When in doubt, run a one-shot!

I am definately not a one-system person and when I run adventures in a setting for too long I tend to look for new things to try out. Of course it’s almost impossible to start a new campaign just to run a new game I found, or a setting I always wanted to try out.
The solution is running an one-shot adventure. One-shot adventures can be great fun, if done right.
These adventures not only allow us to experiment with new rules and new settings, it also allows interesting stories that never would work in an ongoing campaign. I’ve also noticed that players are willing to take more risks if they know that the game will not turn into a campaign. I still remember one occassion when a player character sacrificed his life in order to protect a NPC. And resurrection was not an option. I doubt the player would have done so, if the adventure was part of an ongoing campaign.
One-shot adventures could be very interesting from a roleplaying standpoint if players take the opportunity to try out new things. Both game, setting or roleplaying wise. So, what are your thoughts on one-shots?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

8 thoughts on “When in doubt, run a one-shot!”

  1. I run a lot of one-shots, for various reasons. Most of the time it's to run something that's either heavily plotted or in a setting that (probably) won't bear up under an open-ended campaign–for instance because it has much higher lethality than my norm, such as a horror scenario, sometimes it's to take a system or a setting for a test-drive, sometimes it's because we don't have a quorum of the usual players. And sometimes just because.

    <abbr><abbr>Joshuas last blog post..Multi-Classing</abbr></abbr>

  2. Oh one shots are great for time management too! Can't commit to a campaign? How about weekly one-shots where no players would get penalized for being absent.

    I would definitely run a one shot first for a new system before planning a full fledged campaign and one shots have all the action-y goodness packed together in one evening (or several if the module is too long).

    One-shots are also a great way to improve your DMing skills too.

    <abbr><abbr>Questing GMs last blog post..Word of Wizards – Excerpts: Arcane Power Rituals</abbr></abbr>

  3. @Wyatt: I think I can live without having played that particular game. 😉

    But I am sure there are a lot of other games out there that don't take the hobby too serious that are more compatible with my taste.

  4. I just put a 8-month D&D campaign "on hiatus" until summer due to scheduling issues within the group. I definitely am looking to run some one-shots with the extended group of gamers that I know in order to try out some different systems, and revisit some old favorites (just picked up a near-mint copy of Star Frontiers at a flea market).

    The short list so far includes: Savage Worlds, Twilight 2000, WHFRP, CoC, Spirit of the Century, Star Frontiers…

  5. Even as a player I am always interested in trying out something new, so I am quite open to the idea of one-shots.

    But some players just want to continue the D&D campaign they started 20 years ago… *sigh*

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