Ever feel like you need a break from Dungeons & Dragons? No offense to the big name in TTRPGs, but sometimes the thought of playing out another dramatic roleplay reveal or facing the 10th turn of a map-spanning combat encounter can feel daunting. Not just that, but there’s always the ever-present threat of scheduling conflicts. What happens when everyone is gathered but the cleric suddenly texts that she needs to cover a last-minute work shift? Sure, the DM could say she got lost in the fey forest, but she just happens to be carrying the all-important plot item!
Fortunately for you, the world of tabletop gaming goes beyond dungeons, dragons, and hours-long combat. Certain “one-and-done” games throw you into brand new settings with simple rules and opportunities to flex your creative muscles. One might ask you to shape a new world from a few sentences, while another has you plan an elaborate heist with the limitation that you’re a freakin’ bear. Be silly, be strategic, or be a bear–be whatever you want for one night.
To show you just how easy-to-learn and fun these games are, some of our best StartPlaying GMs are running a slew of “One and Fun” sessions. You can also just check these games out on Roll20 yourself. Some don’t even need a GM! Here are 20 hilarious, bizarre, and downright wild one and done tabletop games.
This single-player game puts you in the cockpit of a mecha. Your mission is to play out the events of a full 24-episode anime season starring the mecha’s pilot, the Protagonist. Oh, and save the galaxy or whatever. You decide the story by journaling through it, with handouts throwing ideas and impossible obstacles your way. Plot Armor is a great way to develop characters and practice creative writing.
Dramatic small claims courtroom action, but with ghosts! Ghost Court is a hilarious party game where players take turns as defendant, plaintiff, officers, jury, and the poor judge who presides over petty lawsuits between the living and the dead. Cases only last a few minutes and there’s no limit on group size, making this a great game for any game night.
Try a game of Ghost Court with Startplaying today!
A classic for those who grew up watching Buffy or Supernatural. Players create a team of monster hunters based on archetypes like the spellcaster or teen wolf. The monsters you’re faced with often can’t be beaten with brute force, instead the players need to solve mysteries to discover the evil’s true nature. This makes for a great standalone TTRPG or a long-form campaign featuring a, well, monster of the week.
Find a GM running Monster of the Week here!
Those who love games like the Sims or Civilization should enjoy Dialect. This game has 3-5 players working together to develop a community and then chart its course using their language. The evolution of language shows how the community changes, and it doesn’t always go in the direction you’d expect. This thoughtful game is a great way to test and improve a group’s creative chemistry.
The fun thing about indie games is that they let you use all sorts of things that aren’t dice to determine outcomes. Dread makes use of Jenga. Your character is trapped in a typical horror movie scenario–lost in space, trapped in the woods at camp, or at the mercy of a masked killer. As you get out, you’ll be faced with decisions that are resolved by pulling blocks from the Jenga tower. And you can guess what happens when the tower falls…
Find out if you can make it out alive by trying a Dread one-shot!
Let’s say that the usual D&D night is canceled but you still want some juicy roleplay. For the Queen serves that need and them some. A group of 2-6 players can choose a queen from a beautiful deck of cards or create their own. Then, more cards prompt everyone to decide how their character feels about their queen and the kingdom around them. In the end, the queen is attacked. When all cards are on the table, do you defend the queen?
Defend your queen in a StartPlaying one-shot!
A lot of the games listed here are contemplative experiences where you delve into the meaning of humanity and community. Fiasco, though, is all about you and some friends being a collective hot mess. Based on the likes of Butch & Sundance or Thelma & Louise, players tell the story of ordinary people who deal with the never-ending consequences of crimes gone wrong.
Get yourself into a fiasco with one of our upcoming one-shots!
Magic words are a funny thing. Some fiction writers make pains to craft a new language from scratch. Others just throw in some Latin words and call it a day. In Spoken Magic, 1-4 players will combine their words to make up new magic. Such power comes with great responsibility, as the saying goes, and the group will find that their word choices carry meaning in the end.
When you’re aiming to totally forget the TTRPG story for a week and play a silly card game, Trash Pandas is a good choice. This fast, frenzied game encourages you to press your luck with more and more die rolls. Each roll is a chance to get more trash in your collection for the final tally, but bust a roll and you lose everything. Trash Pandas is appropriate for all ages.
If you like immersive, story-driven games like Life is Strange or Firewatch, you need to try Alice is Missing. As the name implies, the goal is to find Alice, a high school student who mysteriously disappeared in a small town. The catch: you can’t talk to each other. For 90 minutes, you can only use group and private text to work through every character’s relation to Alice and find her before it’s too late.
See if you can find Alice in a one-shot mystery session!
In map-builder The Quiet Year, players take charge of a post-apocalyptic community one year before a deadly winter comes. The group will draw 52 cards to represent the weeks of the year, with each card bringing a new surprise. The goal is to prepare the community for winter as best you can. Not only is this game a great one-off, it could also be incorporated into your TTRPG campaign as a timeskip or base building minigame.
Live out a Quiet Year with one of our sessions!
Here it is: the bear game. Honey Heist has one sheet of rules for players and one for the GM. It’s extremely easy to pick up, and ridiculously silly. Your group of hardened criminal bears is set to undertake the greatest heist of all time. But all of you have your own quirks, and also you’re bears trying to break into the predominantly human HoneyCon. The GM is encouraged to constantly add wild twists, and complicating things more is the ever-present danger that you’ll see honey and go into a bear frenzy.
Start a beginner-friendly session of Honey Heist today!
Hey GMs, take a break from worldbuilding and let the part do it instead! In Travelogue, the group draws maps to build a new world. Then, they give it detail by making postcards and brochures advertising their new creation. This chill game can be used to flesh out the setting of your modern campaign. It could even be used for a sci-fi campaign–imagine what alien tourism ads look like!
This game can take your campaign down a dark path with lasting impact. The adventuring party comes across a remote village on the brink of winter. A series of dire events leaves the people with little food, dwindling firewood, and an outbreak of fever. The unfortunate villagers leave their fate in the players’ hands. How the party manages their limited resources decides what’s left of the village after winter sweeps through the land. Dark Winter’s design allows it to be its own one-off game, but even its description notes how well it fits as an in-between chapter for a fantasy campaign.
Live out the dark winter with a 5e-inspired session of Dark Night!
Many TTRPGs make you the hero, but what happens to all those NPCs you leave in the wake of all your muderhoboing? Companions’ Tale has you tell the story of a hero from the perspective of those left behind. The thing is, everyone has a different version of the story based on how they knew the hero. This storytelling game lets a group build the map and legend of the hero’s world, and could even serve as inspiration for a whole campaign once you’re done.
Here’s a game to pull out for a group that enjoys Jackbox. MonsDRAWsity puts you in the role of a paranormal investigator who must sketch a new monster on the loose. The problem is, the witnesses are describing it from memory. Players take turns drawing and describing monsters in 3 minute rounds, leading to fast-paced chaos and lots of laughs. This is also one of the more family-friendly games on this list.
You’ve got superpowers in the age of swing, gangsters, and tommy guns. What do you do with them? In Capers, you can use your abilities to help the law put criminals behind bars or start your own rum-running empire. Capers uses cards instead of dice, and plays out with a group of up to 6 players over 2-3 hours.
Take on a Caper today!
This unique horror experience asks you to light ten small candles for both atmosphere and a countdown to the game’s end. The game takes place in a world without sun, where creatures stalk survivors in the darkness. When all the candles go out, every player character dies. There is no way to “win” Ten Candles in the traditional sense. The meaning comes from finding the best way to spend your character’s final hours.
Light the candles and try this unique experience with a one-shot!
Mazes is perfect for when you want the “beer and pretzels” session of a frills-free dungeon crawl. It boasts rules that only take 5 minutes to learn, putting the focus on exploring, discovering treasure, and getting into danger.
Enter the Maze for a test of your mettle!
When only two players are available, break out One Last Chance. Cards, dice, and prompts are used to build two characters in a lifelong rivalry. As you and another player detail the events of this relationship, a final confrontation reaches its boiling point. That brings you to the last chance–what happens when the pair gets to the end of their rivalry? Will one of you destroy the other, or can peace be reached? No two rivalries end the same, giving One Last Chance a surprising amount of replay value for the price.