I recently received an interesting opportunity from one of my favorite dungeon masters. She had found an entire packet of adventures designed for just one player. The adventures were packaged as Pathfinder “One on One,” a single player, single DM and purpose based series of modules meant to run solo. It was pretty intriguing. The One On One Adventures Compendium, available on Paizo’s website, had options for almost any character class but we chose to start with the Rogue adventures and move on from there. I’ll look more into what’s in the full PDF in a moment, but first here’s how it actually played:
The instructions for the first Rogue module were very direct. This game was going to rely on stealth and rogue skills:
Characters should make certain to have skill points in Bluff, Disable Device and Perception, while points in Diplomacy, Linguistics, Profession (Gambler), Sleight of Hand, Stealth and Use Magic Device could also prove useful.
I took that advice to heart. Pathfinder, it turns out, has a lot of options for the Rogue who doesn’t think he will have any allies to depend on. My DM (or in this case GM) chose not to restrict character creation to the core books so in building a second level Rogue, I had access to all the numerous feats and Rogue Talents from everything Paizo had published. I chose to specialize in “dirty tricks” hoping that I could throw sand in my opponent’s eyes and buy myself a chance to use my sneak attack. I tossed my highest attribute roll into Dexterity, chose a dexterous race and grabbed the “Deft Hands” feat to make sure I had Disable Device and Sleight of Hands skills suggested
As I sat down to play I’m sure you imagine me sitting across the table from the GM, her behind a screen with maps and all the trappings. It was, in fact, much less formal. We both sat on a couch and her white fluffy dog slept between us, occasionally rolling onto the Pathfinder core rulebook we kept there as reference. She played music from a Bluetooth speaker to set the mood and rolled her dice in a small wooden dice tray we made by removing the drawer from an antique desk. The rest of the gaming materials were just piled on the coffee table. I really didn’t know what to expect from the adventure but soon she was reading the opening text.
I should mention here that there may be some SPOILERS included for the adventure (entitled “Gambler’s Quest”) but I’ll try to keep things general.
The plot works like this: my character is a gambler who’s currently in prison. Whoops, it turns out I’m not exactly the world’s best card shark. When the settlement that holds that prison is attacked and ransacked, the townsfolk let me back out with hopes I can track down their lost stuff. See, they think the lord of the land was behind the attack (they don’t know why) and he’s holding a gaming tournament in a couple of days. This seems to them like a great cover to sneak around his castle and find out what’s going on. For my character it means I get released, get my stuff back, and the townsfolk will pay me as well as covering my entry into the tournament. I took the job.
From that point on, the adventure plays a little like the Mel Gibson movie (Or the 50’s TV show) Maverick. I get introduced to a whole bunch of other participants in the game tournament and I am given a schedule of the games I’ll have to play. This gives my character a lot of time to explore, and a whole bunch of shady characters to check up on. Some of these other players have to be in league with the forces behind the attack, don’t they?
The adventure was certainly driven by the roleplaying with the GM doing about 8 voices of various other gamblers and me working to play them against each other. During the breaks between tournament rounds I was sneaking about, breaking into rooms, and scaling walls. Everyone had a secret and so much fun stuff to steal. The module gave the GM a lot of wiggle room for me to play out the situations as I felt my character would and she was able to ramp up the intrigue to respond to how my actions were rippling through the tournament. We also played out the actual game rounds, in this case a dice game called “Skulls,” the rules for which are in the adventure (it uses six sided dice). The game itself is a little dry and doesn’t hold up the drama of the rest of the adventure, but my GM quickly tweekend it a bit. I might even suggest bringing your favorite dice game along and playing that in place of “Skulls” for each round.
Combat was predictably difficult. As anyone who’s ever been the last conscious member of their party knows, you really feel alone when it’s just you fighting. My dependence on dirty tricks worked okay, but I still felt like I was one hit away from death at all times. It didn’t help that I had 13 hit points. To her credit, the GM did everything she could to make the fights feel like those in a heist movie more than the gritty tactical world often found in Pathfinder. I was the hero of my story and as such the world bent a bit to let that happen. I still drank almost all my healing potions in the first combat. It felt good though, and, all in all, the adventure felt good.
We played for something like 8 hours, however with so much roleplay, this barely crossed the halfway point of the adventure. We already have the next few sessions on the calendar. Would I recommend it? Definitely. I don’t think it is for everyone, but I do think it’s really fun for the right people. In fairness, I should mention we played the adventure best suited to me as a player, as I like roleplaying and tend to play Rogues. The compendium offers some other options including wizard and barbarian which might not have been as fun at least to me. I think it’s worth the 18 dollars (which buys you a downloadable PDF) for just one or two of the adventures so even if I never played the non-rogue ones I’d still feel like I got great value out of it.
I would recommend this game to anyone who is interested in playing around with aspects of their Pathfinder experience. If you have the right GM and you love roleplaying, these adventures can be both a great way to get your gaming fix and an alternative when your normally gaming group can’t make your regular weekly session. You will have to pull the compendium apart and only play the parts that work for you, but that’s fine. If anything, it can be the start to writing your own solo adventures.
Would you play Pathfinder (or D&D) one on one? If you had to run a character solo what class would you choose? Give us your answers, or your solo gaming stories, in the comments.
Images Courtesy “One On One Adventures Compendium” Expeditious Retreat Press
Header Image Pathfinder / Paizo