Aug 6, 2013

Weird One-Shots, Open Ended and Silly Adventure

Babbling at the Counter #02 – Pen and Paper

Weird One-Shots, Open Ended and Silly Adventure
I don't know if there's a term to define this, but what I call "weird one-shot" are: single session games with a simple system, lots of deaths and very little plot.
As a GM, I'm not big on long campaigns, mainly because my group isn't that reliable. That, and they aren't fans of playing the big damn heroes, either. So we play a lot of weird one shots. That allows me to test a lot of different systems, so that's something good.
But on the other hand, it's not easy. I've met GMs that wouldn't master a weird one-shot even if you paid them, and I understand each and every one of their complains. But the main one seems to be (and I'm paraphrasing here): "The players just start doing random shit for shits and giggles, it’s impossible to keep everything together"
As I already said, my players don't play the most heroic characters ever. And if you tell them it's a one-shot and there won't be a hell lot of consequences for their actions, they are going to start chewing the scenery. One of our games ended with two out of three characters dead and the whole American continent turning into a giant fish and diving under the sea. It was fun, but just because everyone understood the risks, so no one felt disappointed. It was a crazy ending, but not our weirdest by far. They know there won't be a lot realism, strategy or character development in one of my weird one-shots.
I guess what I'm trying to defend here are these crazy games that don't try to be smart, neither from the narrative standpoint nor the strategic one. They just want to be fun.
I'm the first to admit that I used to be afraid of these kind of games. As a GM, I used to find it frightening when there wasn't a lot I could do to influence the game, when I could only send flamboyant characters with an accent and a flimsy motivation to stand against (and be pounded by) the PCs. But then I saw it was fun, for them and for me. It was a great way to shake things up and keep everything fresh. It was a good way to introduce new players, that were either too afraid to do anything or too inexperienced to care about the meta plot. And it was a way to test a new system and see how much it could handle.
So next time you are all a little tired and want to escape the routine, why don't you play a weird one-shot?
- The Storeman

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