Solo player


When running a single player campaign, what rules do you recommend putting in place

A couple of things I've seen is allowing to gestalt and giving extra npcs for backup, is there anything else?

The easiest thing is letting one player play two PCs or more.

Give them a few rewinds. A chance to go back and NOT do something incredibly stupid that results in their death.

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Gestalt is good for single player campaigns, so good thoughts there. NPC allies are good, but if the GM ends up playing what are effectively 3 or 4 PCs, that can sap a lot of player enjoyement.

The suggestion of Jaunt to let the player control multiple PCs is a good one, but in my own experience, its value heavily depends on the type of campaign you're running. If the player is mostly interested in the combat aspect, then it should work fine. If they're more of a heavy roleplayer, keeping track of several PCs can be more frustrating.

Just as a GM, I'd recommend keeping in mind that not every combat needs to end in death for either PCs or adversaries. Opportunities for withdrawal, or situations where a PC can be defeated, but captured, etc. can be helpful.

One thing I've found that PCs like in single-player or small group campaigns is infiltration/stealth scenarios. In a normal campaign where only one PC is likely to have decent stealth abilities, this can be frustrating for the rest of the group, as they either have to sit on the sideline, or risk ruining it by participation, but a single-PC campaign can be perfect for this.

Not every PC needs to be a fully fleshed out character either. Maybe your main PC's brother is a monk who took a vow of silence, or maybe you hired a tragically stupid thug to be your bodyguard who acts mostly just as dumb muscle. Maybe your PC inherited a family servitor who has the skills of a rogue, but the personality of a dalak.

Big thumbs up on taking advantage of stealth when there's no other PCs to ruin it for you.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you give your player another PC to use in combat, I recommend you take over the roleplaying aspect of the character. Make him a backseater to the player's character and try to avoid that GMPC interacting with other NPCs when possible (it can get quite boring for your player) but let the player have more control in combat.

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Another thing I thought might be useful was the leadership feat using the item cohort option as there would be less character management for the cohort

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I have played successful 1 on 1 campaigns, even using published material without significant re-work with the following parameters.

1. The Player only controlled a single gestalt character. Having the player run 2 characters dilutes one of the biggest benefits of a one on one campaign, lots of face time to develop the character and its relationships. Its far more immersive to have the player control a single character.

2. The DM controls a dmpc that is also a gestalt character. Here is the players primary ally, and hopefully close companion, if done right, 2 gestalt characters will be fine in most situations.

3. Higher stats/point buy with the understanding that that extra will be used to create more well rounded characters, not to make one or two ability scores highter.

4. Strongly encourage classes that mix the primary roles (fighter, rogue, cleric, wizard) and offer action economy benefits. The biggest problems in a small, or one on one game are the lack of ability to cover certain expected situations and the action economy. No matter how capable you are, you still only get one turn, one standard action, and in general 4-5 turns of slightly weaker characters is a far superior effect 1 or 2 turns from stronger characters (unless they are significantly stronger). Many classes both offer lots of versatility of character role and action economy benefits. Use them.

The hands down best of the bunch are the druid (with a potent animal companion), hunter and the summoner. The powerful pets of these classes help them even out the action economy (if each character has one, then you have 4 sets of actions each round). And each brings significant magic to the table as well as skills, extra abilities, and combat capacity.

Next are the classes that offer some action economy benefit and/or blend the classic roles. The bard, ranger, paladin, magus, warpriest, and inquisitor, investigator, witch and shaman fit this bill.

I would strongly recommend each of the 2 characters (the player character and dmpc) have at least one class from the top 2 categories, preferably both if possible. You want each of the two characters to cover as much ground as possible (including overlaps between them) because any time one of them is not available you lose 50% of your party's capability (instead of 20-25% as normal).

With these 4 items you can pretty much just run a normal campaign. A druid/inquisitor summoner/bard party for instance is basically ready for anything a typical 4 person party would be. I've actually gone through most of an adventure path with the above combination with basically no issues.

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Mythic could add some help to action economy and survivability.

The Exchange

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I tried running a lunar oracle/summoner gestalt with as much cheese I could think off and the old divine protection through Master of fallen fortress. It didn't really work out very well.

Tried through crypt of everflame. Not really very well either.(Aka never got to end boss).

The problem was with exotic enemies, like swarms and incorpreals. How is a lv 1 character solo able to deal with a swarm? 1d4 burning hands is soooo helpful. Having to buy armor for both your animal companion and yourself does not give you much money for acid flasks. Besides, you miss a lot with acid flasks at lv 1.

Eidolons and animal companion aren't too helpful with swarms and incorps. Even with magic attacks, an incorp takes out your biped eid faster then your eid can take it out. And DR is a nightmare.

I think if you were to run something for a solo player, please remove swarms, incorpreals, and anything with material based DR until level 3, at least. And start them with a fully charged of clw/infernal healing or its going to be lots of downtime.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gordrenn Higgler wrote:

When running a single player campaign, what rules do you recommend putting in place

A couple of things I've seen is allowing to gestalt and giving extra npcs for backup, is there anything else?

You ever read one of those turn a page adventure books? You notice how the adventure is set up specifically for the character?

That's what you should be doing for a single player campaign.

I recommend the player being an gestalt unchained rogue/sorcerer. Choose buffing spells and you never have to worry about DCs. Also, allow a coup de grace to be executed against someone who is completely surprised by the player.

I've seen entire dungeons cleared as the player sneaks past everyone, lies in wait (once literally hiding under the BBEG's bed), and kill the main villain. The mooks become moot at that point.

Give the enemies plausible reasons to capture the PC ("bring the prisoners, I want them alive!") instead of kill her. Then there's always an escape possibility.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I recommend that you ask your player what kind of character he wants to play and build the adventure around him.

He wants to play a fighter? Have him find lots of potions and may give him a weak regeneration ability from a mystic blessing. He wants to play something else... same logic applies... just use a different variation.

Let the player play what he wants to play, and shape the campaign to fit... instead of the reverse approach that others seem to be advocating. He'll enjoy it more... and you'll enjoy the better roleplaying.

For a setup as extreme as this... don't be afraid to bend or break some rules.

The Exchange

The problem with a rogue/sorcerer gestalt, is you can't exactly heal yourself after combat unless you use infernal healing. Also, no condition removal. Also very GM dependent on stealth rulings. If you should run into a scrap and get some nasty condition on you, you're screwed. And stuff like scent can spot you, or raise alarm, invisibility or no.

That said, if your players gestalt choice does not give trapfinding, remove all traps from the scenario. The poor player already needs to cover melee, ranged, face, knowledge skills, sneaky by himself, don't add to his overburdened list.

Though, yes I'd love to participate in any of these experiments of single player campaigns.

Rogue/Sorc gets UMD as a class skill and will have a high Cha to cover diplomacy and casting.

The Exchange

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Higher levels, certainly possible. Razmiran priest lets you abuse UMD out of your own spells. You're still dependent on GM for scrolls, and if you don't have the ability score, you need to UMD it. At lv 1, a +8 umd score would be realistic for a sorc/rogue. Need DC 20+ for scrolls and wands.

Yeah, but there's no harm in failing unless you roll a 1. Alternatively, get a wand of Infernal Healing. You just don't have the action economy as a single PC to be healing in combat.

The Exchange

All you need is a blindness spell targetted at you. Or maybe a ghoul after you....just 1 failed fort save. My reasoning is that if there are more bodies on the battlefield, at least there's more stuff to draw flak. ^^

Well, most people have most of the things covered.

Right now, I'm playing a 1-on-1 with my wife in a Blue Rose campaign (Blue Rose is both a setting and a d20 system variant - it is the precursor of the True20 system, if you've ever heard of that). In that game I have the luxury of making it up as I go along - I presume, however, that you're using an AP, or module series, which is substantially more structured.

Prior to that, I've run several 1-on-1s with her (and her for me), using the APs, and here are a few things I've found:

- gestalt can be fabulous for adding more options; just make sure it's not overly complicated... for the player playing it. Some players will revel in having a cleric/wizard with 20 in both casting stats to start... and some won't really know what spells they have or what they're supposed to do with the ones they do have. This is not being a bad player - it's having a different style.
- - to that end, there are two options: allow the player to "cover" things with abilities that normally don't ("Why, yes, your Sleight of Hand can help in that grapple by subtly tying his laces...") or helping the player choose "optimal" abilities ("You really want glitterdust, O oracle-sorcerer!")
- - also, you'll want to be a wee bit more forgiving, unless your PC would prefer you didn't Note: the reincarnated druid can allow the best of both worlds in that regard.

- an alternate to gestalt can be mythic: with additional defenses, augmented attack capabilities, and more rapid healing, so long as you keep your mythic up early and solidly, you should be mostly okay for equivalent CR encounters with most builds (this is not absolute)

- as a final option, for action economy (especially if the PC is not interested in summoning or companions), consider templates; most notably, the quickling, mythic agile, and alacritous; also shadow traced, eldritch, and dream creature, though those templates' abilities are more esoteric
- - each of these grant some method of action-economy control or alteration - either by increasing the PC's action economy (all but dream creature) or by decreasing the foes' action economy (eldritch and dream creature)

- discuss how strictly you want the AP to be followed, consider allowing the AP to derail hard when the PC does something clever or awesome (see"allow abilities to cover things they normally wouldn't" above), and consider how you can use what the player does that would otherwise derail the game to help the game continue

- consider how to disseminate information: templates can work well, such as the haunted one, or, like in the Blue Rose game I'm running, you can have a tagalong "sage" (he is relatively worthless except for information dumping - practically immune to arcana (magic) and entirely unable to use it, terrible in combat, poor at social interaction, and easily flustered or exhausted... but really hard to hit (due to using Int for AC), with high saves (due to feat choices), skill focus in all the knowledges (feats are more plentiful in True20), and that's about it

To give an example, I recently ran a game for the PC where she played a Paladin of Iomedae; a dragon slayer (including a mildly toned-down Oath Against Wyrms from the Oathbound Paladin archetype, to allow for "reasonable" people to take the the thing).

In that game, I'd set it up so that that, when she was eight, her village had been destroyed by a powerful red dragon - a great wyrm... 300 years ago; her mother, a powerful arcanist, had just happened to prepared but a single spell - the temporal stasis - that was useful in saving her daughter's life that day, and used it on the girl, as the last thing she saw was the red nightmare of fire and death bearing down on her and her mother. She was found, later, by some priests of Iomedae who'd heard of the destruction, and came to help survivors, but only found the frozen "statue" of the girl, a nastily blunted Iomedae-like blade, and a wall cut in half - she would have never been found in the rubble, if the wall had collapsed on top of her; she was deemed a 'miracle' and was taken back to the monastery, along with the blade (which was set in her up-turned hands).

300 years later, the 'stasis suddenly ended, and a traveling herbalist assisted her recovery (as she'd still been badly burned before the 'stasis ended) and the monastery named after her discovery ("the Grimblade Monastery") suddenly found itself without half of it's 'holy relic' - who was now just a frightened, burned little girl without a home or family, suffering nightmares of fire and dragons every night. They left the sword with her at all times, though she didn't know how to use it.

She was raised there for several years, then, when she was twelve, her second miracle occurred: while she was in the chapel, a freak magical accident teleported a wounded very young magma dragon. The reaction caused the chapel to collapse on the dragon, trapping and wounding it further, but leaving it alive. As it was spewing lava and killing folks, it could have escaped and killed many - so, without thinking, she grabbed the sword she had been equipped with, charged the beast, and slew it with a single mighty strike (1d8, nat 20, max dmg = 16 dmg... enough to kill a young magma dragon left with 1 hit point).

Stats and Traits:
She used the Paladin of Iomedae found in the NPC Codex, modified with the Warrior of the Holy Light (losing the spells) and Oath Against Wyrms archetypes with the the Agile and Invincible templates, and a special template I made for her that was basically the Haunted One template plus the ability to detect thoughts (instead of evil), but all uses of the Haunted One template and detect thoughts ability cost her uses of "Inner Light" - which was used to power her holy light, lay on hands, channel energy, and smites such as well (reducing the pools she had to track to one, but having everything tap into it).

Though NPC allies became "consistent" recurring characters - a shae rogue, and a druid-like nymph, as well as a few others - she was, by far, the most powerful, and the only one that really mattered for most combats. The NPC allies shifted focus, as they saw this, to that of assistance - they were competent, but she was better.

So the Game Went:
Her nightmares ended with that dragon's death, and she became a paladin who swore to hunt down evil dragons, and, by successfully killing a creature 7-8 CR above her, she gained mythic.

This naturally segued into the three modules, The Dragon's Demand (her family name is the same as a dead noble there), Dragonfall (via the herbalist that aided her), and Blood of the Dragonscar (because that used to be her hometown, ages ago). A hand-waived "and she fought dragons" backstory brought her up to level thirteen.

I started with a one-off battle against "the Dragon Knight" against her and an "army" of first-through-third-level warriors, and a few 6th level aristocrats, as a force from Galt.

(She'd been hired, by note from the "previous administration" to come to Galt to rid them of the dragon, who was attacking local towns; by the time she got there, the administration had been overthro- "turned over to the Revolution for improper protection of their charges" and replaced with a new (far more incompetent) administration who thought they could do everything themselves. They were wrong. Fortunately for those that would become the survivors, they'd "allowed" her to "tag along" - so long as she didn't get in the way, of course.)

The first battle showed her own knowledge and skill compared to the rest, and allowed her to test herself against a "real" dragon that didn't want to die, but should be a really bad deal against a single PC. It attacked "far" from her location, created lots of effects that interfered with her ranged attacks (darkness, fog cloud, etc. v. her crossbow), and forced her to watch as the army was destroyed by its power. She then countered with a beautiful series of saves against the entangled area, and smite evil attacks against the elephant - decapitating it - and the dragon, deeply wounding it. The breath weapon (on average) did juuuuuuuuussst enough damage to snap her longsword, forcing her to rely on a spear before the "dragon knight" fled. She then lined up a shot, imbued it with holy light, and fired, landing the hit, and taking the dragon down with a natural 20 that successfully bypassed the misty 20% failure. The demon escaped, she claimed her dragon (and the valuable mithril armor it was wearing), and left Galt with a minor glare when they tried to cheat her of her promised funds, and, with an intimidate, she walked off.

It was a smashing success - she learned of her own power and understood her relative place in the world (making her bold and happy), and set up the hook - traveling to Maheto to get her blade repaired with a caravan who just happened to go through Belhaim. The leader was arrested, leaving her slightly stranded and, though she could go, she learned of terrible trouble plaguing the town...

And so she gained wealth and accolades, and became a Saint of Iomedae who was e (as well as a wealthy trade mogul, though that was incidental).

Anyway, hope that anecdote helps, and feel free to ask other questions - I've got lots of stories, but don't want to bore you with them!

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