Back in November, one of my players asked me to run a one-shot campaign for her son and his wife, as one of them always DMs, and they’ve never both played in the same game. I asked them what they wanted and they said that they would like “to have a one-shot with high-level characters, like level 15 or so, and possibly mostly a dungeon crawl with puzzles and games and things.”
I’d never run a session for higher than level 7, so after first thinking about writing my own session I decided I should buy and run a module from an expert. After checking out some different modules on DMs Guild, I bought Crypt of the Death Giants by Robert Adducci (@Raddu76).
I did add one puzzle, designed to make it easier for me to DM. I added a beacon that would store and retransmit the spells used against it against the party; that way I didn’t have to anticipate everything they might do to pose a more challenging encounter. They eventually figured it out! The beacon was because I wanted to work in this great sculpture my daughter had made. (I kept it in the car until they explored this far.)
One advantage of Forgotten Realms for a one-shot is that everyone knows a little about it – so in telling their backstories, for instance, my friend’s son mentioned his character had come from Waterdeep and had studied giant lore (as luck would have it he had just finished Storm King’s Thunder).
We had a party of five, and I liked the module’s early environmental attacks to wear them down. Lifting a tip I picked up from Reddit, I drew a circle divided evenly into twelve pie pieces and colored a slice in for each setback they suffered; this gave a nice sense of tension.
Everyone enjoyed the session, and I highly recommend the module.