D&D one shots are a great way to bring excitement to your gaming table or rejuvenate a tired group. Major holidays, celebrations, or simply a change of pace are all great reasons to schedule one of these shorter story sessions.
If you’re planning on missing players for an evening due to a planned vacation, work conflict, or other schedule problem ahead of time, or if you’re interviewing a new player for your primary campaign, this is also a great opportunity to share a bite-sized story together.
Let’s take a look at some of the resources we dug up for you to enjoy during your next one shot.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
One Shot Resources for Tabletop Gaming
Here we have a list of resources for your next one shot.
Some are free, and some are paid. If you have the means, please support the people who have made these adventures if you choose to use one. They deserve to be compensated for their hard work and creative spirit.
The links I’m sharing with you below are not just generic Google searches. These are resources I have personally vetted or considered and find to be fun and useful. You are able to do a Google search yourself–you don’t need me to do that for you.*
One Shot Adventures Compatible With Dungeons and Dragons 5e
Free One Shots
One Page Dungeon Contest: there are really interesting options and some of the art is amazing.
First, if you’ve never heard about the contest make sure to check out the official site. You can read about the contest here. It’s a yearly competition where anyone can submit a dungeon adventure, as long as it fits on one page. They get dozens of really great submissions every year, and the results are free for the public to enjoy.
They do request a donation if you’re able, often in the form of “Pay What You Want” (PWYW) for the compendium of all submissions. The donations collected this way fund the prizes for the next year’s winners.
- Download the 2022 compendium at DriveThruRPG (update: they changed this from PWYW to about $5 as of this writing)
- Download PWYW 2022 compendium from GumRoad
The adventures that win or place highly are often illustrated, and they’re always creative and fun to look through.
Pictured below is the winner from 2022, an adventure titled “Small Medium Large” by Mukul Gupta.
All of the one page dungeons are wildly different, free, and a lot of fun. It shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to prepare a game like this for a group; if you need some help with getting set up, check out our guide on preparing a one shot.
Paid One Shots
Murder at the Old Wolf Inn: I ran a modified version of this recently and my players LOVED IT. I was able to prep the entire thing from start to finish in less than two hours. It states the adventure for level four, but you can easily make this for any level by adjusting the conflict at the end.
I will say that I did not use the stock maps with it. I am quite picky about maps and used some dynamic ones I have from Animated Dungeon Maps; but the standard maps would work just fine.
DMDave and Tom Cartos Patreons: Some Free, Some Not
DMDave – Dave has a lot of free content in addition to his paid Patreon work. I have quite a few of Dave’s adventures from his crossover work with Tom Cartos. The two collaborate often; Dave provides the adventure, and Tom provides a static map set (and sometimes tokens) as an accompaniment.
In my opinion, Tom has some of the best static maps available. (I have an embarrassing amount of them.) He seems like a genuinely good person, too.
Additional Seasonal Options
For the winter season, DMDave has several seasonal one shots.
Here’s a link to “Kobold Alone,” where your party intrudes on Kobold McCallister. My favorite part about this is the hook: you can present this to your party without showcasing that it’s based off Home Alone immediately, which makes for a funny surprise.
He also has an adventure that includes holiday goblins that are reminiscent of Gremlins, and he and Tom collaborated on a summer camp adventure and map set inspired by the “Friday the 13th” movies. There’s plenty of seasonality to find in their content if you poke around a bit. If you want some advice on preparing a seasonal one shot, take a look at our article here.
One Shots for Other Systems/System Agnostic
Free One Shots
Same contest (and links) as above; this competition is not limited to official Dungeons & Dragons-compatible content. Most submissions do not actually suggest a specific system, so you can simply tailor the story bits to whatever your favorite mechanics happen to be.
I am a typography nerd so the one below caught my eye. It’s such a fun little adventure in itself just reading through it. It reminded me of “The Raw Shark Texts” or “House of Leaves.”
This adventure is entitled “Blood & Water” by Olobosk.
If you’re interested in this sort of storytelling with text shapes, you can check the books I mentioned above on Amazon:
Paid One Shots
For the Knave system, but modifiable: The Waking of Willowby Hall: Full disclosure–I haven’t run this yet. It looks really fun and it’s on my short list.
I also have to recommend Patreon again. There are dozens of really excellent creators making monthly content for hungry game masters. A quick Google search (or search in Patreon) will net you lots of options; there are as many options as there are types of people in the world, which is great.
In no particular order, here are some of the Patreons I have subscribed to for adventures or digital game assets. I am not affiliated with any of these people or companies in any way.
How Do I Choose a One Shot?
You want to pick something that you’re interested in, first and foremost. If you’re not excited about the story, it’s not going to be as fun for your players, either.
Avoid overly complex scenarios, side stories, or red herrings. A little of this is good, but if it’s too complicated to understand reading through it on your own, your players will likely have trouble with it in a one shot.
Choose content with assets that help you. If you already have a library of digital or physical maps, media, tokens, miniatures, etc., that’s great; but if you don’t, try to pick an adventure that can help you with that stuff. You don’t need anything fancy to have a great time (despite all the bells and whistles of many D&D streams online). Still, having a nice map or two, or a few character images, can really help draw in your players.
If you’re a fan of Sly Flourish, he actually wrote an entire article about how to choose an adventure. Check it out here.
*Incidentally, I Did Google for You
I did Google “best one shots for 5e” just to see what else came up. Right at the top, “The Lost Mines of Phandelver” and “Curse of Strahd” were listed.
If you’re new to Dungeons and Dragons, please hear me on this: “Curse of Strahd” (CoS) is an awesome, insanely popular FULL ADVENTURE that will take your party several months at a minimum to complete. Definitely not a one shot. (It’s also sold in a coffin-shaped box.)
If you are interested in running CoS, I have a guide with a few considerations to take (and an awesome music resource for immersion). Check it out here.
The Lost Mines of Phandelver (LMoP) is also very popular, and great for people who are not only new to D&D but to fantasy theming in general. But it is not a one shot. That module will likely take at least 3-5 full sessions depending on your group. If you’re interested in that, you can check it out here as part of the official Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set.
If you’re interested in running either of these and want to see the game in action, Chris Perkins himself runs CoS in “Dice, Camera, Action!” on YouTube, and there are loads of groups who have filmed themselves running LMoP.
A one shot is a unique experience that provides Dungeon Masters with the opportunity to try something a little fresh or see if a new potential player will jive with a group. If you’ve never ran one and need some pointers, make sure to check out our guide on setting up a one shot here.
And if need creative ideas for planning a special occasion with your group, make sure to check out our article on five reasons why you should schedule a one shot with your group today.
Do you have a favorite one shot module or story? I’m always looking for new content and I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments below.
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