Methods to Design a D&D One Shot with Amanda Hamon

A D&D one shot is a tremendous approach to discover a brand new setting or to introduce new gamers to the interest. So, how are you going to take advantage of out of it? How are you going to design a one shot your gamers will bear in mind for years to return? We interviewed Amanda Hamon, a tremendous skilled sport designer, and listed here are her suggestions!

Distinction between a D&D one shot and different adventures

The elemental distinction between a D&D one shot and every other journey is time. In a one shot, you have to end the journey by the top of the session. This makes time your greatest enemy… but additionally your greatest ally if you understand how to make use of it to your benefit! It may be a tremendous manner so as to add strain to your gamers and keep away from dragging scenes out an excessive amount of.

To take care of time, it’s important to have a transparent starting, but additionally a transparent ending. Longer adventures may be extra improvised, and you’ve got time to maneuver issues round between classes. However with one photographs, there’s no such factor as “between classes”—so you have to have a transparent plot construction from the start! Plan for a 4-hour one shot: that’s sufficient for a full story with a climactic ending.

Should-haves for any D&D one shot

So, what do you have to put together it doesn’t matter what? Amanda instructed us about 4 issues that can make your one photographs higher!

  • A single map: positive, the introduction to the one shot may be outdoors the map. However when you get to the meat of the journey, attempt to maintain all the pieces inside a single space. This makes it extra targeted and offers your gamers a single outlined objective.
  • Encounter size: that is particularly necessary with rules-heavy video games. Conserving observe of how lengthy encounters will take is necessary, and you need to all the time have extra elective encounters, in case gamers blow via issues.
  • A hooky hook: your gamers can’t say no, in any other case the sport will finish earlier than it begins. So ensure that it’s one thing their characters would completely settle for as a quest or goal!
  • Climax: the ending must be cinematic, a fruits off all of the little seeds and hints you’ve planted all through the session.
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World Anvil’s marketing campaign supervisor is one other must-have to run a one shot!

Methods to keep away from railroading: don’t!

Due to the very restricted time a one shot has, gamers have to observe the journey path you’ve created, it doesn’t matter what! So this isn’t about avoiding railroading—it’s about hiding the rails. Step one is ensuring that completely all the pieces you describe and point out is expounded to the plot of the one shot. Don’t name-drop a spot or an individual who’s not related: in case you do, your gamers will assume it’s necessary, they’ll need to test it out, they usually’ll derail your whole sport.

Then, give your gamers ticking clocks. Not actually, however possibly the one shot is about stopping a world-ending ritual… that can end in an hour! This forces the gamers to do one thing and concentrate on the duty at hand. Make it as clear as potential that saving the world is as much as them: a one shot is just not a sport for sluggish build-ups, complicated hints, crimson herrings, and branching paths! Which brings us properly to…

Participant selections in a D&D one shot

Gamers ought to all the time really feel like their selections have penalties—however similar to within the earlier part, it’s all about creating an phantasm! In a one-shot, you may’t afford the gamers taking an sudden flip. So, ensure that all encounters have a transparent path ahead with no deviations. You probably have further time in your fingers, you may completely create branching paths, however they need to all have the identical consequence: the distinction ought to be the trail itself. So, for instance, totally different paths have totally different rewards, however in the long run, all of them will take the characters to the subsequent encounter.

In case your gamers get caught taking a choice (for instance, they’re researching an excessive amount of or they don’t know what to do), add in a random NPC to place them again on observe. In fact, the NPC ought to be associated to the plot, in any other case they’ll get off-track once more! One other approach to make them do one thing is to have a hidden timer: they don’t realize it, however in 5 minutes, a crimson dragon goes to burn down the village they’re in!

Lastly, keep in mind that participant characters can die in a one shot. Not like in a marketing campaign, these characters received’t should be reused within the subsequent session. So, if a participant takes a dumb choice that you realize will kill their character… allow them to do it!

Pre-generated characters

Pre-generated characters may be extraordinarily helpful as a result of you may create them in a manner that completely suits the plot of the one-shot. Not solely that, however they’re additionally a good way to introduce folks to a brand new setting or system! With a pre-gen character, they will get a really feel for what it’s like, so ensure that the characters you create are iconic. For those who’re enjoying excessive fantasy, you have to have a wizard and a rogue, for instance.

As for his or her backstories and personalities, be at liberty to provide them some uniqueness. Now, it’s a one shot, so don’t really feel like it’s a must to write a novel value of backstories, however giving them some primary info will assist your gamers join with them higher. And ensure they’ve a motive to work collectively!

Hearken to the complete interview!

Need to be taught extra about designing one photographs and the best way to use them in your tales? Take a look at the complete interview in YouTube and Libsyn (half 1, half 2)!

Who’s Amanda Hamon?

Amanda Hamon is the senior designer for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast! She’s additionally labored with Paizo and is the cocreator of Starfinder. Take a look at her Twitter!

Need to get extra suggestions from specialists like Amanda? Observe our podcast!

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