Is the DM that told me he sometimes plays "solo" crazy?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So this DM I met told me that at times he has ran modules and even parts of adventure paths being both the DM AND up to 5 players. They likened it to playing chess against yourself..huh? Supposedly there were lots of charts involved, tables for randomly generating choices of players from a list with rules involved (% chance that a player would attack a different within range foe or just continue with the one they are on, etc., alignment flavorings effecting choices..) and then all sort of random generation rules for the world setting (items in a store's stock blablabla). I know being a DM is a lot of work already but sheesh! Anyone ever heard of this or do you think it was a joke?


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Some people actually enjoy that sort of thing, and are totally devoid of mental disorders. More power to em. Because they get to play pathfinder whenever they want, while the rest of us are searching for a game group or waiting for the next weekly game to come up.


Hey I can't judge that. People judged role playing as demon worship, or cultists. Just entertainment and he's found a way to do it alone.


For a combat heavy modules, or for trap finding and clue searching with minimal role-play I could see tables and pre-determined actions make a good one-man game. Its no different then a tactics game, just you can see what the character missed; Metagame with only one person.


I have actually done this during the summers I would dm since I had a lot of free time. The best way to test a campaign is to know what characters your players will play and try to break it as much as possible. If I was going to play for more personal enjoyment I think I would play 4e. It is a great tactical minis wargame, and the way the offical mods are written you need little roleplay beyond having the characters make their skill checks and reading what happens do the the number of successes and failures....

Wait, was 4e made for this????? Sorry for the tangent but I feel like I have just cracked the code, and everything makes sense in the world.


The 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide actually had a section near the back for this, only the approach was a bit different -- it had a procedure for generating the dungeon randomly (and keep in mind this was all done without computer code, although such an idea can and has been implemented in computer code -- just look up games like Rogue and Hack).


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Noh Masuku wrote:
So this DM I met told me that at times he has ran modules and even parts of adventure paths being both the DM AND up to 5 players. They likened it to playing chess against yourself..huh? Supposedly there were lots of charts involved, tables for randomly generating choices of players from a list with rules involved (% chance that a player would attack a different within range foe or just continue with the one they are on, etc., alignment flavorings effecting choices..) and then all sort of random generation rules for the world setting (items in a store's stock blablabla). I know being a DM is a lot of work already but sheesh! Anyone ever heard of this or do you think it was a joke?

I don't do that - with tables and random actions and whatnot - but when I get an AP, I do immediately make four characters for it and proceed to 'run them' through the campaign... but I do so almost in narrative form, glossing over the actual combat encounters. The main reason I do that is to gain a greater understanding of the way the campaign might flow from a player's perspective - identifying periods where it might drag a bit, places where it might be well-suited for inserts or re-writes and opportunities for pre-written exposition or in-depth role-play.

Its really turned into a very useful tool and allows me to experience the AP from a player's perspective, however cursorily.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:

The 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide actually had a section near the back for this, only the approach was a bit different -- it had a procedure for generating the dungeon randomly (and keep in mind this was all done without computer code, although such an idea can and has been implemented in computer code -- just look up games like Rogue and Hack).

I believe part of this was reprinted in Paizo's Dragon Compendium.

Being of similar inclination to the subject of the thread... I liked it. ^_^


Where everyone else will be careful and tiptoe around their answer, I'll just go with "yes".


People play chess against themselves all the time. I don't see how this would be any different.

It kinda makes me want to try it myself, actually... Run one of those meat grinder dungeon crawls to really test my ability to build characters.


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Eh.

It's basically creative writing with dice rolling, just like the game in general is a souped up version of when you'd play pretend as a kid.

Neither require mental disorders to enjoy.


I have run solo sessions like this before. I have even solo'd parts of some AP's (Iron Gods 1-4 & Reign Of Winter 1-3).

I believe Turin the Mad does this as well.

And just on a side note a neurosis or three does not hurt these endeavors. Kind of like icing on a cake, really.


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While I've never sat down to play a campaign by myself, I have run mock games to test out houserules, new subsystems and character builds. For example, when I first picked up Ultimate Campaign I started and ruled a kingdom for about 25 turns to make sure I understood the new kingdom rules. While I don't think it's anywhere near as fun as playing with other people, they can be enjoyable in their own way.

While I think playing PF by yourself is unusual, I certainly wouldn't equate it with a mental disorder.


I've never gone to that extreme.... but no that I have the idea....

I have downloaded and played some of the modules that are written to be solo. its like a choose your own adventure with dice!


I would greatly enjoy this actually; Here's a notion from me:

When playing as a single player amongst a team, the development of a compeditive; I have to stay relevent/powerful/in the spotlight too, develops. Because this character is your own source to enjoy the game.

As a player running a whole team vs an adventure path using GM, you can manage the whole team w/o greed or vanity making a scene, because your always benefiting as a player.

As a Gm running a module with a team of four, you lessen the hurt of losing characters, I would imagine, because you are reading/writing a story as it unfolds, and not all choices are your's to make. Hell; you'd probably stop pulling punches to find out how it would 'really' end. And if characters die, you can figure out how the next ones come in, without needing to manage four other player's backstories, motivations, and suspicious; you are in fine control of it all.

However, I would agree that it takes a specific mentality; and the willingness to lose to circumstance.


I own three complete adventure paths; Runelords, Kingmaker, and the 3pp success: Way of the Wicked. I'd be interested in playing any of these as a "Solo Game"


Nah, not crazy. Different though.

I've never done it for D&D, but I've done more than a few tactical boardgames this way (Risk, for example-- and good lord does a solo game of Risk take ages).

Helped my game in those significantly.


I knew guys in college who did this all the time. They'd just use the random dungeon generator in the 1e DMG and "have adventures". Hell, when they got together they played like this. They had no concept of roleplaying or team work.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I knew guys in college who did this all the time. They'd just use the random dungeon generator in the 1e DMG and "have adventures". Hell, when they got together they played like this. They had no concept of roleplaying or team work.

I hate to tell you this, but there are a whole lot of folks who play this game the normal way that have yet to master those two concepts as well.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have done this on occasion.

I get a new AP, make 4 characters and begin running them through the first book.

I guess I have GMed and ran 4 pcs for a few reasons: sometimes it can be fun, I also am curious to see how various combinations of character classes will work together as a team, I also do it as an exercise to gain a better understanding of the game and how the rules work. I end of spending allot of time looking up rules etc...it gives me a firmer grasp of things.

But If given the choice i would prefer to play at a game with Gm and real players.

The Exchange

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Don't see anything wrong with it, if I were to run an AP and had the time, I might try to run through some stuff just to test the difficulty level, so as to see where the party might run into problems. Nothing beats a good experiment, afterall :)


When someone makes an accusation of some mental aberration or instability in the way you play your game, you know they have some kind of hidden agenda. Their judgement is suspect - questionable.

I find it difficult to imagine a GM sitting at the table alone with all his/her rulebooks and manuals, but fearing to read, experiment and test things out in case s/he were accused of being 'crazy'.

Perhaps the accuser seeks to belittle the GM - maybe to give themselves an edge at the table; a sense of being more powerful. Maybe they can shame the GM so that they won't be as knowledgeable about the rules. It could even be jealousy that the GM is actually doing very well at mastering the game - better even than the accuser perhaps...

Whatever the motive, it could be considered madness to be disrespectful of your GM and his/her efforts, which are likely to be substantial, just to keep you entertained.

Grand Lodge

If I had the time I'd probably do it in order to test out several PC builds at once, and to see what resources I'd need to come to bear to overcome certain things on the GM and PC side.


Actually, the idea of doing this for testing purposes sounds excellent. Testing difficulty level, house rules (for that matter, also non-house rules), AP/module modifications, party compositions, PC builds (for that matter, also NPC builds), and strategies is useful in its own right. Now that various people have mentioned these things above, maybe I should do this before I can get into a PbP.

Of course, using the above reasons would also give me plausible cover for mental disorders . . . :-)

Dark Archive

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Yeah, I have a bunch of munchkin characters with different munchkin specialities that I made to test out AP's specifically so that I know how to ramp up the difficulty in case my players decide to munchkin(which they do a lot).


Weslocke wrote:

I have run solo sessions like this before. I have even solo'd parts of some AP's (Iron Gods 1-4 & Reign Of Winter 1-3).

I believe Turin the Mad does this as well.

And just on a side note a neurosis or three does not hurt these endeavors. Kind of like icing on a cake, really.

I do so as a tool to see if (a) I want to GM the AP; and (b) if I think my group of players can handle it. Oh, and (c) to test out character concepts.


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Galinaar, chill out.


I don't think it's crazy at all for a DM to do a test-run with himself before he plays with a group. It seems like a great way to get to know the adventure so he can do a better job for his players.

Of course if he playtests by making up parties of characters and having them converse and interact with one another when he's the only one there... that would be a little strange.

Personally I think it's really nice of the DM to put that much work into running an adventure. I'm sure his players would appreciate all his extra effort.


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A simulated game is a great way for a DM to test ideas, concepts, etc. I do it frequently in order to get a feel for what a class or creature is really capable of. It is actually something that I recommend to new DMs.

But then again I'm crazy and have papers to prove it, so my advice may not be the best.


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GypsyMischief wrote:
Galinaar, chill out.

<...hears voice in head...halts solo game...reaches for Chill Pill...continues with plan to create, conquer and control his own world... haha haaa, cackle...>

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Pipefox wrote:
Of course if he playtests by making up parties of characters and having them converse and interact with one another when he's the only one there... that would be a little strange.

Now I want to run a PbP with no one but myself and four aliases so I can tell the story of an AP in the form of an online novel about my four characters.


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I used to generate tons of dungeons for BECMI D&D, about 90% randomly generated. Then I would let them set around a while, and then run through them solo or with my little brother. It's not something that would occupy me now, but that's mainly because my tastes have sharpened. It has most of the elements I look for in an RPG experience: uncertainty, color, fairly objective challenges. If you left me on a desert island with some RPG books, I might do it again, who knows?


Forever Alone GM.

Seriously though, it's perfectly acceptable to run an adventure by yourself. I've done it back in the day to test out adventures I've created and to see how character builds work out. Consider it a trial run, if you will.


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I think OP isn't trying to belittle anybody. They found something they were genuinely surprised by and came here to understand it. I'd never heard of it myself but looking at it, it makes perfect sense.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I'd probably be doing exactly that if I didn't have four campaigns to (somewhat) satisfy me.


I have never tried to GM and run the players by myself. But, I do have a friend who I run for who plays a single character and I run the personalities of 3 NPCs to round out a 4 person party. During combat the player runs his character and one of the NPCs and I don't have much trouble making decisions as the two other GMPCs while also running the baddies. I just let the single player drive the major decisions outside of combat and the campaign has been going pretty well.

The campaign is a Savage Tide/Skull and Shackles mashup set in Golarion. The player has been enjoying himself so I think overall it has been a success.


I did this all the time in 2nd edition. It was part of my game prep. I had a group of characters I ran through every adventure I was planning on running the week before the game and it really helped me as a DM be prepered for most things that popped up in game. I don't do this so much now. Things are more complictaed and it would take me too much time but if I see an encounter in my read through that is out of the ordinary I'll solo that to try to come up with the best way to run it for my players.


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I do this all the time. I don't act out any of the personalities, but I lay out fight scenes and go through them. See I write all my own adventures for my homebrew so the normal process is:

1. I set up an adventure, following the basic guidlines of the CRB, Bestiaries, and the GM's Guide.

2. I add/tweak some encounters; re-skin monsters, add/change powers and feats, etc.

3. I play-test what I've made with a quartet of generic PCs. For the purpose of these tests the party is generally not as optimized as I know how to make them.

4. If the fights result in TPKs or the clues are impossible to find with standard die rolls, etc then I start watering it down; if I go through the fights a couple times and my generics barely break a sweat, I tinker a bit more.

Note: during these sessions anywhere possible I use averages. I assume 10's on skill checks, average damages and have everyone taking 10's on saves as well. If this yields a cake-walk for the PCs the first time through, then I use some die rolls. If it's STILL too easy, that's when the revisions happen.

It's not that I'm playing the game solo, but more along the lines of running simulations to see if my games work. This is how I figured out that swapping out a wyvern's sting for a tail slap and a breath weapon was devastating to what I'd consider an average level 4 party.


I ran a party of four through the first two books of Carrion Crown, playing the GM and all four PCs myself. They all died horribly at the first encounter in Book 3. It wasn't even that hard an encounter -- the dice just decided to hate them.

It was good practice in divorcing GM knowledge from player knowledge, which has stood me in good stead on a couple of different occasions when I've wound up re-playing published adventures that I previously played.

That said, it wasn't nearly as fun as playing with other people. I know myself pretty well. It's difficult to surprise myself with my own choices. But players and GMs do that to one another all the time.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's the DM who admits playing with Cosmo you have to watch out for.


If I ever actually give my wife's stuffed animals PFS numbers and take credit for running them through scenarios then I'll take the crazy bait.


Live Bait wrote:
If I ever actually give my wife's stuffed animals PFS numbers and take credit for running them through scenarios then I'll take the crazy bait.

If I liked PFS ... hrmmm .... *notes Missus Turin's storage bins full o' stuffed animals* ;)


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random psych billing humor:

Pretty sure the attempt to get "Plays solo rpgs" added to the DSM V / ICD X under DX 300.17 were shot down this time around.
... or was that 300.12? :)

-TimD


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TimD wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Wait, so that's not the complete guide to traits? I've been misled.

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