DnD One Shot Ideas – A Complete 5e Guide for Beginners

DnD one shot ideas are short, self-contained adventures that can be completed in a single session of gameplay.

They can be a great way to introduce new players to the game, as well as provide a fun and low-pressure experience for more experienced players who want to try out new characters or playstyles.

One-shots can also be a good option for groups that can’t commit to a longer campaign or want to take a break from their ongoing story.

As a Dungeon Master, there are some key differences to keep in mind when running a one-shot versus a longer campaign. For example, you’ll need to create a story that can be resolved within a few hours of play, rather than one that unfolds over multiple sessions.

You’ll also likely want to provide pre-generated characters for players, as creating characters can take a significant amount of time and may not be practical for a one-shot game.

To ensure your one-shot is successful, it’s important to keep the story concise and engaging, with clear objectives and interesting challenges.

You’ll want to make sure the players have a clear understanding of what they need to do and why it matters, while also allowing room for creativity and improvisation.

Setting DnD One Shot Ideas in 5e

Setting DnD one shot ideas refer to short, self-contained adventures that take place in a particular setting, such as a haunted castle, a pirate ship, or a magical forest.

Designers create these one-shot adventures for completion in a single gaming session, providing players with an opportunity to explore different settings and scenarios without committing to a long-term campaign.

Below are some brief setting ideas for a one-shot adventure in Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

Fantasy City Under Siege by an Undead Army

The once-thriving fantasy city of Aradale is under relentless siege by an army of undead. The players, a group of valiant heroes, are tasked with defending the city and discovering the source of the undead menace.

Fantasy City Under Siege by an Undead Army

They must navigate the streets, rally the city’s defenses, and venture into the heart of darkness to put an end to the undead scourge.


Aradale is a magnificent city nestled in a picturesque valley. The city features towering spires, bustling marketplaces, and elegant architecture. However, it now bears the scars of war, with broken walls, shattered buildings, and a sense of despair.


  1. The Arrival: The players witness the initial onslaught of undead forces breaching the city’s defenses, unleashing chaos upon Aradale. They must quickly react, aiding civilians and helping to repel the undead horde.
  2. The Council’s Plea: The city’s leaders summon the players to a council meeting, desperate for their assistance. They reveal that the undead army is led by a powerful necromancer known as Malakar, who seeks to bring eternal darkness to the realm.
  3. Fortifying the City: The players are tasked with organizing the city’s defenses, repairing barricades, and distributing resources to soldiers and citizens. They must also gather intelligence on the enemy’s movements and strengths.
  4. Dangerous Excursions: To weaken the undead forces, the players embark on daring missions outside the city walls. They might infiltrate a necromancer’s lair to gather information or recover a sacred artifact to use against Malakar.
  5. The Final Confrontation: The players, armed with knowledge and resources, lead an assault on Malakar’s stronghold. They face waves of undead minions, perilous traps, and dark magic before confronting the necromancer in an epic battle to save Aradale.

Encounter Ideas

  • Defending the city gates against a relentless onslaught of undead creatures.
  • Navigating treacherous underground tunnels infested with undead abominations.
  • Negotiating with rival factions within the city to secure their aid against the undead army.
  • Discovering a hidden temple where the undead is being raised and desecrating it.
  • Battling a fearsome undead dragon that serves as Malakar’s pet and guardian.
  • Confronting Malakar himself, a powerful spellcaster who can raise fallen enemies as undead minions.

Desert Oasis with Hidden Treasures and Deadly Traps

This one-shot adventure takes place in a vast desert, where the players stumble upon a lush oasis rumored to contain hidden treasures. The players must explore the oasis and uncover its secrets while avoiding deadly traps and dangerous creatures.

The oasis is a beautiful sight, with crystal-clear waters, palm trees, and a large central temple that looks ancient and mysterious.

As the players explore the oasis, they face a variety of challenges, including navigating through a maze of sand dunes and palm trees, avoiding traps that trigger spikes or boulders, and fighting off giant scorpions or other desert creatures.

The players must complete their objectives, which include finding and deciphering clues to the location of treasure caches, unlocking hidden chambers in the temple, and defeating guardians that protect the treasures.

Throughout the adventure, the players encounter a variety of NPCs, including other treasure hunters, rival factions or tribes that also seek the treasure and wise sages who hold key knowledge to unlocking the secrets of the oasis.

Each NPC has a distinct personality and backstory to make them feel like real characters.

The adventure culminates in a final showdown where the players must face the biggest and most deadly traps and creatures of the oasis to uncover the final treasure and complete their objectives.

The DM can also set up potential hooks for future adventures, such as exploring other oases or discovering the true nature of the ancient temple.

Haunted Mansion with a Dark Secret

The players are hired by a wealthy noble to investigate a haunted mansion that has been abandoned for many years. The noble believes that there may be valuable treasures hidden within the mansion, but the ghosts and other supernatural forces that haunt the place make it too dangerous for him to investigate himself.


The adventure takes place in a sprawling, old mansion that has fallen into disrepair. The mansion is located on the outskirts of a small town, and the locals are afraid to go near it.

Haunted Mansion with a Dark Secret


The players must investigate the mansion and uncover the secrets that lie within it. They must avoid or defeat the various ghosts, undead creatures, and other supernatural forces that haunt the mansion.

Along the way, they may discover valuable treasures or clues to the mansion’s dark past.

Underwater Adventure in a Sunken Temple

This one-shot adventure takes place in an underwater temple that has been sunken for centuries. The players must explore the temple and its surrounding waters while facing challenges such as dangerous sea creatures, underwater puzzles, and limited oxygen.

Ancient traps and guardians guard the temple, which is filled with treasures and secrets, in tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

The adventure culminates in a final battle against the temple’s ultimate protector, where the players must use their wits and skills to emerge victorious.

A Journey to the Center of a Labyrinthine Dungeon

A Journey to the Center of a Labyrinthine Dungeon in DnD One Shot Ideas

This one-shot adventure takes the players on a journey to the center of a labyrinthine dungeon filled with traps, puzzles, and deadly creatures.

The players must navigate through the twisting corridors, using their skills and wits to overcome the various challenges that await them. Along the way, they will encounter dangerous monsters, hidden treasures, and mysterious artifacts that may aid them in their quest.

The players’ abilities will be tested to the limit in the dungeon filled with secret passageways, hidden chambers, and deadly traps in tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

The adventure culminates in a final battle against the dungeon’s ultimate protector, where the players must use all their knowledge and skills to emerge victorious and claim the dungeon’s ultimate prize.

Some Pitfalls to Note

When planning or playing a one-shot, there are some pitfalls to keep in mind. Firstly, the fear of time constraints can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that one-shots are designed to be completed in a single session.

Plan the adventure with a clear idea of how long it will take, and don’t be afraid to adjust as necessary during play. Secondly, the attitude of “Who cares, it’s just a one-shot” can lead to a lack of investment in the story and characters, resulting in a less enjoyable experience.

Encourage players to get invested in their characters and the world around them, even if it’s only for a single session.

Finally, the big “uhhh” moments, where players or the DM are unsure of what to do next, can bring the game to a screeching halt. 

To keep the game flowing smoothly, it is crucial to plan for multiple paths and outcomes and to be ready to improvise as needed in tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Please be proactive in your decision-making and be ready to provide guidance if needed, as players should be encouraged.

Character Ideas

Character ideas refer to the concepts or descriptions of characters that can be used in storytelling or role-playing games. These DnD one shot ideas can include the character’s race, class, backstory, personality traits, goals, and motivations.

They can serve as a starting point for developing more detailed and nuanced characters for a story or game.

Human Fighter Seeking Revenge Against a Necromancer Who Killed Their Family

The human fighter’s desire for revenge against the necromancer who killed their family consumes them. They may have trained their whole life to become a formidable warrior and seek to use their skills to exact vengeance.

Character Ideas

The fighter may struggle with their anger and need for revenge, often acting recklessly or without caution. They may also have a strong sense of justice and seek to protect others from suffering the same fate as their family.

Ultimately, the fighter’s quest for revenge may lead them down a dark path, testing their resolve and morality.

Half-Elf Bard on a Quest to Find Their Missing Mentor

The half-elf bard is on a quest to find their missing mentor, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As a bard, they possess a wide range of talents, from musical prowess to cunning wit, and use these skills to gather information and uncover clues.

The bard may encounter various obstacles along the way, such as dangerous creatures, treacherous terrain, or hostile individuals who seek to prevent them from uncovering the truth.

Throughout their journey, the bard may struggle with feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty, wondering if they are truly capable of finding their mentor.

Ultimately, their quest may lead them to unexpected revelations about their mentor and themselves.

Dwarf Cleric Searching for a Lost Artifact of Their Deity

The dwarf cleric is on a quest to find a lost artifact of their deity, which has been missing for centuries. As a cleric, they possess divine magic and a deep faith in their deity, which drives them to complete their mission.

The dwarf may face challenges along the way, such as navigating treacherous terrain or battling foes who seek to claim the artifact for themselves.

As they journey, the dwarves may also encounter individuals who test their faith or challenge their beliefs, forcing them to confront difficult questions about the nature of their deity and their place in the world.

Ultimately, the dwarf’s search for the lost artifact may lead them to discover secrets about their deity and the history of their faith.

Tiefling Rogue Hired to Steal a Powerful Magical Artifact

A mysterious employer has hired the Tiefling rogue to steal a powerful magical artifact. As a rogue, they possess skills in stealth, deception, and agility, which they use to bypass traps and guards to reach their target.

The rogue may face challenges during the heist, such as unexpected security measures or rival thieves who seek to steal the artifact for themselves.

During their mission, the rogue may uncover the employer’s motives and the true nature of the artifact they were hired to steal.

Ultimately, the rogue’s success or failure in the mission may have consequences beyond their control, affecting the lives of many in the world.

Gnome Wizard with a Love of Experimentation and a Knack for Blowing Things Up

The Gnome wizard is a master of experimental magic and has a love for blowing things up. They possess an insatiable curiosity and a desire to push the limits of what is possible with magic.

As they experiment, they may create unexpected and explosive results, causing chaos and destruction wherever they go. Despite this, the gnome may be well-intentioned, seeking to use their talents to benefit others or solve complex problems.

The gnome may also face challenges along the way, such as accidents caused by their experimentation or backlash from those who fear their unpredictable magic.

Ultimately, the gnome’s love for experimentation may lead them to discoveries that change the course of magic and the world itself.

Plot Ideas

Plot ideas are story concepts or scenarios that serve as the foundation for a narrative, whether it be in a book, movie, or game.

In tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, plot ideas play a crucial role in advancing the narrative by providing players with specific objectives or goals to accomplish.

These DnD one shot ideas can be anything from simple tasks like delivering a package to more complex challenges like stopping a nefarious plot to take over a kingdom.

The plot ideas often involve challenges, conflicts, and obstacles that the players must overcome, providing opportunities for exciting gameplay and character development. Below are some plot ideas for tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons:

Retrieve an Important Item from a Heavily Guarded Fortress

The players must retrieve a valuable and important item from a heavily guarded fortress in this plot idea. Traps, guards, and other obstacles will fill the fortress, making the mission difficult and dangerous.

The players need to plan carefully and use their skills and abilities to bypass or overcome the obstacles in their path. The rewards for success could be great, but the consequences of failure could be dire.

Retrieve an Important Item from a Heavily Guarded Fortress

The players may need to gather information, form a plan of attack, and use their skills and abilities to sneak, fight, or otherwise overcome the challenges in their way.

Success in this mission could lead to great rewards, while failure could have dire consequences.

Protect a Town from a Raiding Party of Orcs

The players have the task of protecting a town from a raiding party of orcs. The orcs are threatening to attack the town and cause destruction and chaos, and the players are the only ones who can stop them.

The players must use their combat skills and strategic thinking to defend the town and its people, possibly by fortifying defenses, gathering allies, and engaging in combat.

The orcs may have a leader or powerful magical weapon that makes the battle even more challenging.

Success in this mission could save the town and earn the players the gratitude and rewards of its citizens, while failure could lead to the destruction of the town and the loss of innocent lives.

Investigate a Series of Disappearances in a Small Village

The players must investigate a series of disappearances in a small village. The villagers are worried and scared because people have been disappearing without a trace, and no one knows what is happening to them.

The players must gather clues, interview witnesses, and possibly explore nearby areas to figure out what is happening and who or what is responsible.

The investigation may lead them to uncover dark secrets about the village and its inhabitants, and possibly even confront dangerous creatures or cults.

Success in this mission could restore peace and safety to the village, while failure could lead to more disappearances or even harm to the players themselves.

Stop a Cult from Summoning a Demon

The plot tasks the players with stopping a cult from summoning a powerful demon. The cult has been gathering in secret, and their goal is to bring forth a being of immense power to do their bidding.

The players must gather information about the cult, their rituals, and their members, and possibly infiltrate their ranks to learn more.

Stop a Cult from Summoning a Demon DnD One Shot Ideas

In tabletop roleplaying games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, players must find a way to disrupt the cult’s plans and prevent the summoning of the demon. They may accomplish this by destroying the cult’s ritual site or by locating and destroying a crucial component of the ritual.

As they progress, the players may encounter resistance from the cult’s influential leaders and their followers, and even confront the demon in case of a partial summoning.

Success in this mission could save countless lives and prevent chaos and destruction, while failure could lead to a reign of terror under the demon’s control.

Escort a Vip Through a Dangerous Area

Someone hires the players to escort an important person or VIP through a dangerous area filled with various obstacles and enemies. The VIP could be a merchant, a diplomat, a member of royalty, or anyone of importance.

The journey could take them through a dangerous wilderness, across enemy territory, or through a city filled with rival factions. Along the way, the players would need to protect the VIP from ambushes, assassins, and other threats.

The players would also need to make sure the VIP arrives safely at their destination, as the consequences of failure could be dire. This plot idea can involve a lot of action and intrigue, as the players navigate through dangerous situations and try to keep the VIP safe.

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