20 D&D One-Shot Ideas

Detailed D&D One-Shot Ideas

Ever get that itch to slay some monsters or solve a mystery but don’t have weeks (or months!) to spare?

D&D one-shots are for you!

These adventures are like the mini-golf of D&D – all the fun packed into a single night.

In this post, we are about to explore uncharted lands, fight epic battles, and unravel crazy secrets… all in one awesome evening.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be legendary!

D&D One Shot Ideas

  1. The Festival of Lights
    • Setting: A coastal town celebrating its annual Festival of Lights, where lanterns are set afloat to honor the spirits of the sea.
    • Plot: As the celebrations are in full swing, a group of water spirits, angered by a disturbance in their realm, crash the festivities, causing chaos. The players must uncover the reason behind the spirits’ anger, which is tied to a greedy merchant using forbidden magic to plunder sea treasures.
    • Resolution: Players must locate the forbidden treasure and return it, all the while negotiating or battling with the vengeful water spirits.

  2. Clockwork Catastrophe
    • Setting: A grand clock tower known as the Chrono Spire, which regulates time in a bustling city.
    • Plot: The clock starts acting erratically, causing temporal distortions – days passing in minutes, or moments stretching for hours. The players are hired or pulled into the chaos to investigate. Inside the tower, they find clockwork creatures and puzzles tied to different periods of time.
    • Resolution: At the tower’s peak, they discover a mischievous fae being trying to harness the power of the clock. Players must either bargain with or defeat the fae to restore time’s flow.

  3. Wildwood Silence
    • Setting: An ancient forest known for its mystical properties, inhabited by sentient animals and fey creatures.
    • Plot: Trees and creatures are falling into unexplained slumbers. At the forest’s heart, players discover a dreamcatcher artifact absorbing the forest’s essence. Guarding it is a former druid now turned into a nightmare creature.
    • Resolution: The party must either sever the druid’s connection to the dreamcatcher or find a way to restore their original self.

  4. The Gilded Gladiator Games
    • Setting: A grand Coliseum in a city obsessed with combat sports, where magical enhancements on gladiators are allowed.
    • Plot: Gladiators are going missing. Players can be participants or investigators. They discover that a necromancer in the service of a disgraced noble is using the games to harvest strong souls to power an undead army.
    • Resolution: Players must confront the necromancer in a grand showdown, with the possibility of the entire Coliseum turning into a massive battleground.

  5. Echoes of Aria
    • Setting: A mountaintop monastery known for its otherworldly choir.
    • Plot: The choir’s voices can heal or harm, depending on the chants. Recently, their melodies have only been causing pain. The players arrive, either seeking the choir’s aid or answering a distress call. They find spectral apparitions replaying a tragedy tied to the head monk’s past.
    • Resolution: Unravel the tragedy, confront the spirit causing the disruption, and restore the choir’s harmonious power.

  6. The Mirrored Mansion
    • Setting: An opulent mansion atop a cliff, known to appear only once every decade.
    • Plot: Locals dare each other to enter, but none return. The party, intrigued, enters and finds that mirrors throughout the mansion trap souls, creating doppelgängers that try to take over the real world. The mansion’s lord is a vain ghost, trying to assemble the perfect party of guests.
    • Resolution: To escape, players must either shatter the cursed mirrors, confront their own doppelgängers, or appease the ghostly lord.

  7. Descent into Emberhold
    • Setting: An ancient, fiery chasm believed to be a passage to the elemental plane of fire.
    • Plot: Nearby towns are suffering from extreme heat and fire-based creatures rampaging. The party is hired/compelled to investigate. Inside the chasm, they find Emberhold, a citadel of Salamanders, who’ve been riled up by a stolen artifact from their leader.
    • Resolution: Recover the artifact from a cunning thief using the chaos as a diversion, and negotiate a truce with the Salamanders.

  8. Bane of the Barrowmoor
    • Setting: Expansive, fog-covered moors rumored to be haunted.
    • Plot: Villages are plagued by undead at night. In the heart of the moors, players discover burial mounds where restless spirits arise. They’ve been disturbed by grave robbers working for a necromancer.
    • Resolution: Players must confront the necromancer, put the restless spirits to peace, and recover stolen relics to return to the mounds.

  9. The Starfall Chronicles
    • Setting: A remote village under a perpetual starry sky, where a star has recently fallen.
    • Plot: This star is said to grant a single wish when the stars align. Factions converge on the village, seeking the star. The village’s ancient guardian, a Celestial being, seeks the party’s aid to protect the star.
    • Resolution: Players can choose to ally with a faction, protect the village, or claim the wish for themselves, culminating in a massive confrontation under the cosmic event.

  10. Carnival of Shadows
    • Setting: A magical traveling carnival that appears overnight.
    • Plot: The carnival offers delights and wonders but has a dark secret. By dawn, some visitors transform into the carnival’s attractions, trapped by the carnival’s ringmaster – a trickster fey. The party gets involved when a friend or a notable figure gets trapped.
    • Resolution: Navigate the carnival’s enchantments, face off against its magical performers, and outwit the fey ringmaster to free the trapped souls.

  11. Frozen Echoes
    • Setting: A remote mountain village, shrouded in an unseasonal blizzard.
    • Plot: The village, once bustling, is now silent with its residents mysteriously frozen in place amidst their daily routines. As the party investigates, they encounter icy phantoms replaying the village’s final moments. The cause: a powerful artifact in the hands of a mourning widow attempting to rewind time and prevent a tragedy.
    • Resolution: The party must confront the widow, dispelling the icy magic and deciding the fate of the artifact.

  12. The Amber Enclave
    • Setting: A sunken city, now half-submerged in a vast swamp, glimmering with amber lights.
    • Plot: The city’s amber lanterns are believed to have the power to trap and preserve moments in time. When a historian goes missing during an expedition, the party is called to find him. They discover the lanterns hold more than light – each one contains trapped souls, including the historian.
    • Resolution: Navigate the treacherous swamp, solve the city’s puzzles, and decide whether to use or destroy the lanterns.

  13. Library of the Lost
    • Setting: A sprawling, extradimensional library said to contain every book ever written.
    • Plot: A prominent author disappears after receiving a mysterious invitation to the library. The party, following clues or being hired, finds a portal to the library. Inside, they face challenges tied to literary genres (e.g., a detective mystery, a horror scenario, etc.) and discover that certain stories can become all too real.
    • Resolution: Rescue the author and other trapped souls, while contending with the sentient library that wants to add their stories to its collection.

  14. Masks of the Masquerade
    • Setting: A grand masquerade ball in a lavish palace, attended by the region’s elite.
    • Plot: As midnight approaches, some guests begin acting out of character, adopting entirely new personas. A cursed mask, worn by an unknown guest, is transferring souls between bodies. The party must figure out who is wearing the mask and how to reverse the effects.
    • Resolution: Engage in social deduction, navigate the complex politics of the ball, and restore the swapped souls before dawn.

  15. The Wandering Isle
    • Setting: A mystical island that appears once every seven years, known for its treasures and dangers.
    • Plot: Legends speak of the island’s guardian, a giant sea serpent, and its treasures protected by elemental challenges. When the island emerges, the party lands ashore, only to find the guardian serpent wounded and the island’s elemental balance in chaos.
    • Resolution: Heal or ally with the serpent, navigate the elemental trials to restore balance, and decide the fate of the island’s treasures.

  16. The Astral Menagerie
    • Setting: A massive silver and crystal ark floating in the Astral Plane.
    • Plot: A reclusive Archmage’s menagerie, home to unique and endangered creatures from various planes, sends out a distress call. Creatures are escaping their enclosures due to a malfunctioning planar anchor.
    • Resolution: Players must repair the anchor, dealing with creatures both friendly and hostile, and discover why it failed (perhaps sabotage by a rival or a vengeful creature).

  17. Vineheart Ruins
    • Setting: Ancient ruins, overtaken by an ever-growing labyrinth of thorns and vines.
    • Plot: The heart of the ruins holds the Everbloom Rose, a flower said to cure any ailment. The party must navigate the maze, contending with plant-based creatures and puzzles linked to the cycles of growth and decay.
    • Resolution: Upon reaching the Everbloom Rose, players discover it’s guarded by a Dryad Queen, who they can choose to reason with, assist, or confront.

  18. The Celestial Conjunction
    • Setting: A remote observatory atop a jagged mountain.
    • Plot: Once every millennium, stars align to open a portal to a celestial realm. The party is there to witness it, but so are cultists seeking to harness this event to bring a dark entity to the material plane.
    • Resolution: Players must defend the observatory, use or dismantle the portal, and decide how to handle the celestial energies at play.

  19. Echoes of the Sandsea
    • Setting: A vast desert, known for its mirages and ancient buried cities.
    • Plot: Travelers speak of an oasis city appearing at the desert’s heart, where time stands still and spirits of the past walk. The party explores, finding an ethereal city where they interact with memories of a lost civilization and confront a sorrowful Djinn responsible for the phenomenon.
    • Resolution: Help the Djinn find closure, learn the city’s history, and decide whether to preserve or dispel the oasis city.

  20. Vault of the Windwalker
    • Setting: A floating citadel above the clouds, anchored by massive chains to distant mountains.
    • Plot: An Aarakocra elder, guardian of the citadel, has gone mad, unleashing tempests upon the lands below. The party ascends to the citadel, confronting aerial challenges, puzzles tied to the elements of air and storm, and creatures swayed by the elder’s madness.
    • Resolution: Restore the elder’s sanity, potentially with the aid of a powerful artifact or ritual, and decide the fate of the citadel’s powers.