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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:27 am
  

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Anyone got any experience GMing one-shot adventures that are more than a hack n' slash/dungeon crawl?

I've done a lot of GMing over the years and I feel like I do a pretty solid job running ongoing campaigns, but I've always struggled to put together an engaging adventure that can be finished in one or two sessions. I've run some quick shoot em' ups, but I didn't really care much for them. I much prefer roleplaying and puzzle solving sorts of adventures, but it can be challenging to get players really engaged in that sort of game in a single evening.

Any advice?


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:59 am
  

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Comment: The silent thief of Rozrehxeson.
I've done a few, and while I'm not an expert here's some of my thoughts for how I put one together.

1. Pre-Gen's. Don't waste time having players roll up characters. Make pre-gens. I prefer to run a group of about 6 or so, so I typically try to have at least 8 so every player can have a "choice" of character. I leave off most if not all of the Secondary skills, though. I print out a list of Secondary Skills and let the players pick those skills as they see fit during the course of the game. I make custom character sheets for each one, with notes for abilities or powers on the back.

2. Adventure "scenes". I find that I tend to break down the adventure into three to five scenes. Scenes can be small (a private room in a resturaunt) or big (the Labrynth in Century Station), but from a high level I plan it out that way. Ideally, the first scene is the start and the last scene is the "big bad guy" and the end, and the middle scene(s) are doable in any order. I might make travel from one to the other have a random encounter, or I may not, but ultimately I try to keep the bulk of the adventure in those scenes.

3. Clear goals. A one-shot, in my mind anyway, can get away with "railroading" in a way a normal campaign rarely can. Each character should have a stake in the overall plot, and a reason to go from the first scene all the way to the last. Reaching a certain destination/location, surviving to a certain time/place, solving a mystery... the character should have an investment in the plot that moves them through to whatever the final scene is.

Those are my quick thoughts, I'll probably ramble more about this later on.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:37 pm
  

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Glistam's advice is excellent and I have nothing to really add. Puzzles can be tough to get done in one session, unless you've got the pieces of them clearly laid out in advance and you've more or less built needing to solve them into the set-up for the adventure. I think having your props and clues ready to hand out will do you a lot of good. You might look at some mystery solving party games for ideas too. They've got to get finished in a single evening and engage a fairly large group.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:59 am
  

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Monk

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Comment: The Munchkin Fairy
The main thing to do is to come up with a problem that is both interesting, but challanging enough to be solvable in one or two game sessions and no more than three in-game days. an infestation of supernatural predators (Say a vampire cell has expanded into the players home town, a shifter has made a pact with dark forces and is conniving to bring some horrible monster through a Rift) are in my opinion two of the "classic" Rifts-one shots. they give a distinctly Rifts flavor to the session, occur inside of a town instead of a dungeon, involve as much brain work and investigation as sheer brawn, and lets face it, staking vampires and shooting demons is a lot of what Rifts is all about.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:50 am
  

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The scenarios listed in various RPGs are usually organized in the Hook, Line and Sinker format for the very purpose of being as quick and easy add you need them to be.

Palladium is hardly the only one to do this. The best way is to either take certain things as a given (like the players cooperation with each other) or to explain through exposition before proper play begins (you're already in town and aware of the problem, go!).

This can cheapen the experience to some, but others like the meat or how much more than the why.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:01 pm
  

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Comment: The silent thief of Rozrehxeson.
Here's some high-level notes for one-shot adventures I've done (or have queued) that are more than "hack and slash":

Chaos Earth: Preservation
  • Premise: A group of NEMA-affiliated characters spent the past year of the Apocalypse collecting Golden Age artifacts and stashing them around Chicago, in the hopes that one day soon they would find a better place to safeguard them for future generations. They have since found that place, and today the means to transport the goods there arrived.
  • Pre-Gen Characters: Two Demon Hunters, Three Para-Arcane, a Teke-Freak and a Chaos Wizard.
  • General concept: These are not combat characters. If they try to fight through all these encounters then A) the game will not have enough time to finish, and B) they will lose because they do not have the firepower or equipment to stand up to more than one or two small fights. The players should be using character skills and problem-solving to overcome the obstacles placed before them to succeed.
  • First Scene: The NEMA base/camp. Officially their mission has been denied. They need to steal the M.D.C. transport before it's dismantled for parts and armor repair in the morning and escape the camp.
  • Middle Scenes: The three major locations in Chicago where they have stored cultural artifacts, books, and other items which could be used to help rebuild civilization in the future. Each location has a scripted encounter (Monsters, Refugees, Weather), and travel between locations has a chance for one or two random encounters.
  • Final Scene: A military bunker 80 miles southwest of Chicago. NEMA emptied it of useful supplies and the group intends to stash everything there. This location has a scripted encounter with NEMA and General Sawyer. They've reached their goal, but can they convince Sawyer to just let them finish their work before they get court-marshaled?
  • Epilogue: This game has an epilogue where, if the players are successful, I narrate how in 150 years the ancestor of Karl Prosek uncovers the bunker and the knowledge kept within, and that information is turned into the fabled "Chi-Town Library" and used to turn Chi-Town into the tech and military power it ultimately becomes.

Heroes Unlimited: Back to School Daze
  • Premise: A team of young super heroes is contacted by a desperate school principal to investigate several mysterious assaults when the most recent assault turns into a murder. He needs to have the problem stopped before his own shady dealings are exposed through the scrutiny this problem will create.
  • Pre-Gen Characters: 4 teenage mutant and experiment heroes, 3 adult mutant and experiment heroes. I tried to make each character has some quirk to them that could lead to interesting RP in this high school setting.
  • General concept: The heroes need to find the link between the assaults and stop them. It's a high school and most of the kids are normal - fighting through the adventure isn't necessarily going to work. The principal is clear that he needs the heroes to be discreet.
  • First Scene: Meeting with the Principal. He's nervous, sweaty. He lays out the basic problem and lets the heroes look around. The crime scene is available and there's a kid in the hospital who was also injured. Here's where the heroes need to figure out how they will proceed.
  • Middle Scenes: These are variable. Do the heroes go to the hospital? Do they attend classes? There will be at least one more attack (that will be one of those scenes) the heroes can intervene in, and maybe others, depending on how close their investigation brings them to the target. Do the heroes notice the kid behind the attacks? Do they reveal their powers and "blow their cover"? Each scene should present clues that lead the team to discovering the culprit - cross-referencing class schedules, interviewing other witnesses or those who have been attacked, etc.
  • Final Scene: This scene occurs once the heroes know who is behind the attacks. They confront him and he uses his powers to fight them off. There are likely innocent bystanders and the "villain" should be revealed to not even be in control of his powers, and as much a victim as anyone else.
  • Epilogue: Here I tie up the lose ends. I reveal the plot from beginning to end as they have discovered (the kid discovered he could animate drawings and used his power to protect kids who were being bullied. He went after one bully in the middle of a drug exchange and nearly got caught - his panic caused the adult to die and put the kid in the hospital.) The principal was involved/in the know regarding the drugs, and that was his "secret" he didn't want exposed. The players have the chance here to confront the principal if they picked up those clues.

Nightbane: Dark Day Desperation
  • Premise: Several teenagers living in a foster home discover they have otherworldly, monstrous powers when eternal twilight blankets the world. Suddenly, they're attacked by monstrous, armored beings.
  • Pre-Gen Characters: 8 pre-rolled, random Nightbane chaacters. When I do this again I will make pregen teens and allow the PC's to roll their Nightbane form.
  • General concept: It's Darkday, and the PC's have to fight to survive and then figure out what has happened in a world gone mad.
  • First Scene: In their home, by themselves, and they have all transformed into Morphus. Hounds attack and the PC's must deal with the threat while also dealing with their new selves.
  • Middle Scenes: Very loose and free-form. There is an experienced Nightbane out there somewhere, part of the Underground railroad, desperately trying to reach these kids. At some point their paths should intersect. The public is freaking out though and since the PC's don't know how to transform, going back to Human will not be easy to figure out. The Hounds are tracking them, and they may bring "friends" when they catch up with the kids again.
  • Final Scene: A final battle versus the Hounds and their re-inforcements. The experienced Nightbane can help, and promises to take them to sanctuary and explain everything if they can just survive this.
  • Epilogue: The Nightbane learn about their nature, the Nightlands, and get "taken in" by the Underground Railroad. Their past lives are behind them, and this new life has just begun.

Nightbane Unlimited: Crime of the Century (Station)
  • Premise: A pre-Dark Day Heroes Unlimited/Nightbane game. A Nightlord who opposes Moloch's plans for Dark Day has decided to undermine him by "allowing" the valuable artifacts in his vault to be stolen from him. He lets the info slip about where his vault is and some of the incredible things which are in it. The players are brought together by the Seekers to get to the vault and raid it.
  • Pre-Gen Characters: A Nightbane, a Nightbane sorcerer, a Mystic Study, a Mutant, an Experiment, a Psychic, and an Enchanted Weapon Hero.
  • General concept: Each character has heard of this vault and covet an item from within. They need to work up a plan to get to where the vault is safely, get in, get out, and return.
  • First Scene: A private room in a fancy restaurant. The PC's each show up and meet the Seeker who has "brought them together." He tells them he can inform them of where the vault can be entered from the Earth side (bypassing nasty Nightlands traps), they must agree to get him the item he covets though. Should they agree he will reveal his source (an injured Nightbane).
  • Middle Scenes: The hospital where the injured Nightbane is, some place they can research the real-world area the vault is located in (in Century Station this place is the Labyrinth), maybe a small side-scene involving obtaining tools and other support items, and whatever else the players think of. Then they go to the Labyrinth.
  • Final Scene: In the Nightlord's vault. They look for their items, and other treasure. Meanwhile, the Nightlord's avatar along with some nasty, experimental guards, arrive for the final fight. Can the PC's escape? It's important the Nightlord Avatar impart the warning that they leave his town and never return, else his wrath plague them eternally.
  • Epilogue: What do the survivors each do with their loot? A small narration of how the item(s) they acquired aid them in their lives, as intended.

Rifts: Discordance. Prologue: Paradise Lost
  • Premise: A squad of Coalition Soldiers are sent to investigate the remote town of Paradise to uncover why all communications were lost. They need to get to the bottom of this mystery.
  • Pre-Gen Characters: Coalition soldiers of various MOS.
  • General concept: This adventure has two stages. Stage 1 is dealing with the immediate problem, and stage 2 is enacting the protocol to deal with the problem.
  • First Scene: Arrival at the town. As they enter they can see townsfolk. As they get close they are revealed to be zombies. Combat may ensue, or they may proceed carefully.
  • Middle Scenes: Any communication with their superiors has the tone of "stop bothering me until you figure out what happened." Just "they're all zombies" isn't enough. These scenes focus on investigation in the town. It shouldn't take long to uncover a secret underground laboratory.
  • Final Scene: Inside the laboratory/underground base are the answers. CS scientists were experimenting on piece of the Obilesk from Chaos Earth: Resurrection when they accidentally triggered it, killing everyone and resurrecting them as zombies. The soldiers will be directed (though reports to command, or through emergency protocol info in the bunker) to enact "Zulu Protocol," which is (unknowingly) a nuclear self-destruction. They have a timer to escape and live.
  • Epilogue: Do they let the town and surrounding area go boom? If so, a retrieval team eventually arrives and recovers the artifact (the only thing which survived). If the town did not get destroyed the retrieval team does that but also destroys neighboring villages to ensure they "contained" the zombie menace. If the PC's survived they are marked for termination - they know too much.

_________________
Zerebus: "I like MDC. MDC is a hundred times better than SDC."

kiralon: "...the best way to kill an old one is to crash a moon into it."

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HU2 GM Screen | Temporal Wizard O.C.C. update 0.8 | New Temporal Magic
Rifts random encounters | New Elemental Magic | Lore: Superhuman


Last edited by Glistam on Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:27 pm
  

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Monk

Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2000 1:01 am
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MY 2 cents would be to make the adventure in to parts that each part can be run in one-two hours time. With the division between the parts being a conclusion that you "could" end the game as a whole on. Depending on how things are going.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:01 pm
  

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Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:04 am
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Location: UK
Comment: "So gentlemen, are you prepared to open your minds and travel to worlds hitherto undreamed of?"
Proseksword wrote:
Anyone got any experience GMing one-shot adventures that are more than a hack n' slash/dungeon crawl?

I've done a lot of GMing over the years and I feel like I do a pretty solid job running ongoing campaigns, but I've always struggled to put together an engaging adventure that can be finished in one or two sessions. I've run some quick shoot em' ups, but I didn't really care much for them. I much prefer roleplaying and puzzle solving sorts of adventures, but it can be challenging to get players really engaged in that sort of game in a single evening.

Any advice?


Ive done some specifically for exhibitions. Ive done PFRPG a couple of times, BTS, Rifts, Dead Reign. One of the PFRPG ones I id got published (see my sig). I hate dungeon crawls (although the BTS one was).
My advice is buy the rifter with my adventure in it, links in my sig...

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Rifter 52 Cannibal Magic
Rifter 55 The Ancestral Mystic P.C.C.
Rifter 59 The Lopanic Games adventure "The Lion, the Ditch & the Warlock". Illustrations to this adventure can be found here.
Rifter 71 & 72 Double Issue Ninjas & Superspies adventure "On a Wing & a Prayer"
Rifter 80 Masters Unlimited


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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:15 am
  

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D-Bee

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:08 am
Posts: 2
Location: Oregon
Comment: Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Albert Einstein
The best one-shot games i've been involved in were based in some kind of horror/Mystery. The GM would use unsettling background music (played quietly in the background, not loud.), reduced lighting, with a mysterious overtone to the game, usually everything would unfold in the end and if you're lucky you might escape whatever horrible events have been happening around you. However none of these games took place in a Palladium Setting, so take my advice with a grain of salt, Just my two cents. Good Luck!


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