One-shot games (or “What to do when players aren’t free?”)

Long gone are the days when my gaming group played some sort of game multiple times a week. Work, partners and/or family, and life in general means my group now averages a gaming day/night twice a month. My main D&D game has six players, and I generally don’t feel like running it if two people can’t make it. The Pathfinder game I play in came about in part for this reason – so that we could still role-play when the two busier people in our larger group weren’t free.

Sometimes a player can drop out at last minute, or you may have a few people who still want to get together. Occasionally, we’ll still play and one player runs two PC’s. We have also ended up playing board games (like Dungeon Quest, Talisman, Minion Hunter), card games (Munchkin, Flux, Unexploded Cow) or I’ve run a one session RPG. In the past we have played two Call of Cthulhu games (I’ve got “Blood Brothers” – designed with this in mind) and last year we did three separate one-shot (/playtest) Gamma World games. I’ve still got another CoC adventure ready to run if required.

Earlier this year, one of the blogs I read – Dungeon Fantastic – detailed two sessions where he ran S2 “White Plume Mountain” (AD&D) as a change from his normal GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It sounded like a lot of fun, both as an alternative from normal gaming and a chance to play a few adventures from early D&D versions without converting them to d20/PF (which is what I mostly do now) and/or having to make changes to suit my player’s character levels. It inspired me to look at the rule books on my gaming shelves and produce a couple of single-session adventures to have ready for one of those days when someone can’t make a game or we just feel like something different.

Over the last two months I started working on two One-Shot adventures – one for Star Wars and another for Middle Earth. This gave me a theme – Movie/TV – that I’ve been expanding to nearly every RPG I own. Generally I’m taking a part of a movie (or the general idea from the film/TV program) and building something for 4-5 players. I enjoy coming up with adventure ideas and I love making characters, so two ideas have grown into six – so far!

Here’s the adventures I’m working on; titles are subject to change.

Star Wars (d6 W.E.G.) – “The Pit of Carkoon”

Middle Earth Role Playing – “Dol Guldar: The Necromancer”

Gamma World (d20 Pathfinder) – “We’re not in Kansas anymore”

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – “Inconceivable!” (Or “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…”)

Shadowrun (3rd Edition) – “Asgard has fallen.”

Oriental Adventures (D&D 3.5) – “Gandhara/Journey to the West”

Now, it’s possible that the titles don’t mean anything to you, or only sound a little familiar. If so, here’s some more detail:

  1. The “Pit of Carkoon” is the resting place of the Sarlaac from “Return of the Jedi”. Six minutes in the movie makes a great set-up for a major combat on two skiffs and Jabba’s Sail Barge. For five PC’s, with an optional sixth being Boba Fett, fighting against the rest of the players. The session could be expanded with something in Mos Eisley where the players have to get back to the Millennium Falcon.
  2. Dol Guldar is a fortress in southern Mirkwood forest, where the White Council drive out Sauron – “the Necromancer”. There’s a scene that interprets the events from “The Lord of the Rings” in the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”. The LotR book lists the “White Council” as being “the Wizards, Elrond, Cirdan, Galadriel, and other lords of the Eldar” so I’ve made nine characters that can be chosen from by Players, and I’ll modify Dol Guldar from the MERP sourcebook “Mirkwood”.
  3. The classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” converted to Gamma World. Five PC’s (including Toto) are sent by the “Tech Wizard from Oz” to remove the threat of the “Wicked Witch” (an Esper) and her flying monkeys.
  4. Another classic movie – “The Princess Bride”. Westley, Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Fezzik and Miracle Max have to defeat Prince Humperdink, Count Rugen and maybe Vizzini. This adventure will draw on the characters more than the actual story in the movie.
  5. I’ve done little work on this so far. The idea is to have a Shadowrun session where the PC’s are all off-duty military/security named after characters (or actors?) from the “Olympus has fallen” movies who have to rescue the President and his son from terrorists. My big change is to relocate this to Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Downloading basic maps/floor-plans was easy. I mostly need to make-up the PC’s and NPC’s.
  6. The novel “Journey to the West” is the fictional story of an actual Chinese monk who traveled to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures. Most people are more familiar with the 1978 Japanese TV series “Monkey”. The five main characters (including Horse) recreated in d20 and doing something similar to an episode of the series.

For most of these I’ve completed the PC’s and thought about NPC’s and creatures. Specific adventure detail comes next. Once finished, I’ll probably add the adventures to the blog.

 

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2 thoughts on “One-shot games (or “What to do when players aren’t free?”)

    • Thanks – I’ve got that one… I’ll look at it for relevant material. Most of the ICE produced MERP modules suit a one-off game as many have “adventures” designed for different levels (and times, 2nd & 3rd Age) that wouldn’t fit into an ongoing campaign without either large modifications or a group that travels greatly.

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