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View Full Version : He's Fired Five Already! One Shots!


Egarwaen
09-24-2010, 10:50 AM
I really enjoy one-shot RPGs. A campaign designed to be played entirely in one sitting, reaching some kind of satisfying conclusion. I particularly enjoy them if they feature thoughtful pregenerated characters, with room for customization and interesting hooks into the scenario. Unfortunately, it's really hard to find pre-written scenarios that are well-designed for one-shot play. I've played in one Changeling: the Lost one-shot that was absolutely brilliant. I know I've played in other good ones, but can't think of them off the top of my head.

So, in order to be prepared when a player inevitably flakes around my Dresden Files game, or to otherwise fill holes, I'm going to be taking some time and putting together some one-shots for two to four players for my favorite games. If others are interested, I can see about posting them here as I work them out.

shivam
09-24-2010, 10:58 AM
a good one shot is very hard to make properly. i'd love to see what you come up with. and nich, if you want to play D&D, i can run a oneshot when you come up.

kaisel
09-24-2010, 11:04 AM
I'd be pretty interested in seeing some of these, as they're really great for teaching people too. Which systems are you going to be using?

I'm actually going to be running a D&D 4e one shot tomorrow (provided people actually show up, and don't flake out) because I have some friends back home who really want to play, but I guess don't have a ton of RPers in the area. I really should get started on that...

Alpha Werewolf
09-24-2010, 11:27 AM
I too would be up for oneshot times.

Lucas
09-24-2010, 12:01 PM
Yeah, I wanna see what you come up with. I've got a Friday night group but lately it's been falling apart due to lack of inspiration on the GMs' part (and considering I'm really the only GM running an ongoing campaign for the entire group right now I feel pretty bad about it); one-shots would be good for filling the gaps to some extent.

Destil
09-24-2010, 12:48 PM
One thing I've done from time to time in my current ongoing campaign is run related one-shots whenever we're missing someone important to the next game or similar. It's actually been fun and I've accomplished what I wanted with them about half the time. Namely, giving the players information that makes them think about other plot hooks their characters already know about or are about to learn about.

Shame about Tizzy and Stern, huh Gahitsu?

Googleshng
09-24-2010, 01:25 PM
So what, like... the party is off clearing out this here den full of orcs they may have forgotten were working for the Dark Lord Skippy, a couple people can't play one night, so you run a one-shot about a totally unrelated group of people dealing with Dark Lord Skippy's other plans?

Or you know, a version of that that's less pathetic and generic anyway.

If so, yeah, that's a neat idea.

Anyway, I WOULD say "I'm totally down for playing one-shots of whatever," but, well, it's far more sensible to set that sort of thing up by just going "OK, here's what I'm running no X day at Y time, who's down for it?"

Vaguely still on topic, my horrifying barbarian/bad cover art game (http://www.world-domination-llc.com/games/partyrpgs/glisteningchests.shtml) is pretty much designed specifically for one-shot play.

Egarwaen
09-24-2010, 01:59 PM
I'd be pretty interested in seeing some of these, as they're really great for teaching people too. Which systems are you going to be using?

Probably starting with Summerland, Elegia (http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/elegia-[ebook]/10275497) (though that one may wind up turning into a more significant hack), Weapons of the Gods, and whatever New World of Darkness game tickles my fancy when I get around to it, then branching out from there.

For those looking for a one-shot now, may I suggest the incomparable Lady Blackbird (http://www.onesevendesign.com/ladyblackbird/)? That's the kind of style I'll be aiming for - a cast of intended PCs with objectives, a cast of NPCs with objectives, and a situation that forces the PCs to act.

Sanagi
09-24-2010, 02:09 PM
I always wanted to do one inspired by Lupin III.

Lucas
09-24-2010, 02:12 PM
the incomparable Lady Blackbird (http://www.onesevendesign.com/ladyblackbird/)?

I knew I'd just seen a really good one-shot somewhere, I just couldn't remember what it was.

Googleshng
09-24-2010, 02:53 PM
Oh hey, neat. Bonus points for having the character the plot is based around as an actual PC too, instead of just going "The players are all Lady Blackbird's generally anonymous guards."

... and yes, for clarification's sake, this is totally a thing I would be down for playing.

gahitsu
09-25-2010, 12:49 AM
One thing I've done from time to time in my current ongoing campaign is run related one-shots whenever we're missing someone important to the next game or similar. It's actually been fun and I've accomplished what I wanted with them about half the time. Namely, giving the players information that makes them think about other plot hooks their characters already know about or are about to learn about.

Shame about Tizzy and Stern, huh Gahitsu?

RAGE

BLIND FURIOUS RAGE

RAGE!!!!!!


Naw, it's actually worked out really well. BESIDES KILLING OFF FUN MEMORABLE CHARACTERS.

dulynoted
09-25-2010, 07:13 AM
I'd be down for anything going on in this thread. I try to run Mutants and Masterminds one-shots whenever our GM is out for a week.

Destil
09-25-2010, 12:36 PM
BESIDES KILLING OFF FUN MEMORABLE CHARACTERS.

I suppose it's a good sign of making interesting pregenrated characters when their death to two criticals in a row provides this sort of response nearly a year later.

Destil
09-25-2010, 12:47 PM
So what, like... the party is off clearing out this here den full of orcs they may have forgotten were working for the Dark Lord Skippy, a couple people can't play one night, so you run a one-shot about a totally unrelated group of people dealing with Dark Lord Skippy's other plans?

Or you know, a version of that that's less pathetic and generic anyway.

If so, yeah, that's a neat idea.

I've been running an Eberron game for about a year or so now. One week we only had two players, the group had, I think, at that point encountered agents of the Emerald claw doing bad things at a Brellish fort at the edge of the Mournlands but decided not to follow up and instead investigated another mission presented by their patron. I had the two players playing a two man (well, one woman, one warforged) Silver Flame strike team working for the same patron investigating Emerald Claw activities at another fort in Karnathi. It ended with them dieing in the final climatic encounter (that was intended to be pretty hard, but then they made some bad moves and the monsters got a couple of lucky crits).

Their patron has, since, given the main party a mission to 'Investigate the assumed loss of one of my other groups in Karanathi.'

I tried doing something similar a bit later where they could investigate some other going-ons in Sharn (which they haven't been back to since our first adventure), though I think that one mostly devolved into combat by the end and the connections were a bit less overt.

kaisel
09-27-2010, 09:32 AM
I'm actually going to be running a D&D 4e one shot tomorrow (provided people actually show up, and don't flake out) because I have some friends back home who really want to play, but I guess don't have a ton of RPers in the area. I really should get started on that...

So yeah, this didn't go so well mostly because the group I was playing with had that one guy who can't take an RPG seriously, so he mostly tried to be humorous. Which was alright for a little bit, but it really dragged almost everyone else out of the game.

I've been trying to think of a good D&D4e one shot for new players, or how to make one, since my first attempt was alright, but not great (partially because of my DMing, and partially because of the anecdote above), but it's kind of hard since combat is so fiddly, that they can drag on.

Egarwaen
09-27-2010, 11:22 AM
My working advice for one-shots:

1) Pick an aspect of the game you want to highlight.

2) Design a situation that highlights this aspect.

3) Create PCs that want to see this situation go one way, and NPCs that want to see it go other ways.

4) Throw the PCs into the middle of it. Don't bother with lead-in or setup. You can handle that stuff with flashbacks later.

I may revise this pending additional experimental experience. However, this seems to be the formula that makes Lady Blackbird so compelling. So, for D&D4e... My impression of the system is that the main attraction is actually the fiddly, tactical combat and dungeon crawling. So...

Start off by building what you consider to be an interesting party of PCs. Doesn't necessarily have to be typical, but aim to get a complementary selection of in-combat and out-of-combat abilities. Throw them into the middle of a bad situation in a dungeon, complicated by a fight with dungeon critters, engaging but not difficult - enough for them to sink their teeth in. During the fight, let them know how they came to be there, and encourage them to fill in details. One method I've seen work really well for this is a short questionnaire about their character and history, focused on the scenario at hand. Five or so questions is all you need, if you pick them right.

Have some dungeoneering challenges on their way out, throw some goodies at them for doing things you want to encourage - exploring, being cautious, being daring, making good use of their powers, whatever. Expose some new information about their predicament over the course of this scene, and go light on the combat. Maybe have one encounter, if you've got a longer session. Lead into a climactic encounter with the antagonist(s), preferably involving some kind of difficult choice, abrupt about-face, or surprise reveal. Bonus points for using the players' answers to the above-mentioned questionnaire in the scene. This makes them feel awesome. Include a post-battle wrap-up sequence, showing their characters acquiring some kind of reward, or complaining about their hardships, depending.

(Come to think of it, this is basically the formula Franz Lieber uses in the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories. Hmmm.)

As an aside, take some time to prep materials. Particularly for a game like D&D4e, having power cards and reference sheets prepped and ready to hand out to players is invaluable.

Crested Penguin
09-27-2010, 12:14 PM
Random one-shot advice:

Character's abilities should be obvious. In D&D power cards are good for this. In fact, since they implemented the skill and stat summary card, you can throw out the non-card part of the character sheet that the character builder makes.

Skip the obligatory introductions. Tell the PCs they know each other already, even if the game isn't entirely cooperative. Skip any quest-giver business - have the players already know their goals. In fact, I'd suggest saying the players have already done relevant preparation - information gathering, equipment procurement.

Have the goal be obvious! There's no time for the players to figure it out and one-shots are not the time for mother-may-I GMing (actually no time is).

Create substantial choices! All the other things make it seem like a one-shot has to be super linear, but remember the strength of the one-shot: You don't have to run a game in the aftermath. This means you can put control of the world and consequences in the hands of the players in ways you might not be comfortable with normally. It's a valuable lesson to most GMs to try this out. You don't have to worry about your precious reoccurring characters, plot devices, etc. The secret lesson of doing this is you should always be ready for the players to introduce a huge change, but this is a good way to try it out.

Traumadore
10-04-2010, 09:10 AM
Yeah, last time I did a one-shot it ended with low level players drifting in a astral skiff with no supplies, severe injuries and a prayer. Basically a hopeless situation, and it was okay because of the format. I'm sure all the players spent a little time imagining what could possibly happen next.

Red Hedgehog
10-04-2010, 08:15 PM
I did a one-shot once that was basically the plot of They Live.

It was awesome.

Googleshng
10-04-2010, 09:09 PM
... so basically the entire session degenerated into two characters having a fist fight about whether to put glasses on then?

Lucas
10-18-2010, 11:27 AM
I wonder if I could get a Star Wars Saga Edition one-shot ready for tomorrow night, starting from a cold start of having nothing ready right now....

Egarwaen
10-18-2010, 04:13 PM
Lucas:

If your players haven't played it already, start with Lady Blackbird (linked above). Reskin to the Star Wars era of your choice. Quickly stat out the characters in question at level 5 or so. Enjoy.

I've not managed to find time to do any of the aforementioned promised one-shots due to work being hell and leaving me completely drained in the evenings.

Lucas
10-18-2010, 05:05 PM
Well, "nothing" was a bit of an overstatement, since the idea (bunch of community college students are hired by a rich guy to get some data off a computer in one of the lower levels of Coruscant, unaware that the "data" is a dummy and the entire event is actually a race being run between teams hired by idle rich folk for one of their little competitions) has been set up for a while, and I do have some NPCs already made from when I first thought of this a few months ago.

And now it so happens I have to go to the next town over tomorrow for a job interview, so I might not have time to run anything anyway. On the plus side, only one of my players knows I was even thinking of running something this week, so I won't have to deal with disappointed players or anything.