This one-shot assumes that the PCs are working with

on on on on on.
Tag / d&d5e.
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So, continuing on from reviews of and , here’s D&D’s latest setting sourcebook.
Theros, apparently, is a setting from Magic: The Gathering that’s a Mythic Greece style fantasy.
I’ve written here before about how good this setting is for fantasy (see my review of Agon ), so it’s interesting to see how Wizards have transplanted this to D&D.
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Continuing a series which began with , and continued with (with a short interlude adapting ), here’s another 1st level one-shot for D&D5e.
This one is a bit grimmer and darker than the others, as befits the subject matter, and isn’t recommended for younger players like the previous two.
There’s zombies, blood-sucking, and egg-laying flying beasts with proboscis in this one.
Oh, and the plural of stirge is “stirge,” I’ve just decided.
Apologies to any adventurers who assume this means the tower only contains one of the beasties.
In terms of structure, this was heavily modelled on Johnn Four’s model, which is a really good way to structure linear encounters for play (there’s probably a follow-up post on that.
If you want a map for the tower, Dyson Logos’ is ideal.
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First, a disclaimer.
My reviews aren’t thorough, and I don’t review things I don’t like – there’s enough negativity around.
That’s not to say that I like everything – just, if I’m not a fan, I don’t see the point of telling the internet.
But if something is good, I like to share why and how it’s good, and give a feel for how it could be used in one-shot games.
And Eberron is bloody good.
If you’re after more complete reviews, I can recommend Pookie’s site – and there are many other review sites a google search will find you.
is D&D’s latest setting – although it’s not brand new to 5th edition.
First emerging in the 3rd Edition era, it was an attempt to design a world from the ground up – it arrives completely free of old-timey weirdness in the way, say, Forgotten Realms has Elminster everywhere, and Greyhawk is full of dungeons and places called Geoff.
It’s pulp, and steampunk-pulp, and is actually designed for exciting adventures… the whole world feels like it sits on a knife-edge, as if brave heroes could actually make a difference.
And as with most D&D5 supplements, there are a lot of tables, and plenty of maps.
The move towards sourcebooks as inspiration-dumps is great, and Eberron, like before it, demonstrates this brilliantly.
Even where it becomes more of a traditional setting gazetteer (describing the districts and buildings of Sharn, for example) the information is presented with usability considered – there are lists of important buildings, rather than long sections of prose describing daily life.
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I’ve spent the best part of the summer running D&D5e for (relative) newcomers to the hobby.
I’m at the point where I’m probably going to take a breather and look to my shelves for some other games to prep one-shots of now, but I’ve learned a few more things that are worth sharing since the that started it all.
So, here goes: This is what a table for 12 D&D players looks like I’ve mentioned , but having the lets you avoid juggling a monster manual and you can show them the art on the back.
I have run a few times (with my adapted notes ), but I also found by Gary Whicker to be an excellent first level adventure – a good mixture of dungeoneering, role-play, and interesting action scenes.
It’s a long time since I’ve run it, but is a fun little one-shot too that I posted up on here.
Come to think of it, it still sees a lot of traffic, so I’m planning to put some more 1st-level one-shots on here as I write them.
But for now, I need a break from D&D – you can have too much of a good thing after all.
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In my last post, I talked about running a one-shot for six complete newcomers using an extended/modified version of Dyson Logos’ one-sheet dungeon.
I added some stuff to it, mainly to give a bit of an introduction to the core mechanics (with a straightforward battle against some bandits) and a chance for a bit of out-of-dungeon roleplaying (by interacting in the town before venturing to the dungeon).

The PCs can make their way to the Kalil Slave Pits and explore Goblin Gully as per the

Additional notes for each location are below.
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, I told everyone they should be running D&D5e one-shots.
, I shared some of my techniques for pregens, as well as some actual pregens.
In the next few posts, I’m going to actually talk about what techniques and tricks I use to make D&D5e one-shots sing, starting with the start of the session.
For this post, I’m assuming that you’re running for players who have played D&D or another tabletop RPG before – my next post will be about players who are completely brand new.
I usually turn up with a selection of my own pregens, a few extras from the excellent website, and let them pick.
Running D&D, of course, that you might well have players who really know the system – so if they want to adapt or change stuff from a pregen, they can usually just go ahead and do it.
This does mean that you can often have a fairly disparate band of PCs at the start of the session.
I’m blogged about using charged questions to help bring groups together, but I’ve recently started using , and these have worked really well to not only tie a group together but also tie them to the setting.
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After my on the why of running D&D one-shots, I’m now going to start on the how.
My next post will be about prep and play at the table, but I’m going to focus on one aspect of prep today: the pregens.
I’ve blogged about making successful pregens for a one-shot, but this is just about my D&D approach.
I don’t use these for one-shots.
Instead, I do a shared party set-up similar to the one I talked about to give them a shared history as a group and some emergent backstory – more on that in my next post.
I just find that they run a little deep for what will come out in a one-shot – it’s better to give the PCs links to things and events they will actually encounter, .

Whether that be their fellow PCs or important parts of the adventure

These are my 2nd level pregens, which I used to run Maryska Connolly’s excellent Lai of the Sea Hag from.
Some of them use races from Volo’s, just because I realised I’d not used it yet, but there should be enough information on the sheets to use them without.
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Unless your local area has a flourishing, and welcoming, D&D Adventurers League, I’d counter this that there aren’t all that many people running D&D One-Shots.
There are lots of D&D Campaigns going on, but even a quick review of Adventurer’s League shows that the vast majority of adventures featured are designed to be slotted into an ongoing campaign.
As previously discussed, the one-shot format (and ideally the ) is an easier way for newcomers to access the hobby.
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Obviously, this isn’t quite game-ready, but I’d argue it’s a significant improvement on the standard adventure already.
All it needs is a re-arranging into order and a few stats and names, and it’s a pretty serviceable one-shot.
Watch this space and I might even do that – after all, I did try and chisel a decent one-shot out of another classic/corny adventure plot, April 27, 2019April 27, 2019 Ravnica Airship Heist – a 3rd level D&D One-Shot.
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In my review of the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, I talked about it’s amazing steampunky setting – and it made me think immediately of an airship heist.
Well, I went ahead and designed one, and have run it twice now – once at Go Play Leeds and once at the excellent Airecon convention in Harrogate.
Airship by Jonny Gray It’s presented in fairly loose note form below (and here as a .pdf) – and in this post I’ve got links to the pregens that I used for it.
You can probably get an idea about how I tend to run D&D5e from it – there’s no maps, for instance, and in particular the part of the one-shot where the PCs have to source flying mounts is left intentionally vague.
In both occasions of running it, the Goblin player has decided instead to have his own experimental flying machine.
Let me know any feedback – particularly if you run it, or part of it.
Ravnica Airship Heist.

(An Azorius Senate Ravnica One-Shot for five 3rd level PCs) Background

There’s one airship out of the Tenth District that you need to get to; it’s got Lady Saves on it, a wanted Simic Combine ‘disappearer’ who is wanted for multiple Guildpact violations.
She’s gone into deep hiding, but you know she’s still in the Tenth District, and you’re going to capture her.
She knows the Azorius are on to her, though, and has made plans.
After exhausting a number of avenues, she has kidnapped Izzet league goblin inventor Grizmalgun and forced him to steal and pilot an airship for her.
With this, she will flee to the faraway Sixth District and start her experiments again.
This one-shot assumes that the PCs are working with, or allied to, the Azorius Senate, and begins at the finale of their investigations into her practices.
The adventure begins at the finale of their investigations into her – they have tracked her down to her laboratory on the edge of Zonot Seven, in Precinct Five of the Tenth District.
Her crimes – kidnapping, experimentation without consent – are so foul that even the Simic Combine has stopped defending her, and so the Azorius have a warrant for her arrest.
With each PC.

Ask why they are dedicated to finding Lady Saves – what has she done to them

their Guild or their family.
Let them know the terms of the warrant – it applies within the Tenth District, and so it is imperative that they don’t let her escape.
Then ask them which PC they have worked with before – what case they worked on, and what they thought of them.
Lady Saves is a cruel, heartless Simic biomancer who seeks only to further her own glory by a series of increasingly dangerous experiments.
She appears as a beautiful, if otherworldly, woman, and has a thin pair of butterfly wings that are usually kept folded and hidden behind her back.
Likewise, if she needs it, a pair of concealed tentacles can emerge from her body.
Grizmalgun is a scatterbrained and disorganised goblin inventor who usually works in the harnessing of elemental powers.
He has worked many times on maintaining the Tenth District’s airships, and so is in a prime position to steal one.

While he has no time for Lady Saves

the chance to actually fly one of his creations has made him relatively sympathetic to her cause – and the chance to start again in the Sixth District also appeals, as he has a long list of debts from previous experiments.
Scene 1 – Dawn Raid on Growth Chamber Alpha-3.
The PCs enter the Growth Chamber to find it apparently deserted – there are two greenish pools in front of them, beyond which a desk of apparatus and notes lies in disarray.
Another doorway leads to some abandoned living quarters All through the room is the thick smell of acid which stings the eyes.
Within the pools, two Category 1 Krasis (p210 GGR) (both with the Acidic Skin power) lie ready to attacl the PCs.

They will try to wait until the PCs have started to investigate the desk

trapping them in the chamber, but if anyone tries to explore the pools they will attack.
A thorough search of the chamber reveals – A detailed plan for airship piloting, which has had several notes left in it.
A list of Izzet league contacts – with notes next to them, each crossed out.
Only one, Grizmalgun, a goblin airship inventor, remains.
A guide book to the Sixth District, far across Ravnica.

If Lady Saves makes it to the Sixth District

she will be well away from her crimes here – even the Guildpact takes a long time to enforce, and she belongs in your jurisdiction.
They can follow up the leads Airships.
Research about airships shows that they are likely to be from the Airpship Station at the centre of Tenth District.
They are slow but easily obtained with the right contacts, and asking around will reveal that there are unscrupulous Izzet Leaguers who are prepared to bypass security and wards and help people get them.
Scene Two – Grizmalgun’s Workshop.
Grizmalgun is long gone, but Lady Saves’ Simic allies have left traps just in case somebody tries to come after him.
A Hybrid Shocker and two Hybrid Spies (GGR p218) are hidden in the alleyways around the workshop – test the Spys’ stealth of +5 against the PC’s Passive Perception to see if they are detected, unless they search the outside thoroughly.
Upon entry, the Workshop is a two-story affair – you can use the map on p145 of GGR for it – but much of the walkways around the ground level above the generator have been removed or destroyed.
A tripwire near entry triggers the first (mechanical) trap – the lower level begins to flood with water.
Whoever enters first must make a DC15 Perception to spot the tripwire, followed by a DC15 Acrobatics to avoid being tipped into the lower level for 1d6 damage and to be within the water.
The lower level will fill up within two rounds, and then begin to flood the ground floor.
There is a cut-off switch on the far side of the basement floor – from which the water floods – which can be reached and turned off with a DC10 Athletics check.
When the trap is triggered.

Or when the PCs enter the workshop without it triggering

the Simic will attack.
The Shocker can target everyone in the water with their Shocking Touch attack or Electrified Body reaction.
Upon questioning the Simic, .

They can reveal that Lady Saves is long gone – she is already on board the airship

Similarly, a thorough search of the workshop finds evidence of a fight – and calculations for a flight path and route.
Checking the wind speeds and timings, the airship is already airborne – there is no time to lose to catch it.
Scene Three – Airborne Steeds.
They need to use their contacts to get hold of either Griffins or Skyjek Rocs to ride onto the Airship, if they want to try and attack aerially.
If any of the group have Izzet league contacts, they may be able to find their own Airships.
Allow the players to make whatever plans they have for this – a skill check is only needed if you want to determine who has the best-maintained Griffin and who has a grimy beakless nag.
(optional) Scene Four – Aerial Battle.
If you have time (allow about an hour for the final confrontation), .

Have the PCs encounter some interference on their way to the fight

Three Harpies (MM p181)have been bribed by Lady Saves to run interference in case they are followed.
An appropriate Animal Handling check can make their Rocs or Griffins sing, which will counteract the Luring Song of the Harpies.
As all combatants are mounted, feel free to use – or not use – the Mounted Combat rules, depending on your table preferences.
Scene Five – Airship Heist.
On board the airship, there are Lady Saves – stats as a Cult Fanatic (MM p345 – but with a Flight speed of 40ft if she needs it), a Krasis Stage 1 (with Flight – p210 GGR), and Four Simic Thugs (MM p350).
There’s also a very frightened-looking Grizmalgun (stats as Counterflux Blastseeker, p242 GGR) who is chained to a cage at the front of the Airship.
He can be persuaded to help with an appropriate social skill, and joins in on the PCs side.
This can be a difficult battle – particularly if anyone falls off their mounts – but the PCs have access to Grizmalgun, and also their Rocs / Griffons to help that they should be able to make use of.
Scene Six – Airship Crash!.
As the battle rages, the Airship begins to pitch and toss, and if the fight is going against her, Lady Saves is likely to pull the bomb mechanism that Grizmalgun has installed and cut the cables.
The mechanisms within the airship begin to whirr and the airship begins to lose altitude.
To level it out and crash-land the airship will take a series of skill checks.
They need to get to 4 (same as no.

Of PCs) successes before they reach 3 failures

using a range of skills (generally DC is 10) Use Dexterity (Thieve’s Tools) to repair the rigging.
Use Intelligence (Arcana) to repair the air elemental holding wards.
Use Strength (Athletics) to climb onto the rigging and hold it in place.
Use Charisma (Persuasion) to get Grizmalgun to help – once the bomb goes off he is very keen on observing the carnage instead of helping.
…and so on.
With success, the ship crashes gently into a Rubble Pit – and with it come a group of Gruul.
Judicious use of social skills, and explaining Lady Saves’ crimes, should enable them to get out successfully, and they can bring her to justice.
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