Friday, July 02, 2010

On Predators and One Shots...

Good Morning, All:

I am quite excited about the new Predators movie that is coming out later this month. Essentially an alien/sci-fi version of the novel The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell, this movie looks like it's going to be awesome. Even if it blows chunks, though, I'm sure to go see it. I do my best to support sci-fi movies and TV series whenever I can. If nothing else, I'll look at creating a One Shot adventure based on the plot for some night when we want to game but don't have a quorum of gamers in the main campaign setting available. (I like those little one-offs, as they offer us a change of pace when the whole group can't get together to game.)

As a Game Master, I have a house rule about attendance. If one person from the group can't make the game, we go on and just play around their absence (unless a unanimous vote says we do otherwise, of course.) If we are missing two players, though, I typically run a One Shot for the evening, unless the players decide not to get together that evening. If we are missing three players or more, then I don't run a game that night. Seeing as how I run a table of five players, that means we get to game so long as we have more than half the usual number of players, which works out well for us. Losing two people cuts too deeply into the flow of the game, based on our prior experience, and thus the rule for One Shots on those nights came about.

I like to think of these One Shot Nights as a sort of Iron GM moment. While the players build characters in under half an hour, I get to create a scenario of the genre we've all agreed on, using elements that each player has contributed as suggestions towards the content of the scenario. I find that this challenges me, and helps me stay on my toes for when I run Convention games, since players are notorious for taking games in unintended directions. We almost always have fun. (Okay, there was this one near-TPK in a sci-fi scenario, but other than that...)

Sometimes, though, I work up a specific scenario that I'd like to run, and if they are interested, we try that out instead. Perhaps Predators might lead to something like that. More often, I use these kind of One Shots to introduce players to new published settings and sometimes new genres. Savage Worlds has been very good for that, as the rules are easily adaptable to multiple genres right out of the box, so to speak, and characters are very easy to create. If the guys take more than twenty minutes to build a character, they're thinking too hard about it. I imagine that Swords & Wizardry would be the same, or any of the retro-clones (I know that MyD20 Lite is that easy, as I wrote it with that goal in mind). However, the group tends not to want to learn new rules systems, and so we generally stick with Savage Worlds these days.

And now, I have a question for the readers: Do you guys occasionally play One Shots when your group's attendance is low? How do you handle such occasions? Is it planned out well in advance, or more of a spur-of-the-moment thing? Do you like the results you get? How could they be better?

With Regards,

1 comment:

Trey said...

I have done the one-shot thing when attendance was low. It tended to work pretty well. In fact, a lot of my "old school" days were spent gaming in a way akin to a lot of modern TV dramas--we had adventures that lasted one session, but our characters grew and developed over time, and threads might build.

These days, my groups so small, if everybody can't make it, we tend to reschedule.