Writing a Oneshot

A while back I decided to write a oneshot as an writing exercise. I haven’t written a full adventure in ages (last one being the Hand of Glory for Liber Fanatica 9) so I am fully aware about being a little rusty.

I just recently sold my collection of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition I decided to try the 1st edition to revisit the game that mostly started the hobby for me.

As a GM I have had a hoarded my ideas for a long time. In most resent campaigns my group hasn’t even reached the main idea of the game before it dries up. Aiming to change this I now used an idea of a game I have wanted to run for a long time.

A zombie invasion.


Ideally writing this kind of scenario should begin with the characters. You have a group of certain characters you want to use. This time I went the other way around. I wrote a short structure of events that would happen during the adventure, planed the surroundings of the events, and only after that got into the most interesting part – writing the characters.

What I have learned from playing and GMing oneshots is that most players just want to get the game rolling. Long backgrounds for the characters are easily forgotten and thus mostly unnecessary. Keeping them short and simple is the way to go.When writing a character for a oneshot I tend to aim them as for people who have never played the game before. This way I have an introduction scenario I can throw at people in convention (not that I have actually done this anyway). It also means that the characters should be easy to learn.

Aside from that the most important thing for the characters is that the have conflicts with each other. Aki (MustaJumala) has talked about his ideas of how an (ideal) oneshot should be played. But I doubt that even he can contradict me in this: give the players conflicting characters and they will rip each other apart without ever needing a firm story line.

We played through the adventure a couple of weeks ago. It was a fiasco (but no in a good way). I had completely forgotten the most important game system problem with this kind of adventure. Fighting characters froze in fear when a single zombie shambled towards them. From that point on it was just a game of failures and though we had some fun we never achieved what I had actually planned.

I have done a lot of rewriting for the adventure since. I tried to include the comments of the players as well as those of Strike-to-Stun community that were (once again) eager to enough to give comments. It is mostly finished now and will hopefully see the light of the day (well light of the internet anyway) quite soon.

It was a great exercise and thought me again a couple of things.

  1. It is all about the players and their characters.
  2. Build the characters so that they WILL be driven into conflicts whit each other.
  3. Keep in mind that when everything falls apart the players must still be entertained. This includes the GM as well.

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