D&D One Shot Ideas And Requirements For A Spectacular Adventure

Sometimes, a day-long campaign is not called for, and that is where a one-shot adventure comes into play. One-shot adventures can be just as fun and sometimes more engaging than a full campaign.

D&D one shot ideas can be tricky to come up with. Often, one-shot campaigns are decided upon when players fail to have the time or number of group members to play a full campaign, and time is short of drawing inspiration for a quick play idea.

This article will help you with one shot ideas and adventures when you do not have the time to develop a full, drawn-out campaign. There are also numerous boards, group pages on social media, and websites you can visit that are unofficial fan content with many one-shot suggestions.

D&D One Shots

There are many reasons to play one-shot adventures instead of a full campaign. First, a one-shot can be really fun and does not require much time. You can usually complete a one-shot campaign in a short amount of time. They are perfect for friends who play together but do not have a lot of time due to work, family obligations, or other plans.

Another reason to choose a one-shot adventure over a full-scale campaign is to introduce someone new to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). The adventure begins with something grandiose that happens somewhere in the game, like a local village, and quickly escalates. It gives an unfamiliar player many chances to experience the full excitement that D&D can bring without a full commitment to a day’s long campaign.

A good one-shot works because it can take a mildly interested person and turn them into a full-scale D&D nerd. Just like a great video game that pulls you in from the first cut scene, a one-shot can draw a new player in and fascinate them in just one session.

Requirements for One Shots

While there are not really any hard and fast rules to one-shot gameplay, there are certain things that are universally accepted as part of one-shot adventures.

1. Contain the Story

Keeping the action in or around a small town, village, or castle, rather than all over the map, will give you a tight game that can be focused on and resolved quickly. You are looking for a four to six-hour experience, and keeping the area small will help.

With a regular campaign, you have the freedom to travel all over the place, pick up skills, clues, and items, and interact with other players, villains, and non-player characters (NPCs). You will not have the time to do all of this playing in a single session.

If you are the Dungeon Master and planning your first session rather than a longer campaign, you will do well to dwindle the map and keep the adventure in one area. This will give each player the maximum amount of action while still keeping the game short.

D&D One Shot Ideas

2. Use Established Characters

Social interactions within the course of gameplay in the small world map you have contained will work better with pre-generated characters. There will be no time to search for a magic item, no matter what great ideas you may have for the campaign. Using characters that already exist and have skills, items, and magic will allow players to plunge right into the action rather than trying to build up characters from scratch.

New players will likely feel overwhelmed if you throw them into a one-shot in a world they have never experienced, and in just one day or night, you expect them to create and build a character. Having a good story that you can jump into with a party of already built-up characters will give a new player a better experience.

The point is to keep things simple. Most characters are built up by the time you get to one-shots to put them up against an established villain or situation and have a quick turnaround and immediate action and combat.

3. Have a Goal

Give the players a story, and break down the goal before starting. The setting, who they need to fight, what they need to escape from, what they need to kill, get past, etc. This keeps everyone engaged and thinks before the campaign even kicks off about how they can best and most quickly accomplish the goal. For example, start the night of the one-shot adventure by telling a quick story.

There is a princess who was kidnapped at a fancy royal party. She’s being held just outside town by a wizard who doesn’t rest and keeps one eye on her at all times. You must help the princess escape. Track down the wizard, create a distraction, or make something happen to draw him out so you can rescue the princess and return her to her castle. Good luck, friends.

By providing this bit of story, you have outlined the adventure without giving too much direction. However, the search and rescue party has been given the setting, the goal, the foe they must defeat, and the damsel in distress. Putting them in the middle of a situation before you ever start the campaign will keep the adventure fun and on target, and you will get quick moves and ideas rather than long and drawn-out interactions. You gave the goal. The players can decide how to accomplish it.

Ideas for One Shot Adventures

Now that we have covered what things are usually included before anyone even has a chance to throw the dice, and we can jump into the middle of a story and get it worked out, we can focus on ideas for one-shot adventures. Any of the ideas given in this article can be modified to fit your specific needs. Also, many more can be found on countless online forums and D&D fan sites.

1. A Curse

Your adventure party ignored a warning sign when heading into a village, and life is about to get very unpleasant. A curse settles in and plagues the players diminishing their skills and abilities. They encounter a more devastating villain extending the curse, and they only have four hours to shed the curse, or their character may never recover. You can make the final boss they have to encounter and fight the witch, wizard, or creature that laid the curse in the beginning, or you can make finding the antidote the main goal. The choice is yours.

Adding in a dungeon master, regular campaign vs mini campaign

2. Creating a Story Based On Something

Some of the most fun you can have playing and fighting during a one-shot is an adventure based on a book, movie, or video game. The best part? It could be anything. For example, you can base a game on something dark and full of mystery like Silent Hill or Stranger Things, or you can go in the opposite direction and prepare a short campaign based on a Disney princess movie or story like The Little Mermaid.

These are usually pretty easy ideas to come up with, and they are fun for those playing, especially for players interested in the story you based the campaign on. It is totally acceptable to steal ideas from stories and media that already exist in one-shot adventures. The fighting will not turn out the same. The outcome will likely be different from the movie or book, and it can be a lot of fun with minimal planning.

The following are some D&D one shot ideas that you can use based on existing stories.

  • Inspiration: The Little Mermaid
    • A young mermaid has fallen in love with a handsome sailor and has captured him from his ship. Keeping him trapped in a large enchanted air bubble at the bottom of the cove, his father, a wealthy man with connections, has offered a huge sum of riches for his son’s safe return. Your party must defeat the love-struck mermaid, protect the kidnapped sailor, and collect the booty from the father.
  • Inspiration: Resident Evil
    • Your adventure party enters a castle and finds that the entire staff and the town’s people have been turned into bloodthirsty zombie killers. The drawbridge leading into the city was destroyed moments after your party crossed it, so the campaign must start with the characters hitting the ground running to survive. The castle holds secrets as to what happened to the town’s people, and the only way to fix things and survive is to defeat the big boss at the top of the castle.
  • Inspiration: Up
    • Your characters find themselves floating miles above the earth in a magically situated building in the sky. The ground is so far away that the people below look like ants. The characters must figure out how to get safely to the ground.

3. Steal, Kill, or Escape

These are fun missions to execute because the goal is simple and is usually motivated by survival and greed. It can also be a great way to get the stress of the week or day out of your system and leave it all on the game table. The premise is straightforward. The story does not have to be. It can be as ornate or as detailed as you want to make it. Remember that you only have a few hours to accomplish the goal. You can also flip the script on these three premises and have a great session.

Steal

You can set this up any way you would like, but it is often the most fun when you give your group a magical, rare, or valuable item that they must acquire. Maybe the being that guards it is away, and this is their only opportunity to swoop in and take it for themselves. Maybe there has been a transfer of power in the kingdom, and the new ruler does not understand the power or value of the object, so your group can swindle it away almost unnoticed.

This is also a fun premise because you can pull it off with very few players. So if there are only a few members of the group can attend the one-shot session, you can still have a great time.

Flip It: Protect a Treasure

Your group has been contracted to protect a valuable item or treasure at all costs. There is a raiding party coming, according to royal scouts. They outnumbered your group, and you must defend the treasure to survive and collect the fee you have been promised.

Kill

An evil warlord is tearing across the landscape. Your group has been offered a large sum to kill the warlord before he can arrive at the city gates. Without their leader, the army would surrender. You must figure out the course the warlord is taking, inventory his arsenal, and outwit and out-fight him and his army to collect your pay and live through the event.

Flip It: Survive

Your group has made quite a reputation for itself, and the life of celebrity and adoration you have gained from killing baddies and saving damsels has made more than a few jealous warriors, creatures, and sorcerers that would want to unseat the reigning champs. They are coming for your group, and all you have to do is hold your ground and live through it, but they never stop coming at you.

Escape

You wake up in a dark dungeon with no idea how you got there. Suddenly, you hear the sound of rushing water starting to fill the room. You must escape before you drown, but there is only one way in and out of the room that you can see.

Flip It: Trap Someone or Something

You must trap an enchantress in her crystal orb by figuring out how to trick her. Draw her attention, ransack her place to get ideas, or trap her by force. She is a powerful enchantress, so it will not be an easy mission. She also has several minions who will happily sacrifice themselves to protect her.

One-Shot Ideas are Endless

There is truly no limit to what you can come up with for one-shot adventures. Think outside the box. Steal an idea from a story that already exists. Get back to basics and kill, protect, steal, escape, or trap something. The only limit that exists when it comes to one-shot adventures is your imagination. Try to keep the mini-campaigns appropriate to the time restraint you have to work with and the number of players available. Also, remember that these one-shot adventures are often the best way to bring someone new into the fold and create a lifelong fan of D&D.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Sign up for a FREE Ebook on 'How to Successfully Self-Publish an Ebook: A Quick 7 Step Guide'


Subscribe To Receive Your Free E-book!

'Self-Publishing an Ebook: 7 Steps to Successfully Publish Your First Ebook'

***Please check your spam folder***