Running my recent Call of Cthulhu one-shot at the local gaming store made me excited and motivated about running future one-shot games there. I really enjoy learning new systems and learning about new settings, and there are a lot of good games out there. Some of them are weighing down my bookshelves currently, and its almost impossible to get a regular group to try them all. Much as I prefer long, ongoing campaigns, I’m getting a better idea of how to run a good one-shot.
I’d still like to demo Laughing Pan’s Deleria, as mentioned previously.
I’d also like to demo Decipher’s Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game. Though they’ve since gone backrupt, I think this is probably the best iteration in the history of making RPG systems out of the Lord of the Rings (including ICE’s many books using the Rolemaster/MERP system and homebrews like the Song of Arda). I’m not saying its great – actually one thing I have in mind as I design and work on Epic is a system that could be adapted to Middle Earth.
I’m interested in trying out the CORE system, a.k.a. Chupa, developed by the guys at the Dragon’s Landing Inn. It looks like a rules-light system that could easily be adapted to a modern setting.
I keep being encouraged to run Ptolus. I think this is primarily because I won a drawing for the Ptolus book (which costs a pretty penny, though it is an excellent resource in every way) at a previous event at the game store where I ran an intro adventure for the new Ravenloft incarnation. I’m not really that interested in running d20 as a one-shot – too much time tends to be spent staring at a battle-map, and people who sign up for a d20 game tend to really enjoy battle-maps, whereas I find them a bit tedious. Sometimes its interesting to have lots of detailed tactical combat, but that isn’t generally the focus I want to have in a game. I might run Ptolus using some rules variants like Wounds and Vitality rather than Hit Points, or I could run the setting using GURPS rules, though that would be extremely work-intensive for relatively little result (at best, five hours of fun).
I’d love to run Vampire: The Masquerade (or, if I must, Vampire: The Requiem), but that’s another game that really lends itself to ongoing chronicles rather than one-shot games. Vampire is driven by character development and intrigue and story rather than action, which tends to be quick and brutal when it does come up. A one-shot Vampire game would almost feel like a story composed almost entirely of punctuation. I do really miss it though.
I did put all that work into a GURPS adaptation of the Eberron setting, so it would be fun to put it to use. Maybe it would even generate interest in others in GURPS, which is an awesome system, and Eberron, which is an awesome setting.
Though I am currently running a Mage: The Ascension game, I love the system and never tire of it. I could run a Sorcerer’s Crusade game that is a one-shot, as long as I put care into explaining and defining rotes for the PCs so those without a lot of knowledge of the Arete/Sphere system can participate and use magick.
I also worked up some adaptations of GURPS rules to Fantasy Flight’s Midnight setting, and it would be nice to put this to use. It is also something some of the guys at the shop are asking for now and then, which means I’d at least have some players.
Though I have my problems with the new World of Darkness system and setting, I would like to demo it and try it out. I’ve only used it for a short-run hunters game, and I could run something similar, with PCs made with the basic ‘mortal’ rules who have a monster of some sort to deal with. That makes a good one-shot – easily defined goal and whatnot, and players can decide whether they like the system at least, and get a little intro into the setting. The basic World of Darkness is much the same, but the backstories and origins of the various creatures therein (Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, etc.) have been made much less interesting. They also added awful things like Promethians – the nWoD’s Mummies. I have to give them credit, though, that they made Werewolf a playable game. That’s the one setting and system that was actually improved in its 4th edition incarnation, with a system that doesn’t demand min-maxing and exploitation or punish certain reasonable character creation decisions.
Finally, in a fit of nostalgia, I might want to run a game using the first system I ever used, Gary Gygax’s Mythus (aka Dangerous Journeys). It was the first “tri-stat” system that I’m aware of, and it also had a basic rules system and an advanced one in the same basic book, which is something modern games are doing as if they invented it. It has all of the usual Gygax obsession with charts and tables and complexity and randomness, but it is probably the most internally coherent setting and rule system he ever created. Much more so than D&D or AD&D, which are hodgepodges of a wide array of myths and legends and settings, such that their identity comes from their peculiar rules. In fact, it was written to address many of the perceived weaknesses of D&D, but ultimately met an untimely end. So it goes.