44

The way I've always seen this done is to simply let everyone look over all the characters, and then let them decide among themselves who plays what. I guess this could lead to problems if there were two players who absolutely insisted on having the same character, but I've never witnessed that being an issue. More likely, one of them will just say "I really,...


40

On definitions Technically, one-shot can mean different things to different people. It doesn't always literally mean a story that can be wrapped up in one session (though that is usually the goal). However, it does always refer to an adventure that is shorter than a full campaign which can vary greatly in length. For the purposes of this answer I will be ...


30

In "The Best of White Dwarf - Scenarios Vol. 1", published in 1980, pages 26 and 28-29 (27 was an advertisement) feature the adventure "A Bar-Room Brawl - D&D Style" by Lew Pulsipher. Further reading of the adventure includes details of numerous characters to interact with, a hex map of a bar room, and rules for using objects in the environment like ...


28

There are a couple of criteria that would make a game system unsuitable for a one-shot: The game has a high learning curve and you are likely to get players who have never played The World of Synnibarr is often seen as an insanely complex system that is difficult to understand (they have an equation for how hard you can exhale, for one). I'm sure there are ...


22

There are several different axes at play. Here are some common descriptors: Size of the game: One-page, pocket, or micro RPG Prep required: Zero-prep, no-prep, or low-prep RPG Game duration: One-shot RPG It also comes down to how much effort the GM or facilitator is willing to do. A one-page dungeon is usually low-prep assuming they already know the rules—...


18

Playing a non-level -appropriate adventure is likely to result in Bad Time, so it's wise to consider alternatives like changing the adventure itself. There's no easy silver bullet way to tone down a premade adventure for level 1 characters, but why not do it the other way around: Start at a higher level The simple way to play and enjoy a higher level ...


18

Four solid benefits of a one shot One shots and campaigns serve different gaming needs, so I slightly disagree with your question's point (in paragraph 3 and at the end) that they are somehow in opposition to each other. They fulfill different needs for the players at the table, to include the DM. A given gaming group can do both! Four things that a one-...


18

Preface: The most recent resource I played was this digital release on drivethru rpg (2010). I like the game and would play it again. There are some things to know about Tales from the Floating Vagabond (Vagabond, from now on). Vagabond is not a serious game You probably already knew this to some extent, but you need to make sure your players know it. Power ...


17

The first thing you need to do is figure out: Why Are The Players Doing That? Answer A: Because They Like That Archetype I've known players who always want to play something that hits things with a sword, and that's it. I've known players who always want to play healers. I've known players who always want to have some kind of pet. etc. Those people are ...


17

The most useful way to create a Fate Accelerated pregen character is: just barely, and then jump into the game immediately and let people fill in the blanks when they need to. Aeon Wave (which is pay what you want, including free) does this to great success, and is a sci-fi game based on six premade characters. It's for Fate Core, but you may want to adapt ...


17

No, quite the contrary. The introduction of the Dungeon Master's Guide contains some relevant guidance. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game. That said, your goal isn't to slaughter the adventurers but to create a campaign world that revolves around their actions and decisions, and to keep your players coming back for more! If you're ...


15

In my experience, I've been able to play a couple of free play scenes, a single score, and payoff/downtime in about three to four hours. This is including most of the rules, explanations and character creation. All this happens in the span of about three to four hours, with breaks. Character creation takes an hour and a half, generally. Free play starts ...


14

Not much. Apocalypse World is one of my go-to games for one-shots, and I find that it shows off well in a single 3-hour (preferably slightly more) session, even without changing too much. This includes not using pre-made characters, because I believe the setup to be an integral part of the AW experience. There are some ideas on it on the “Barf Forth ...


13

I remember a high mortality campaign. It was not a one-shot and it was a desert instead of a dungeon, but the same general principle applies: what to do if you cannot bring in new characters in a believable fashion? Just bring more characters! From the start! Let everybody bring multiple characters. Obviously with such a large crowd, not everybody can ...


12

If you download the pdf of the basic players rules, you can easily print out several copies of the equipment chapter to pass around to the players for all their mundane equipment needs. I always have a copy of the weapons list and the adventure equipment list at my table for this very purpose. For magical items, I've found that rolling on the treasure tables ...


12

You should come up with a list of things the character would do and say that you would not do or say (as well as things they would not do that you would), then act as normal, as well as coming up with a couple quirks (rolling on the NPC Traits table might be helpful here) to make them memorable. The different actions help separate the character from yourself ...


12

I have a fair amount of experience DM'ing for new players, so I'll give my two cents. No, you won't be able to run a 1st level party through a 3rd-4th level dungeon/adventure Really, you won't, unless you rebalance everything there to make it proper to 1st level. If you don't intend to spend time doing it, you simply will TPK your party. That's true even for ...


12

Contains spoilers about LMoP. As a background, I've been playing it for a few weeks with newbie players, although I'm not a newbie DM, so that part of your question I won't be able to answer. About the broader question, I think it's unanswerable - it depends entirely on the adventure. Cos or HotDQ are probably impossible to one shot, for example. First ...


11

I did run a 3-hour game of torchbearer a few days ago, in which the players took 8 turns (including 2 full conflicts) exploring 5 rooms to some extent. In my game today, a bit over three hours included 7 tests exploring 9 rooms very carefully with many good ideas, significantly helped by the fact they were only 2 (so less coordination and repetition ...


11

Create "Roles". Group your characters in a few different roles. Each player select a different Role, and from that role select his character. I will give you an example, using generic terminology, for a D&D-like fantasy game: Role A - The Warrior Character A1 - Sword and Shield warrior Character A2 - Spear-oriented duelist Character AB3 - A Paladin ...


10

I think maybe you are overthinking it a little. In the past, when I did this, I have assigned each player the character that I thinks he's going to play better, or I think will be more interesting to him. That's because I have very mutual trust with my players. But that way you can assign the simplest characters to the more novice players (e.g: leaving ...


10

I've run and written con games. I just ran a six hour one-shot of the Feng Shui starter scenario for my group. The biggest thing is making sure there's a fulfilling experience in the time allotted. Here's things to do and to watch out for to run successful one-shots, the "Five P's." Prep You want to either provide pregens or have people do chargen ahead of ...


10

Don't mind that they find out the reference Think of it as watching a movie where some random bypassers enter in a room, and get killed by a huge monster hidden in the shadows. Then come the heroes, and they are also eaten by the same monster because this is what would made sense, since they didn't knew about the monster. That would be a very boring movie. ...


10

One thing which makes the DnD series not very suited for one-shot adventures is its focus on character advancement. It is in fact often credited as the system which invented the experience-points based leveling system. And the reason it was introduced was precisely to move away from one-shots and towards long-term campaigns: There was another aspect of ...


10

Offer the player some monsters to run. This keeps them engaged with the game, without making character death less meaningful. It's surprising how easily many players can get into running monsters, given half a chance.


10

Yes, it needs modification, if you want the players to have the best experience possible. I played in a one-shot of Blades at Chupacbracon this year and it didn't go over great with all the players. The main issue was starting with no Stress, which coupled with Blades' economy of dice-rolling and no long-term consequences, essentially allowed every ...


10

When a player describes an action and during that action it would make sense to use one of their class-features, describe that class feature in a vague manner and ask them if they want to use it. For example, if a player who doesn't know they are playing a barbarian says: Player: I attack the bandits GM: The moment you grab the hilt of your weapon, you feel ...


10

Perception rolls should generally be hidden. There are very few groups which are able and willing to separate player-knowledge and character-knowledge. When your group isn't one of these, either have the DM rolls behind their screen, or if the players insist on doing their own rolls, have them roll in a way that only the DM can see the result (for example by ...


10

Rules light. Simply put, there's generally acknowledged to be a continuum of how much rules "crunch" a game has, with something like GURPS or DnD 3.5 on one hand, and something like one of these one-page RPGs on the other hand. These can be referred to as "rules heavy" or "rules light", respectively.


9

I'd love to add some knowledge from a DW-guide by John Aergard. It's full title: Dragonslaying on a Timetable: Running Tight 4-Hour Dungeon World One-Shots With Zero Preparation. Briefly, this is what it's all about: He makes no preparation whatsoever beforehand. If you're a new GM however, you might want to read through the rulebook a few times :) He ...


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