So I do a lot of "one night stories." There are just short modules I play with a handful of other roleplayers. You can do them as complete stand alones, or do them in succession to build a longer story. Whichever way you do it, the goal should be to keep all of the significant action and material within a few hours play. I like to write a little bit about the story before I actually start playing to help keep the pacing moving forward. Getting a sketch out ahead of time to help make sure your roleplay doesn't go off on a tangent will help you make the best use of your time.
Hide and go seek
"Hide and Go Seek" games are some of my favorite for a quick evening's entertainment. The story is a little bit different from time to time, of course. I've played hide and go seek as a father desperately searching for his daughter in a cornfield and as a son searching for his lost watch.
The game works best if you have some kind of arbiter or game master. Have them drop hints, clues, or breadcrumbs that you can eagerly follow to a conclusion. There are a dozen variations on the theme, of course, and different ways to stage the search. But the hide and go seek is a pretty good staple of short term, single evening play.
The ability to just do a quick "/who" command and locate another character can make the game far too easy, of course. The best way to keep from ruining the game is to just not use the command. However, since you're seeking out a target, there's no real need for that target to be online until you actually find it.
It's all a dream
One of my favorite LARP ideas was all about surprising one player with a horrible nightmare. I corralled a half dozen players and told them my plan. Every character would act wildly out of character. Previous, hard-line foes would spontaneously get married, and the character's daughter would turn out out be pregnant. The player had no clue and playign it all out was a great idea.
I've repeated this trick a few times online, and it actually seems to work out better. While being unable to see another player's face or hear his voice is usually actually a detriment for online roleplay. However, when you decide to turn the tables around, you use that disconnect to your advantage. There's much less likelihood that the recipient of this nightmare would get the idea that anything's amiss just because someone let slip a little chuckle.
You could use this dream technique to represent a gnome who's taken a few too many hallucinatory trips into Gnomeregan or a dwarf that's had a few pints too many. Or, you could even use the "it's all a dream" technique to explore "what if" scenarios. Whatever you choose to do, of course, make sure it's something that you stop within a few hours. If you drag a torturous dream out too long, it becomes the player you're torturing instead of the character.
Explore other worlds
So far in World of Warcraft, we've gotten to explore Eastern Kingdoms, Northrend, Kalimdor, and the Outland. We're looking forward to seeing Azeroth completely remodelled in the Cataclysm. But there are still other worlds out there for your character to explore.
You can cruise the Emerald Dream with a few friends, if you can find a friend to "game master" the experience for you. Let them narrate the terrian and dream-based critters you encounter. This is basically an online version of a traditional tabletop, but it can be a lot of fun to do.
Your character would effectively be cruising these new worlds, even if you just leave you toon standing in Azeroth while you do it. It is, after all, roleplaying.
What else do you do to try and make a single night fun, meaningful, and complete? I'm especially curious to see what our readers do.
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!