One-shots; I’m trying to rap my head around this concept.

One-shots; I’m trying to rap my head around this concept.

One-shots; I’m trying to rap my head around this concept. I’m terrible at them, in the sense they aren’t exactly one-shots. I never conclude them in the first session.

DW is a very free system, and one-shots do seem to require pretty clear goals before the game starts. I’m not exactly sure how to roll with it, but after the characters have been introduced and questions are asked, the players should pretty much be able to say “Bad guy X is going to do Y unless we do Z”.

It just feels wrong to stage things like that to me. I guess I never truly left the sandbox in kindergarten.

What to do? I really want to able to conclude a one-shot session in one session!

12 thoughts on “One-shots; I’m trying to rap my head around this concept.”

  1. Create a situation that has a limited span of time attached to it. Basically, you want to escalate quickly down your Grim Portents to spur the players into immediate action. I found Indigo Galleon perfect for this because the players are forced to choose 1-2 out of 3 possible fronts–it forces prioritization and the GM can narrate unresolved Dooms in the epilogue.

    Other examples include needing to escape from a tower before the Dark Conqueror returns from his campaign. You can make one player the hostage noble (a prince/princess paladin/bard/ranger/etc) and the other players either fellow hostages or the now similarly trapped rescue party. Once the goal of Escape is achieved, the game can end. This kind of limited goal makes for good one-shot fodder (or a good way to introduce new characters to the party in a longer campaign).

  2. There was a one-shot I played that took place over the course of a zeppelin trip. Another trick is to ask questions that suppose a past association with NPCs and prepared one-shot fronts–Why have you been tailing the Elven princess for the last week? Who did the organization kidnap to force you into doing this job? How many minutes did your contact give you to cause havoc on the ship before they take control and change course to the human capital?

  3. Yeah, makes sense. Also, I have a feeling that it would be beneficial to tell the players that when they introduce their character, they should only tell you their name, race, class and looks. That way, it’s easier to tell leading questions related to the story, without getting a million plot twists that would sadly go unexplored… That’s just a downer for the players.

  4. Let the players know that you have a module and they should make characters who are going to X. Don’ ask questions that change the module too much, ask questions that tie the characters to it.

  5. Judd Karlman So, your advice is simply just to be honest with the players, that this session will be about X, because we do not have time to conclude an entire campaign in Y hours? Makes sense.

  6. It isn’t so much as telling as asking them to make up characters with something specific in mind and being mindful to ask questions that bond them to the module rather than asking them to re-write it.

  7. Yeah, I do what Judd Karlman does. Before they even make characters I’ll throw out as much as I feel is needed to make sure we’re rolling fast. Then I’ll ask questions that imply a relation to it, and we’re golden.

    There does tend to be a lot dangling at the end of the session, in the sense that “play to fnd out what happens” often raises as many questions about the world and the characters as it answers. That doesn’t bother me, but that may be because I often run it as a con demo: I want people to end the game thinking ‘I want to play some more of that.’

  8. You can just straight up tell them the premise, and it can be really cool instead of something straightforward. But you don’t have to decide how it ends! It can definitely still be sandbox. Like:

    “You were on a ship from the Island of Brass, heading out for Port Estulon, when a frost elemental came out of nowhere and froze the ship and the seas around you into a spiral of frozen crags and spires. The creature was wearing a control talisman, so you’re searching the now frozen sea and it’s ice caverns for the summoner who wrecked you here. What agenda does that sorcerer have and can you free yourselves from their wrath?”

  9. P.S. I have no idea what the summoner wants and why they wrecked the ship. But we can play to find out! Maybe there’s a personal vendetta against one of the PCs. Yes, the plot is a bit Tempest-inspired.

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