6 DND One-Shots That You Should DM
Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game first published in 1974. Throughout the decades, it has seen numerous additions and features added to gameplay and role-playing. Its popularity surged with the popular DND show, Critical Role, where a “bunch of nerdy ass voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons”.
As it became a hit phenomenon around the world, Dungeons and Dragons is now a name spoken by many. This especially was the case in 2020 when the pandemic hit, as players and DMs took to the web to continue their enriched storytelling. Today we’re going to be helping those storytellers with a few one-shot ideas of our own. So today we will be diving into our 6 DND one-shots that we think you should try out.
What’s more terrifying than facing creatures with a higher CR than you? The answer is higher CR creatures actively HUNTING you. Picture this; the party have currently finished some grand mission and taking a respite in the tavern. Suddenly, a villager screams and 3 armoured knights stand over the broken mashed-up body of the guard. It’s time to roll initiative.
However, these knights seem to take on the 3 schools of combat: Strength, Skill, and Arcana. Scourge – the large armoured knight with the highest armour class. He wields a chained maul that he can throw and recall as his will. Reaver – the fast gunslinger that can shoot projectiles out of the air and ricochet bullets past your cover. Cyclonus – the mage with deadly spells and the ability to keep on counterspelling you (every mage player’s bane).
How do you beat them? You can’t. Not right now. After surviving a few rounds, the party will be rescued by an NPC in a carriage who will take them to their master. In an abandoned fort, the master will reveal he knew the inquisitors and will share upon their weaknesses and his fort as a means of defence. Here the party have some time to prep an ambush of their own.
The weaknesses revealed are as such:
- Scourge is slow and his armour is held together by three rings on his back which can be destroyed. The rings’ AC and HP are weak, but players need to flank him. Doing so removes his armour and reduces his high AC. This should make him easier to hit.
- Reaver, much like Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid, has to take an action to reload. Players need to count the bullets fired between reload times and exploit her ability to shoot ranged weapons. When needing to reload, ranged weapons can be used without consequence.
- Cyclonus can be countered through the use of a magical wind-up box especially attuned to his magic. One player will need to maintain their action keeping the box winded and force Cyclonus to be stunned. Cyclonus can attempt to resist the stun by making a constitution saving throw at the start of every turn(DM makes the DC). If they succeed, Cyclonus can continue his turn until the next saving throw.
A spooky trip to the graveyard with an unexpected antagonist by the end. Your merry band of adventurers find themselves in a tavern called ‘The Revenant’s Wake’. Although it seems like your average place of revelry, everyone goes silent at the arrival of The Gravekeeper. With a mysterious and ominous air around them, The Gravekeeper approaches the party seeking their help with the necropolis.
A graveyard for the greatest of heroes, The Gravekeeper explains that the dead raise every midnight and spiritual possessions affect the necropolis around them. The Gravekeeper comes to the tavern every night seeking brave adventurers to help lift this curse. Consequently, they are old; old enough to be walking at quite the slow pace, so bear with him as he takes an extra hour getting back to the necropolis.
Furthermore, players are ambushed by constant hordes of the dead and spirits whilst he goes to collect something from his shack. A lot of alarm bells start to ring for the party though. The Gravekeeper returns with a metallic seal bearing an infernal rune that reads ‘awakening’ and the dead have not attacked him. It’s even stranger when they guide you towards a tomb of a figure known as Vos’Stroud.
The Gravekeeper will explain their intention to revive Vos’Stroud as he can lift the curse. Indeed, a revived Vos’Stroud reveals he was once a hero that was cursed before his death. The hero commands the legion of the dead to test worthy individuals to give him a warrior’s death and return his spirit to the afterlife. The players need to gift him the death he seeks.
A party of barbarians known as ‘The Wolfpack’ return to find their village in flames and under siege. Fighting their way to the Chieftain’s hut, they find their leader killed by another barbarian warrior by the name of Skorn. Skorn possesses not only great strength but vast intelligence.His ultimate weapon is a glowing red dagger that he draws across his chest, enhancing his strength and constitution greatly.
Additionally, his attacks ignore the resistance of a barbarian’s rage as he fights unarmed. Skorn’s unarmed attacks however are no joke as he can multi-attack up to 4 times. If that isn’t bad enough, Skorn can choke creatures unconscious or paralyze them with a devastating backbreaker. Players will need a good defence and high constitution to stand a chance against this juggernaut. With their attacks meaningless and Skorn a tough adversary, there is only two outcomes: The party will die, or be wounded enough for him to escape (for he shows unexpected mercy and respect to them).
The next day sees them revived or healed by the village shaman who offers some insight. Skorn is the son of the Chieftain, who was deemed cursed when his powers manifested and left to rot. Skorn survived and sought revenge by forming his own clan and going after his father. Despite his tragedy, the Wolfpack have a sacred duty to avenge their chieftain and will be given one of 4 rituals each to improve their powers.
The Wolfpack will have a choice of the following each and two different players can pick the same one:
- Blood of the Wolf – Reduces your max HP by 5. Your attacks are now magical and your rage can now allow resistance to Skorn’s attacks.
- Blood of the Eagle – Reduces your Max HP by 10. Gains everything from BotW. You can cast 3 first level slots worth of Lesser Restoration or Healing Word (Wisdom Modifier).
- Blood of the Jaguar – Reduces your Max HP by 20. Gains everything from BotW. You gain +2 AC if not wearing medium/Heavy armour and gain advantage on Dexterity Saving Throws. You can also Action Surge once.
- Blood of the Bear – Reduces your Max HP by 25. Gains everything from BotW. Gain +3 AC if wearing no armour. You have +2 to Strength and Constitution and can polymorth into a brown bear once as an action
With their new found powers, the party will track down Skorn’s camp, kill his tribe and face the exiled son one last time to see who remains victorious.
This sounds pleasant– a nice little dinner date with a special person, right? Wrong! Your host isn’t who you expected and there’s a whole lot of pain coming your way. You could say there’s ‘no time to die’. For those experts of Greek Mythology, it’s time to bring in the trio themselves – The Sisters of Fate.
Under the guise of a trial, the Sisters have kidnapped the party who cannot recall anything. Tied to their chairs and enjoying a lovely banquet in front of them, Lady Present goes to ‘freshen up’; allowing the party a moment to escape. Finding themselves in a mansion, walking out the main door takes them to a strange location, or rather a strange time.
Welcome to the Past! Where Lady Past rules, here she will not take too kindly to her guests leaving abruptly. Fighting her until she dies, the party can enter a newly opened portal to take them to the present. Here, Lady Present catches them and the party must fight again. Victory takes them to the future, a place where Lady Future rules, the final sister that stands between them and freedom. This one shot is a gauntlet of powerful foes that will test your players.
Through their bloody battles, the party have earned the respect of the sisters, who reveal that their avatars were defeated. They will give the party a great boon – “a second chance”. It is then that the one-shot closes with a scene, to which the party awaken, covered in blood and in the presence of an Ancient Red Dragon. Take that M.Night Shyamalan.
Ah yes, sneaky little green things that want the precious. Whilst being a DM and controlling these creatures is fun, let’s see how the players handle it. As a party of Goblins, the players will find charisma difficult with their small bodies and hideous appearance. Luckily for them, most goblins care nothing for charisma – only mayhem. And what better way to mayhem than to start a heist?
The setting of the heist is completely up to you. It could be a standard western bank robbery, or something grander. For this, we would suggest sticking it to the nobility and infiltrating a party to find a rare gem. Stealth or loud, these goblins will have a blast of a time with pooping this party. As with all great heists, something tends to go wrong, and we reckon the gem is the best twist.
Set a trap, unleash a demon or teleport them to the guardian’s home – there are many ways the shiny-shiny can be used against them. Even if the party manage to sneak their way perfectly to the gem, they must earn it through another mean. Fun, chaotic and full of mayhem; we think this one works great from the seriousness of the campaign.
A unique one-shot that requires memory and a year of great moments with players. Do you remember what session one was? Did you have the party break out of prison? Did they find themselves in a cave of goblins? Good ol’ tavern scene? Well whatever the case, it’s time to re-enact that scene, but harder.
Two ways can go down with this idea: the first is that the players use their characters from that session. If that is the case, the players will find themselves in a dream world where they must retrace their steps without their notes. However, instead of the low CR creatures they fought, the world warps and glitches – presenting harder enemies and harder challenges. Using their memory, they must do their best to retrace their steps out of the dream world.
Should the players decide to use different characters, these new adventures will explore the dream world like before, but see visions. The visions will consist of unseen figures and garbled voices with out of context phrases. By the end, the visions appear clearly, a description of their old characters and the revelation of the first session.
Regardless of the choice, the DM should end with a heartfelt message from the dream world or visions. This message should be a reflection of the year, the friends they made from this campaign and a toast to yet another year of their adventures.