FITD One Shot Scenarios

I’ve read Stras’s excellent article on how to run Blades one shots. I’ve checked out Sean Nittner’s selection of quick start scores. I’ve even run a few Blades one shots myself to relative success.

But I’m looking to improve my FITD one shots, even in the face of the fact that Blades seems to work much better as a campaign system than a one shot system. I’m looking to run more con games, and I’ve been running so much FITD recently, I’d like to bring my familiarity with it to those sessions.

To be clear, I do not feel like I need advice on mechanically or practically how to do this. I think Stras’s article is very smart, and it backs up and supplements my own experience in cutting down the rules for one shot play. I’ve also run enough con games before to know how to practically prepare.

I am interested in whether anyone else has thoughts, advice, or experience on how to start off a one shot narratively. I’ve had mixed success with Sean’s quick start scenarios: I’ve had 2/4 one shots starting with one of them where we ended up with a great score and a great session, and 2/4 where we just couldn’t quite figure out what it is the PCs were or wanted to be doing.

So: for those of you who’ve run one shots, where do you start? How much do you pre-define of the PCs, the score, the situation, etc? I can imagine starting with an event (like the Doskvol Riots of 847) or a specific score (Lord Strangford approaches you about robbing a train) or with nothing at all and letting the players decide. What’s worked and what hasn’t for you? If you have started with anything, what was it, and why did you choose to start with that?

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When I start out with new players I don’t even open the book until they’ve answered a simple question, “When I say X (sci-fi, fantasy, victorian era, etc) what interests you about that media?” If they don’t immediately know anything about the genre or story that’s relevant to the game, then I’ll give them a few touch stones. Once I have those, then I open the book and make some recommendations, and encourage them that there is no wrong answer. It always seems to help. Also, know character generation inside and out. Be their advocate in case they need one.

You, the GM, Must know what the central Conflict, Clock, and Crucible are, and how to present these elements to your players narratively.

  • Conflict: This is the central intention of the main character, the obstacle preventing that intention’s realization, and the tactic that will ultimately be used to overcome the obstacle. In this case, the intention will be whatever the “employer” npc wants, the obstacle will be the “mark”, and the tactic will be determined (in this case) by the crew playbook and what they’re good at (don’t ask a bunch of smugglers to assassinate someone, vigilantes to terrorize a church, etc), unless they’re more veteran players (in which case do throw them a curve ball).
  • Clock: You do not have all day to play, nor assume that there’ll be a second session, nor do the scoundrels have infinite time to resolve the conflict. If they do not resolve it successfully by the time the clock runs out, you need to have a list of consequences that will unfold, both for them, the employer, the mark, and for society at large. Keep the pressure on them.
  • Crucible: you need to not only hook the scoundrels into the adventure, but you need to make them invest in it so much that they don’t want to run away. Ripley could not run away from the alien, Jaws is eating the boat, etc. You get the picture.

Once you’ve got that, you’ll need a scene where the players are introduced to the employer, two to three sub-conflict scenes (again, you’ll need a conflict, clock, and crucible for each), a show down scene with the central conflict’s obstacle, a hand-off where you get paid, and then do downtime and fallout and all that.

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