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5e One-Shot: pared down play for getting started quickly

Last time I ran an adventure at the local library, I was delighted to find that one of my players was an octogenarian who knew nothing about D&D but was rarin' to go. What could be better than introducing the game to someone like this?


It caused a real disconnect with the other players. Spending time bringing her up to speed was time where the others were twiddling their thumbs.

It doesn't need to be like that. At its core, D&D 5e isn't all that different than those simple Arnesonian systems. The mechanic you need to know is:

  1. Roll a d20.
  2. Higher is better.
  3. Your character sheet might give you bonuses to add to this roll.
You should be able to start playing with just that. Damage rolls and hit dice and whatnot can be explained when they become relevant.


The character sheet. It's full of a lot of information that takes a bit of experience to get your head around. In this case we were using pre-gens that, unfortunately, also had great slabs of character background, turning the sheet into a wall of text. It took too long to navigate.

So, here's a quick character generation system (even quicker than the last one) that creates simple, broad characters for one-shot play. And they're compatible with 5e adventures, provided your referee has an ounce of flexibility.

EDIT: If you're interested in checking out 5e One-Shot, please let me direct you to the most recent edition: 5e One-Shot v.2!


It results in characters that look like this:

Ianto the Alluring
Doctor +2
CHA +4
DEX +2
Fighter +2
AC 20
HP 16
Long Sword +2
Longbow +4
Companion: Tujjar the Squire

Rosamund the Clever
Herbalist +2
INT +4
CON +2
Wizard +2
AC 10
HP 8
Spell Save 14
Dagger +2
Ray of Frost +6
Spells: Silent Image, Grease, Sleep

Fredegonde the Stout
Beggar +2
STR +4
INT +2
Jack-of-All-Trades +2
Armor 12
HP 8
Rapier +6
Short Bow +2

What do you think? Would you be at all interested in playing a session of this? 


  1. Oh, but this is *very* well done. Would you mind terribly if I steal this in case I ever get to introduce new players again?

    1. PLEEEEEASE steal it! I'd love to hear if you have a chance to use it!

  2. This is great design work! I especially like the companions for characters with a primary or secondary Charisma bonus.

    1. Thanks! I think I stole that from Swords & Wizardry Light.

  3. Tiny typo at step 6: "Finsihing" instead of "Finishing"

  4. This is excellent stuff, and produces more interesting characters than the vanilla ruleset IMO. And it's super-easy to tweak the tables for a particular campaign world.

    1. Thanks! I like making the full 5e characters, but they do have a tendency to run along the same grooves. These quick characters tend to be quirkier, and satisfying in a completely different way.

      And, yeah, while making some changes to the document, it occurred to me how easy it would be to make sub-genre or campaign specific variations of this system. I should think about making up a few and posting them.


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