Dungeons And Dragons: How To Create The Perfect One Shot

6. Cutting Room Floor

Dungeon Master
Wizards of the Coast

One of the most precarious situations a dungeon master can place themselves in is becoming too attached to singular ideas within a narrative. Recognizing what works and what doesn't in your story is one thing, but recognizing what is essential is quite another.

DMs can be endless fonts of ideas and concepts, which normally can fuel a good D&D game for months on end. In the context of a one-shot, however, that very trait can come back to bite them. It's often said that the one thing a dungeon master cannot prepare for is their characters. That's going to be especially true in a one-shot, when players are using all-new characters, who may have thought processes or idiosyncrasies the DM had no way to prepare for.

Being a good dungeon master means coming to the table prepared for an adventure. But being a great dungeon master is being able to look at the clock, determining if everything you've planned will fit within the time constraints, and making on-the-fly decisions to cut nonessential content.

If done well, players will never know that they're missing out on anything and enjoy a seamless adventure from start-to-finish.


A former Army vet who kept his sanity running D&D games for his Soldiers. I'll have a bit of D&D, pro wrestling, narrative-driven video games, and 80's horror movies, please and thank you.