As the internet becomes more popular, and people's lives get busier and busier there seems to be a growing market for smaller games. By smaller I mean games that are designed to just be run for an evening or two and then discarded. Nothing major done, no epic campaigns, just a few nights of fun and RP before people go their separate ways. With that in mind, I wanted to take today to talk about what makes a good One Shot Game. Not that I have an ultimate answer, mind.
Quick Character Creation
One of the things that I think is vital to a good 'one shot' game is to have quick character generation. If people only have one night to play a game, then spending 3-4 hours of that night making characters is going to be a major turn off. I'm sure most of you have that experience. You're hanging out with friends and want to game, but by the time you settle on a GM, game, and get characters made it's already 3-4 in the morning and someone has to go.
Now the problem with this is that quick either means the character is less well defined, or that the player has less control over just who their character is. How you address this is up to you, but keep it in mind. There's no way to make a character fast without cutting corners.
The second thing I think is vital is to have simple mechanics. An easily understood and highly flexible conflict resolution system is best here. Sure, you may lose some strategy in combat, but the point of the game isn't to be a combat sim. It is to be a fun game that can be played in an evening with as little time as possible spent explaining a new system. So, try to keep it simple. Even more simple than you normally would. Erring on the side of 'too simple' and letting the GM complex it up is better than going too complex and losing most of the night trying to figure out how you handle initiative.
Make Adventure Planning Part Of The Game
This isn't necessary, but it is a neat thing that I've seen in a few games and have even used in a game I'm hoping to release sometime "soon" pending beta readers. Adventure prep takes time. Planning is a process. So why not make that part of the game? The idea here is that it is just a one shot, so why not let the players in on the planning? Let them place some of their own obstacles. Let them place some of their own advantages. Odds are the group will come up with something awesome quicker than you can on your own.
What do you think a game made for One Shots needs to have in it to work? Have you bought any of these small games? Do you shy away from smaller games? Why/Why not? Sound off in the comments.