I have yet to have a bad game of Starcrossed or For the Queen, but favorite oneshot is probably Final Girl: Game of Love. It’s a good break from heavier games, it’s easy to pitch and run, and I can almost guarantee I’ll end up crying laughing.
Can confirm: Final Girl: Game of Love consistently delivers hilarity you will be talking about for a long time to come.
I have come to really appreciate structure in games. Which might be why I gravitated towards hacking L&F when I was creating a game structured over a set number of days and with twists built in. I won’t know until June how well Sun & Daughter plays though.
For one-shot games, I really likeInterstitial: Our Hearts Intertwined, a.k.a. Kingdom Hearts as a ttrpg. The rules are streamlined, so they are quick to grasp. Also, roleplaying an established character and playing off other IP’s creates an easy source of drama and interaction. It’s been probably my smoothest one-shot experience so far.
This last week at Origins I got to play Krin Irvine’s “Everyone’s a Suspect” (not quite released yet, but look out for it in the near future as a playtest/ashcan release!) There’s been a murder, and it can be anyone. You all play characters, and when it’s your scene you try to look (to the audience) as guilty as possible, however we won’t know who dunnit until the end of the game. Apparently they’ve been playtesting this for a few years, and streamlined it, and I was really impressed with how replayable it looks to be (the scene types and mechanics are well thought out and playtested!) Coming soon…
This is a great thread, and full of great answers. I’ll throw in two more, although both are better for long-term play:
Any kind of old-school D&D or equivalent. Prep a quick dungeon, grab one online, or use a random generator, and you’ve got plenty of material for a one-shot game. I think that Into the Odd is a particularly good rule set for this.
Dogs in the Vineyard can make for really great one shots, once you develop some minimum fluency with the system, and the premade Towns in the book (as I’m discovering this week!) are surprisingly satisfying and enjoyable, showing how little you need for successful play.
I had my best one-shot this year several weeks ago. Several reasons made it special for me:
- first game after 20 years not playing (if you do not take a hand full of games I ran for my youngest son into account)
- first online game
- First dedicated oneshot (we usually played longer arcs back in the day)
- first game of Dungeon World
The GM was great. The other players were creative. It was fun. And I hadn’t had such a great time for years. I was totally euphoric and couldn’t even get to sleep right after it
The second best oneshot rose back in the day from a spontaneous session right after our regular session. First we played the last part of our ongoing fantasy campaign and ended at 02:00am in the moring.
Being 18 years old, we said: there is time till dawn, let’s play a spontaneous round of shadowrun. It was like a Counterstrike setting: “Terrorists” have to kill person X which were the one half of our group and the other half of the group had to get X from the airport to a safe place in the city. Both groups made their plans till 05:00 am. And we played till 6:30 am.
We had a hell lot of fun
I have two favorites, and by category they are different enough that perhaps you’ll bear with me.
The Daughters of Verona
(GM-less and written by me.)
A couple of years ago there was a Shakespeare themed Game Chef, during which I wrote a Montsegur 1244 hack which I called The Daughters of Verona in which you play comedies. Comedies end with a feast and marriages for the lovers, so by the modern standards the game would probably be a game of romantic comedy, to distinguish it from the various other variants of comedy we have today. In TDoV the players improvise a Shakespearean comedy together. The game comes with a prepared setup for a play which is also called The Daughters of Verona. And that would be my favorite one-shot in the GM-less genre.
The game teaches people how to be funny in the particular style of Shakespearean comedy, and then they get to sit together and be funny, laugh, root for the lovers and top it off with seeing the lovers marry at the end of the play. Leaving everyone exhausted from laughing all evening and with that feel-good sensation you only get from truly happy endings. I’ve played it with players in their teens up to their 80’s, in groups as small as four to as large as fourteen, with players who have played for decades, with players who had their first RPG experience then and there, with actors, with people who didn’t know more about Shakespeare than “To be or not to be”. And it never fails to bring laughter to everyone. So, my favorite GM-less oneshot is The Daughters of Verona.
Ett Hjärta av Stål / A heart of steel
(GM’d adventure, not written by me)
For a GM’d style of one-shot I’d say Ett hjärta av stål by Terje Nordin, written for the Norwegian surreal RPG Itras By. I don’t think there’s an English translation available.
First Itras By is a somewhat odd game, yet an immensely interesting one. But to me the best of it all is the adventure Ett hjärta av stål, which introduces the setting very well while not feeling like a lecture. It comes with a set of engaging pregens and the hook of the adventure (which I won’t spoil here) never fails to grab the interest of the players. Also the adventure is open enough that the players will have room to explore on their own if they want to, while still managing to “get back on track” in time for it all to fit into a convention schedule.