Loot Studios – RPG Campaigns vs. One-shot Adventures

RPG Campaigns vs. One-shot Adventures

How Different They Can Be and How to Choose the Right One for You

RPG campaigns vs. one-shot adventures, do you know which one you should be playing?

RPGs are a popular way of socializing with friends, family, and strangers. Be it at events, local game stores, or in the vast online world. Whether playing online or in person, it’s undeniable that RPGs can unite people and create everlasting bonds between players. In fact, playing RPGs can be beneficial for those who have social anxiety and depression. It also facilitates interactions with other people, and although it won’t solve any of these problems, it can tremendously help with them. Yes, it’s healthy to play RPGs! One of the many reasons why everyone should play it or give it a try.

There are many ways to start with this great game, depending on the system, the mood, the party, and whether it will be a full-length campaign or a one-shot adventure. RPG campaigns are usually longer and require some planning beforehand while one-shot adventures are faster and easier to run. Both can be either played online or in person and despite the similarities and benefits between them, playing long campaigns or short adventures can be totally different experiences. There are different advantages and disadvantages. RPG campaigns or one-shot adventures… How to choose it, then? Or when, and why? Let’s dive deeper to answer all of these questions!

RPG Campaign

Classic RPG campaigns are formed by a series of linked adventures, also known as quests, where players travel, interact, battle, and perform tasks to continue the main story. It is a game of roleplaying choices, which can have rippling effects throughout the campaign or even spread its consequences to other adventures. The story and all of its events are narrated by the DM, and these adventures are separated into play sessions, where players get together to continue where they last dropped the story. It can take up to several days, weeks, or even years to complete a campaign. That depends solemnly on how much time the DM and the players feel like investing in that story and those characters. As flexible as DMs can make it, these are the general pros and cons of running a full-length campaign.


  • High character development
  • Stronger bond with other players
  • Full of player’s choices and consequences


  • High-commitment game
  • Time-consuming to plan and run

The biggest pro of running a full-length campaign is the amount of fun that players can have with it, either by just enjoying the game and acting as their characters, or by the friends they’ll make along the way. Quite literally. RPGs are a great way to strengthen relationships with others who share the same interests or just like to fight monsters together. On the other side, the biggest con of running a full-length campaign is that RPGs are high-commitment games by nature (i.e. unless the party is wiped in less than 10 minutes). There are faster systems than others, but it’s fair to keep in mind that RPGs require a bit of patience, commitment, and matching schedules.

rpg campaigns vs. one-shot
Miniatures from Loot Studios’ Envious Tempest, that can be used for a longer RPG campaign or even for a one-shot adventure overseas.

One-shot Adventure

A one-shot adventure is a short RPG campaign that usually lasts only one session, which can take up to a couple of hours or a whole day. It’s meant to be a short experience by design, and it’s a great way to introduce newcomers to new RPG systems. These are self-contained stories that don’t branch into smaller adventures, nor influence others later. Usually, when a player’s character dies during a one-shot, their character is gone, and they won’t be able to participate in the story until the adventure ends. Despite being fairly different from one another, these are the general pros and cons of a one-shot adventure.


  • Low-commitment game
  • Beginner friendly
  • Great to test out new RPG systems
  • Easy to find ready-to-play adventures


  • Low character development
  • Character’s death usually takes a player out of the game
  • Self-contained choices and consequences

The biggest pro of a one-shot adventure is, by far, how easy it is to set it up and run it, and how it serves as a good trial for testing new RPG systems. There is also a book category called CYOA (choose-your-own-adventure) which mimics classic RPG systems and allows players to run solo one-shot adventures without the need of a party or a DM. Certainly a unique advantage to this mode. On the other side, the biggest con of a one-shot is how little character development there is in running a single adventure.

Final Thoughts

Playing one way doesn’t exclude the other, and, in fact, players can run one-shots on their own while waiting for the next campaign session. Be it from a classic RPG adventure or a CYOA book. Find new one-shots in Drive-Thru RPG, which can also help with Choosing Your Tabletop RPG Dice System, or browse for some complementary books to inspire on creating a custom campaign. The rules are simple: keep curious, explore the realms, and have fun.

Loot Studios can help you tell your story. Choose your favorite bundle from our previous releases or sign up for Fantasy or Sci-Fi to receive a new bundle every month. You can also check out some tips at our YouTube Channel.

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