Since my post a few weeks ago about Episodic vs Campaign games, I have continued to think about one-shot games or micro-campaigns in general and a Dark Sun one-shot specifically. While the Northern Marches continues to be my main focus, I am enjoying having something else to think about. I like the idea of running some short games as it gives me the chance to pursue other gaming ideas but allowing the Northern Marches to remain the campaign focus.
I have been thinking about how to make a one-shot adventure effective. By "effective", I mean making the session as fun as possible while sticking to a finite time period. Some considerations are:
1. Structure - an appropriately sized location based adventure vs. a plot based adventure with a beginning and end.
2. Giving the players a goal to get the ball rolling - recover the artifact, find the traitor, save the princess, etc.
3. Combining the Goal and the Structure in a way so that the adventure in not a railroad - getting them started but allow them the freedom to do their own thing.
4. Character Mortality - The players won't be as attached to their character so hopefully they will try some wacky stuff but this is balanced against the time constraints and having to roll up new characters.
5. Pushing the players - having a mechanism to keep the pressure on the players to act - recover the artifact before the pillar of fire falls from the sky, find the traitor before he does X, save the princess before she is sacrificed to the dark gods.
I have been considering two possible scenarios for a Dark Sun one-shot. Either the typical "you are a slave in one of the city-states" knowing that the characters will try to escape or a find the mcguffin adventure with a twist.
The Escape Slavery scenario would be a location based adventure focused on the slave pits and escaping the city into the desert.
The find the mcguffin scenario would be more of a plot-based game but to keep it from being a railroad, it would be more about giving the players' the goal and having an idea of how the mcguffin could be recovered. The middle part would be a few vague ideas but more reacting to the players actions while keeping the pressure on them to recover the mcguffin before X happens.
Does anyone have any other thoughts/tips about structuring and/or running a one-shot adventure?
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