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Author Topic: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?  (Read 752 times)

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Offline SkynetTopic starter

Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« on: September 28, 2013, 01:19:55 AM »
One of the systems I have extensive experience with is the D20 System for 3rd Edition D&D and its iterations.  I had a few ideas brewing in my head for D&D-esque settings, and was thinking of using this for system RPs on Elliquiy.

However, I never GMed a solo game with this system.  Anybody here with some good advice on how to handle this?

I've read a series of articles called "Duet Role-Playing" on rpg.net and Blue Moon Aurora, and I really like the ideas.  The advice I'm looking for in this thread is more system-specific.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 01:27:49 AM by Skynet »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 10:26:46 AM »
I wasn't going to write this, but nobody offers you any solution. And since my experience with PF/3.5 solo games are less than stellar, putting it midly, I'm going to give you my best advice for your situation.
Said advice is "deriously consider changing the system", alas.

If you're dead-set on 3.5/PF, give the player a full-caster class and start at least 5th level level. At this point, they can solo whatever encounter is prepared fro an unoptimized party.
I recommend Druid, CoDZilla cleric, or just plain old Wizard.

Offline SkynetTopic starter

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 01:59:56 AM »
I asked for PF because it seems popular here.  If not that, what other D&D-esque games would you say are suitable for one-on-one role-play?

Offline ExisD

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 12:41:39 PM »
I've had quite a few good experiences with 3.5 and pathfinder solos, but I tend to play either full spell casters or a race that gives me good SLA's so that probably biases things a bit since I could handle any sort of encounter with a little thought.

I general I do agree with Thufir if you're going with more traditional dnd adventures. I don't think it would be much of an issue if the system was a backdrop for the role-playing where the actual mechanical portions are focused on things the character is able to accomplish, or not accomplish if that's the goal of the game. See a rogue getting missions about infiltrating and stealing things or assassinating someone wouldn't be so bad, but a traditional dungeon crawl might be very painful for them.

As for specific advice on dnd.

A bunch of the options are are rough, but able to be dealt with for parties are pretty devastating for a solo character in my experience, ability damage/drain, grappling,  and negative levels coming to mind first.
The usual dnd action economy issue is inverted with the player taking the role of the boss monster unless they have summoning or allies. NPC allies are really nice to help deal with the problem.
Consumables are great for giving characters ways out of problems without making them permanent additions to the character.

The primary other systems that I've found work well for fantasy solos are Exalted and Mage. Simply due to the versatility that characters can come up with fairly easily in them. I suspect Vampire and a fluff-modified Shadowrun would also work well.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 12:50:22 PM by ExisD »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 01:45:58 PM »
I asked for PF because it seems popular here.  If not that, what other D&D-esque games would you say are suitable for one-on-one role-play?
OSR games would allow it, if the GM is following the assumed playstyle. That means reliance on hirelings and followers, sandbox without assumptions about the plot, the main source of XP being different from fighting or at least not requiring fighting, and lots of random generated events, both in fights, travel, or in character generation. In fact, the player should be aware that fights are, like everything else, inherently unfair. This means that if you're into one that you didn't resolve with planning and improvisation, before it started, you've obviously screwed up ;D! And yes, I mean the approach "combat as war" prevails here.
Make no mistake, OSR characters start out badass, and get from there. The first level fighting man is called a Veteran, with the title Hero being a single digit of levels away. The green troops don't have class levels, period. It's just that you don't want to risk, because the GM might have rolled an opponent several levels above you on the random opponents column, and you don't expect fudging neither in your favour nor against you... >:)
On top of that, OSR games tend to be free in PDF form.

And yes, done well, it's much closer to FATE, Sorcerer and In A Wicked Age, or even to Runequest and Traveller, than to standard D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder. The changes in playstyle between editions have been striking, to say the least.

Speaking of which, if the above doesn't appeal to you, why don't you actually try FATE or FU? Both work just fine for solo games.
And then there's the Trollbabe game and S/Lay w/Me, which both assume a solo game. Kinda the opposite of the party approach exhibited by modern D&D at least since 3.0 and probably since late in the AD&D2e times. S/Lay w/Me also has the advantage it already assumes games can veer into E.-friendly territory.
I mean, it's a game where the GM plants a Monster and a potential Lover from the get-go in the setting. The two might be the same thing, or not, and one of the main questions is whether the character gets together with the Lover. It's kinda surprising we're not seeing more games of it around here :P!



I've had quite a few good experiences with 3.5 and pathfinder solos, but I tend to play either full spell casters or a race that gives me good SLA's so that probably biases things a bit since I could handle any sort of encounter with a little thought.
That probably explains it. These are the two options I ban if I'm running a d20 game, and you can't get me to play them.
Quote
I general I do agree with Thufir if you're going with more traditional dnd adventures. I don't think it would be much of an issue if the system was a backdrop for the role-playing where the actual mechanical portions are focused on things the character is able to accomplish, or not accomplish if that's the goal of the game. See a rogue getting missions about infiltrating and stealing things or assassinating someone wouldn't be so bad, but a traditional dungeon crawl might be very painful for them.
I agree as well. That's also why I think he doesn't need something with so detailed rules as Pathfinder.
BTW, a "traditional" dungeon crawl, meaning an old-school one, would be quite possible. But it would require a high level of skill on the part of the player and thinking around the system. Or if you prefer, roleplaying details instead of resorting to the system. Personally, I prefer roleplaying and then resorting to the system for adjudicating the consequences, but that's a matter of style.

Quote
As for specific advice on dnd.

A bunch of the options are are rough, but able to be dealt with for parties are pretty devastating for a solo character in my experience, ability damage/drain, grappling,  and negative levels coming to mind first.
The usual dnd action economy issue is inverted with the player taking the role of the boss monster unless they have summoning or allies. NPC allies are really nice to help deal with the problem.
Consumables are great for giving characters ways out of problems without making them permanent additions to the character.
Agreed on all counts. And grappling also tends to be boring in a solo game, unless the characters are really into it.

Quote
The primary other systems that I've found work well for fantasy solos are Exalted and Mage. Simply due to the versatility that characters can come up with fairly easily in them. I suspect Vampire and a fluff-modified Shadowrun would also work well.
With the caveat that Exalted, as a system, doesn't work well neither for group nor in solo games, I agree. That said, it's a great setting for solo play, which what I suspect you meant.

Offline SkynetTopic starter

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 05:38:52 PM »
I brought it up in another thread, but there was a free Solo Heroes supplement designed for Labyrinth Lord (an OSR game based off of Basic/Expert D&D), incorporating things for better PC survival rates.  I'd definitely be open to trying an old-school style solo game if the rules work (I'm not well-versed in the system intricacies yet).

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2013, 05:57:39 AM »
I brought it up in another thread, but there was a free Solo Heroes supplement designed for Labyrinth Lord (an OSR game based off of Basic/Expert D&D), incorporating things for better PC survival rates.  I'd definitely be open to trying an old-school style solo game if the rules work (I'm not well-versed in the system intricacies yet).
The system works for its own goals. The thing about OSR games is that the GMing mastery requires less knowing the rules and more applying them creatively, sometimes in a way you devised on the spot ;D.
And yes, better PC survival rates could help, although if you really want to guarantee survival outside of major conflicts, it's better to go for the aforementioned Trolbbabe and S/Lay w/Me games ;D!

Offline alextaylor

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2013, 01:00:16 PM »
I absolutely love dungeon crawlers, but I can't see myself playing D&D via forum. It's tabletop for good reason. No idea about D&D 4, but 3.5 goes through a lot of rounds and can even be a hassle to play real time. It seems something like chess.. some people enjoy the slow flow of things, but I certainly don't.

Personally, I think it should only take about 3-6 attacks to knock out a character. I've solo played a party vs party game via email, and it was good fun. I lean towards FATE/GURPS here because the bell-curve dice rolls make it more plausible for deciding a battle in 4-6 attacks. Otherwise you could get frustrated at freak d20 dice rolls giving weird results.

And I mean 4-6 attacks, not hits. Waiting 2 days for a guy to swing and miss, only to swing and miss back at him really kills the mood. You can probably accomplish something like this in D&D by multiplying damage on both sides... fighting is more dramatic when every hit is serious anyway.

If you keep the fight scenes quick, I can see it working for low-high level scenes. You should probably multiply XP rewards to quicken the pace too. Maybe even 1 level per session or something.

Also do note that D&D is heavily tilted towards playing as a party of at least 3 people. The XP/item rewards are way borked if you're playing solo. It assumes you've got a tank (fighter/barbarian), DPS (often a mage), and healer at least. Or tons of healing resources. And rogues are incredibly useful for proper dungeon crawls. And it is designed to be played in dungeons.

D&D is detailed towards hack and slash. I find that a lot of people around here like actually want detailed sex. And the people who go for systems games here quite often want a competitive sex romp. If you're going for romantic flirts and Conan the Cimmerian style freeform flings in between combat, D&D is perfect. But D&D lacks sex mechanics. Unlike systems like FATE which allow you to redesign a more sexy skill set or something like Rapture Academy or Dungeonfuckers which builds sex into the game from the start.

Offline SkynetTopic starter

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2013, 10:59:13 PM »
Quote
Unlike systems like FATE which allow you to redesign a more sexy skill set or something like Rapture Academy or Dungeonfuckers which builds sex into the game from the start.

Color me intrigued, especially on the latter! :-)

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2013, 01:52:12 AM »
I absolutely love dungeon crawlers, but I can't see myself playing D&D via forum. It's tabletop for good reason. No idea about D&D 4, but 3.5 goes through a lot of rounds and can even be a hassle to play real time. It seems something like chess.. some people enjoy the slow flow of things, but I certainly don't.

Personally, I think it should only take about 3-6 attacks to knock out a character. I've solo played a party vs party game via email, and it was good fun. I lean towards FATE/GURPS here because the bell-curve dice rolls make it more plausible for deciding a battle in 4-6 attacks. Otherwise you could get frustrated at freak d20 dice rolls giving weird results.

And I mean 4-6 attacks, not hits. Waiting 2 days for a guy to swing and miss, only to swing and miss back at him really kills the mood. You can probably accomplish something like this in D&D by multiplying damage on both sides... fighting is more dramatic when every hit is serious anyway.

If you keep the fight scenes quick, I can see it working for low-high level scenes. You should probably multiply XP rewards to quicken the pace too. Maybe even 1 level per session or something.

Also do note that D&D is heavily tilted towards playing as a party of at least 3 people. The XP/item rewards are way borked if you're playing solo. It assumes you've got a tank (fighter/barbarian), DPS (often a mage), and healer at least. Or tons of healing resources. And rogues are incredibly useful for proper dungeon crawls. And it is designed to be played in dungeons.

D&D is detailed towards hack and slash. I find that a lot of people around here like actually want detailed sex. And the people who go for systems games here quite often want a competitive sex romp. If you're going for romantic flirts and Conan the Cimmerian style freeform flings in between combat, D&D is perfect. But D&D lacks sex mechanics. Unlike systems like FATE which allow you to redesign a more sexy skill set or something like Rapture Academy or Dungeonfuckers which builds sex into the game from the start.
Indeed, for dungeoncrawling, something like Torchbearer should be way, way better, sincen opposed roll is enough to decide the Stakes of the engagement.
But I agree, FATE and S/Lay w/Me would be way better for sexy romps, either in a dungeon or outside of it. Just put Rapture Academy, Horny Monsters, or Dungeonfuckers as campaign Aspects with a free invocation per scene, and they should see lots of use, while at the same time lowering the number of combat turns ;D!

Offline alextaylor

Re: Advice for a solo Pathfinder/3.5 game?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 06:38:29 AM »
Lol, I should check out Torchbearer and S/Lay w/Me. So many good new systems out ever since kickstarter went up.

Color me intrigued, especially on the latter! :-)

There's a group Rapture Academy game just started if you want in. Don't be scared off by the length of the thread, it's only been 3 days.

Honestly, after trying it out a bit, I really like the system. It allows both completely mundane characters and extreme characters. You can do typical teenagers, typical jocks, demons, Incredible Hulk, poltergeists, golems, evil geniuses, mind controlling aliens, etc. And yet it remains surprisingly balanced. The downside is that it's not at all designed for combat.. and just like you'd do sex with modified combat mechanics in D&D, you'd have to do combat with modified sex mechanics in RA. You'd still be able to rape and surprise buttfuck girls without any combat at all, though.


Dungeonfuckers is also really good if you like really gritty, twisted fantasy. Something like the feel of Aliens in a dungeon setting and with heavy sexist tones. Only 3 classes, really basic rules, but gets down to the dirty stuff quick. I think it's a bit undertested (because it's hard to get people to test stuff like this) and most games don't seem to get very far from what I've seen of playthroughs. I feel that Dungeonfuckers actually gets a lot of things right for that tone, like "the dungeon is a living organism" and the simplified dice rolls and 1 hour learning curve. Had a lot of potential.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 08:50:33 AM by alextaylor »