Do You Play Differently In a One-Shot?

I’ve been trying to assessĀ  my play style to figure out if I play differently in a one-shot situation than a normal ongoing campaign. Conventional wisdom holds that since a one-shot holds fewer consequences and requires less investment, players might tend to play riskier than would in a long-term campaign. I’m not sure that it’s true.

Many times in a one-shot it feels like I am playing a disposable character. On the plus side it grants the freedom to try out a race or class or combination that I might not ordinarily play. On the downside if you don’t care about your character’s fate, it’s easy to get him killed, or act like a jerk. Thankfully this risk is regularly countered by my own primal need to win (which is an abstract concept in D&D).

I’m now playing in semi-regular campaign. Since I thought it was going to be a one-shot, I thought it would be fun to play an evil paladin. And it has been fun to root against my own character, but at some point I decided I wanted him to live and maybe make a journey towards redemption–which is not generally a 4-6 hour character arc. I came to this realization after I had already been subconsciously playing him like a campaign character and not as a disposable character.

Upon reflection, I think I always play my characters like they’re permanent fixtures in their world. Which leads me to wonder I am normal or weird in this regard? Do you treat one-shot characters different than campaign characters?

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