View Full Version : How to Run a Single-Player Adventure?

Gemini Lupus
2013-12-29, 12:46 AM
Hey guys,

So my girlfriend is wanting to get into roleplaying and has played D&D with some friends once, so she understands the basic mechanic of the game: roll a d20, add modifiers, ???, Profit! She did alright, but it was mostly me pointing at the character sheet at what she needed to add her rolls to and I basically made her character for her.

However, I'd like to do some actual teaching, so that she can really get an idea of the rules and roleplaying in general. So I figure that the least stressful way to do this is to run her through an adventure on her own, with a character she made, making decisions on her own. I'm a pretty competent GM (if I do say so myself...and I do :smalltongue:), but I've never run a 1-on-1 session.

So, what advice can I get from the Playground on running a 1-on-1 Pathfinder session, with a newbie player. For the combat sections, should I have some DMPC's that are on her level to assist her? What sort of scenarios work for this type of thing?

Thanks in advance!

2013-12-29, 01:33 AM
Well, since she's played D&D before, the adjustment to Pathfinder shouldn't be too much of a challenge, so you can kind of take off the gloves.

Run a single-player the same way you'd run a 4-player. Just remember taper back the encounters to deal with the fact that there is only one player. If you have hirelings to help her, control the hirelings at first until she's comfortable with her own character.

Provide her a variety of encounters [skill encounters, battle encounters, save encounters (like drinking games, what-have-you)] and make her roll often, so she gets the hang of it.

That should be good enough.

2013-12-29, 02:50 AM
I always used to just run single-player games (back in the day), just because that was what worked when I first got into RPGs. Just play to the character's strengths a bit (more sneaking for the rogue, or undead rather than goblins for the cleric); and don't be afraid to bend the rules--simplify it a bit if necessary, especially since it's a new player. And let those ridiculous ideas fly; use existing rules and improvise a bit. Be lenient, and the game will work out.

Also, be a bit lighter on combat and a bit heavier on RPing. Make combat more of a consequence for failure with a solo adventure--a straight out fight can very well end in the character's death. Don't have DMPCs, but have a couple of friendly NPCs that can pull the hero out of trouble if need be.

And one other thing? If you're going to have her join into another campaign, make this adventure part of the backstory for the character. This is something that I have done, to great success: the campaign starts at level three (or higher), but each hero has a solo adventure as a level one character, some time before the main story started. This not only helps to create a backstory for people who aren't super in to that stuff, it also makes it more real. It's one thing to say you knew a wise old man, or that your character has a younger sister; but it's another thing to actually roleplay out that relationship.

Anyway. A bit much, perhaps, but I hope that helps.

2013-12-29, 04:06 AM
Don't have DMPCs, but have a couple of friendly NPCs that can pull the hero out of trouble if need be.

Everything Ailowynn has said is brilliant, but I disagree with this ^.

After a while, friendly NPCs who pull heroes out of trouble start to feel like plot armor. A one-on-one sessions can be heavy RP, or heavy combat, but either way, once the player realizes the DM is protecting the PC, the game will lose most, if not all, its fun. Make her use the skills she has. Make her do what she has to in order to survive.

In one of my one-ups, I gave the PC a cursed Quiver of Ehlonna. She didn't figure it out until she had to pull her bow out of the nasty thing when a giant lumbered into her path. Was it mean? Maybe… but she was experienced enough a player to know better than to trust a magic item without learning everything you can. I knew her experience level, and she knew what kind of DM I was. She took a risk, paid the price, and even survived the encounter, because she knew when it was time to duck and run.

A better trick when dealing with a one-on-one, is to cater your challenges to the players play-type and the PC's build type. Don't get more clever than your player is prepared to handle, and warn her a session before you plan on ramping up the challenge, intrigue, or whatever.

2013-12-29, 04:34 AM
Ah, the ugly name of the DMPC rears its head again.
There is nothing wrong with a detailed, competant and full-fledged 'PC' run by the DM. The trick is to not let this character do everything.

The most important part of playing a character is the sense of agency and control. The PC, and by extension the player, is the center of this story, and they want to decide what they do and not be relegated to side-kick status. However, from my own experience with solo games, it can get rather frustrating to be in charge and make decisions all the time. Some times you are just stuck and can see no way out of your predicament and just want a little help from someone else. In these cases it's nice to have another character in the group that can make suggestions (voice of the DM and all). The advice doesn't have to be entirely accurate or even very good, but a little hint about what to do can relieve some of the problems of solo play.

So by all means, make a DMPC. Just remember they have to:
1. be the sidekick, not an equal partner in the story
2. cover some of the weaknesses of the PC. E.g. If the PC's a wizard, the DMPC should be a tank
3. Be fun characters. This will be the most direct link to the game world for the PC, and be the source of most of your actual roleplaying with the player. Make a fun, vivid personality for the PC to interact with.

2013-12-29, 11:59 PM
This style of play is some times called "Solo" (which is confusing) or "Duet". So you might try searching on those terms. There is a set of "one on one" adventures out there specially developed for this style of play as well:
For example: