One-shot solo session ideas...

GreyShrike

Villager
So. We have a paladin in the group and he, due to real life cropping up, has had to remove himself from the main party for a few weeks.

In game, this has been explained by having him assigned to visit a nearby retired mercenary captain with ties to his order.

Now, what I'd like to do is run a one-off adventure maybe consisting of 1-2 sessions that has this mercenary sending our hero off to some crypt on the outskirts of his land to retrieve an item from the depths. Now this captain was forcibly retired due to grievous injuries and he didn't take it too well. He's since wandered further off the path of sanity and has begun to send newly minted clerics, paladins, warriors, or anyone really, into these crypts. One, because he's a sadistic loon and two, because he actually has heard of a rumored holy item once kept in this crypt some time ago and he thinks possessing it will cure him of his crippled state and return him to his glorious past.

That said, any suggestions on the make-up of this crypt, beasties that might call it home, and what, if anything, the rumored item might be? Keep in mind this will be a solo adventure, though I could run an NPC who could help, right up until they betray our paladin because secretly they're working for the mercenary captain.

Initially, I was thinking of having a mildly enchanted sword down there and that being the key to getting out.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
 

Eltab

Villager
Among other things, there is a 3e Undead made of the skin of a (formerly-)living victim. It blows through the air like a kite or piece of paper and tries to land on a new victim. If it successfully kills the victim, two kites blow away, leaving behind a body with no skin on it. The PC can realize there is a problem if you let him find the body of the previous victim down in the crypt before the monster shows up. Use the Rug of Smothering stats as a stand-in, if needed.

The sword might gain a reputation for "healing injuries" because it actually grants THPs, which make PCs and NPCs feel better stronger and healthier. Mechanically, it could work much like the Inspiring Words feat.
 

tglassy

Explorer
For a solo adventure with a single Paladin, I’d go with mostly simple undead. Probably Skeletons. Not too many at once, either. Like, one at a time. Take a page from Skyrim’s crypts and have a skeleton patrolling periodically by itself, or make a room with two or three, but have an obvious way to take them all out with some clever use of the environment.

Make the final boss an NPC who has been trying to discover the secrets of the crypt and woke the skeletons to stand guard. Perhaps he is trying to awaken the power within the famed blade, but can’t. Give him a backstory and whatnot, or just have him attack once the PC gets near.

Use the DMG to give a simple +1 Sword some interesting magical ribbons (like Frodo’s sword glowing when orcs are near, or the pommel can change shape to something matching what the current owner would prefer), give it a name, a history, and perhaps a legend about awakening its “true power”, which leaves it open to being upgraded at a later date. Little ribbons can make a +1 sword seem like a huge find.
 

aco175

Explorer
I would be tempted to send a NPC with the paladin to help out. I like the crypt idea with some minor undead. Maybe a NPC thief to open locks and such. He adds minor combat assistance, but mostly knows about the location and can give hints since there is only one player thinking about all the outcomes.

Giving a magic item for a solo quest may open up other problems with the other players. A good idea may be to discover something larger in the crypts and have the rest of the PCs need to come and help clean out.
 
Now this captain was forcibly retired due to grievous injuries and he didn't take it too well. He's since wandered further off the path of sanity and has begun to send newly minted clerics, paladins, warriors, or anyone really, into these crypts. One, because he's a sadistic loon and two, because he actually has heard of a rumored holy item once kept in this crypt some time ago and he thinks possessing it will cure him of his crippled state and return him to his glorious past...what, if anything, the rumored item might be?
It could be a Phylactery that reputidly heals the wearer of his most grievous affliction. When the PC delivers it to the old captain, it cures not his old injuries, but his insanity, and he settles into his retirement gracefully, becoming a teacher in the Paladin's Order.
 

akr71

Explorer
I would be tempted to send a NPC with the paladin to help out. I like the crypt idea with some minor undead. Maybe a NPC thief to open locks and such. He adds minor combat assistance, but mostly knows about the location and can give hints since there is only one player thinking about all the outcomes.

Giving a magic item for a solo quest may open up other problems with the other players. A good idea may be to discover something larger in the crypts and have the rest of the PCs need to come and help clean out.
I like this idea. You could even have it that the paladin finds the thief trying to break into the crypt trying to loot it. A well placed trap might convince that the ruffian could be useful in the mission.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
Note that solo adventures at low level have a higher probability of death than normal adventures of similar difficulty. It is very easy to 3 or 4 unlucky rolls in a row - and suddenly the 20 hp paladin goes down.

Give him a sidekick for the adventure - a healer and utility NPC (bard - trickery cleric - lots of options) that cn balance him out a bit.
 

aco175

Explorer
Note that solo adventures at low level have a higher probability of death than normal adventures of similar difficulty. It is very easy to 3 or 4 unlucky rolls in a row - and suddenly the 20 hp paladin goes down.

Give him a sidekick for the adventure - a healer and utility NPC (bard - trickery cleric - lots of options) that cn balance him out a bit.
I just ran an encounter with 7th level PCs and a group of 14 ghouls. It became a bit scary once 2 of the PCs were paralyzed, but they managed fine. If you are by yourself then the danger is multiplied.
 

GreyShrike

Villager
Well, I don't plan to use ghouls. I was thinking along the lines of the previous poster and having some skeletons, maybe some zombies (of the other unfortunates that didn't make it). I'd also planned to keep it to single monster encounters. Maybe have two monsters in milestone locations, but with smart play, he could deal with them one at a time.

I'd like to have a boss fight of sorts at the end. The end in this case is both the way out and acquiring the item.

As for concerns with allowing him to pick up a magic item on this quest, that is a non-issue. All of the players have asked if it would be possible to find a magic item early in their careers, one that would grow with them after certain milestones have been met, research conducted, that sort of thing. I agreed and told them that they would find them as it made sense in the developing story.

In this case, a change in schedule and a desire to still play, worked out pretty nicely.

So, that said, any thoughts on an end of the encounter fight?

I'd kinda also wanted to have this crypt be a sort of trap. The top level, the part that's above ground, is just a run-down crypt. Maybe fill it with a small band of kobolds/goblins. In the last room, set up on a raised platform or other decorative structure, a nice shiny sword. Fairly valuable, if only just due to materials/craftsmanship. But it's a trap! Removing it from the ceremonial stand it rests on reveals the thin wire attached to its hilt. Rumbling in the floor and the section our hapless paladin is standing on drops suddenly on one side, forming a big stone slide and down he goes. Into the real crypt. Where all the dead (undead) stuff lives.

I'd like to have the Mercenairy's adopted daughter tagging along with him through the upper portion. She knows of her father's schemes but she's too afraid to go against him. But if our hero makes a good impression, she may provide aid in some fashion even after the trap is sprung.

Lastly, once (if) he makes it out, I plan on having her nearby and open to explaining what's really going on and asking for help in ending it. Though even if she isn't around/doesn't make it for some reason, there should be plenty of clues to spell out what's been happening.

Then it will be on our hero to confront our insane host.
 

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