Monday, November 25, 2013

What Makes A Good System For A One Shot?

There are a lot of good systems out there. Seriously, we have enough gaming systems doing enough different things that you could probably find a game for anything you want to do. Looking for high school teen drama? There is a game for that. Looking for sex magic witches? There is a game for that. Looking for giant robots where one player can play the AI and the other the pilot for the mech? There is a game for that too, and before you marvel at the variance I just listed there I'd like to point out that you can find a game for all those all from one designer too.

Still, there is one kind of game that while it isn't what most of us are looking for all the time is still fun, especially around the holidays. Games you can get into quickly. Games designed to address your needs for a night, or weekend, of gaming but without wanting a ton of thought being put into characters because you're not going to be playing them for the long haul.

In short, one shots.

So, aside from some of the small games I referenced from the above designer, what are some of your favorite one shot systems? What makes them tick? What makes them fun?


  1. Fiasco is my favourite one shot game because it's so easy to understand and play and because even people with zero roleplaying experience can get into it quickly.

    I have a growing love for freeform games and many of those are designed to be played over just a couple of hours, with character creation as part of the game and a lot of games require zero preparation. They often deal with adult themes, so it might not be the lighthearted fun people look for at game night, but they are rewarding. is a good place to start.

    Call of Cthulhu is another great one shot system because, let's face it, characters die quickly anyway and it's easy to play with pre-gen characters. It's easy to come up with a case the typical investigators can solve over the course of an evening. But the GM should be prepared to cut away parts of the adventure if players take longer than expected and don't they always?

  2. 3:16 carnage in the sky. it is extremely simple. Even if you don't like the fluff, it simple scenerio building and players have only two abilities scores combat and non-combat

  3. Speaking of Fiasco & One-Shots, Fiasco's creator Jason Morningstar released a game called Durance that sounds like it specializes in One-Shots. You play a convict on a prison planet trying to survive. Besides the Fiasco & One-Shot tie-ins, the reason I mention it is Durance is included in the latest Bundle of Holding, so for the next several days you can get it for a song. Am I the only one addicted to these Bundle of Holding deals?