View Full Version : One-on-one Adventures

06-29-2009, 06:51 PM
How many people have run one-on-one adventures, as in one DM and one player? What did you do differently than with a larger group? Discuss your experiences.

I've always run smaller campaigns, with usually only one player or sometimes two. Only on a few occasions have I had parties with three or more.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-29-2009, 07:02 PM
I own a couple of one-on-one adventures. Though admittedly, i have only run one-on-one adventures of my own making. They can be great fun, and in my games, once in a while, they can even be necessary.

06-29-2009, 09:17 PM
The closest I've ever seen was where a player couldn't make the regular session, so the DM would do a quick 1 PC side trek to explain that characters absence. I've never seen a full adventure or campaign done only for a DM and 1 player.

06-29-2009, 09:25 PM
I have done a couple in the past. Short recap of both:

First one was for a thief. He was hired by the city mayor to break into a rival cities library and recover a valuable book that had been stolen years earlier. I set it up with very little combat, but a lot of stealth and problem solving. If the thief was discovered, he would have to fight his way through a half dozen armed guards.

The second was for a paladin to recieve his war horse. He had a dream of the horse being held by an evil warlord in a nearby stronghold. His dream gave him some limited knowledge of the area (a small bit of map showing the stables and where a few guards were located). He actually had the choice of when he wanted to attept the rescue, night or day, and chose the tougher of the two, day. He had a couple of extra encounters due to this, but being prepared with a couple of healing potions really helped him out.

One on one adventures tend to go a lot wuicker than running a group, but as a DM, you really have to be aware of the limitations of the character in the adventure. I made sure to look over the character sheets for equipment, magical items, ability scores, etc. This helped me to not overpower the character but still add some challenge to the adventure.

06-30-2009, 04:23 AM
The best campaign I played in was half solo adventures. Actually, it must have been over 80% solo adventures from the DM's perspective, since he had to do them for all the players. It's kind of nice to get that individual attention. However, it takes a lot of effort. I also used to run tons of solo adventures, but I haven't done a single one in over ten years.

Katherine Kerr, before she became an established fantasy novelist, wrote an excellent article in Dragon Magazine, #80, it might have been, with advice for running solo adventures. I must say, that article really paved the way for me.

The big one for me is the level of challenge. Back in 1st edition, that meant not putting more than twice as many hit dice worth of opponents in the whole adventure as the player's level. It meant a higher ratio of non-combat encounters to combat encounters. Single players were easier to overwhelm and had less capabilities to heal themselves. If they missed a saving throw, unless they were with a bunch of allied NPCs, there wasn't anyone to bail them out. If you had to use a healing item on your round, that was a round where all your opponents were free to do whatever. I hardly ever stuck solo adventurers in anything resembling traditional dungeons, as a result.

Even so, there were a lot of lost battles. Rather than fighting hungry or bloodthirsty monsters, encounters were more often duels, contents, and opponents who were interested in capturing the PC for whatever reason, rather than killing the PC. There was also a lot more evasion and running away, especially when it seemed likely that the enemies were out for blood. Finally, solo adventures allowed for some really grandiose plots from time to time. Without having to deal with an ensemble cast, it was easier for higher level PCs to do things such as, say, lead an entire army.

Some of the more memorable ones, some involving me, some run by me, and some I witnessed involving other players and DMs:
- Having to face down an assassin who had a Morganti dagger. (The DM introduced me to Steven Brust novels.) This adventure started as a mission to investigate the disappearance of a wizard. It was only through piecing together clues that it became evident my character's patron was the one actually in danger. There's not much outside of Call of Cthulhu that's comparable with going against a Morganti-wielder when your character is determined not to flee and has no back-up.

- Turning the tables from above, tracking down a target in order to assassinate him.

- One more variation, traveling across the kingdom dogged by an assassin cult.

- The initiation test of a Thieves' Guild.

- Trying to find a unicorn and warn it about poachers.

- Filling in for the town magistrate and trying to solve three unrelated crimes taking place on the same day. (Thank you, Robert van Gulik.)

- Discovering the kingdom's long-lost steam cannon was being used as a giant pressure cooker in the royal kitchens.

- Participating in a joust.

- Running errands for the local orc tribe because of their cursed, addictive healing potions.

- Exploring the ruins of a flying castle to locate a magical sword (one whose existence and location took me a number of prior solo adventures to research) and discovering that my arch-enemy was there, too.

- Getting your soul trapped in a cursed medallion, and having to make your way back out of the metaphysical maze you found yourself in.

- An eating contest. This one was probably the most memorable, both for the in-game and out-of-game situation. Though I was a player in the campaign, this was a solo adventure between the DM and another player.
He thought he was agreeing to a friendly bout of competitive eating at the spur of the moment. Then he found out the contest was going to be the next day. Then he found out he hadn't been talking to his opponent, but to his opponent's representative. Then he found out that his opponent was 7' 5", possibly a half-ogre, and "trained" by doing things like crab-walking with a tree trunk on his stomach (of course he wanted to check out the competition, and was sorry he did). Then he found out that the contest was going to be rigged in his favor, so a lot of prominent Thieves' Guild representatives were betting on him. Then he found out that the person who was supposed to handle the rigging decided it would be easier to skip town instead. Then he found out about the grilled, candied pixies on skewers.
The best part was that, by the end of this adventure, all the other PCs had heard what was going on, so we were part of the tavern crowd. Out of game, we'd formed an audience, including a few people who weren't even in the campaign, watching to see how he was going to come through this in one piece. I have no recollection whether he did or not.

Baldwin Stonewood
06-30-2009, 05:53 AM
I've played in a few one game shots that were one on one or two on one games. Nothing long term though.

FYI, Expeditious Retreat Press has a series of game modules that are geared towards one on one gaming.

06-30-2009, 07:19 AM
I had a one on one game as a player, but it was only a one time deal, to explain how my character ended up at the Jedi Academy for Star Wars Saga (we were playing during the era of Luke's Jedi Academy), and the GM did a one on one with each player for the same effect. It was alright, but it's not my cup of tea, really.

06-30-2009, 08:32 AM
I have a few one-on-one modules from the Basic or AD&D days ... unsure which and they're packed in boxes right now. But I don't think I ever ran through them with anyone :) I have run solo adventures before though, kind of making it up on the fly, it was fun as a filler when other games were on hold.

06-30-2009, 12:41 PM
I know when I first started playing there was a lot of one on one. Mainly cause my group totaled 3 people. And one of them only came around once a month to visit his dad on his dad's custodial weekend.

We had a lot of fun doing it. Course we were running 2 or 3 characters each and really didn't know what we were doing as we learned it. Ever roll your first character up as a 1E Bard cause they had 10th Level characters at the time you joined in the fun. And than since they were playing TOEE and old Zug had Psionics you got a chance to have them too and you managed to roll a zero you know a 00 on the percentatiles. Talk about being overwhelmed. :D I loved it and kept coming back for more.

06-30-2009, 04:10 PM
Great! Everyone keep them coming!

07-03-2009, 09:06 PM
I have been knowed to run short one-on-one adventures if my the other players are going to be late. Usually it is just info gathering or a bar brawl(which is a ton of fun to play or create). Sometimes it can also be a scouting mission which usually turns into "how can I take out the enemys by myself". I love to hear the strategy the player comes up with, some are really far fecthed.(Player: "I am going to cut down a tree to knock over the ones infront like dominos", Me(DM) " I think they would hear you chopping at the tree")

07-09-2009, 04:34 PM
Ohhh they can be fun.

It all depends on the setting too. My favorite was playing as a rogue/cleric who got dropped into a dungeon about three levels down because of about three pints of strong drink and some idle boasting. The mage I was talking to didn't like what I said about his chances to survive in a dungeon without me I guess...

Woke up and kinda recognized where I was. You know, that big, monster sized dungeon that's fairly renown for eating adventurers for breakfast, where you have to go through a tavern to get to it?

Yea, that one.

Add on top of that, the Drow were coming up through the levels towards the entrance.

You could say I was a few shades of 'screwed'. I will have to say though, I wasn't sure who they were more pissed of with at the end; Waterdeep or me after a few of my more colorful comments.

07-09-2009, 10:24 PM
I've run plenty of solo campaigns and group campaigns. What I have learned is in a solo game I had to build more NPCs and more in-depth characters to interact with the PC.

Also as a GM you get to better see how a player thinks and how he has his character think and act. The draw back is there is not the different problem solving thinking patterns you see in group games.

Though in group games as a DM if the group does RP properly I have to do less planning and can have more diverse combats with multiple enemies. A solo game you have to be really careful with the monsters you choose since you only have 1 player really.

07-10-2009, 12:01 AM
My GM did a star wars campaign that was one on one even though there were two of us playing, we were on opposing sides of the force. It was really interesting, we sat in separate rooms and we actually talked to each other and never knew it. It took nine times longer but it was a fun experience.

As for our D&D games, we used solo adventures for catch up and solo character development. All of our characters had an in depth character history which the GM used to develop several side campaigns at the same time as our large party game.

07-10-2009, 10:00 AM
I've used one-on-ones primarily as side treks for the groups I run. We call'em mini-sessions. They get done to do things specifically focused for the goals a playerhas set for his character. My guys don't go in for just move from one adventure to the next. They like to set-up frameworks for businesses and such among other things. So to keep them happy, and keep the game sessions focused on the group, I do a lot of mini-sessions. I've found it to be an invaluable tool for more in depth, personalized character development.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
07-10-2009, 10:54 AM
I love one-on-ones. They definitely fill the void when one needs a big group. I used them primarily when a near TPK has happend, and one person is trying to escape the Underdark, or whatever. In fact, last scenario i had, the only player left spent quite a few sessions travelling around blindly in the Underdark, before coming across a trading caravan(the new party of adventurers) and therefore continued his adventures with a new party. Great times.

07-20-2009, 09:29 AM
I am in an on going WFRP 2nd edition one-on-one campaign. I had made an Initiate of Sigmar for a group game but that game never really took off due to conflicting schedules. Since I had my character all ready to go, I asked the GM if he would want to run a Solo campaign, and he seemed all for it.

Right away, the game is rather humbling for any adventurer, since they are shown their own advantages and disadvantages. When you are in a party, everyone is better then everyone else at something, so you have all your bases covered. When you are by yourself, and at starting career, you feel the weight of the lack of those supporting adventurers.

07-31-2009, 08:38 PM
I've DMed a few one on one "campaigns" it was mostly to bounce ideas though and make sure that some of my plot made sense...

08-02-2009, 10:36 PM
I've run numerous one-on-one games. I enjoy them, as they tend to be more intense and more story driven. Overall, I think I prefer smaller groups, 5 or less. Any more than that and the game seems to become focused more on combat than on role-playing and players seem to get easily bored.

08-02-2009, 11:33 PM
I've done alot of one-on-ones, with 3.5 it was very RP based which was fun, I got to really rp the hell out of my NPCs and great story line. With 4e I had the guy I was DMing for roll up 4 characters. He picked one to be the leader and I would roleplay the other three, when it came to combat he would controll all the movement, it took sometime for the fights but it was very fun. Being the voice and brains behind the other 3 members of the party led to alot of intresting adventures and in the end it was epic watching as my friend had to battle against his three other ingame party members so as to destroy a huge crystal known as the world stone (total rip off of D2 I know) so as to close the other planes of existince from the prime materal plane.

08-04-2009, 10:05 AM
I think the best part of one-on-one campaigns is it allows DMs to run a game and have a constant NPC with the player, so effectively getting to run the game and play in it all at the same time.