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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DaTedinator's Avatar

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    Default Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

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    I ran a campaign a couple years back that was well-loved by my players, but had a sort of ignominious end when people just started moving away and what-have-you. We started getting into online roleplaying by way of Maptools and Roll20, but played new campaigns, as by that point we'd lost the stuff for the campaign.

    Recently, we found all my old notes and our character sheets and stuff, and we're gonna run a big send-off session over Christmas.

    But to lead up to that (set up some of the hooks and whatnot), and to get everybody back into their characters they haven't seen or played with for a couple years, I'm gonna run a one-on-one session or two with each of them. Nothing huge, mostly roleplaying, probably some combat, I'm thinking each session is in the neighborhood of about three hours.


    Now the actual question. This will be my first time doing one-on-one roleplaying. I'm a reasonably experienced DM otherwise, but I'm certain this will bring some challenges that I'm not used to. Any advice from those of you who've run a one-on-one game before? Or from those of you who've played in one? What mistakes am I likely to make? What areas are less fun without a group? What areas are more fun?
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    - Party-based systems, especially ones based on roles, have a tendency to completely fall to pieces in solo play. Normally I'd suggest using another system but it sounds like your hands are already tied there: So my next-best suggestion is to handle these problems with "grogs" (to borrow the Ars Magica term). A grog is loyal to the player and can be expected to follow orders to a reasonable extent, but otherwise they're controlled by the DM. Basically a DMPC, but the stipulation of making them strictly subordinate to the player(s) solves most of the accidental spotlight-hogging issues.

    - The biggest advantage of solo play is you get to be far more personal. For example, you can have the player's character finally meet up with her long lost twin brother and roleplay out a long conversation about old childhood memories that has nothing to do with the larger adventure at hand without getting on the other players' nerves. You can cater to a single character's struggles and fears much more intensely than you could in group play, where this sort of thing would be bad form. Take advantage of this for all it's worth. You won't regret it.

    - It's also much easier to plan for a solo game because you only have to deal with the potential actions of a single player. One person is a lot more predictable than 6. You'll still be caught off guard occasionally but far less often. Unless you're a master at improvisation, this is a big plus.

    - But one thing you should definitely keep in mind: Take it slow. You see when you're at a table with a bunch of other people, you can consider the situation and think carefully while other people are talking. With just the player and yourself, you don't get the luxury of this downtime to think carefully while the others go on. Don't put too much time pressure on your player to have quick answers (and you don't really need to since you don't have others waiting for them) and don't feel pressured to give quick answers yourself.

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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaTedinator View Post

    Now the actual question. This will be my first time doing one-on-one roleplaying. I'm a reasonably experienced DM otherwise, but I'm certain this will bring some challenges that I'm not used to. Any advice from those of you who've run a one-on-one game before? Or from those of you who've played in one? What mistakes am I likely to make? What areas are less fun without a group? What areas are more fun?
    Add in NPC buddies. You want to have plenty of NPC around for the player to interact with. The game will die fast if you just let the player sit there and do nothing. In general, the NPC should be slightly less then helpful. You don't want to take control of the game from the PC. Some good ones to add: The Scrappy:like a dwarf that just wants to fight, fight, fight. The Medic: The non combatant doctor. The Robin The one that shadows the player and does everything they do. The Sage The all wise and all knowing one.


    Game flow can be a problem, as most group players are not leaders, but are followers. So you might need to push the player a bit more to play.....or....the way I do it.....force them to play. Force works great in solo play as you can focus on one character.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Lord_Gareth's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    Game flow can be a problem, as most group players are not leaders, but are followers. So you might need to push the player a bit more to play.....or....the way I do it.....force them to play. Force works great in solo play as you can focus on one character.
    Unless one's player doesn't mind railroading, forcing them to do something is bad DMing. Encouraging them with plot hooks, rewards, NPCs in distress or other in-game hooks is much better.


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    Wow! Not only was that awesome, I think I actually kinda understand Archeron now. If all the "intermediate" outer planes got that kind of treatment, I doubt there would be anywhere near as many critics of their utility.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    Most of the games I've GM'd over the years have been solo ones, so if anything I'm more experienced with these sorts of games than I am with traditional ones.

    1. More depth and detail. In a group game the player has other players to interact with. In a solo game, there is only the world and NPC's as created by the GM. So anything the player interacts with is of your design, and to make the best experience possible, there needs to be a lot of detail.

    2. It is very easy to be drawn into the PC being part of a group of NPC's, providing the player dynamic with NPC's. This is not the best way to go, because then any events in game will be attributed to the party. The PC is the only player you have, he deserves to be the one who gets credit. Having a group of NPC's is a good thing, but perhaps have them as subordinates he picks up rather than equals. Even if they are technically equals but they look up to the character.

    That's all I've got for now.

    Cheers and good luck,

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    One-on-one games go much quicker than groups. I do write ups for my games and a two hour 1-on-1 session has as much stuff happening as a four or five hour 4 player session.
    Last edited by Hel65; 2012-11-13 at 11:50 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DaTedinator's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    Thank you everyone for all the tips, this is proving to be very enlightening. Particularly worrying is the idea of moving through my plot twice as fast, but forewarned is forearmed, so now I can plan for it. Thank you all!

    The first session will be tomorrow night, I'll be sure to post again with the details of how it went down.
    Thanks to Dashwood for the avatar!

    Check out my Homebrew.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Techwarrior's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    As another thing to say.

    I've played in several solo games and DMed a couple, one of which is currently on-going on the forum here. One thing you have to realize is that the player is going to run out of steam quicker than in a party. In a group, even of only two, you're only being the 'active' player for about half the time. In a solo game, you get no such break. So, yes as stated, you will get through material faster, you also will not be able to play for as long. Roleplaying is an exhausting thing, whether you're an actor or gamer (of which I am both). It's similar to being the DM versus being the player, but the whole thing is compounded because the DM and your player are the only two in the room.

    Short version: Be ready to call the session when the player starts to loose steam, and be much more lenient about taking breaks from the RP.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DaTedinator's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tips for one-on-one roleplaying?

    Alright, first session down, and it went pretty well! Thanks again for the advice! Specifically:

    • Yes, we did move through things faster than I had originally anticipated, but because of all your advice, I had extra tricks up my sleeve, and the session didn't feel short or stunted.
    • I wouldn't say my player ran out of steam faster, but he definitely needed more interaction with me as a DM than I otherwise would've anticipated. I'd planned to give him a lot of NPC interactions, but I found that I, as a DM, had to interact more stongly with my player, in order to keep him feeling like he was making progress. So thanks for that tip.
    • I had originally planned to use more NPCs, but out of fear of overshadowing my player, I pulled back on that, had him go mostly solo. However, I tried to make sure the situations he'd get himself into were ones that his character was built to handle. To be more specific, he's a gestalt beguiler//factotum; my first ideas for the session involved a big fight to the death, but after you guys reminded me that he didn't have a party to fall back on, I tried (and succeeded) to set it up so that the point of any fights was for him to escape, not beat anyone.

    The other sessions will obviously have to be pretty different; he's a social-focused character (an Inquisitive; the game is in Eberron), some of the others are more combat-focused, so we'll see what happens. But thanks to everybody's advice, I'm much more confident moving forward. Thanks again, everyone!

    I'll be sure to post again if anything else interesting happens in the future sessions.
    Last edited by DaTedinator; 2012-11-15 at 07:31 PM. Reason: Picking a pronoun and sticking with it
    Thanks to Dashwood for the avatar!

    Check out my Homebrew.

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