Good Games For One Shots? [+]


I don't know about the entirety, but it's definitely different! We didn't decide on the scene before playing it, but it was definitely a lot more collaborative. You're more like the writers and the actors in a TV show, rather than the characters themselves.

We have found it tremendous fun every time we've tried it as a one-shot, but I can't imagine doing a whole season of it.
I'm glad it worked for you. We just could not get it to work for us.

Although, we also had some player drama going on at the same time, so that quite likely made the game even harder for us to grok.

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Not sure how broadly you are defining “not D&D” but if OSR is an option I would recommend Five Torches Deep. Super fast character creation, even if you start at advanced levels, and is both similar enough to D&D that experienced players will know how it works, and different enough to be a new experience.

Not a lot of FTD-specific adventures, though, so you’ll probably end up adapting something.

Honey Heist​

Honey Heist is a surprisingly successful one-page RPG. Here is the plot:
1) You have a complex plan that requires precise timing.
2) You are a GODDAMN BEAR.
That's largely it. It's easy to run and easy to play, and there's a D8 table for hats if you want to be a bear that wears a hat, and who doesn't want that?
Download includes: a) the original hand-written version as well as b) a properly laid-out one that's easier to read and c) a more complex disguise table, both of which have been made by fans of the game.


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Beyond the Wall/Through Sunken Lands/Grizzled Adventurers can all have a complete adventure gaming session run in two to three hours with the group of characters rolled up together via playbooks (Grizzled Adventurers essentially uses a deconstructed version of the playbooks the other two games use) and then the adventure generated on the fly/in less than five minutes, while the players finish up their character sheets.

I ran Grizzled Adventurers the other weekend and, having a general familiarity with D&D throughout the years, and having skimmed the book, I did just fine. Actually reading the not particularly long rulebook cover to cover, and I would have sailed through it. The adventure generated in, at most, five minutes was surprisingly good and fun.

Another great one-shot, provided you like story games, is Kingdom. My group has had great fun with it. Follow, by the same author, is explicitly for a single session, and it is also fun. (Kingdom can in principle be played as a campaign.)

They're both by Lame Mage games, run by Ben Robbins.


Guide of Modos
So I'm looking to build up a list of non-D&D games that are good for one shots (or even 2-3 shots). The main criteria that I'm looking for are:

  • Games that either:
    • have simple character creation that can be done in 15 minutes or less

Let's make a character now. I have about 5 minutes before bed...

Name: Qarl Brander
Level: let's start with 1.
Concept: sounds like a SoIaF-style rancher. Especially with the Q in the name.
Goal: make his tribe proud. But...his favorite calf disappeared, and he's trying to get her back.
Flaw: very low on non-rancher experience.
Physical, Mental, Meta: metaphysical is probably his weak spot...let's go 12, 10, 8, and put the first-level point in Physical for 13.
Skills: handle (cattle) 1
Perks: this part can take a bit if you don't know the perks list. It's quick to just take the Skill Point or Attribute Point perk, but let's take Martial Artist and say that he has some Dothraki contacts/upbringing.
Gear: a brand, obviously. Crummy weapon, so it's probably a d4. Modos RPG characters can use any armor at its base protection, but Qarl is a rancher from Essos; the heaviest armor he's likely to have is boiled leather at d4, and a physical penalty of 1 (which bumps his Physical score back down to 12 while using the armor).
Hero points: these are character-concept related, but it's good to dream them up at the end of character creation, to include that one cool thing that didn't get on the sheet yet. So Qarl is a follower of R'hllor, and his hero point(s) allow him to summon light when surrounded by darkness or terrors. This most likely happens when making a mental contest just to see things, or when suffering difficulty while doing tasks in darkness or under duress.

Okay, my imagination got away from me, but I think I still wrapped that in under 10. The fast-play rules (URL above) can be read easily in 5 minutes, but some trial-and-error during play (GM guidance) are probably desirable.

Voidrunner's Codex

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