Are you looking for a D&D one shot that can be run in a single session instead of over weeks or years?
Not every Dungeons & Dragons game has to be part of an epic saga. In fact, many these days are not. Whether it’s a special event at a game shop, a convention, or even a holiday gathering, a D&D one shot adventure might be the perfect fit. Basically, they’re Dungeons & Dragons short stories.
With that in mind, let’s get to some of the best D&D one shots that money can’t buy. Each and every one is totally and entirely free.
1. Grammy’s Country Apple Pie
It might sound crazy, but Grammy’s Country Apple Pie is my favorite one shot available for D&D 5e. Read that introduction and you’ll see why! It’s a wizard who wants you to recover an apple pie recipe! Why? Because he wants some pie! It’s great.
I’ve run this module a few times, and each time with a different result. In one, it was wanton slaughter of goblins, in another a player hosted a race-relations summit between goblins and humans in a village nearby, and in yet another, the party took over the bakery, hired the goblins, and began working on an international apple pie empire. It’s great.
The one-shot itself is free and put out by Wizards of the Coast, but if you want to support the creator, you can also buy it on DMs Guild for a buck and get a hand-drawn map to run the encounter with on a VTT as well as some pretty cool pre-generated characters. I also made my own map for the adventure using Dungeon Alchemist which you can see below. Just click the image to open the full-size map.
If you end up running this free D&D one shot, let me know. I need to know how your party handles things.
2. Wild Sheep Chase
Another silly D&D one shot that you can nab for free is Wild Sheep Chase. If you’re not a fan of silly D&D, you may want to skip this one, but if you are…there’s no way this description won’t have you hooked immediately.
Adventure, danger and a decent dose of downright weirdness erupt when the party’s attempt to grab a rare afternoon of downtime is interrupted by a frantic sheep equipped with a Scroll of Speak to Animals. Soon they are dragged into a magical grudge match that will test their strength, courage and willingness to endure extremely baa’d puns.
Will our heroes be able to overcome a band of transmuted assassins on the hunt for a mutton dinner and fend off an extremely bitter ex-apprentice packing a dangerously unstable magic item? There’s only one way to find out…
Wild Sheep Chase should be possible to run in a single session of 3-6 hours. The designers put this one together really well. Plus, the download includes all the maps you need to do it in person or on a VTT. Plus, it’s one of the few adventures I’ve seen that is pretty much written to be used out of the box. You shouldn’t have to spend a long time prepping to run Wild Sheep Chase. It’s totally worth the price.
3. Ice Road Trackers
This one is a free 5e one shot, for sure. But you can choose to purchase this one on DMs Guild to support the site. (Which is very worth it, IMO, as it’s a fantastic resource.) That said, you can nab the PDF for free directly from Wizards of the Coast.
A trek toward Icewind Dale turns deadly when an avalanche blocks the heroes’ passage through the Spine of the World. Rescued by a menagerie of strange creatures, the heroes are asked to return the favor in exchange for answers about what’s happening in the cold and frozen North.
There are three really cool things (heh, heh, puns) about Ice Road Trackers. The first is that it introduces players to Icewind Dale and can directly tie the party into the Rime of the Frostmaiden hardcover. You can run this one in the Adventurers League organized play if that’s how your local game shop does things. And finally, you can do it in a single 4-hour session or across 4 one-hour sessions. That’s pretty unique among any modules.
4. Frozen Sick (D&D Beyond, Roll20)
Frozen Sick is a little different because it’s available for free on D&D Beyond and on Roll20. It’s based in Exandria, the world of the hugely popular Critical Role, which means that you may either love this or hate this because of that alone.
But, even if you’re not a fan of the show, I think you should absolutely give Frozen Sick a shot (a…one shot? hah!). You will find a fully fleshed-out setting, intriguing hooks, well-paced encounters, and strong narrative.
As I said, you should also be able to access Frozen Sick for free on Roll20 just by making an account, which means you get full access to tokens, maps, and everything you need to run it without having to prep it and set it up manually. Obviously, you need to read it and prep a bit. But you won’t have to set up the VTT for your party, and that’s worth its weight in gold. Or maybe even platinum.
Heck, I’ve used the Frozen Sick module in Roll20 a few times as a base for sessions. Without even touching the story. The tokens, maps, and different monster stats are great to pull into games as miscellaneous content.
5. Claus for Concern
Okay, so this is me being shameless. But bear with me. In late 2020, things were awful in my life (and the rest of the world, admittedly) and part of what I did to cope with that was to write up a fun, silly, D&D one-shot for Christmas. I put it up for free on DMs Guild, and it turns out that people really enjoyed it, and the reviews and ratings seem to indicate that it really is a good, fun, one-shot.
So, yes, I am being both shameless and biased on this one, but I’m very proud to have a one-shot that has nearly 10,000 downloads, with ratings and reviews that hold up to anything else on this list. So yeah, download Claus for Concern, and I bet you’ll have a great time trying to save Santa from Eldara the Christmas Witch.
And if you’re really into holiday-themed adventures, I wrote a fantastic Halloween one shot called The Liching Hour that will definitely make your spooky season a little more fun. Enjoy!
What Are Your Favorite Free D&D One Shots?
These are just a handful of the amazing free D&D one shots you will find out there. So that brings me to asking you…what are some of your favorite D&D one shots? Have you run something special that you want to share? Let me know in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter!
Are you looking for the best D&D for beginners that isn’t a one-shot? We review “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” which might be just what you’re looking for. And don’t miss what we think are the most amazing D&D titles on DMs Guild overall.
Based on this post, I ran Grammy’s Country Apple Pie with six kids and three adults. (We changed pies to Banana Cream for my 9yo’s birthday and the orchard to a banana plantation, but everything else was the same.) My party started at the loading dock and lured the patrolling goblins out to the woods where they ambushed them and killed all of them except the three in the office. Once they got in, they were free to explore everything and had no problems dispatching the office goblins, too. They didn’t negotiate because they had made friends with the dryads and promised them they would rid the bakery of goblins. Super fun, ran 2.5 hours, thanks for the recc!
I am so glad it went well! I don’t think I’ve ever had a party who actually made friends with the dryads, so I’m glad to hear it can happen, lol
We had our regular DM get called in to work and I had to come up with something to fill in on less than 24 hours notice. I’ve already run all my regular go-to one shots with this group so had to frantically scrounge something together. Queue Grammy’s Country Apple Pie! They negotiated with the Goblins just long enough to find the recipe then reneged and bailed, leaving the poor Gobos with nothing. 2.5 hours to complete and they completely forgot that they had left the shop strong box sitting on the counter when they left….. Will definitely add to my library of fun, casual one shots.
Hey, at least they didn’t wantonly slaughter the goblins!
Hey, just wondering if the stuff on Roll20 is printable etc? I haven’t used it before and I am due to DM for the first time, but we will be playing face to face.
I am looking to run Frozen Sick.
Thanks in advance for the help.
On Roll20, I don’t think so, unfortunately. I would expect the best you could get for that physically would be screenshot printing or copy/pasting the text from modules. 🙁 They don’t let you download it all as a single document, either–I’ve tried. Same for Fantasy Grounds, if you ever go that route.
Did Grammy’s as a one-shot for when a player was missing for a key sea voyage.
My 3 players (lvl 4) ended up training the goblins in basic hygiene and how to make pie. They also recruited the wizard’s great grandniece to run the place after and she would get a cut of the gold from the goblins.
It ended up being really cute and a lot of fun — a nice break between exploring a jungle and heading out for an intense sea voyage!
I adore the idea of teaching goblins basic hygiene. That just made my day.
my wife just ran this one for Family D&D night, we negotiated with the gobbos in good faith once we got there, we searched and found , shared the recipe with the gobbos, and taught them how to work with the equipment gave the wizard just the recipe and hunted down Grammy’s surviving family that had fled and gave them back the original book (mended) to help them get back on their feet,
That sounds fantastic! I love that y’all helped the family business. Warms my heart. 😀
Me and my friends ran wild sheep chase and my friend was obsessed with punching sheepo and I accidentally turned him into a gibbering mother. Whoops!
Hahaha! I wholeheartedly approve of that as the consequence for punching sweet lil sheep. In fact, I might steal it. 😉
Oh and our barbarian died from pinching himself
In granny’s apple pie story, I added an apple tree dragon (like the bed dragon) that turned out to be granny because of a botched deal with a warlock to make her pies better. My player was super interested as to why there was an apple tree wyrmling that scared all the monsters away after he got the recipe. It was fun to add splinters as foreshadowing as well!
I ran Grammy’s twice over the past month to introduce two separate groups to their first taste of D&D. Just the most fun ever. Every person loved it, and I had so much fun running it two separate times with two totally different adventures.
Highlights include someone impulsively climbing Mac and getting the chaos that followed, and the party trying to trap a Magmin in an oven.
I am looking for a one-shot to DM publicly (for non-family). THANK YOU for Claus for Concern. I did that for my wife’s family and it was my first time running a game. Everyone had fun.
Hey BJ, so thrilled to find this post as my gaming group just finished Claus for Concern a couple of days back and had such a blast! (Although our characters all decided to retire from adventuring and are living in Santa’s study now.) You should totally be proud of that module, it is so well balanced in terms of story, combat and problem-solving. Congratulations and thank you so much for creating that adventure, you rock 🙂