The Five-Shot Revolver Campaign

So here is the situation. You have a group of players, but they have lives, busy ones. That means that they don’t make every gaming session, assuming that the sessions themselves happen regularly, and they don’t. So bottom line, you have an inconsistent cast of characters and a inconsistent linear story.

That’s been my situation since I left college, including the last nine years. And especially the last six months with my current gaming group. And I’ve been thinking about how to handle that situation, and following the encounter with the gaming store and the one-shot campaign, I got an idea. I’m calling it the five shot revolver campaign.

Here’s the core concept: five one-shot adventures, connected by a thread. For those dropping in and out, they enjoy a fun romp each time. For those participating in most, if not all events, there’s a story that unfolds. But the story isn’t linear, just connected.

So hypothetically, a player could drop in for a single session, have a good adventure, and then that’s it. Or you could play all five and feel like you were in a campaign, not just a series of unconnected one shots. There’s a way the GM would have to structure the games to make it specifically work, and that’s the real learning curve here.

So I’ve been brainstorming how all this might work, and I’d like to outline my process here, with the eventual goal of presenting to you, the half-dozen people who read this blog who are not Russian robots for gambling sites, the final product. Let’s see how it goes.

Thoughts and feedback always appreciated.


  1. There’s world building here unless you’re running modules. Recurring locations and NPCs would really help keep things consistent and make returning players feel like they’re dropping back into the story. With 5 adventures they wouldn’t necessarily level up but if they want to keep the characters for the next round it might start to be a balance issue.

    It’s an interesting concept for how to handle the varying schedules of players. I’ll be following as time allows to see how you develop it.

  2. Especially given the example you provided, this seems like a good concept (and, as someone who has trouble consistently making it to a set day/time for gaming, but would like to do more), I think that this is a style I would like to play in. It would take off the pressure of either needing to always be there or needing to be brought up to speed every time (or having the DM drop my character through a convenient portable plot hole when I need to miss a session).

    Have you given your players a link to the blog? It doesn’t seem like you’re posting many spoilers here (other than perhaps your sample if you actually are planning to run it). If not, is it worth sending them a link to this post for feedback?

    • Previously I’ve run two different groups, one with friends and another for a local group of college kids. The “home game” was recently turned over to one of the players who wanted to run Lord of the Rings, but he is having a lot of difficulty getting a schedule that works for everyone. The other game is similarly plagued with schedule issues, and I haven’t run a game with them for months. Both of those experiences have gotten me thinking about this adventure/campaign design.

  3. Run a sandbox? Rather than having a epic adventure that you follow, you have a setting with a home base. The players who are present have to do with the problem/item of interest that week. Aim to finish/return to base each session.
    You may need to look at ‘curating’ your gaming group and assemble one that has a schedule that works and people can commit to. We went to a every 2 weeks schedule on a set day of the week. It seems to work better, and people make more of an effort to actually make the game day (or they don’t play for a month).

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