)
    • Also wants to keep from getting eaten
  • Has to jury-rig low-tech stuff to keep from attracting the bugs.
  • Has to make electro-magnetic lures/traps
    • microwave weapons from his radio gear
    • The power draw makes this a last resort (only 2-3 shots with the batteries he brought with him.)
  • Additional conflict from rival forerunner groups with more materials/resources on arrival
    • Their standard industry attracts more + bigger bugs until a mountain sized beetle steps on them/ burrows under them?

This idea will take a lot of groundwork

  • Building a viable alien ecosystem
  • Finding niches, exploitable behavior that MC can leverage with his limited gear/expertise
  • Giving MC someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of
    • Computer assistant → forerunner comrades

D&D Apocalypse

4 Geeks in the basement


Go up to check on fam

Everyone above ground was turned into monsters (people —> zombies / dogs —> bargest / Cats —> bigger cats)

Get exp, levels, attributes (only after killing a transformed creature

Rampant cosmic energy wave (last ditch effort of a dying world gone horribly wrong, no explanation until aliens show up tho (taking low levels to a noob world to get exp))

You can safely internalize the energy after it has been refined by a first generation host (killing mobs)

One geek dies another loses an arm but level up stops bleeding.

The three have to scout / warrior / mage-healer their way through the new world

Just after deciding, a plane crashes, knocking down a part of the house and spilling injured but flaming zombies everywhere. Lots of exp for an early boost.

Crash in the basement, start the next day looting supplies and clearing neighborhood.

Get some kind of construction/ownership interface for clearing an area

Defend base, gather other survivors (group of miners), fight monsters… profit?

No inspect but the mage/healer/DM knows all the monsters by sight.

Tank is the jock who got roped into the game by sister (mage/healer/DM)

Guy to die was a jerk who they needed to fill out the party

Scout was a scrawny shy kid who likes the mage/healer/DM

Tank would make for the most interesting MC.(give him a problematic smoking habit)

Need to run into a wannabe warlord and depose him or her.

Find some badass female deputy for the group to save and absorb. (ranged DD)

The miners could have an engineer among them to start pulling apart cars and making motorized gates, lifts, traps…

Find a military base (personnel in the bunker did well) and get taken in but no freedom, no chance to level.

Being kept safe but controlled eats at the mage. They have to run when the place is overrun.

The guards and guns are good vs zombies but the military training isn’t good for adapting to the new monsters.

Something burrows straight into the bunker, eats a few people before the group engages it, whittling it down until troops show up and pull them back. A few troops die because the kids aren’t allowed to help. Maybe the Tank is conscripted but the others are considered too young. He can get frustrated at how ineffective the bullets are (and he didn’t build to use ranged weapons)(Something like a swarm of locusts or bees could take out the military base and force the kids to flee through the tunnels that monsters used to break into the bunkers)(Running battle through tunnels with a rag-tag group of survivors)(The miners can cave in the entrance to keep the swarm out) (Maybe take over some kind of dungeon and build a town underground)

Military sends out a hummvee or APC and lures zombies back to the base where rifle teams pick their shots. The kids are conscripted into making more bullets for the troops. (using presses and stuff). (Maybe shaped zombie-teeth instead of metal slugs to improve the rounds)

Call the exp something else (refined energy points?)

The mobs should drop items. (turn to dust when killed but there are items in the dust. Parts of the creature transformed by the energy. (Zombies: Teeth / Cats: Tendons or claws / Dogs: canines / Turtles: shell / bats: fangs or wings…)

Maybe the refined energy should drop as crystals or something. You can absorb it by touching the crystals.

The wave is part of the “Utopia project” meant to give all sentients a means to break past their limits. Something clearly went wrong though.

It could be fun to do an energy-wave premise like this but from the perspective of an animal who gains sentience as it levels and gets stats assigned automatically.


About the author


  • United States


Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In