Thursday, November 7, 2013


So we're back, after a ridiculously long hiatus. Let's clear out cobwebs and liven this place up again.

I'll be brief. I want to talk about one-shots.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, one-shots refer to roleplaying game scenarios that take only one session to complete. They usually, but not always, have an entirely self-contained story. Published examples of this type of game include Pathfinder Society Scenarios or D&D Dungeon Delves. Other RPG Systems, like Dread or Mythender are pretty much entirely built around the idea of a one-shot.


- Brevity. Obviously, one-shots are short. They can be begun and finished in the amount of time it would take for a few boardgames. Players can be left with a sense of closure or completion at the end of the session, instead of needing to wait weeks or potentially months for a campaign's story arc to end.

- No commitment. One-shots require very little commitment from players compared to an extended campaign. You don't need to worry about scheduling addition sessions beyond the first.

- Spontaneity. Because of the brief nature of the game, one-shots don't usually require much work before the beginning of the session. So players can start and end a game with a minimum amount of prep.


- Brevity. The lack of an over arching storyline can leave you feeling unfulfilled if you're  itching for a grand heroic adventure.

- Lack of Attachment. Because of their brief nature, there's less time to cultivate interest in a storyline or NPC background in a one-shot. It can lead to a lack of attachment to said storyline and give the entire session more of a crunchy-grindy feel that harkens to the halcyon days of MMORPG raids.

- Too long. Sometimes you haven't set aside enough time, for whatever reason, to fit all the adventure material you'd like into your single session. So your would-be-one-shot turns into a two-part adventure that's separated by a week (or more).

I personally enjoy one-shots as a sometimes food. 90% of my RPG gaming comes from ongoing campaigns and I like it that way. The remaining 10% are pickup games that happen from time to time. Too many one-shots in my schedule and I start to feel like I'm less roleplaying my characters and more that I'm piloting statblocks. If I wanted to do that I'd be playing MMO's.

1 comment:

  1. My wife has been running a campaign (Pathfinder)on and off for the last few years. Occasionally, in an effort to fill the players in on some world building without tipping of the characters, she runs short games, frequently one-shots , set in a different part of the same campaign world. We use different characters for these, usually low level, but once we got to be lvl 18 avatars for gods which was awesome.
    I've found that the characters I build for these tend to be easier to RP, compared to other one-shot games, since I have knowledge of the setting and therefore a starting point from which to develop them.

    A Pro you may not have thought of, one-shots allow you to experiment with character concepts in game without being stuck with a dud character for weeks of a campaign.