D&D General Solo Adventures : A DM and a Single Player


This is not a discussion about books in which you are the hero and play by yourself.

The 5e Essentials Kit provides rules to play the adventure booklet with a DM and a single player. This is not the first time D&D has offered this kind of adventure. During the BECMI era the MSOLO series offered two modules. Blizzard Pass and Maze of the Riddling Minotaur. AD&D2e had the HHQ series of 8 modules. Each module was a Challenge for a specific class (Figther, Wizard, Thief or Cleric).

Have you played these modules? Maybe with a friend or a significant other because you couldn't find other players. How did it go? Have you home-brewed a complete campaign / world for a single player?

For my part I started DMing the Essentials Kit with my wife in December. We play on a Sunday afternoon about once a month. Her main characters is a Barbarian. She recruited a Rogue (npc). Together day rescued a wolf from orcs who were mistreating it. It adopted them and vice versa.

In the past I DMed a campaign for only two players but never for a single player.

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I’ve DMed a few homebrew solo sessions with my daughter when we didn’t yet have our full group together. Her Tabaxi Gloomstalker had some childhood friends (NPCs) - a High Elf Diviner and a Dragonborn Fighter - who joined her on a few short quests. I would roleplay their speaking parts when she asked them things, but she would decide what they did most of the time. Sadly her Dragonborn friend, Lex, met an untimely end against some goblins. She had a burial ceremony for him and, as she wrote on her character sheet, her a Tabaxi still wears his bracelet 5 levels later.

I've never needed extra rules to run solo campaigns. As the DM you just need to make sure that adventure/campaign is adjusted accordingly. If the hero doesn't have any healing abilities you have to take that into account (maybe making healing potions more available, maybe just reducing the foes).

Sure, you can play with companions, hirelings, followers, pets, etc, but you don't need to.


I never used any of the "one-on-one" adventures, but I have DMed and played a few solo games. I never used any specific rules other than the "fail forward" approach to the game.

There are no other players to save, help, or recuperate a situation, so whatever the PC does, especially in cases of failure, brings the PC further in the adventure. A set-back for the character doesn't need to take the adventure backward, or grind it to a halt. A defeat could mean capture, continuing the adventure from the "inside" and from a point of view of the villain's lair/association/allies, etc.

DMing a solo game takes a bit more creative gymnastics, but it led me to some of my most memorable RPG moments.


When running for my wife, I ended up giving her a party of 4. The PC (rogue), a half-orc Champion, a dragonborn Paladin who recruited them for a quest, and then her NPC friend/servant who got kidnapped and made a deal, and is now a GOOlock of slightly lower level.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I’m currently working on adapting Curse of Strahd for one-on-one play. Obviously the deadliness needs to be toned down, but otherwise I think it’s a great fit. A big sandbox to play in, tons of NPCs to interact with and potentially ally with, plenty of fun side-quests, and if you put the PC in the role of Tatyana’s reincarnation the villain is motivated to pursue them without actually killing them.


I've never really used mods much, I've always just run a home campaign. My wife and I used to work for the same company and would go on remote assignments for weeks or months on end. So we would run games for each other - sometimes while driving.

I did adjust things and tailor them for her PC. So the rogue faced a lot of trap-laden locations, didn't get into a ton of direct fights and so on. I'd still rather run for a group, but it was still a fun way to pass the time.


Back when I was in high school I ran my little brother through two several short solo campaigns: one (1st Edition AD&D) where he ran a fighter (and had two NPCs, a ranger and a cleric) on a quest to recover a powerful sword, and the other (Gamma World, 1st Edition) where he ran a mutant with no memories (not even of his own mutations - I revealed them as they came up in play) left for dead in a radioactive desert, who (over the course of the mini-campaign) found/rescued a mutant who would later become his wife, tracked down the person responsible for his near-death and memory loss, and got his revenge.

Many years later, I also ran my youngest son through a much longer solo campaign of Champions (1st edition again), where he ran an Iron Man type of superhero named Jetstar. That one lasted over a dozen sessions until it kind of petered out because we started our first 3.5 campaign with our current gaming group. But it was a good way for the two of us to get some gaming in between D&D campaigns.



I've run quite a few "solo" adventures, including the 2E class modules. They tended to be more social than combat based, and since this was all in AD&D, avoiding combat was generally advisable anyway.

In 5E I don't think it's quite as much of an issue, depending on the class of the lone PC. Unless healing magic is available, combats are swingy, with an easy TPK by bad rolls. The solution to this is to only use intelligent creatures that would take the PC hostage, allowing for potential escape or negotiation. Hirelings and/or NPC companions can ease this, but begin to push the game towards a non-solo game.

Blade of Vengeance, an Expert Set solo adventure from 1984-ish, was pretty good.

Which is to say, I remember it being good. Like most UK produced modules, there is story and a plot 😄.


Elder Thing
Back in the mid 90s my roommate and I would run 1-on-1 games all the time; literally every single night of our Junior and senior years of high school. Now, we always both had characters, but we never had an issue with playing.

I play with my 6yo now and have for over a year playing the same kind of game. That one actually started out being just the 6yo's PC but they asked for a companion after a bit so I made a character too.

I see people selling books of "sidekicks" to facilitate 1-on-1 play and I just have to wonder what kind of DM a) can't adjust an adventure to their party on the fly and b) wants to stick the players with managing all the NPCs.

Full disclosure: I play RC D&D with my 6yo, not 5e. But I've run 5e games with only 2 or 3 PCs (no DMPCs there) and it's fine.


The UA Sidekicks rules would probably be best for Solo PC party companions.

Party Member skills like Expertise could be treated/used as an extension of the main PC. Or if your Sidekick had Extra attack, then it can be used as a bonus action by said Main PC to have said Sidekick attack outside their turn

I also believe some mechanics may have to be introduced/video gamed up a bit for the solo aspect.

The Ferryman Charon: Wait, your dead!?!? But your not SUPPOSED to die until insert PC's natural death date due to natural causes We're both gonna get it if management finds out about this mess. Here I'll send ya back: let's keep this deal between ourselves, Kay?

To avoid abuse, let there be a LEGIT ramification if the Solo PC intentionally uses their death as a cheat all advantage.

You might be able to even get some plot/lore/rp ideas by doing little things like this.
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