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Thread: My 4e Solo PC ideas
Monday, 27th September, 2010, 09:40 PM #1
My 4e Solo PC ideas
Ok, this is mostly a mental exercise but I have been going over how 4e would work with only one PC.
I'll put out my ideas and you can add to them if you wish.
First will talk about the non-house rules. Taking the standard adventure recommended by the DMG an adventure that goes for the entire level could be set up like this:
1 Level -1 Encounter
3 Level Encounters
3 Level +1 Encounters
1 Level +3 Encounter
1 Major Quest Reward
Now assuming 1 Level 1 PC the level 1 Adventure would look like this
Level -1 = 75 XP (For 5 PCs this would be 375 so for 1 it would be 375/5)
Level = 100 XP * 3 = 300 XP
Level +1 = 125 XP *3 = 375 XP
Level +3 = 175 XP
Major Quest Reward = 100 XP
This would come out to be 1025 XP . Just enough to go up to Level 2. Remember that there should only be 1 Magic item given out per adventure for 1 PC. (And really they should not get any items 1 out of every 5 levels but they are the Hero so don't worry about that fact.)
So. First of all, we should assume that any role can concievably do this solo. A fighter can absorb the damage, a Cleric can heal themselves easily in combat, a rogue can sneak up and ambush quite often , and a wizard can take out 5 minions with one spell if they are lucky so every role can do pretty well.
The best way to come up encounters for a solo is to use mostly minions. At level 1 a minion is worth 25 XP. Now this doesn't mean they all have to be front line minions or artillery minions. You can even make a controller minion. You just need to make sure they do minion damage and try not to nerf the PCs actions too much.
Now for the house rules:
(These are just ideas, I'd be interested in ways to make them better)
First, there can be a Mega minion type monster. These can take 2 hits. The first hit bloodies them. The second hit will take them out. If they are take a critical hit they die instantly. These can be worth 50 xp and do regular damage like a 100 xp version. You could use the regular stats for these monsters and just ignore their Hit Points. So you could have a mega minion with 3 regular ones for a Level + 1 encounter easy enough.
Second, instead of the PC going down at 0 or lower HP, they instead become Dazed. That gives them a standard action to do a second wind or to hopefully survive long enough to fish out a potion and drink it. If the enemy wanted to knock out the PC then this rule wouldn't apply. Note: that they would still be making Death Saves and if they do give themselves any healing they should start at 0 HP. So, an unlucky fighter can spend 2 rounds fishing out a potion (1 move to take it out, 1 minor to drink it) absorbing further punishment and still be able to heal before they get to Negative Bloodied.
Another idea, is to use standard monsters. They always do minimum damage for their role and level. They take damage normally but must make a save with each hit. If they fail their save they die. They would get their Elite or Solo save modifiers as well as any save mods a PC might give them. This might make doing pre-printed modules a piece of cake but I think it would be alot more challenging for a single PC to handle. And the GM would have to make sure that the module is built well because WotC has a tendacy to do silly drek like throw level 1 characters at level 6 brutes. Doing this option would make high damage powers still useful since you will have encounters where the one kobold keeps making his save and just might die normally. I really like this idea, but I just worry that even minimum damage will be alot for one PC to take. Maybe instead of using the damage values at all the GM just kept the normal minion damage for that level and used that for all die rolls. Note: Divide the XP / 5 when doing this option!
Consider give the PC minions of their own. 4 would equal another PC when considering adventure design. They come back at the end of a short rest . This can be especially useful for Leaders who have alot of ally only kickers to their powers and having good guys die around you can give a sense of epic-ness to the battle.
Instead of Miss effects, make all Encounter and Daily powers Reliable. It really sucks when the hero misses with an encounter power especially when they are the only ones in the whole encounter.
A milestone at every encounter! Basically give the hero a new action point to spend after every encounter. Same with Daily powers for items (although this is being changed anyway). You still want to keep the 1 Action point per encounter though.
In a full group, PCs usually try to focus damage on one target. The solo hero should probably consider doing damage to multiple targets though. The faster you can eliminate those minions the less damage you will take in a single encounter. Also, high defense is a must and the GM should know what the PCs defenses are before designing an encounter. Also, feats that give damage bonuses like Weapon Focus aren't as needed in a minion heavy adventure but Expertise feats are needed more than ever. Note that normally useless feats like the one that gives a wizard 1 temp HP when they kill a minion become quite a deal more useful in a solo campaign. When you pick powers, don't get the ones that give bonuses to allies only. Leaders are especially notorious for helping others instead of themselves.
You don't want the bad guys hitting the poor burk with a role of a 7. In fact, if the PC put feats into defense you should make sure the monsters have a harder than normal chance to hit them. So if a wizard got the Leather Armor Proficiency, a normal monster should probably need a roll of on the die roll equal to 12 before they hit that wizard's AC. Avoid alot of monster that do status effects or save end effects or make them last until end of next turn. If you really want to keep ongoing damage, divide the damage by 5.
Avoid monsters of really high level. These are challenging to groups of PCs who can use team work to get bonuses. They are not so great when the single PC has to roll a 14 on the die to hit. Again, try to take their feats into consideration. A PC who gets Weapon Expertise should hit 5% more often than average.
Try to avoid elites and solos unless they fall within the XP value of the encounter. Even then the fight could last alot longer and get rather grindy because the Hero will run out of encounters and dailies before they run out of HP. An example might be a Level 5 boss fight for a Level 2 Solo hero would be worth 200 XP or the value of an Level 1 Elite. But remember they probably have twice the hit points of the level 2 hero!
This advice should be pretty obvious. Cater to the skills of the PC. If they are ranger, make outdoor encounters and wilderness skill challenges. If they are rogue, give them locked doors and trapped chests to overcome. Don't forget that traps can be magical in nature and a wizard's Arcana can be used to overcome them! You do not have to eliminate all the catered challenges for the PC. Sometimes a fighter might have to bust down a locked door. Or find someone to open that locked chest after the adventure. Just remember that if the wizard can't climb out of the pit they are pretty much dead. Avoid save or die situations for the PC. It's ok they have oppurtunities to knock a foe off a cliff but if they get bull rushed off the same cliff and make one failed save to drop prone, they won't have any buddies to spatula their body off the ground and raise them.
Last edited by Zaran; Tuesday, 28th September, 2010 at 01:19 AM.
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Tuesday, 28th September, 2010, 04:25 AM #2
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
I've actually come up with a series of adventures for a solo paladin PC (links below). The only real house rule I used was the idea of adjunct monsters, which are similar to your idea of mega minions. I agree with your points on monster design and adventure design, and I think that if you manage these aspects of the adventure well, you don't need special house rules to help a solo PC to survive.
Solo adventure links:
Level 1: A Touch of Shadow
Level 2: Shadow's Fangs
Level 3: Jaws of Undeath
Tuesday, 28th September, 2010, 12:39 PM #3
Did you do anything for the paladins divine challenge?
My name is Zaran and this is my favorite thread on Enworld.
Wednesday, 29th September, 2010, 08:41 AM #4
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
I just insert the occasional opportunity for the PC to adventure with or protect an NPC. In addition, certain paladin powers such as enfeebling strike and holy strike have extra effects if the target is marked by the paladin, so divine challenge would still have this secondary use.
Wednesday, 29th September, 2010, 01:55 PM #5
I've been trying to come up with an alternate use of marking powers. I orginally thought that a Defender using their mark on a foe may , instead of hampering attacks against friends, hamper attacks against the defender with a -2 for the marked foe to hit the defender, but doing this would give say a level 1 Paladin with a shield a 22 AC against the marked foe.
The fighter ability is still pretty useful against foes that like to shift around. But most of the other defenders require companions to be useful. Like FireLance stated , the GM can add NPCs for the defender to ...well... defend.
I also think that even without the use of their marking powers, the Defender role has the advantage of having a high AC and alot of hit points.
Wednesday, 29th September, 2010, 02:26 PM #6
When you do a solo PC campaign, the world should revolve around that PC. A good background will give the GM ideas to add to the adventure. Also, you should not feel the need to do silly multi-classing to fill in some gap in your abilities. GMs, if your solo wizard is thinking about getting a multiclass feat to be a cleric so they can heal themselves during combat, then maybe your encounters are a little too tough. In a solo game, character concept should trump game mechanics. My advice is to give the hero many chances to heal. Give them potions, ample time to rest and breaks where they can recooperate. Also, every adventure doesn't have to be 8-10 combats.
Skill challenges can be great ways to get xp. One thing about skill challenges though. Make sure the PC can handle the skills needed in the challenge. Roleplaying should be key. If your player to roll the die and add the modifier that's cool but if they do come up with any kind of interaction, give them a bonus. I wouldn't tell them what the bonus is. Heck, it can be a free success!
Let's talk about magic items. I am not an advocate of the wish list. I consider requests for certain items but picking off a list of items the player hands in is, in my opinion, the dumbest idea WotC has printed. That just caters to power gaming and min maxing. That being said, almost every item you give the hero should have some sort of character to it. Don't just let them find some super item lying in the bottom of a chest. Put it in the skeletal hands of some forgotten king sitting in his throne for eternity. Give every weapon a name. Have your villians use them against the hero. Since the hero is the main character of the story, their stuff should be extensions of that character. Look, at Drizzt. Every magic item he has some sort of backstory. You might want to do the inherent bonus option so that you don't have to constantly update the Hero's Big Three items. That way you can have them find Twinkle early on in their career and it doesn't get outdated in a few a levels.
Wednesday, 9th February, 2011, 08:38 AM #7
Gallant (Lvl 3)
The help the solo player with some roleplaying opportunities I think making sure they have a henchman, familiar, animal/spirit companion, or (my favorite) an intelligent magical item early as possible in the game.
See my Blog for 0-level rules for D&D 4e
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