Roll and Play Press first came onto my radar through one of those social-media targeted ads (guess they do work) for their Game Master’s Fantasy Toolkit, a ridiculously useful and easy-to-use book that not only won an ENNIE Award but has also had ads featuring well-known gamers like Matt Mercer and Ginny D. In fact, a copy of that book lives in the DM case that I wheel out to our FLGS when I run sessions. When I heard that Roll and Play Press was about to release their newest product to the public post-Kickstarter, I knew I wanted in. That newest product is One-Shot Wonders, and I think it’s perfect for DMs both new and experienced.
What Is One-Shot Wonders?
One Shot-Wonders is a Dungeons & Dragons 5e-compatible companion full of what DMs call “one-shots”—mini-adventures intended to last for a single game night/session that might even have the potential to expand into something bigger depending on your players. One-shots are perfect for running demos at conventions or store events, letting an inspiring DM get their feet wet at being in the DM chair, or those evenings when you’re down a few too many players and you don’t want to continue your main questline. They can also be fun just because and give the DM a bit of a prep break when their life has just been too busy.
What Is in the Book?
The book has two main sections: the 100+ one-shots set in the 1-8th level range (although there are some intended for 9th level and higher), and a section of advice for DMs ranging from character creating, campaign building, and aspects of running sessions. I’ll break down each section in much more detail below.
Introduction and One-Shots
I’m trying to remember the last time there was an introduction section that worked so well and did such a nice job explaining how to make the book useful. Veteran DMs might not need that so much, but for new DMs who are sometimes pretty overwhelmed when they get started, it’s great. There’s an overview of the organization system they use as well as notes on making the encounter easier or harder depending on party size. There are also some notes on adjusting monster difficulty that are all explained just so very simply. The last area even has suggestions on which one-shots are good for new players, epic-combat-loving players, or diving into role-play. Want a secret twist? A dungeon? Short on time? There’s a curated list of which one-shots are best for each situation.
The one-shots themselves are divided into categories by geographic region:
- Out in the Cold
- On the Coast
- Under the Sun
- Into the Woods
- Up in the Hills
- Down Underground
- Around Town
- Legendary Adventures (Levels 9+)
Within each region, one-shots are sorted in order or level with several options for each level offering. One of the best things is everything you need is covered in just two pages. That’s it. Two pages. The information sections are broken down like this:
- Starting the Adventure: Your basic hook and beginning point.
- Important characters: Key NPCs and notes about them as well as which Monster Manual stats you would use for them.
- Quick Stats: A breakdown of the monsters including their AC, HP, and Initiative scores as well as Key Abilities. Full stats are found in your Monster Manual.
- Suggested Story: A series of events to occur through the adventure.
- Key Locations: These help you know what maps you might need to set up as well as have some additional notes that go along with the suggested story. Some one-shots do include maps, though.
- Secrets and Clues: Fun information bits that round out the story that players can discover.
- Quest Rewards: What are the prizes for the adventure? Here you go.
- Adventure Level: Notes the levels of the characters the adventure is designed for as well as suggestions for making it harder or easier depending on the number of players you have (these are designed for 4 players).
I love how these are set up and organized. I use Stat Trackers from Top Dog Games as well as the Big Books of Battle Maps from Loke, so I can go from those notes to pulling out stat cards and grabbing an appropriate-looking map for the occasion and being ready to go without a lot of fuss with beautiful speed. My players are kids, and sometimes I’m getting last-minute call-outs due to illnesses, etc. when I’ve already arrived at the store so this book lets me be prepared to make a quick change on zero warning.
Running Your Game
This is the DM advice section. It starts off with suggestions on how you can use these one-shots together to actually create a campaign world to play in. First off, there’s a map that includes cities, settlements, and landmarks. There’s also a flow chart for sessions that can be pieced together with one-shots as well as charts on which one-shots could be linked to create a narrative. Additional notes cover making characters, playing sessions, and running combat—very helpful for people where your entire group and DM are new to the game. Additional advice is given on topics like “Exploring the World,” “Traps and Hazards,” and “Riddles and Puzzles.” Those last two have some nice little guidelines that can be useful for all DMs and not just new ones including some pre-made riddles and trap damage based on character level. To round things out, there’s a final section on “Rewarding the Party” as well.
Why You Should Buy One-Shot Wonders
I would definitely put this book on your DM wish list. In fact, I know this was just released, but I want several volumes of this book and I would happily make a collection out of them. To start off the book is so beautifully organized, that I feel excited at getting to use it. The holidays are coming up, which creates a lot of attendance issues at the table, but now I have this book on hand and a feeling that it’s really going to be earning its case space. I say case space and not shelf space because this one needs to be in my goes-to-the-store book set that lives in my DM traveling case.
I’m a DM of one year, and I love how easy and non-intimidating this is to use. I know other DMs with more experience than me who would love this, and I already promised to let one of the other DMs at our FLGS take a peek at this. The adventures are fun, and there’s a great variety of themes and objectives, so everyone should be able to find something to run in this. I already know which one I’m going to start with too. While I do know the basics of running things at this point, those sections with information on traps and riddles really give some great ideas and break some suggestions down on trap damage versus character level in a really fast way. I also think if my younger kid (fourth grade) starts eyeing DMing, this could be a great resource for him. Honestly, this is one of the best books for the game that didn’t come from Wizards of the Coast and just proves why things like the OGL have helped to improve the game.
You can grab your copy from Roll and Play Press now with a PDF at $44.99, a hard copy at $54.99, or both for $64.99. No matter which you pick, you’ll have some really fun and easy-to-use stuff coming to your table.