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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Running an Adventure for One Player

    Has anyone ever run a game for one player? I've been asked to run one as a super-casual, something to do when bored kind of thing, and I'm trying to gather ideas. It's kind of a unique situation where I could get away with a lot of things you're not supposed to do with a group.

    For example, single out one player as "the chosen one" and make them more important than the rest of the party, and revolve the story around them. By design, it's kind of unavoidable. It also lets me make a lot of NPCs to run, and use them to fill in gaps in skill areas without feeling like they're stealing a player's role.

    I'm thinking of running it in the style somewhere between a TV show and a Bioware game, with a small cast of recurring companion characters that can be swapped out depending on the scenario or plot arc. That should hopefully avoid me having to run a full party all the time, and allow the player to have more tactical choice in who they bring. Since it's a casual game, I can just make a series of encounters and scenarios, and each time we run one, it's a new "episode" of the series.

    So, is there a cool idea you can think of that would only work for a single player game? Any tips to running it, or problems to avoid?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Vacation in Nyalotha

    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Heavily encourage them to bring a jack of all trades character or at the very least something that has more than one way of interacting with the world. Many systems allow party members to specialize because others will pull up the slack and allow the plot to progress down the party’s choice of offered avenues. Having the mechanics in place to allow for engaging with all sorts of zany responses the player has to the scene means more creative freedom on both sides and a more multifaceted adventure overall.
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    Heavily encourage them to bring a jack of all trades character or at the very least something that has more than one way of interacting with the world. Many systems allow party members to specialize because others will pull up the slack and allow the plot to progress down the party’s choice of offered avenues. Having the mechanics in place to allow for engaging with all sorts of zany responses the player has to the scene means more creative freedom on both sides and a more multifaceted adventure overall.
    This is definitely good advice! We're going to be using the sidekick rules that come in the game, with an "expert" class that can do a lot of skill checks pretty well. They're going to control the sidekick from a tactical standpoint, while I provide the flavor and personality of the character. We should cover a lot of options based on their character class and the sidekick, with the option of additional companions on a "per adventure" basis.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    evilmastermind's Avatar

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    Apr 2017

    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Quote Originally Posted by AdmiralCheez View Post
    So, is there a cool idea you can think of that would only work for a single player game? Any tips to running it, or problems to avoid?
    I think it's a wonderful idea... but be warned: it's totally different than a regular game because it's going to be a very "intimate" experience.
    .. but the pacing is going to be a lot smoother, with less time wasted on silly jokes and more focus on the story.
    The idea of having recurring allies NPCs is brilliant. You could even join the story with a character of your own, a faithful NPC willing to follow your player through the most dangerous parts of the world.. or have many of those, one for each town or adventure. Give your players multiple choices and let him decide if they want to join him.. if he/she wants to he/she'll ask.

    EDIT: I read other guys told you to have the player choose jack of all trades. I say no: give your friend the possibilty to play anything they want, then build the story around it. He/she wants to play a drummer bard who can't use any weapons? Let him/Her have it.
    Last edited by evilmastermind; 2020-08-27 at 05:01 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    I have done this, for my partner. Her main character happened to get separated from the rest of our DnD group, which let to her character being by herself in the next town where the main quest would take them, while the rest of the group and her side character did a side quest.

    All that to say we had a very enjoyable afternoon and evening with this. It was highly narrative, very low on rolls and mostly focussed on role play. Her character is a (3.5) Swashbuckler-Rogue going into Scarlett Corsair, so she still had to work on her "myth", which tended to get snowed under in the main game. Now we could focus on this specfic part, and it gave her the opportunity to practise something she finds kind off hard, so that was nice.

    I do second the suggestions tthinking carefully about the character choice, but on the other hand you can fit the adventure to the character. So if your player is a fighter, make it a brawler and add some healing potions or something, if they play a bard make it a diplomacy thing (or a concert!)

    A general thought about this is: the less people there are, the easier the translation between DM and the players. The interface translates better, if that makes sense, you are more likely to see the same thing and to get the same picture quicker. So for me it is a great way to play DnD (sometimes)

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    We've worked out a few more details. They're going to play a 5e cleric and want to use the piety rules in the Mythic Odysseys of Theros book. They have a sidekick Expert class to handle skills the cleric can't do alone, and I'll add in a couple of swappable NPCs with other abilities to complement them depending on what they might need.

    I'm thinking the adventure is going to focus a lot on this cleric's personal struggle with their newly-discovered divine power and the consequences of being chosen by the gods. Whether they choose to follow the path laid out by their god (of nature) or to tempt fate by defying it. In any case, a great blight threatens the land, and it's up to them to stop it.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    My first advice, don't run it in DnD, it's really not made for that, and while you can make it work, it'll take some doing.

    Other than that, there is little difference between running a one on one and group game. You should already know about how much opposition one PC can handle, so you just scale down. One difference is that you as DM won't have a break - in group games, players often need to agree on what to do and that gives you some downtime, one on one doesn't have that.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Unfortunately, D&D is the only system they know and want to play, so D&D it is. I hadn't considered the lack of downtime aspect, so I will definitely have to plan for that.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    The character is hired/drafted,compelled to serve as a body guard for a spoiled rich child of a Very Powerful Individual(TM). A child who has a rotating entourage of hangers-on. And no sense of personal danger. And refuses to have a bodyguard assigned to them.

    Said child has, presumably through inheritance from a grandparent or some such, considerable wealth in their own right (so the parent cannot threaten to cut them off to prevent their heading into the next exciting (read "dangerous") thing). Since they refuse to have a bodyguard, the PC must pose as a new member of their entourage of other wealthy semi-useless hangers-on. Give the PC numerous contacts who can provide information and equipment as needed. Then you, as the GM, do your worst and attempt to drive them crazy.

    We ran a sci-fi campaign like this for two PCs, but it seems it would work as well with one. Had a blast! In our cases, we were compelled (blackmailed with faked legal charges that could get us lengthy sentences) to serve, but a loyal but willing employee with a high skill level in eye-rolling could work as well (sort of "Jeeves and Wooster" if Jeeves was also secretly a ninja).

    DrewID

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Batcathat's Avatar

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    Nov 2019

    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Quote Originally Posted by evilmastermind View Post
    EDIT: I read other guys told you to have the player choose jack of all trades. I say no: give your friend the possibilty to play anything they want, then build the story around it. He/she wants to play a drummer bard who can't use any weapons? Let him/Her have it.
    I agree with this. Since a one person party means you won't be able to run almost any published adventures without some pretty heavy modifications anyway, you might as well adapt everything around whatever the player wants to play.

    When I started GM:ing many moons ago, it was mostly with a single player and I remember it going pretty well (as well as could be expected anyway, with both of us being about 11 years old and having zero experience with role playing games).

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Crake's Avatar

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    May 2011

    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    I've been running a solo game on the side with a friend between dnd sessions, and even games. One thing to keep in mind is that you're the one running the game, so you can adapt the world however you like to give the player options to succeed. I would suggest agreeing early on on a theme for the game, perhaps the player wants to play as an under the radar thief in a small city, doing completely mundane things like robbing houses, taking jobs with the thieves guild, and just living day-to-day, or perhaps they want to be a well-respected wizard in a town, exploring the nearby vistas and performing new and exciting research. The player doesn't need to be a jack of all trades as others have suggested, if they're specifically tackling tasks that they are built to deal with.

    Also, don't hesitate to give the player a leg up, perhaps they found a deck of many things before the game started and drew a favourable card, perhaps they recieved a modest inheritance, or found an ancient artifact, or maybe just know important people in high places, but be careful about giving too much, else the challenge is ruined, and it all begins to feel like a cakewalk. Sometimes it can be a tightrope to walk, and all too often have we moved on to a new character because one suddenly felt too easy.

    Finally, be ready to have the player be beaten. They're working alone, and sometimes the dice don't fall in their favour, but have a reason why the player doesn't necessarily get killed. Give them an avenue for escape, or have them be rescued, or perhaps just have the story advance in the direction of the player becoming enslaved, and having to deal with what that means (perhaps they become a gladiatorial combatant, or drawn into a game of cutthroat politics as an inconspicuous servant-spy at political functions, etc). Make sure though, that this is communicated beforehand, so the player accepts and plays into their (hopefully rare) defeat.
    World of Madius wiki - My personal campaign setting, including my homebrew Optional Gestalt/LA rules.
    The new Quick Vestige List

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Playing a wizard the way GitP says wizards should be played requires the equivalent time and effort investment of a university minor. Do you really want to go down this rabbit hole, or are you comfortable with just throwing a souped-up Orb of Fire at the thing?
    Quote Originally Posted by atemu1234 View Post
    Humans are rarely truly irrational, just wrong.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
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    Oct 2010
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    Dallas, TX
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    One of the biggest problems is that any suggestion that a player’s idea is not a good idea must come from the DM (even if you put it in the mouth of an NPC), not from other players.

    This can work *very* well for a really good player, but it’s often frustrating for an average one.

    I strongly urge you to suggest and encourage hirelings. A cleric or wizard PC with 2 hired fighters and a rogue is not a bad party, and the imbalance between character classes now works for you, not against you.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    Thanks for the feedback so far, everyone! It's given me a lot to discuss and plan out with the player, and I think we're almost ready to start. It's more or less up to me now to plan out the individual scenes and make it a game.

    For the party, the player is playing a leonin (lion person) nature cleric as their character. They are also playing a sidekick with the expert class, meaning they control the actions in combat while I control their personality. For NPC party members, I have a wizard, a barbarian, and a druid that will get recruited as the campaign goes on, and that they can choose to bring along on parts of the adventure that they think they need those particular skills. I have story reasons why they can't choose all of them at the same time in most cases, so there's a bit of strategic choice for them to make.

    For the story, they are effectively "the chosen one" picked by their god to save the region from corruption at the hands of an empire bent on draining the natural resources for their own greedy purposes. I'm taking a lot of inspiration from Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Lion King, and She-Ra for tone and themes, and hoping to make it into a fun, epic adventure reminiscent of those things.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    If the player is lacking on perception bring along a squire NPC to hold a torch and shout "look out!" With ranks in any sense skills.


    Get to know your downtime systems. Pathfinder allows a player to assemble teams of level 1 or 3 of red shirts. Have one be the face for the team. The rest don't truly need to have a face or personality. Or names. 'Teams' of singular clerics and wizards can also be formed. Perhaps a comely green skinned witch to accompany a barbarian or ranger.


    If super casual embrace the occasional cliché for both of you to poke fun at. The squire? Annoying comedic relief. Be sure to provide plenty of cliffs for him to look down for good boot moments. That green witch? The hero married her during the time he challenged a demon lord to a drinking contest.


    Does he like ham? Be sure the villains provide.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running an Adventure for One Player

    In fact this is a great moment for an evil campaign! It won't devolve into in fighting as there is no one to fight with. If his threshold for evil is shallower than yours you won't even need to reign him in (he'll do that himself).

    Pick a setting and kick the sand castle over...

    Boot up Kingmaker (a pathfinder Adventure Path) or some similar idea and place a crown on his head. No one else will mind the favoritism.

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