C: We recently did a one-shot campaign. We spoke briefly about it in our last sorcerer discussion, but I thought we could talk about it in a little more detail here! I ran it, you and some of our other regular players were in it, and we had someone who had never played table-top games much before join in as well.
A: He was incredible. His character was so good; he played an Oracle with the Time mystery and the Tongues curse, and it worked so well.
C: Yeah, he was great. And Time is a really fun mystery.
A: You added this flavour where all his spells sort of related to that. Like, when he cast Hold Person, it was as though the target was trapped in a time-loop and that’s why they couldn’t move. It was very cool
C: Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say! A lot of it was his idea, though, so I cannot take credit! But to return to the one-shot—I will say that I had previously run a one-shot, and it went kind of badly.
A: Oh. Why wasn’t I invited?
C: This was many years ago.
C: Actually I’m running a campaign currently over Skype with the three good, good boys who I ran that one-shot with. But the one I did with them wasn’t as cohesive as I wanted it to be. I guess it wasn’t bad—I think they had a good time, which is the most important thing in the end—but there was a lot which I didn’t account for or manage. This time, I think the story was pretty tight.
A: I didn’t really have an idea before going into the one-shot about what was going to happen in it. We knew it was set in the same world as the main campaign before we started, but I assumed that it would take place a couple of decades before.
C: Like during Gorhan’s Incursions and the Crisis?
A: Yeah. Like, same world, but very much separate from our current campaign. But you did this interesting thing where you properly tied it into the main story. There are events which Farrar and the rest of the main party have heard about, and we’ve been like, ‘Oh, Fairweather’s been razed by pirates? Well, that’s a shame for them. Anyway, let’s move on.’ But for the one-shot, we were in Fairweather. And there were pirates.
C: I don’t think you guys saw the exact twist coming.
A: No, I was really caught up in my own personal goals of: acquire wealth, and then acquire more wealth.
C: This was a very like—without making any actual allusions to what happens in the movies—in terms of how this relates to my main plot, this was like Rogue One to the original Star Wars trilogy.
A: I feel like it’s okay to give away spoilers to the Star Wars films.
C: Don’t spoil Episode V—I hear there’s a big twist but I’m still mad that Darth Vader killed Luke’s dad and I can’t wait to see how that works out.
C: But did you think the Fairweather plot worked?
A: Definitely. It hadn’t occurred to me previously that doing a one-shot that related to the main game would work. I’d kind of thought the point of a one-shot was to take a break from the main campaign. But actually it was really fun because it meant that we as players had enough meta-awareness to be like, ‘Okay, our characters know the current global situation.’ We didn’t need to waste the first hour being like, ‘The Redtide’s coming? What’s that?’ We were like, ‘Yep, the enemy army is coming. Let’s go.’ It was a really nice way of getting straight into the thick of it.
C: For a little while I felt silly setting something so close and so immediate to the main campaign. I thought, I have built this big world, wouldn’t it be better to give you guys a little bit of a mix-up? And that happened a bit—our campaign’s normally pretty landlocked, and a lot of this was by sea. But I was nervous that, because it was part of the main campaign’s backstory, you guys would feel like your actions were kind of pointless. But I hope that wasn’t the case.
A: I mean, my character’s en route to becoming a villain in the main campaign.
C: Admittedly true.
A: I can’t wait until Farrar meets Knoss. But no, I think it was a nice blend between having familiar elements in the plot, which helped us get into it and to know the stakes, and the new bits, such as going to sea, which was a fun little taster and changed things up.
C: Also, I should say, you guys and your actions in the one-shot actually did make ripple effects that will have an impact in the main campaign, so it wasn’t like it was completely pointless—
A: No, this is terrible because we kind of lost! We gave the pirate skull to the pirates because they fooled us with their deceptions!
C: But there were other things you guys did too—like kill an important pirate captain. That will have significance.
A: Oui, ’e was so ‘andsome. I weeshed to keess him. But the others keelled him. I am so sad.
C: I fear you may be permanently stuck as Knoss now.
A: Maybe. I shrug. She was so fun to play. But poor Riskell Jute the pirate captain, now deceased. And just so you know, that’s what I think his name was, and that’s how I’m spelling it.
C: And I’ll correct it. He was Riskall Youtt. You just want it to be ‘Jute’ because you like the Vikings.
A: My character was basically a Viking.
C: Also, back to thinking about what worked with the one-shot—I think it was a good introduction to D&D for the guy who had never played before.
A: Yeah, that’s true. We’ve had a couple of people have cameos in the main campaign, which is fun, but often the party is like, ‘We’re in this really edgy, gritty story right now. These people have murdered our families’ kind of a thing. It’s pretty dark for a one-time try-out of Pathfinder.
C: True; the one-shot allowed you guys to relax more, as players and characters.
A: And our backstories were way less intense. Our Paladin was literally like, ‘I used to live in a nunnery. I only ate porridge. Then I discovered other food. Now I fight justice but also travel the world so I can try culinary delights.’ And we had Cha’d the Elf Shifter-turning-into-a-frog, who was as gloriously insufferable as you would imagine that character to be.
C: Yeah; the party was a ton of fun, and the inter-party dynamics were great. You guys got to kick back a little, which was nice to see. Also, from a DMing point of view, a one-shot is great because you can turn off certain worries and elements about keeping the story going, and you can explore things you’re a little nervous about. It was fun testing ground. Like, this time I gave you guys a map that you could draw on to chart your course; that was really fun to try out.
A: And it let players try out classes they’d never played before. Those who don’t normally heal were suddenly like, ‘Ah healing, that’s a thing which one can do.’
C: And your character did not have healing for a change.
A: And for once nor did my character need it! I didn’t get injured the entire time. I just hid and got gold!