Sources of one-shot non-fantasy adventures

Li Shenron

Legend
Where do you go around the web to find sample one-shot adventures for RPGs?

I am planning a game for friends on new year's eve but this time I am thinking anything but classic fantasy. It could be a modern story, historical non-magical, historical with magic (but likely non medieval), sci-fi, apocalyptic, steampunk, horror... everything is pretty much still open at this point except classic D&D and famous fiction (so no Star Wars, Tolkien, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones).

So I am now in a phase of brainstorming and I am looking for as many examples as possible of short stories/adventures of these other genres. Mainly I need a plot, because that is usually what I am not good at designing myself, especially for one-shots where there isn't room for plot branches and open mysteries.

The rules system doesn't matter, I will convert/adapt the story to whatever system I decide to use to fit the chosen story with the players and the time and location available. In fact, they don't even need to have a system, they could be very well just fictional stories that suit being turned into RPG adventures.

Suggestions?
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Sources I’ve mined or intend to:

1) Pulp-era or Noir (as a setting, not neccessarily from that time) short stories and comic books. Think…The Shadow. The Phantom. The Maltese Falcon. The Rocketeer. Flash Gordon.

2) Super spy fiction: James Bond. The Saint. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

3) Stephen King, HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker all have a fair number of horror short stories to their credit.

4) HG Wells‘ and Jules Verne‘s stories are full of great adventure ideas. If you don’t have the time for the novels, Cliff’s Notes or even their Wiki plot summaries should give you enough to work with. A LOT of them got made into movies.
 

Voadam

Legend
Call of Cthulhu would be my go to for published adventures. Pelgrane Press with Gumshoe has a bunch such as The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby that look like fun to me.

Cthulhu usually has an investigation with a supernatural twist and some light horror, which are themes I like.

Shadowrun also comes to mind as having had a bunch of short published adventures if you want shady corporation shenanigans.

A couple pulp noir and superhero RPGs have good plot generators as well which I would think would work great for a one night event.
 

Dioltach

Legend
Dark fairytales. All PCs should be 1st level halflings or gnomes, to give the "smallest creatures in a big bad forest" vibe. Everything is out to get them, including traditionally friendly creatures such as dwarves and elves.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Where do you go around the web to find sample one-shot adventures for RPGs?

Suggestions?

I am at the point where, if I need a one-shot, I make it myself.

However, if I wanted a one-shot and I didn't want to quickly design a game, a would grab a rulse-lite game from itch.io

Look for games with the "rule-lite" tag. They have a large selection of amazing games, and you can toss a few dollars to the people who make them.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
For one-shots, sounds like you just need a basic outline of a story to throw at players? I sometimes find random story idea generators (for RPGers and/or for writers) helpful for inspiration, though I don't use them so much anymore.

Most of the following tools just cobble together a sentence or two plot outline, basically a short pitch for a short story. The first site listed is fairly modern, and has a section called "Blurbs" that let you enter specific story elements if you already have certain genres, character concepts, setting elements, etc, in mind (like "location is an abandoned arctic oil field" or "protagonists are mercenary android hunters" or whatever). The other sites have been around a while, include tons of other generators of various sorts, and may or may not have suffered link-rot over the years.
These are ones I've referenced before and happened to still be in my bookmarks. A search on something like "plot generator" will likely net you many more, including ones that are more modern in design and perhaps better supported.
 


dbm

Adventurer
The Last Parsec series of adventures from Pinnacle are good. They typically include a plot-point campaign and several ‘savage tales’ as well. One adventure would get you a campaign and maybe 5 one-shots.

There are three free one-shots for Last Parsec on DriveThru as well.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I am at the point where, if I need a one-shot, I make it myself.

However, if I wanted a one-shot and I didn't want to quickly design a game, a would grab a rulse-lite game from itch.io

Look for games with the "rule-lite" tag. They have a large selection of amazing games, and you can toss a few dollars to the people who make them.
Thsnks but I am not asking for rules, I am asking for short stories.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
For one-shots, sounds like you just need a basic outline of a story to throw at players? I sometimes find random story idea generators (for RPGers and/or for writers) helpful for inspiration, though I don't use them so much anymore.

Most of the following tools just cobble together a sentence or two plot outline, basically a short pitch for a short story. The first site listed is fairly modern, and has a section called "Blurbs" that let you enter specific story elements if you already have certain genres, character concepts, setting elements, etc, in mind (like "location is an abandoned arctic oil field" or "protagonists are mercenary android hunters" or whatever). The other sites have been around a while, include tons of other generators of various sorts, and may or may not have suffered link-rot over the years.
These are ones I've referenced before and happened to still be in my bookmarks. A search on something like "plot generator" will likely net you many more, including ones that are more modern in design and perhaps better supported.
I haven't thought of such option... I will look at these if I don't get any specific recommendations.
 


Li Shenron

Legend

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Well if the rules system comes with a sample short adventure then yes this certainly helps my purpose!

This one is bit extreme in its alternative theme though 😄

The extreme ones are the best kinds! I will recommend looking around - a lot of people offer them for free, or for a donation if you use 'em.

Once you get used to it, it's hard to go back to running any other kind of one-shot!
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Sources I’ve mined or intend to:

1) Pulp-era or Noir (as a setting, not neccessarily from that time) short stories and comic books. Think…The Shadow. The Phantom. The Maltese Falcon. The Rocketeer. Flash Gordon.

2) Super spy fiction: James Bond. The Saint. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

3) Stephen King, HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker all have a fair number of horror short stories to their credit.

4) HG Wells‘ and Jules Verne‘s stories are full of great adventure ideas. If you don’t have the time for the novels, Cliff’s Notes or even their Wiki plot summaries should give you enough to work with. A LOT of them got made into movies.
All good for a campaign, but I am looking for something short.
Lovecraft would be the most suitable, but unfortunately my friends have read many of his tales too 😅

I don't know much about pulp stories, which could also be pretty short... is there some website that collects such stories?
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
All good for a campaign, but I am looking for something short.
Lovecraft would be the most suitable, but unfortunately my friends have read many of his tales too 😅

I don't know much about pulp stories, which could also be pretty short... is there some website that collects such stories?
Actually, they’re perfectly good for short adventures instead of campaigns…if you edit them. I used several James Bond plots in a HERO game using a modified version of the Space:1889 RPG setting. The Man With The Golden Gun was spliced with William Gibson’s Difference Engine and other stuff for one.

For short pulp stuff, just look for comic books or strips with those heroes; maybe Wikipedia.
 




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