View Full Version : Tips for writing a one-off?

2011-09-15, 07:44 PM
A few of my gaming buddies are going to be absent this Friday for out usual AFMBE campaign, so I decided we would do a one-off. The problem is, I have never written nor played a one-off. Can I get some general tips for designing one-offs?

Totally Guy
2011-09-16, 03:42 AM
You need to have a conflict that can be played out in a single sitting.

Are you one shotting AFMBE? What kinds of situations does that game do? I'd stick to the core strengths of the system that you are running.

You have the option to break some conventions such as putting the characters in conflict with one another or the very real possibility of the everybody dies ending. Those may or may not be valid options depending on the system.

Player characters can be pregenerated, created as a group or brought to the table. This too depends on what you're going for. A dungeon crawl might be about bringing a guy to the table to see if they make it. I've done group character creation for light systems like Inspectres. Pregenerated characters work great for internal drama if you make characters with incompatible goals.

Personally the best game I've ever played was a oner shot with pregenerated characters and incompatible goals.

2011-09-16, 04:00 AM
I did an Eberron one-shot once.

The 6th level trio, a kobold wizard, a human rogue, and a human bard, were in the middle of the ocean, as a storm came in.

They were pirates. And they basically had that little ship that Jack Sparrow had at the very beginning of the Pirates of the Carribean...

Then, in the distance, they saw an elemental galleon.

Obviously, being pirates, they decided to take it over. Only to discover that some OTHER group of pirates had ALREADY taken it over.

So, being pirates, they changed their plans to stealing the stolen ship from the thieves, and ride off into the sunset.

Pretty quick, the bard got separated from the others. Soon I was jumping back and forth from the wizard and the rogue desperately trying to fend off the brunt of the enemy pirate crew using improvised traps, all their resources, and hit-and-run tactics, to the bard following the "story", what with freeing the last remaining pilot, who I played as Dolerous Edd from A Song of Ice and Fire (think Eeyore) and regaining control of the ship with his help. Opposed by a renegade Dragonmarked who abandoned House Lyrander. Who created a storm inside of the ship, which made the bard have to cling to stuff for his life or else get sucked out into the ocean by the wind. While the ship caught on fire.

So, by the end, the wizard and the leader of what was left of the pirate crew had a one-on-one battle to determine who would be in charge of the now-barely-enough-on-both-sides-to-control-the-ship group, and cast his final spell, glitterdust, which managed to defeat his save. I rolled a 1, right in front of everyone, for said opponent. Needless to say, everyone began to hail the kobold as the new captain as the old captain screamed about how blind he was on the ground.

Of course, the second in command druid summoned a griffon and threw the original captain overboard, and proceeded to declare himself the new captain after using contagion to blind the kobold PC. Just in time for the bard to reappear, charm the barbarian third in command, and declare HIMSELF the new captain, and defeat the second-in-command, with the rogue and the barbarian's help.

So... the ship went through four captains in three minutes. Which sounds about how pirate wars of succession usually should go.

Later, of course, in revenge for stealing his captain-hood, the kobold would kill the bard and turn him... into a regular zombie. Not even a special, powerful undead. Just a normal 1/2 CR zombie. But that is another story...

Anyway, it was a very exciting session.

2011-09-16, 05:56 AM
Start with hopelessness, end with glory and death.

Trapped in a mine or something.

2011-09-16, 07:30 PM
Seems lame, but my advice is have fun. Do something you'd never do in a longterm campaign. I like running the occasional 1-shot and I use it as an opportunity to imdulge my players. I'm a fairly conservative DM, so in the 1 shots I tend to let them go crazy: 3rd party sourcebooks, all evil party, inter character conflict, whatever.

If you want to run an open session just let your players sandbox. If you want to actually tell a story its okay to pregen, just make sure your players know there is a plot based reason for. Then make sure each character has a role: the traitor, the secret prince, what have you...

2011-09-19, 08:58 AM
Pre-made characters.
Pre-made motivations.
Begin the plot mid-journey (so theres no waiting around).
Don't give opportunities to stop or rest without immediate hazards.
Make sure theres always a reason to keep the moving forward (a Macguffin often helps here, or some timed event that they are hard pressed to ever meet).
Minimal, pre-timed combat encounters (depending on time).

Thats what I go for anyway.