Dungeons and Dragons Solitaire (first attempt at explaining it)

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Something else I've thought about: you really can, if you want to, play stories that revolve around one character.

I used to do a bit of that back in the 'lean years'... just used the random dungeon charts from the original AD&D DMG and ran a character with hirelings. Then I just reasoned out logical-ish explanations for the randomness.... Even did it once or twice in advance of a game to get an existing character up to the right level for something someone was running....

Haven't really read your rules yet, Shift, but I did download them awhile back... I just flat out appreciate your contributions to the boards here. Too bad you're not over at Goodman's, you'd fit right in....
First off I want to thank you for creating "Solitaire D&D". It has helped me actually get a few sessions in with the guidance and organization that you have laid out in your document.

I wanted to ask any of those who do have a go at solitaire D&D as their regular RPG gametime, what you all use for Initiative/PC cards/Power cards/other DM helpful tidbits to make the whole process smoother.
What is your setup? What does your D&D table look like?
Do you use a laptop?

I'm asking to merely streamline my solitaire experience.
I know you touched upon using a laptop for putting down dialogue
between PC and NPCs...

Cheers and Thanks!
I haven't done much but I use the computer to keep things straight. Each character has their own character sheet PDF file, that I can add things to, and each one has a word file that I use for powers. I can switch back and forth as I need to. You can use word or note pad to keep track of combat. If you have space, you can also set up a combat map and miniatures. If you are purely using word or notepad then I would suggest using some kind of notation or color coding of the text to keep track of conditions and saves and such. If you are using miniatures to track combat then you can do what you would do during a normal session.

I roll my dice on me desk. I have the initiative listed out at the top of the word/notepad file. I then type them all in order, for ease. I only need to scroll up to see who goes next if I ever forget.

Resident Grouch and Corrupting Influence A Monster Appears I'm Black and Blue how 'bout you?

I'm going to do this right now.
I'm glad you like DDS. To keep things straight for myself, I often have graph paper handy. I write the initiative order down with a space between each character for notes and as space to keep track of ongoing effects, variable resistances, and such. In the space immediately after the name I keep track of hps, jotting one number down per square. If the map is small enough, I copy it at whatever scale I like and track movement by pencil, but I end up with a map looking like one crazy football play!

For powers, I used Excel, creating a spreadsheet that tells me (in landscape layout) everything I need to know. I omit the flavor text, but keep everything else, even if in abbreviated format:
Divine Challenge 1 creature in burst
Minor Close Burst 5 target marked, takes radiant 9 if it doesn't attack you

I color the fields to denote At Will, Encounter, or Daily, and I include precalculated stats for each weapon and if there's a change for being bloodied.

If you don't have Excel, Sun Microsystems has OpenOffice which functions exactly like Microsoft Office. I've had difficulty getting the two to read each other despite claims of compatibility, but function-wise they're identical, and OpenOffice is freeware.
Still playing D&D with myself.

I think I have found a winner for time-wasting.
I have tried to play solo before but it never turned out well. Knowing that there was a spike trap in between the two sets of stairs always seemed to influence my actions. But this was 2 or 3 years ago. After reading this thread I quickly rolled up a party (fighter, rogue, cleric, ranger) all human and gave them each a cliche back story and personality.
I used a adventure I had made a while ago for the group I was DMing for. It involved a noble's daughter being kidnapped and held hostage at a bandit hideout. The ransom was going to plan till the girl's boyfriend showed up trying to be a knight in shining armor and killed the bandit's second in command. That sent everything flying FUBAR and the bandits took the daughter back to their lair. At which point the noble hired the PCs to go get her.
The back story I gave to the bandit leader was that he was once a general for a rebel army in another country in my world. So he is a great tactician and I set up the lair accordingly. I found out that even though the party made it through the traps ok if I played the bandits like they were commanded by a tactical genius I could cause a TPK with an encounter that was a couple CR below the party. So it wasn't all that fun.
But when I went back through and played the PC in solo D&D there was some epic battles in there. It was some of the most fun I had playing D&D in a long while.
I hope everyone else can have as much fun playing Solitaire D&D as I do.
First off I want to thank you for creating "Solitaire D&D". It has helped me actually get a few sessions in with the guidance and organization that you have laid out in your document.

I wanted to ask any of those who do have a go at solitaire D&D as their regular RPG gametime, what you all use for Initiative/PC cards/Power cards/other DM helpful tidbits to make the whole process smoother.
What is your setup? What does your D&D table look like?
Do you use a laptop?

I'm asking to merely streamline my solitaire experience.
I know you touched upon using a laptop for putting down dialogue
between PC and NPCs...

Cheers and Thanks!

Personally, I use a lap top with an Excel character sheet open for each PC and a Word doc of the latest journal on screen to switch to and type up as the story progresses. I log initiative and conditions on the Word doc during combat and use a photocopy of the encounter map to keep track of PC and monster positions.

The two latest examples of my Word journals are posted on EnWorld and in my sig below. This is literally how they were typed during play with no amendments or refinements added later although I do log the occasional conversation between villains if a decision needs to be made by them. The system seems to work well for me and lets me run through encounters fairly speedily.
Ooh, I like this. This would be a great idea to test run adventures, or play during a rainy day. I'm going to read over this fully later tonight.
-I got ran over my a squirrel the other day. -I'm going to steal my own idea. -My fruits of labor are not fruits... *sniff* they're vegetables. *sobs*
Bump.


Great post. I am DDS'ing Keep of Shadowfell at the moment. I like the idea of using excel and what not for the characters as right now i am just using the plain char sheets. It is hard to organize without much room (as my computer takes half the table and the battle mat the other half)

For me, setting up the mat is pretty easy ahead of time. I can map the whole area and just use LOS or perception checks. I use the glass chess pieces for cover, walls, or big rocks or what not. And 2 colored beads for diif terrain, or if i ran out of wall pieces, as walls.

Also a good idea i am using is is using Heroquest pieces. They have an assortment of minis (great for minions, same color and/or diff look), furniture, tile cards(traps, stairs, etc) and comes with a board.
Bump.


Great post. I am DDS'ing Keep of Shadowfell at the moment. I like the idea of using excel and what not for the characters as right now i am just using the plain char sheets. It is hard to organize without much room (as my computer takes half the table and the battle mat the other half)

For me, setting up the mat is pretty easy ahead of time. I can map the whole area and just use LOS or perception checks. I use the glass chess pieces for cover, walls, or big rocks or what not. And 2 colored beads for diif terrain, or if i ran out of wall pieces, as walls.

Also a good idea i am using is is using Heroquest pieces. They have an assortment of minis (great for minions, same color and/or diff look), furniture, tile cards(traps, stairs, etc) and comes with a board.

Have now switched to the Character Builder now that it covers all 30 levels and this is working well. It has the advantage of giving you everything that's been published so no trawling through books to pick the right feat or power and the character sheet viewer includes power cards at the end of each sheet with all the details needed for play.

Agree that with a battle mat and a computer are hard to organise which is why I switched to the photocopied maps and my trusty pencil. Doesn't have the visual appeal of miniatures and mats but works for me. Just finished Thunderspire Labyrinth (although the posts on ENWorld will take a while to catch up as they're about 10 chapters behind at the mo).

If you are looking for more miniatures then as well as Heroquest, the D&D 3E Board Game is a good bet. My wife got me a copy off e-bay relatively cheaply and there are about 60 plastic minis that serve well as minions or generic bad guys inside.
I do use the Character builder ... but i can only view one person at a time. Is there a way to see multiple characters like in a different window?
I do use the Character builder ... but i can only view one person at a time. Is there a way to see multiple characters like in a different window?

Yep. Once you have a character open, click on character sheet and then from that view click on File...Open (or CTRL+O). This should bring up your character directory and you can open any character listed there. The only annoying thing is that you can't select multiple files to open as you could in Word or Excel. you have to open one at a time and keep going back to File...Open to open the rest. It runs fine for me with 6 PCs open in separate windows and using the Window menu to navigate between them.
All I can say is thank you Shiftkitty. You are a goddess among mortals. I haven't been able to find a game where I live and this is sooooooo cooool. Thanks again. I really appreciate it.
Resident Quitter Those that say, "It cannot be done!" should not interupt those doing it-Somebody The guy in the middle. Night Janitor in the House of Trolls.
I'm so glad I've been able to help others enjoy my favorite game so much more!
I've started a solo campaign of sorts, and I've had some surprises along the way, which has been quite fun. Lost one character, which I certainly hadn't expected and added quite a bit to the campaign, and a near TPK--but the party wearily struggles on.

I use the Character Builder to keep track of the characters and their abilities, and being able to save those sheets is great, in case of stopping play before an extended break.

However, encounters are taking far longer than they would with other players, largely because I write out narrative notes after ever attack, ie: "the skeleton shifts closer, attack: hits, for 5, and Thorin is bloodied."

Any hints on how to speed up solo play, without losing the notes that I'm hoping to convert into a proper narrative next bit of free time I get?

-M.
I use graph paper lately, and where I have a decent amount of space I write down a quick designation for the monsters and the PCs. In the boxes I track their hps, noting conditions and whatnot to the left of their names, such as "ongo 5 fire", "prone", etc. For the narrative part, I have a notepad and I only record the big stuff. I don't record if Ander swung and missed unless he's been missing a lot. Then I'll make some record such as "Goblin Attack, Ander can't hit for squat." If I get a really good roll or some other effect, I'll record it with a little more care; "Worth lets Kerrizar have it with a fireball, crit." If you're recording the sequences, you could record the turn numbers before each line.

For your example, I'd probably write it as "S1 shifts, hits Thn 5, bld" where S1 is the skeleton and Thn is Thorin (and bld is bloodied, not bald!;) ). You can get fancy with the abc's afterward; "Before Thorin could blink, the formerly empty space was full of skeletal remains raising a scimitar high overhead. The blade came down and across leaving a deep cut across his chest that went right to the bone. Thorin didn't know how many more of those he could take, and he wasn't willing to find out. He answered with a furious blow that sent marrow and calcium scattering across the floor."

Abbreviations and a little personal shorthand should help. Again, I'd also only record the big stuff, including just enough fluff of minor hits for flavor. "Ander finally hits something and kills BBEG."

Hope this helps.
I have a hard time making it more then mere dungeon crawls
That's probably one of the biggest shortcomings of Solitaire. I'm actually trying to craft a Solitaire "Whodunit", in which the PC(s) gets framed for the murder of a beloved duke. My sticking point is how to fall prey to things like false leads or developing actions "on a hunch". I don't want to have it where I crafted the solution ahead of time and hid the thing so I'd forget. I also don't want to reduce it to completely relying on random rolls. Is that what you were trying to build? A mystery?
It was the Kobold Hall rofl.

I try to RP the characters, but it doesn't really work well it feels. So i just do combat and other things and minor narrative. Afterward a nice journal entry from the point of view of the party leader which goes more in detail and brings it all to life.

http://www.spiritualmagus.nl/wordpress/
To give an idea. Still updating the Journal until it has caught up with where the party currently is. They're going via Arabel to Winterhaven and then onto Shadowfell Keep in the mountains.

Think I need to make some back-up PC's. These were close to dying once or twice. So I need some just in case. But I hate to kill my own PC's So hard not to fudge.
LOL Kobold Hall is a dungeon crawl! I checked out your link. I really like the journal approach. I'm more of a novelist-type myself. RPing is pretty much all in the head, and you'd look pretty silly if you suddenly jumped up from your desk and yelled "Whose side are you on, coach?!?" when an area attack hits friend as well as foe.

I find the personalities of the PCs come into play quite a bit when deciding tactics. For example, the Warlord is a reluctant leader. Everyone turns to him for guidance and leadership, and he doesn't know why. However, he feels responsible for those around him especially because they trust him so much. Therefore, he will break off of his own engagements to pull someone else's fat out of the fire. Takes a lot of AoOs from the enemy. In non-combat situations, I just write like I was writing a novel.
*cough* I had such a debate and almost ended up strangling myself ;)

I as cleric wanted a war banner to depict the logo of our adventuring band.
I as fighter saw no use in it unless wanting to alert the enemy exactely where you are.
I as warforged wizard started meddling.

So... Me, Myself and I had a fall out at one another rofl. Luckily I only live with a cat at my apartment.
So your neighbors are pretty used to that sort of behavior, eh? ;)

NEIGHBOR1: What's going on in there?
NEIGHBOR2: Just yellin' at the cat again, I s'pose. I think one of 'em's cheatin' at poker.
Just found your article. All good tips. I'm currently writing about my old campaign group and the general scenarios we had. I'm using different characters as I don't want the ex-players saying: "but my character wouldn't have said, or did that." I'm more or less mixing what we did with new character party. Thanks for tips on fleshing things out if I have to "play it out." Very useful.
Thanks for the tips. I'm DMing 4e for a group, but since it's summer, it's harder for us to get together every week (since half of my group is in college).

I've got a ton of ideas for PCs, but never have the chance to play them.

So sometime this week or next week, I'll be attempting D&D Solitaire for the first time, giving me a chance to test an adventure/dungeon crawl before I let my players go through it. ^^
That's probably one of the biggest shortcomings of Solitaire. I'm actually trying to craft a Solitaire "Whodunit", in which the PC(s) gets framed for the murder of a beloved duke. My sticking point is how to fall prey to things like false leads or developing actions "on a hunch". I don't want to have it where I crafted the solution ahead of time and hid the thing so I'd forget. I also don't want to reduce it to completely relying on random rolls. Is that what you were trying to build? A mystery?

I realize this is about a year late, but you might consider the strategy in the game Clue. Make multiple possible outcomes with a few elements, then pick them at random and put them in a envelope. That way the normal clues can lead to the various possibilities and your PCs have to complete a skill challenge based on only the stuff they found out. Probably much easier to follow a "hunch" that way.
Anyone have any recent stories about their "Solitaire" experience lately?

I just moved into a new house and am trying to have a little area to put all
my gaming stuff together. Possibly get everything all set for a little D&D solitaire.

What is everyones setup like while doing solo games?
I don't have a laptop. So everything is non-e form.
Although I do create characters in D&D Insider.

I just purchased the DM token set by GF9, as well as the character tokens too.
I do have the Alea tools magnet setup as well.

Would like to hear and maybe see pics of peoples setups.
Just giving me other people's perspective on how they see there setup.
What works and what doesn't to save time...and keep it as fresh and seemless as possible.
We are playing by ourselves keeping in mind, so we have to keep this fresh and flows smoothly.
To start things off, I generally think up of a campaign (stop the evil druid from summoning an elemental force for instance). Then I draw up an outline detailing the "missions" undertaken by myself that supports the campaign (being knowledgable about military strategy works wonders if you plan on doing an ongoing campaign). Heres an example:

1. Head to (Town Name)
2. Get waylaid by bandit outside town
3. Kill bandit and loot (DC 10 to find anything of value, successful check also notices the tattoo of a cross on his wrist)
4. Head to town guard and get possible reward, inquire about tattoo

and the campaign continues until I kill the druid

Sometimes I use adventures off the WOTC site and mold them into my campaign, making them easier for solo play (removal of a lot of monsters and going easy on skill checks). Othertimes, I use maps that came with some of the adventures (keep on the shadowfell for example). If i run into something like a riddle, I generally roll a wisdom check added with a knowledge check (anything) and compare that to DC 10 or 15, to see if my character knows the answer, even if "I" know it.

That is generally what I do, though it is kind of hard to explain. I know this might make me sound crazy, but I envision fights in my head and have "conversations" with NPCs with myself, writing down the general basics of the conversation in a campaign log.

The only thing I am having trouble with is fame. Checking on the well-being of a sorceress, discovering she died by giant spiders, and taking care of said spiders will generally not grant me free stays at the inn or discounts on weapons.
This whole concept is awesome, especially since nobody else in my group has any interest in ever being a DM, this is the only way I get to actually play a character.

One thing I'm having trouble with, though, is Skill Challenges. I have no problem running combats objectively, and role-playing is easy as well, but I just never have figured out how to do a skill challenge objectively. I can't find that middle ground between wanting every character to contribute, but also knowing what are and are not dumb things to try, but still having the party approach the problem intelligently.

Anybody have a system or some tips for this?
Just wanted to say this is a neat idea Shiftkitty. And yes I know I'm really late!
Shiftkitty,

It's been a couple years since you posted this. Would there possibly be any updates as to your guidelines ? Things that you now do a little bit differently since you originally posted your PDF ? Or things that you would add to enhance the experience that you weren't doing before ?
This is a great guide, some very helpful stuff in it. I am fairly new to table top D&D so just found this post. 

 I have a regular D&D group that meets every 2 weeks but when I feel like playing some D&D in between I have been playing through some adventures solo. The trickiest part is figuring out how not to know stuff you aren't supposed to know and ruin the experience. With 4E I think its still fun to play solo and explore around and play encounters...

Honestly I think if you want to play D&D alot and you are busy you have to play some solo stuff. I have very little time so meeting with people more than every other week isn't really do-able for me.


So does anyone else still play solo? I'm currently playing through the Twisting Halls in the 4E starter set and then might give Keep on the Shadowfell a go. My regular group plays a homebrew.    

This ought to be stickied.

I never have anyone to play with.

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