View Full Version : D&D 4e Solo - no DM and just 1 player

2009-11-27, 09:31 AM
Disclaimer: I do realize that D&D 4e was designed to be played with a DM and ideally 5 players. Some class features are useless if you have no allies and so on. However, the simplified and relatively consistent game mechanics lend themselves well for solo gaming in other respects, and I intend to explore those possibilities. Just for the fun of it.

[introduction placeholder]

I intend to add bits of info little by little.

Feel free to comment on my ideas. :smallsmile:


Each adventure consists of a number of areas. An area is typically a room in a dungeon. In an adventure PDF or print out, a two-page spread corresponds to an area. Each area has one or more exits that are numbered. The number indicates the area you enter when the character moves to that exit. For example, if you leave area 1 and enter area 4, you flip 3 pages ahead.

Each area has a battle grid/map, description of all relevant features of the area (such as monsters and treasure) and so on.

Each area is further divided into zones. If you enter a zone, you get to read the detailed description of the zone, and the presence of traps and such is revealed. If there is a trap in the zone and you haven't used Perception to search the square you entered (or you failed the check), you spring the trap. If your Perception check was successful, you may choose not to enter the square.

Relevant skill check DCs are given in the area description; however in some cases the skill DC is given only after you have entered a zone that requires you to make skill checks (such as a slippery portion of the floor).


Each area has the following:

(optional ones are marked with an asterisk)
[To be edited]

* Area description
* Map/battle grid
* Exits
* Relevant skill DCs
* Magical auras
* Monsters*
* Zones


* Stats
* Tactics (may include surprise round, first round tactics, tactics vs fleeing enemies, ranged combatants, melee combatants, etc.)
* Dialog options and DCs for Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight and Intimidate checks, if applicable

2009-11-27, 09:33 AM
Character creation

Characters creation works pretty much the same as normally.

Race, class and role: Any playable race and class can be used with D&D 4e Solo. Some roles and classes may have significantly better chances of survival than others, though.

Ability scores: It is recommended that you generate ability scores using Method 1 or 2 in the PHB.

Skills, feats, powers and equipment: Some powers, skills or feats may be useless because you have no allies, such as Commander's Strike. If you're planning to use your character only in solo games, choose powers and other character building options that work without allies.

Alignment and deities: These are seldom relevant, but some adventures may have special options for characters who have a particular alignment or who worship a particular deity.

Languages: Some adventures have monsters that are willing to talk to your character. Many intelligent creatures speak Common, but sometimes communication is possible only if your character knows a certain language. Similarly, inscriptions and other texts can only be read if your character knows the language the text is written in.

Gaining levels

As normally, when you earn enough XP, you level up. As soon as you gain a level, you may immediately use your new powers and feats.

2009-11-27, 09:35 AM
Acrobatics, Athletics and Endurance ("the physical skills")

You can usually take 10 when using these skills unless you're in combat.

* Acrobatic stunt (Acrobatics): Usually requires DM fiat - this use of the skill is only usable when the area description explicitly permits it.
* Balance (Acrobatics): Balance can be used to move safely on precarious surface. If it is evident that you'll need to use balance, the DC is given in the area description. Otherwise, the DC is given when you enter a zone where balancing is required.
* Climb (Athletics): Basically any wall in the dungeon can be climbed, general climb DCs are used. If there are zones where the climb DC is different, it is mentioned in the zone/area description.
* Escape from a Grab (Acrobatics/Athletics): This use of the skill works normally in combat.
* Escape from restraints (Acrobatics): This one is not relevant in most adventures. Can be used only if the area description permits it.
* Jump (Athletics): You can jump basically whenever you want (to avoid suspicious looking squares, for example). The DC is determined by distance as normally. For special obstacles, the DCs are given in the area description.
* Reduce falling damage (Acrobatics): Can be used normally when taking falling damage.
* Swim (Athletics): Can be used whenever there's enough water to swim. The DC is given in the area/zone description.

* Endure extreme weather (Endurance): In most solo adventures, weather is irrelevant. If Endurance checks are required, it is mentioned in the area description.
* Resist disease, ignore hunger and ignore thirst (Endurance): Make checks as normally if relevant. Usually, though, the adventures are so short that these checks are not needed during the adventures.
* Hold breath (Endurance): Some adventures have pools, ponds and other zones with enough water to drown in. Make checks as normally if relevant.
* Swim or tread water (Endurance): This may not occur very often in solo adventures, but if relevant, make checks as normally.

Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature and Religion ("the knowledge skills")

Since there is no DM to make up fluff whenever you arbitrarily make a knowledge check, the use of these skills is somewhat limited.

Arcana knowledge, Dungeoneering knowledge, History knowledge, Nature knowledge and Religion knowledge (Arcana/Dungeoneering/History/Nature/Religion): Usable only when the area/zone description permits it.

Monster knowledge (Arcana/Dungeoneering/Nature/Religion): As normally, you can identify a monster. Use the DCs given in the PHB.

Detect magic (Arcana): Area descriptions should include any identifiable auras, etc. (A magical auras section in each area?)

Forage (Dungeoneering/Nature): In most areas, it's impossible to forage. Can be used only if the area description permits it, DC is included.

Handle animal (Nature): Most animals encountered are hostile. However, if the monster description permits it, handle animal can be used to calm down a natural beast. DC is given in the description.

Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight and Intimidate ("the social skills")

Normally, these skills can only be used when the area/monster description permits it. DCs are included in the description, often paired with "dialog options", a simplified version what you see in computer RPGs. However, some special uses of the skills are detailed below:
* Gain combat advantage (Bluff): Can be used as normally in combat.
* Create a diversion to hide (Bluff): Can be used as normally in combat.
* Recognizing an effect as illusory (Insight): Some area/zone descriptions allow the use of Insight to detect illusions.
* Force a bloodied target to surrender (Intimidate): If successful, the target surrenders and reveals a secret mentioned in its description. You gain XP and loot and the monster is considered defeated.

Other skills

Streetwise: Can only be used in a settlement (a village, etc.). The skill is usable only in areas that specifically permit it.

Heal: The Heal skill functions as normally, though First aid can only be used on your allies. If the area description permits it, you may be able to use Heal on NPCs.

Thievery: Disable trap, Open lock, Pick pocket and Sleight of hand can only be used where there are traps, locks, pockets and unattended objects, respectively. Thus, the skill can only be used when the area/monster/zone description permits it.

[Perception, Stealth to be added!]

2009-11-27, 09:36 AM
[combat placeholder]

2009-11-27, 12:33 PM
There is a section of the DMG for "playing without a DM". I presume you read over that?

2009-11-27, 12:52 PM
Sounds like one of those fighting fantasy adventure books.