DnD one shots – the best one shot ideas and generators

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One of the best ways to introduce people to the wild worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, DnD one shot are individual adventures that can be completed in approximately one to three sessions. Like any good DnD adventure, a one shot includes a self-contained story arc, detailed locations, and NPCs that players can interact with. However, unlike an ongoing DnD campaign, a one shot requires no long-term commitment, so it can also be a good choice for DnD groups who find it difficult to organize regular sessions, or DnD Dungeon Masters at the looking for a shorter setup and lighter running commitments.

Being smaller, DnD one shots require fewer inputs behind and beyond the DM screen. These short adventures are a convenient way for players to try out different DnD classes and adventure themes.

As one shots are low stakes (no repercussions will carry over to future sessions, such as character death), they are also a fun way for DMs to play around with new DnD settings – such as the dreaded domains of Ravenloft or the cosmic plains of Spell Scrambler.

If you’re so inclined, they can be a great way to test your players’ mettle against your latest favorite DnD monster (or even nastier threats) with fewer consequences to plan for. This is part of the reason why menacing and particularly perilous dungeons like the legendary Tomb of Horrors work so well in the DnD one shot format.

DnD one shots guide - Wizards of the Coast artwork from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything showing a witch wearing a hat

So if you’re looking for a way to introduce Dungeons & Dragons to players new and old, or just fancy a distraction from your current campaign, launching your own DnD 5e one shot is the way to go. Whether you want to work with a pre-written DnD one shot adventure or generate your own one shots from scratch, there are plenty of options – so we’ve compiled this guide as your perfect starting point.

DnD one shots guide - Wizards of the Coast artwork showing an Illithid Nautiloid flying through space

Unique DnD Ideas

There are so many ways to make a DnD one shot, depending on the level of detail you want help with. For beginners, using a one-shot adventure from the official D&D Adventure Collections is a great way to start. Test your players with a dungeon from the Tales From the Yawning Portal collection; a pirate adventure from Ghosts of Saltmarsh; or one of the heartbreaking magical threads in Candlekeep Mysteries.

DnD one shots guide - Wizards of the Coast artwork showing a flying ship approaching a high-tech town in Eberron

More experienced DMs may want to choose a setting – such as Eberron’s Eternal War, the mythic plains of Magic: The Gathering, Mythic Odysseys of Theros, or the outer reaches of Spelljammer – and create their own unique adventure all in one. blow there. All of these books feature an introductory adventure to get you started in the world, which should lead to plenty of unique DnD ideas to work with.

Last, but not least, there is a range of free, purpose-written, official DnD one shots available online direct from DnD publisher Wizards of the Coast, such as the Horror Dungeon house of death (perfect for a one shot Halloween) or ice cream loaded mystery sick frozen.

DnD one shots guide - Wizards of the Coast artwork from Curse of Strahd, showing Count Strahd von Zarovitch in Barovia, Ravenloft

DnD one shot generator

If you’re looking to create your own one-shot adventure from scratch, there are plenty of DnD Single Shot Generators on line. One of the keys to building an engaging adventure yourself is to keep things as succinct as possible and set up conflicts and goals quickly. This could include tactics such as:

  • Use a DnD character creator to roll up all of your players’ character sheets well in advance
  • Start your one shot directly outside a dungeon
  • Spend as little “downtime” in the game as possible to get to know each other’s characters.

DnD one shots guide - Wizards of the Coast artwork from Ghosts of Saltmarsh showing a ship rocked by a storm, with adventurers battling a sea monster

This unofficial Random Adventure Generator Randomly generates unique DnD structures based on theme, plot, goals, story hooks, villains, and all the other parts of the structure you’ll need to set up a D&D one shot. Just refresh for a whole new adventure.

If you prefer a looser structure, try the D&D one shot generator at Generation of Chaos, which takes a looser approach. Finally, the Random adventure outline offers a more story-based approach, with less emphasis on plot hooks and dots, and more on narrative inspiration.

Meanwhile, if you’re armed with a full arsenal of DnD dice, Rand Roll offers free quick adventure tables for your unique DnD ideas. These work in the same vein as the tables seen in the official DnD 5E sourcebooks, in which many characters, events, and objectives are assigned numbers, and you roll to randomly determine what you select.

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