Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-13-2006, 05:50 AM   #1
zorg
Experimental Subject
 
zorg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: saarbrücken, germany
Default One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

I'm planning to GM a One-Shot adventure (in other words, an adventure which will play out in just one session; so you know what I'm talking about).

The players will consist of two total newbies without any RPing experience, and two slightly more experienced players (who are not much into rules, though they enjoy a good fight now and then).
These players are also without exception quite female (not that I think this will make a difference).

Now I've never GMed a One-Shot before. I read a Pyramid article on this subject, and I got my brain working. So I have some ideas how to do this (pregen characters, start with a Bang, Time Pressure, uncomplicated plot). Still, some of you will have more experience with single-session play than me, I guess.

Do you have any ideas, hints, tips and advice for me? Things that worked out well for you? Things that spell certain catastrophe?
__________________
Like a mail order mogwai...but nerdier - Nymdok
understanding is a three-edged sword
zorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2006, 08:44 AM   #2
EDG
 
EDG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland, USA
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Some thoughts:
  • One-shots must be short; establish an adventure hook onto which the characters can quickly and easily latch, and minimize the number of complications and NPCs.
  • Pre-generate characters when it's possible; either make them yourself, or have the players present final sheets well in advance of the actual game. This minimizes the chance of unpleasant (for you) surprises at the table (I just sort of assumed the rogue could pick a d**n lock), and maximizes your ability to tailor the adventure to the PCs.
  • Focus, focus, focus. Campaign games can afford to be unfocused, and the GM can afford to let the characters meander; one-shots need to be tight and straightforward. In the "one-shot" (actually a side adventure to get a campaign group back into the swing of playing after a three-month break) I'm running right now - which has managed to run to three sessions so far - I made the mistake of not immediately introducing the adventure hook. This was partly because I also made the mistake of allowing the players to tell me what their characters were doing, and by the time I got all of them together to give them the adventure hook, two hours of realtime had passed. So that's two bits of advice right there: in a one-shot, don't let your players decide what their characters are doing at the beginning (although you should let them advise you if they think what you're telling them is out of character), and do introduce the adventure hook as soon as you possibly can. Remember that in a one-shot, the characters are not there to Be Themselves; the characters are there to Be Themselves Within The Confines Of The Plot.

What it boils down to is the KISS rule: make the one-shot short and uncomplicated, and know exactly what your PCs and NPCs can and can't do.
EDG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2006, 10:06 AM   #3
Nex
 
Nex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Quote:
These players are also without exception quite female (not that I think this will make a difference).
I wouldn't say that.. I came to the conclusion that women play a little different from men and have different likes and dislikes in playing styles.
Probably depends a lot on the individual personalities..

I'd say:
  • simple plot with a strong story
    ..something a non-RPGer can relate to;
    Almost any play by shakespeare is a great example for that kind of storylines.
  • avoid combat if possible
    combat takes a lot of playtime and will probably overwhelm new players with rules and mechanics; go for the storytelling first.
  • reduce game mechanics to a minimum
    Make everything as transparent as possible
    "You must roll 10 or lower in order to open this lock.." [and offer explanation if asked to do so.. "Why 10?" etc..]
    Calculate things you will need in game in advance (like jumping distance etc.) if possible.
  • easy setting
    .. one that is explained in two or three sentences and that everyone can connect to (meaning: better not too far out there)
  • figure out player preferences
    favourite tv shows, books etc.
  • No RPG in-jokes
    In case you tend to do that..
    I had to actively remind myself of not doing it since I was used to play with very experienced people who knew what it meant when I said things like "about as pretty as an orcish bride" or (after the player made some silly remark) "a 10t stone pillar falls out of the clouds and hits you. you're dead." [not being serious of course]
  • Shameless railroading
    In my opinion, this is the best way to start with new players.
    Make the plot somewhat linear and gently lead them from one place to another.
    Don't let your clues be too subtle however and be prepared to have emergency-backup clues if they don't take your baits.

.. well, you probably figured most of these out yourself already.
__________________
I'm an English teacher now, so the most excitement I see these days is a dangling participle. -safisher
Nex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2006, 07:44 PM   #4
Archangel Beth
In Nomine Line Editor
 
Archangel Beth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Frozen Wastelands of NH
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Quite frankly, don't take it for granted that a lady roleplayer is in it for the social. I like social, really I do -- but I also get a kick out of one-shotting mooks now and then. (Mostly when I drag the high level character in a MMORPG down to the low-level zone and zot things. It's very satisfying at times to activate a spell and watch the thing fall over.)

Social may be the way to start -- but better would be to give an interaction that could turn social or violent, and roll with what you get as a response. (Doing up extra pre-gens, so there's a range of social/violent, is useful.)

Definitely keep the plot simple -- one goal, and a scene or two that you figure you're going to hit along the way. (Don't actually railroad; you don't need to force them to conform to the plot. If it's simple enough, then they'll DO it. And if they come up with a way around it, you make your eyes wide, you let your jaw drop, and you say, "You know, that's REALLY CLEVER. Okay... Um, so let's see, right. Here's what happens..." (Okay, so it might short-circuit the adventure. So? If they're delighted with what happens, go for it. Throw in a curve here if you can think of a minor one. Do not be wedded to the plot you thought you were running if the players grab onto something and run with it!) Railroading is where the players say, "So... this RP stuff is where we try to guess the script you want us to use?")

Keep your NPCs under control -- not too many, not too few. You probably want one Wise Voice of Experience for them to be able to contact, but not someone who's going to take over, for whatever reason.

(What system/adventure are you planning, out of shameless curiosity?)
__________________
--Beth
Shamelessly adding Superiors: Lilith, GURPS Sparrials, and her fiction page to her .sig (the latter is not precisely gaming related)
Archangel Beth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 12:33 AM   #5
HeroPenguin
 
HeroPenguin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Union City, CA
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

I agree with Beth, let the players dictate what happens. Keeping the plot simple and easy to grasp and flexible to work with will be encouraging for the new players, and allowing them freedom to approach it will give them an idea of what freedom the game can have.

The RP vets are already Roleplayers. Let them roll their eyes at the simplicity if they must, but the focus here is on the newbies. If the vets are in good spirits about everything, they should take it as it is and spend their time enjoying the comparitively easygoing way of the one-shot and the rest of the time helping the newbies out.

In particular, there's no need to railroad. Start off simple, letting everyone know what's happening when things pick up, but let them go from there. If things are straightforward enough, you won't need much nudging to get things rolling. pregens will help this out anyway since you can make characters that will be predisposed to getting along. If the players throw you for a big loop (the newbies in particular) that takes you out of the scope of your little one shot and you enjoy the idea, then by all means, run with it. A good one shot would be a good way to give the newbies the idea that they want to stick around, but if you wind up starting a longer adventure that they directly inspired, they're even more likely to get involved in the hobby. At least that's how I see it.

Good luck!

EDIT: Is it odd that during the whole discussion of the one shot and its variants, I've been picturing a modern day supers crime-busting exploit? Keeping in the spirit of agreeing with Beth, what is the gist of this one shot?
HeroPenguin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 04:28 AM   #6
zorg
Experimental Subject
 
zorg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: saarbrücken, germany
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archangel Beth
(What system/adventure are you planning, out of shameless curiosity?)
First, I thought about Nobilis, because it's diceless. But I'm afraid the setting is too weird, too complex for a One Shot, esp. for Noobs.

Then, I considered In Nomine (with Gurps rules). But the whole stuff with Demons, Angels and Words and Resonances and Attunements and Dissonances is probably a bit too complex, too. I'd have to explain the concept first, and that'll scare the newbies away instantly. Sorry, Beth.

Finally, I decided to use a version of my home-grown Space setting - sort of (which I - as GM - am most familiar with, anyway).

Like this: The characters are all teenaged girls living in the arms of Zaibatsu Inc, protected and sheltered from the outside world (therefore, they don't know the outside world, which will keep setting description to a minimum: "Earth in 300 years. There's space travel, colonies on other planets and psionics. That's it.").
Their corporate master has decided to relocate them for some reason (holiday? experimentation? education?). They travel to another star system, safely frozen. They get thawed (Play Begins), they board the shuttle, they socialize a little with the other passengers. Then, ninjas take the shuttle hostage (everybody knows what a ninja is, right?). The PCs are the only ones who think of doing something (whatever it may be). The bad guys try to dock onto a satellite, to broadcast some message (or a virus, or an EMP, or something), which is a Bad Thing.

The system will be Gurps. The PCs will be low-powered (50 CP or something like that), so there will be no special powers to understand or keep track of. The location is controllable and quickly understood/imagined. The number of NPCs is limited (so I can drop in a few interesting ones to socialize with, intimdate or fight). There is a definite time limit, which will keep things focused. The characters are pregenerated, with perhaps two or three choosable lenses each (and the characters will be choosen by a text-only description, without play statistics).

That's roughly it. What do you think? And thanx for your answers so far!
__________________
Like a mail order mogwai...but nerdier - Nymdok
understanding is a three-edged sword
zorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 05:50 AM   #7
Archangel Beth
In Nomine Line Editor
 
Archangel Beth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Frozen Wastelands of NH
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zorg
Then, I considered In Nomine (with Gurps rules). But the whole stuff with Demons, Angels and Words and Resonances and Attunements and Dissonances is probably a bit too complex, too. I'd have to explain the concept first, and that'll scare the newbies away instantly. Sorry, Beth.
Awwwww. What about the freebie IN-system "Lite" one-shot? O;>

Quote:
The characters are pregenerated, with perhaps two or three choosable lenses each (and the characters will be choosen by a text-only description, without play statistics).
I'd say don't do the lenses -- or if you do, make sure you have separate sheets to hand over. If the goal is to get them playing with pre-gens, making them decide "what version of X do I want?" can be troublesome.

Mind, if you can do any sort of preliminary "talk about character," that would be useful -- but that depends on how invested they already are in this. If all they want is a one-shot to see if they like it, better to save the time to wow them with the session.
__________________
--Beth
Shamelessly adding Superiors: Lilith, GURPS Sparrials, and her fiction page to her .sig (the latter is not precisely gaming related)
Archangel Beth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 06:17 AM   #8
Nex
 
Nex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

While I would reconsider using pregens (because for many, a large part of the fun is actually making their own characters) it seems to be a good idea to have a basic template and some free points to spend ad libidum [probably a short page with a distilled skills/adv list].

I wouldn't start with a scifi adventure in your case.. too many foreign concepts IMO (psionic powers, cryo-sleep, space-travel, ...).
Things that worked best for me (which doesn't say they are best generally of course) when playing with newbies were either historical things (where everyone knew the basic parameters up front) or modern.

Quote:
Quite frankly, don't take it for granted that a lady roleplayer is in it for the social.
Well, I didn't say that (in case this referred to my post).
But you will have to admit that there must be some explanation why certain types of games are more popular with female players than with male players and vice versa (compare for instance the sims to doom 3).
__________________
I'm an English teacher now, so the most excitement I see these days is a dangling participle. -safisher
Nex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 06:20 AM   #9
masked_lady
 
masked_lady's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Missouri, USA
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

One thing we did with my son when teaching him as a pre-teen joining with adult players, was insisting that he take "common sense". Then, if he was thinking of running into a situation alone he could ask the GM, "what does my common sense tell me to do?" If your players are young and inexperienced, you might consider that. Also, have an NPC hiding in the woodworks who can be a healer and a guide.

Also, focus on a mystery or search more than actual combat. Give them something that they can figure out, and leave the session feeling that they accomplished something. The goal, I assume, is to convince them to play again at some poing.
masked_lady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2006, 07:55 AM   #10
sn0wball
 
sn0wball's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Schleswig, Germany
Default Re: One Shot Adventure: Advice Appreciated!

Some time ago, a fried of mine and me used to run one-shot adventures/tournaments on a small-town con, often with players of variant degrees of expereince (often none).

We usually chose a familiar setting, that is, a real one or a well-known fictional one : Star Wars, Tolkien, Middle Ages.

Real-World with mundane characters also worked great - and then introduce some fantastical, horror or sci-fi element, like in a similar movie. A short trip to an alternate world is fine, too.

Also, we used pre-gen characters. Absolutely. You waste so much time creating chars for a single adventure. We usually included open or secret relationships between them which can lead to conflict between the characters (well, it was a tournament of sorts). For example, one char has just lost an imporant item and another one had just stolen it. Every char had its own motive apart from the main plot. This teaches a lot about what roleplaying is about, if that is intended. They have to work together against some common antagonist, but may also pursue their own agenda. Even with green newbies, that worked great. Perhaps especially with them.
sn0wball is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:55 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.