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,...


41

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 ...


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 ...


25

Roll for Shoes It's got technically no character creation (although you might want to name your PC). You collect stats/abilities as you go. The rules, in their entirety, consist of seven lines (eight sentences). The phrasal nature of character abilities can lead to very amusing characters if your group plays that way, though it doesn't have to. Turns are ...


22

For a one-off, treat it as a short story, rather than a chapter of a trilogy or an episode of a TV series. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Self-contained story. Its plot must resolve to everyone's satisfaction. It's ok if a thread or two are left dangling, but the main story must end. Pick a central theme of your adventure, which can be summed up in ...


21

I have been running my Fate based prototype game in a monthly RPG meetup for well over a year now. By the nature of the event, every game is a one shot, mostly with players of very different levels of RPG experience, who have not played together before. The hardest part turns out to be the world and character creation phases. It is time consuming, ...


18

A one-shot session of Dungeon World is pretty trivial, actually. So far, all games of DW I've played have been one-shots. All you need to prepare as DM is a short adventure, typically a dungeon. You don't need to deal with Fronts at all, and setup is the normal quick character-creation process of throwing the playbooks at the players and asking them to fill ...


18

Risus: The Anything RPG would fit the bill perfectly: Character creation lasts about 20 seconds if you know what you're doing. Simply divide 10 d6s into three or more clichés and you're done. It's probably 5 minutes or less if you need to explain the rules. The rules are very simple: generally there are just TNs or opposed checks where you pit one cliché ...


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 ...


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

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 ...


17

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. ...


16

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 ...


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 ...


14

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 ...


13

Your one shot game has to complete itself. It needs a distinct beginning, middle, and end that will all take place in the same ~4-8 hour session. While obvious, this is actually a pretty big deal since a lot of what happens in the game can be considered filler from a storyline perspective. What I mean is that when you're running a campaign, you might ...


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 ...


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

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

For this, I usually look for inspiration at series episodes. You'll notice how many good series intersperse "breather" episodes between their "arc story" episodes. Still, those breather episodes always carry small hooks to the main plot, or maybe they introduce new characters, new situations... add into the session things that, looked up front don't seem to ...


11

When I've done this before, I look at the example of a television series. During the first season, they have a 'pilot' or a short season. With that in mind, I usually hit these points: Plan for an arc that will be resolved during the scenario, so that even if the game doesn't continue, you have closure. To this point, make the final conflict the final ...


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 ...


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

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 ...


10

I'm not sure there's a system that particularly supports this, but the scenario setup that immediately leaps to mind is providing backstory to the players individually before the game. Tell the group that time is a concern, so in the day or so before the game you're going to individually contact each one to explain the backstory that leads up to the game; ...


10

I would suggest you back into the level based on the amount of time you're willing to commit to character creation. In my experience, there tends to be a non-linear relationship between character level and time required to create the character from scratch. Let's create a simple model of how long it takes to make a character (assuming players are familiar ...


10

Fiasco is a one-shot a game in which you create and play out a Coen Brothers-esque scenario. It's for three-to-five players, GM-less, has no character sheets, and games last about 2-3 hours. Given your constraints, it will probably be more black comedy than lighthearted, but if the players all agree to keep it lighthearted, it could work out that way. I'd ...


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 ...


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