View Full Version : DM Help Short Adventure for First Time Players

El'the Ellie
2017-07-26, 12:31 PM
Hello folks! I've been asked/volunteered to DM a D&D session for a friend group of mine that has essentially never played a single session before, which I'm excited to do. Unfortunately, it's been about 10 years since my first time playing, and almost as long since playing with someone for their first time.

Although they're familiar with general fantasy settings (via LotR, Harry Potter, GoT, and so on) they're certainly not familiar with any D&D settings like Ebberon or Greyhawk, and I don't really want to ask them to do all that reading.

The second part is that for a long time, almost all of the games I've run or been in have been epic, 2+ year adventures. These people are only committing to a night (with the option for more if they have fun), so I'm looking for something that could potentially be wrapped up in a meeting or two and have sort of forgotten how to do that.

What are some ideas that you all have had for short, fun games that players can dive into quickly and need basically no background for? Or potentially just tips for keeping up the pace of a short game without cheaping out on the players? Thank you!

Note: It's 3.5, if that matters, although I'm not looking for modules. I have a couple and can run those if I want, but this is more looking for general guidance.

2017-07-26, 01:32 PM
For a one-off adventures and an unformed party I like to start with the Elder scrolls approach - the characters all start as prisoners (or possibly guards) and are caught up in an escape / riot / freed.

I'd go for a naval or road transport of prisoners, with possibly one of the players (most experienced?) as a guard. The prisoners were drugged to be complacent and/or against seasickness, and the drug makes their memories very hazy. This can make up for the setting unfamiliarity and their memories can return as needed.

A bigger event (battle/storm/skirmish/escape by other criminals) sets the players free and forces them to cooperate (against the wilderness, common foes, or other criminals from the transport).

Once they are free they can face a random encounter or two. Then they can get hit by the main quest hook - e.g. running into a wounded dying guy that begs them to save his kids kidnapped by a band of cannibal goblins.