Dungeons and Dragons Solitaire (first attempt at explaining it)

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“Here it’s another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody,
I got some money ‘cause I just paid.
Oh how I wish I had someone to talk to,
I’m in an awful way…”
-Sam Cooke, “Another Saturday Night”, 1963



You want to do it. You know you shouldn’t. You know you’ll never live it down if anybody catches you. You’ve heard it might even make you go blind. Still, it’s normal, right? There’s nothing wrong with it. Nervously you draw your shades and slink off somewhere private. Maybe your room, maybe the basement. You hope nobody calls to break your concentration while you’re doing it. It’s not as good as doing it with someone else, but when you’ve got an itch, you’ve got to scratch it.

IMAGE(http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/9449/danddsolitairecopynw9.jpg)

Intro
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There is probably no way that Solitaire D&D could ever hope to be as rewarding as playing the game with a group of your friends. The unpredictability of their actions, the corny in-jokes, the pause in the game because somebody has to take a call from their significant other, and the wheeling and dealing over the division of the treasure are all things that no die roll can replicate. But the fact is that sometimes some of us find ourselves wanting a game, but nobody is available. Maybe you’re new in town and are having trouble finding a group you can get to. Maybe everybody in your old group has settled into the “grown-up” thing and now thinks the game is somehow beneath them. Maybe they’ve got new priorities that aren’t able to leave any room for D&D no matter how hard they try.

But you’ve still got your books. You’ve still got time. You still want to play. You enjoy working your imagination, and the last thing you want to do is wind up like Jackie Paper who abandoned his old friend Puff the Magic Dragon when he grew up. You live by the George Burns line, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

The problem with D&D Solitaire is that it will be impossible for you to be surprised if you play normally. You can see the whole map, you know what the bad guys are going to do, you know who’s behind the plot to assassinate the duke, and you know that next room is a killer. How can you not know? You’re the DM.

I do a lot of test runs of dungeons as Solitaire games. When faced with a choice, the result of which I have advanced knowledge, I leave it up to the dice. The party is low on HP and needs to take a rest. They are face with three doors. One leads right to the BBEG, the other two are safe. They can’t afford to meet the BBEG right now. They’re all bloodied and are down to Dailies. Which door do they choose to go through?

Assuming they see nothing to indicate that one door might be bad, such as a blood smear leading to one, or abyssal chanting coming from behind one, I leave it up to the dice. Three doors, roll a d3. The result tells you which door they go through. If one of the doors had something bad about it, cut it to a d2. Odds they go through one door, evens they go through the other.

I recently had a party pointed the entirely wrong direction. Reading only one room description at a time (and just enough about the surrounding rooms to see what happens if a fight breaks out in the first room, like reinforcements), I found out after clearing this room that the next room they were going to go into was the biggie. They didn’t have the resources to handle it at this point, but, based on the evidence, I had no logical reason to send them in another direction. I had to send them into the belly of the beast and hope I’d get the opportunity to make an escape when things went bad.


Personality
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You shouldn’t play your PCs as all alike. They might live longer if they’re all cautious and attentive to detail, but unless it’s a prerequisite for joining an organization, you won’t get a group together like that in a month of Sundays. Before we deal with that, however, we need to have someone to apply a personality to. Create a character in the same manner as you normally would. Point-buy, rolled stats, assigned numbers, it doesn’t matter. Just create the character, and stay within the bounds of the game. Nobody gets all 18’s and you know it. Don’t accept anything that you wouldn’t let a table full of players get away with.

Pretend you’re looking through the eyes of your PC. If the rogue is your point man, you can imagine him carefully moving down the hallway, mindful of the odd-looking sections of floor that might be trapped. He moves silently up to the door and places his ear against it.

Now picture the party behind him. What are their personalities like? Is the fighter brash and impatient? He might decide that the rogue is taking too long and stomp on up to the door, boldly announcing “I’m sick of all this sneaking around! Step aside, Slow-poke!” Is he more of a tactical thinker, his eyes locked onto the door, his hand gripping the sword hilt and ready to take down whatever may be on the other side? They’re your PCs, so you should know their personalities best. There are no generic PCs in auto-fantasia.

You can find a few personality developers for PCs. My favorite, although now out of print but available used and as a download, is Paul Jaquays’ “Central Casting Heroes of Legend”. Besides personality development, the Central Casting line of products creates entire back stories. These personalities are important because they tell you how your party members are most likely going to act in various situations.

For example, one party is focused on clearing out the dungeon and freeing the town of its threat. The rogue, however, is interested in getting his hide out of there, the more intact the better. Unfortunately, he owes the party at least an effort since they sprung his worthless soul from prison if he agreed to help. As the party is examining the room, the rogue has found a hidden door. Interested in whatever goodies might be back there, he checks for traps then picks the lock. The door, however, is magical in nature, and opening it triggers zombies to burst forth on the opposite side of the room. The zombies attack the party. Now it’s in my interest to have the party unite to defeat the zombies, but I can’t play the rogue against type. Seeing both the danger behind him and the chest in the room before him, he slips into the new room and shuts the door, leaving his party to deal with the zombies. Meanwhile, he gets into the trunk, helps himself to some choice goodies, relocks and re-traps the chest, then slips back into the original room to “help” the party. They failed their checks to see if they noticed his stunt, so I had to play them as though they thought he had been there all along, and then run a Bluff check to see if they bought his act about being surprised at the chest.

The best way to train for this style of playing is to try on different personalities. Create a plain character, give him a personality and a back story, and write his bio in character. You may even try on different personalities for the same character. If you decide he’s morose and moody, the bio may start out:
“I was born in a dead-end town with no prospects for the future. I took up the adventuring life because anything was better than staying there.”

A more upbeat character may describe the same beginning as:
“I come from a small town in need of a shot of life. I’ve always been restless, so I set out in search of adventure.”

One presents the idea of leaving town to escape crushing boredom and disgust, while the other uses a sense of wanderlust as the catalyst for leaving. Different personalities will describe the same situation in different lights. Try on different lights. Be an actor! Nobody’s watching you on stage, so go for it with gusto. (As I asked myself when embarking on this style of play, “You already play D&D, how much geekier can people regard you?”) Of course, like certain other activities done alone, Solitaire D&D is best done without witnesses.



Monsters
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Switching to the monsters is as easy as switching from one PC to another. Sure, as the controller of the party it’s in your best interests to keep the party alive. But as the controller of the monsters as well, it’s also in your best interests to keep the party from attaining their goals.

Here’s your scenario. The party has entered the Temple of Eternal No-Goodness, interrupting the Dark Rite of Vile Intentions. There is a high priest at the altar. Six cultists are chanting while the high priest performs the rite. What happens now?

What happens is the same thing that would happen if you had five of your buddies sitting at the table. You check for a surprise round, roll for initiative, and then proceed with the encounter. No biggie.

How do you play the cultists? Ask yourself what would look good on a movie screen. Would the cultists line up one at a time and let themselves get mowed down like a wheat field, kind of like you see in those really bad karate movies where the good guy is surrounded, so the bad guy’s henchmen run at him one at a time instead of swarming him? Not just no but HELL NO! Anyone with a ranged attack is going to hang back and strike from a distance. Melee attackers would be more likely to try to gang up on the biggest threat while other cultists may engage other party members in 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 if possible. The high priest will take logical steps to defeat the party. He probably isn’t going to stage-dive off of the altar and get into the fight. He’ll most likely buff himself with protections first, make sure his path of escape is clear, then use various spells and attacks to strike at the party from as far away as possible. If he can teleport to get out of harm’s way, he most certainly will. He most certainly will NOT, however, teleport next to an enemy unless he’s going to try to attack immediately.

Play the enemy smart, try to keep them alive, and try to kill the party. It’s not like you can’t roll up new ones.

Less intelligent monsters are easier to play. They will attack the nearest immediate target. If someone or something has just attacked them from behind, let’s say, they will probably do a quick spin to attack whatever just caused them pain. If that attack came from a ranged source, the adjacent target (assuming there is one) might now be behind that monster and can take whatever advantage of that position he may find.



THE PCs
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They will the most difficult thing for you to play. Your first role is as the DM, and any DM worth his or her salt knows what sort of meddling pests PCs can be. But your close-second role is as the player. Any player worth his or her salt knows what a vicious, cruel SOB a DM can be.

So how do ya does it? How do you pretend that you don’t know what you’ve got planned? How do you ignore that big sideways “S” on the wall that tells you, that SCREAMS at you, that a hidden door is present? How do you not skirt your way around the most dangerous rooms, racking up XPs before stumbling onto the hidden activities of the Cult of Eternal Ambiguity? How do you muddle through an RP encounter without being hauled off to the loony bin?

Let’s run a brief encounter, first. At the table are myself, myself, myself, a cup of coffee, and a cat watching the dice with ill intent in his eyes.

The Map: The first thing you will encounter is the map. It’s Kobold Hall (DMG pp. 210-219). The sweet thing about the published dungeons is that they’re so organized. You get a neat little list at the start of the encounter that tells you what monsters are involved. If you’ve got minis, you know who to pull out (or how many pennies to gather up as markers).

Reading the italicized text gives you a description of what your PCs see: Dominating the room ahead is a long trench filled with a glowing green substance. Beyond the trench, a small, reptilian humanoid stands in a shadowy chamber, gaping at you. It carries a sling and quickly reaches into a pouch at its belt for a stone. It hisses and shouts, “Intrudersss! Intrudersss!”

As a player, this is all the DM would read to you, so stop right there. A quick glance at the encounter map shows you everything you need to know at this point. Minis and a battlemap are practically indispensible for this, although a piece of grid paper and a pencil will do in a pinch. Based on the description above and nothing else, decide what your PCs will do.

In 2e and 1e, I used to take a piece of paper and cut out a template large enough to cover a 30 foot radius area in scale to the map. Standard torchlight would reveal that much, so I acted only on what was visible in that area. The changing sizes of the printed maps in the modules, however, began to make that impractical. As a result, I use the Line of Sight technique.


The Encounter
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Based on the description above and a quick glance at the encounter map, you know where one monster is. What else do your characters know? That there is a green, slimy pit in the middle of the room and the monster just called out to someone. Even the quick glance at the encounter map will show you where the other monsters are, and if you’re using a battlemap and minis, go ahead and place them if you like. Just remember, you can’t respond to any threat that has not presented itself to you in any way, shape, or form. Had the kobold leaned back and shouted to the room behind him (as shown on the map), it would be okay for the party to assume that there is someone else back there. Unfortunately for you, all he did was shout in no particular direction.

From where your PCs are positioned, check for your lines of sight. (This is why a battlemap and some kind of markers are key.) If it’s not in a PCs line of sight, or if they are not otherwise aware of it (smell it, hear it, have been told about it, etc.), they may not respond to it. They know about the pit, so they may avoid it or jump over it. They know about one kobold for sure, and they have a good clue that there may be more. How many more? Only the kobolds know for sure. If your PCs in this room are standing on the entrance stairs, they have no line of sight to the chamber behind the kobold or the hallway at the top of the map. They may therefore only respond to the kobold, the pit, and the possibility that there are others nearby.

Roll for initiative.

If the PCs win the initiative, decide what they will do based only on the perceived elements. Suppose you decide that the PCs will enter the wider area at the base of the stairs and fan out, their senses alert to whatever direction the kobold’s reinforcements might come from.

If the monsters win the initiative, read the section of the encounter labeled “Tactics”. Activate the monsters accordingly, reading the section labeled “Features of the Area” so you, as DM, know what to have the features do once they are engaged.

Let’s say the PC’s won the initiative. Who is in the party? Let’s say one of the players is a fighter with an itchy trigger finger. He’s all about smash-n-bash, loot-n-scoot. He’s a fiery personality who doesn’t feel like waiting for the invitations to this melee to get engraved and mailed out. Keeping up this character’s personality, you might decide that he whips out his battle axe and charges for the shrieking kobold. You decide, based on your vision of the PC, whether he skirts the slime pit or whether he leaps across it with a mighty battle-cry.

Well, you didn’t name him “Rambo” for nothing…

The “Features…” section tells you that the pit is 10 feet deep filled with 4 feet of kobold snot or something. Jumping over the pit is a DC 10, so roll against his Athletics skill and hold your breath. If he makes it, think cinematically. He lands on the other side of the pit, swinging his axe in a devastating arc. If he fails, you can imagine the *SPLUT!* as he lands unceremoniously in the slime, taking the damage listed in the pit description and suffering any effects described therein.

However you do your initiative, whether for each individual, for each group (party, slingers, skirmishers, in this example), or for each side (party, monsters), activate them in order. When it’s the monster’s turn, it’s time to put on the DM hat.

“Who are these punks that dare invade our home? We must stop them, and the bloodier we do it, the better!” Ask yourself, “What would Vhue do?” (FYI, Vhue was a kobold chieftess in the first release of “The Ruins of Undermountain”.)

You run the monsters the same way you run the PCs. They may not respond to anything they are not aware of. They might not know how many members are in the party, or what their capabilities are. When in doubt, do what you would do if your buddies were playing.

What they will know in this example is that there is a hall to the top of the map protected by a portcullis that they may bypass without penalty. It’s possible that one or two kobolds may circle the pit to the bottom of the map, keeping that portcullis at the PCs backs and giving a bit of an advantage to their buddies behind the bars. It’s possible that the slinger may keep running around the edge of the pit, keeping the party dodging his shots while also trying to evade or fight the skirmishers. It can be a chaotic situation that requires you to change hats faster than Bartholomew Cubbins (a cookie for naming the reference) as you work through your initiative order.

AVOID TEMPTATION!!! You put a lot more work into creating your party than you did buying the module, so it can be tempting to move the monsters in less-than-tactical ways. This is as bad as buying a module that your normal group is going to play and reading ahead so you know where all the pitfalls are (assuming you’re not the DM, that is!). Keep that Monster Manual handy and live by it!


Secret Doors, Hidden Traps, and Other DM Goodies
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Yeah, there’s that big “S” telling you all about the secret door. There’s the “T” telling you about the trap door, the “C” telling you about the hatch in the ceiling, and the text telling you that a failed Thievery check at DC20 will hit the rogue with a poison dart trap affixed to the treasure chest. How do you ignore that kind of information? That’s solid gold to a player!

And yet, during a solo run through a 3e dungeon to make sure I knew where all of the knives were hidden, I almost didn’t finish the dungeon because of my party’s failure to notice a secret door. I had to honestly ask myself if I had any reason whatsoever for them to suspect a secret door, and I had none. As a little bit of Deus Ex Machina, I decided that the wizard began adjusting his equipment for the long trek out of the dungeon and back to town to investigate more rumors about this dungeon. The party had encountered no threat like the one described by the townsfolk, so what were they talking about? Maybe they had the wrong place? As he was adjusting his belt, he dropped a scroll he had been examining. Reaching down to pick it up, I allowed myself a perception roll to see if he noticed the scroll moving, as if by a breeze. Had he failed, it was time to go back to town. However, he made his roll with a solid 20, and not only did he notice the scroll moving a little bit, but he felt the breeze along the floor and followed it to a section of wall. From there it was a normal search for the door. The key to making this work was to give myself a chance to fail.

Assuming you haven’t settled on a routine for the PC in question and noted it on the character sheet, such as “Always checks chests for traps” or “Always searches for secret doors”, a Passive Perception check should be enough to allow you to let yourself know that there’s something not right about the lock, something odd about the bookshelf, or whatever. Just make it enough of a description to yourself to stand out a little. Now you have to see if you find anything. The adventure text should tell you what it will take to actually notice things. There are DC charts in the DMG to help you if no numbers are presented.

Taking 10 is not allowed in Solitaire D&D, but you may allow yourself a number of tries equal to your WIS modifier. This is to offset the metagame knowledge you possess as both player and DM. If you notice something odd, you must investigate. If you notice nothing unusual, you must act as though nothing is there. Walk past the secret door, jimmy open the lock, whatever. The DMG tells you what sort of difficulty to set for yourself. Average secret doors are set to “hard”. The DMG also lists numerous traps and the DCs to notice them as well as the DCs for the various countermeasures you might consider.

Skill Challenges are easier than you’d think. The DMG and the errata for Skill Challenges are pretty definitive of what DC to use, and the examples in the DMG should give you a good idea of what you want to accomplish and how tough it will be. Your only challenge as DM and PC is how to role-play it without looking like you’re talking to yourself. If you are using a published module, you will already know how many successes versus how many failures you will need, so you could just roll the dice until you get a final result one way or the other. You could even imagine the conversation going on with each roll. What I do when soloing is to keep a word processor handy and write each line before I roll. For example, suppose my cleric is trying to garner the cooperation of a rival church to defend against an impending attack. I would start the encounter by writing the first line of the conversation:
PC: Your Worshipfulness, we may not share the same ideologies, but we share the same threat. The followers of Bane are a grave danger to both our flocks.

At this point, roll for a Diplomacy skill check. Whatever the result, I now write the response as I imagine it would come from the rival priest:
SUCCESS: Priest: Agreed, we share the same danger, but without knowing the size and nature of what we’re facing, I need to keep as many of my own shields and swords as possible.
FAILURE: Priest: Your “flock” prefers to eschew the very things that could protect them. You may bring them to our temple to protect them, but I cannot afford to send my own defenses to those who have chosen not to be able to defend themselves. It could cost me my own people.


Record the number of successes and failures, writing a new dialogue line for each response. In the Success example, you can see that the priest’s hesitation is based on not knowing what he’s going to be fighting. Based on this, I would then write something like this for the next line:
PC: It is believed that a force of three thousand descend on our small valley. Local militia forces should be able to deal with the foot soldiers, but it is known that they have secured flying mounts, drakes, and have a powerful war wizard with them.

Again, make the appropriate skill roll, repeating until you hit either the success or failure target number. For example, if the line above was meant to frighten the priest into action, it would be a Bluff check. Other lines could be written that are meant to intimidate or otherwise influence the NPC in question. In a published adventure, certain side-effects for certain techniques should be listed, such as “Using Intimidate will always result in a failure.” If you want to use this knowledge, make an Insight check to see how imposing the other person’s personality is. Determine the Charisma bonus for the person you’re using the skill challenge against, subtract it from 13, and use that as your DC to see if it looks like you can Bluff, Intimidate, or otherwise force the guy’s opinion. A higher Charisma bonus is going to represent a strong force of personality (and thus easier to detect), and you’ll know whether or not the guy can be bluffed, bullied, or bargained with.

If you fail to detect how set this guy is, you have to look at your PC’s personality. A peacemaker will not be prone to play it heavy-handed. The fighter in the Kobold Hall example, however, is an impatient individual. He might do something detrimental, like opening his big mouth. If you have a feisty, impatient PC, bad things can happen that might make you feel you’re playing with a feisty, impatient player. After a failure, roll against his Willpower, adding 1 for every two-way verbal interchange that has occurred. If you get equal to or lower than his Willpower, your potentially detrimental PC behaves himself. If you get over his Willpower, he gets stupid, maybe because he’s tired of diplomatic games while lives hang in the balance… or maybe he’s just a loud-mouthed jerk.

Assuming the priest in the example has responded to the description of the forces he may be facing. He decides that the threat sounds too big for him to send any of his defenders away and insists that the party bring the undefended villagers to his fortified temple. The fighter rolls and fails his check. Enough of this pretty little banter, this guy just doesn’t get it!
FIGHTER: Reality check, buddy! We’ve got people scattered across the farmlands! We’ll never get them together in time to march them across the valley to your little hidey-hole here, so we need meat shields between them and Bane’s boys until we can get their butts outta there! Now are you with us, or do we have to sack and burn this fancy chicken shack?

Yeah, you gotta write this line down, too. Make an intimidate check in this case. If it’s already determined that Intimidate attempts are automatic failures, mark it down as such. If not, go ahead and roll for reaction normally. Maybe an immediate diplomacy check will smooth things out. (“He was kicked in the head this morning by our pack mule. He’s not quite right.”) Maybe the priest was unaware of how spread out the pacifistic villagers were. (“I didn’t realize they were so dispersed. And you only need us to buy time to get them here? Hmm, that changes things…”) However it plays out, write down an appropriate response.

It can derail a whole adventure if something detrimental happens that lands your party in the local jail, but understand that you are giving up a lot of fate to the dice in exchange for playing both sides of the game. You will know if you have an impatient, hyperactive, or uncontrollable character in your party. After all, you made them! If you decide before starting the encounter that this PC is somehow not present (maybe one PC took him to the tavern instead, to keep him busy), then he won’t be a problem. If you failed to think of it beforehand, well it looks like you’re stuck with a potentially ticking bomb in the encounter. Not knowing how the dice are going to roll is like not knowing what the DM placed in the next room.

Puzzles aren’t difficult to resolve. If you made the puzzle, you know how to solve it. Page 84 of the DMG tells you how to set up a puzzle as a Skill Challenge. It’s a good way to simulate your PCs not knowing the answer.


Combat
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This is the meat and potatoes of the game. You didn’t go into Kobold Hall to sell them cosmetics or time-shares in the Moonshaes. You went in there to kick butt and chew bubble-gum, and you’re all outta gum.

You ever play chess against yourself? No? Good. You’re not THAT lonely. I have as a security guard. I had a magnetic chess set with flat pieces so you could fold up and store a game in progress. It was slow going, maybe one move per hour. The interim time was used actually doing my job, so I had other things to think about. At the end of each hourly patrol I’d make one move, and then move an indicator, like a paperclip, to the other side of the board to indicate whose turn it was, black or white. Then I’d read, check gauges, alarm settings, make coffee, do crossword puzzles, and wait for the next patrol, after which I’d repeat the process. I’d get in eight moves a night playing against myself. At each move, I would make the move that was most advantageous to which ever side I was moving for. I had two tokens on the table, and if the game ended, I’d flip one of the tokens. Whatever color was on the token was the side that I was rooting for. In that manner, I could actually lose against myself.

In Solitaire D&D, combat isn’t that much different, except that you’re probably going to want it to move faster. The rules stay the same. As you switch sides in the encounter, you must make whichever move would be most beneficial or advantageous to the side you are playing at that moment. As in the encounter section above, you may not respond to what you are unaware of. If there’s a big chandelier overhead and the party ranger has decided that he’s going to take a shot at the rope holding it, thus dropping it down on the ogre menacing his friends, the ogre most likely doesn’t know this is going to happen. Unless he has another reason to move, such as charging another opponent who has proven to be a bigger threat than the one(s) he was already engaging, he stays put. He can’t read the ranger’s mind and probably hasn’t noticed what the ranger is aiming his arrow at.

Similarly, if the orcs are aware of a net overhead and have the lever for it in their control, the party may move to a position right under it. It will probably be that fighter. He seems too eager to fight. Your rogue, however, might stay back, preferring his ranged attacks. Hey, nobody’s paying him to get killed, right? So move your PCs in a manner consistent with their personalities. The warlord or cleric might go in with the fighter to buff him and back him up while the rogue and warlock stay back blasting away at the enemy. Unless someone in the party actually notices the net, the orcs, on their turn, may drop it onto the PCs beneath it.

So a summary of Combat is
1) Roll for initiative.
2) Activate characters accordingly, making the most beneficial move possible for that character based on what that character is aware of.
3) Be mindful of the tactics used by opponents as described in the adventure text.

Things like Surprise Rounds, Cover, Concealment, etc. still apply normally. There is a section in the DMG that describes the monster roles. It is highly recommended that you read these pages. They will help you in deciding what the monsters do when your PCs do something that interrupts the “Tactics” section of the module. It will also help you decide what monsters to spring on yourself when you write your own dungeons.


Role-playing, Schizophrenia, and You
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Unless you want an express ticket to the therapist’s couch, RP encounters, like pressing the innkeeper for information, bribing the street urchin to show you where the thieves’ guild is, or haggling over the price of a horse is something best not acted out. Okay, maybe Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters could get away with it, but not you. Come on! D&D has a shady enough reputation as it is without “It drives you crazy!” being hung on it as well.

How do you handle such things? As I’m setting up for a Solitaire session, I set the scene in my mind. I keep it generic. If the party is in town, maybe they’re just waking up. To get myself into character, I imagine what each PC is doing based on their personalities. The feisty fighter is also an early riser, so I put him in an open area working on his moves. The cleric is kneeling in morning prayer, his paladin friend joining him. The wizard, a bit fond of fine food, is enjoying a sumptuous breakfast while the rogue is sleeping off a hangover or else trying to figure out who he’s woken up next to (“Oh, gods! Please don’t let that be Hairy-nipple Kelly... Eeeeew! This is why I don’t give to the temple!”). If the party is in a dungeon, the others are stirring and/or checking their equipment. Someone may be making a breakfast-type meal (trying not to make it smell good enough to attract predators) while whomever was on watch briefs the party on anything noticed the previous night. If I had to knock off in the middle of a session, I check my quick notes as to who was where and doing what and set up accordingly.

While in non-combat, non-skill challenge encounters, it’s best to keep them to an absolute minimum. “My fighter needs a new axe after losing his old one in the dungeon. There’s a weapons shop in town. He has enough gold to buy one, so he does.” If you like, make a Diplomacy or Streetwise check to see if he can haggle the price down, but don’t drop it more than 2-3 gold. Make it a skill challenge if he really wants a price break, like a drop of 5 gold lower, or even at cost. Set the challenge level according to the DMG and how hard-nosed you’ve decided the retailer is. No merchant should be willing to drop his prices more than 15% without good reason.

Here is where personality charts can come in handy. The aforementioned “Central Casting” book has more than enough charts to determine an NPCs personality and help keep you from making it easy too on yourself, and all of the DMGs since 1e have ways to get a general personality type established. Sometimes all you need is a couple of words to get a germ growing. In a solo game I played just to see if the D&D economy was workable, I had to create a personality for a potential employer for my character, a wood-carver from a tiny little village who was determined to make a name for himself in Waterdeep. He had almost run out of money when he finally made a basic Charisma roll to be offered a job. The pay wasn’t enough to keep him housed, but his new boss came out to be a generous and honest man with a nose for opportunity. I decided that he let the PC sleep in the storage loft, with the stipulation that he would also provide security for the place, which had been broken into a few times. His co-worker came out to be a hard-working but unimaginative carpenter. So the co-worker would make the pieces in plain cuts and the PC would carve the fancy details into the pieces. He would also keep small scraps and carve them into art pieces to sell on consignment. It wasn’t an exciting adventure. It was just a “Get A Job” game to see how well the economy worked. It’s harder to make a living in D&D than it is in the real world, but that’s beside the point. The point is that from two or three key words per NPC, I had built an idea of what they were like and how they would respond to the PC.

So let’s go back to the weapons shop. Two words for the shopkeeper, are, let’s say, cheerful and compassionate. (1e DMG pp100-101 have a few lists to roll on.) The fighter sees an axe he really likes. The weight is good, the edges are sharp, and it rests comfortably both at his hip and in his hand. It’s like it was made especially for him. He must possess this axe. The shopkeeper is cheerful. Why? He’s doing good business. You don’t become prosperous by giving your inventory away, so you may assume that he’s not just going to give the fighter a price break. But he’s compassionate as well, and he can see how badly the fighter wants this axe. “Cheerful” and “Compassionate” are not words commonly associated with evil people, so the shopkeeper is not going to drive the price up, but desiring to see a happy customer and not desiring to take less than he feels is fair, you might decide that the shopkeeper offers a deal to the fighter. If the fighter can split a log in two in one fell stroke, he can have, say, a 15% discount on the weapon. The DMG has the rules for determining what sort of damage objects of various materials can take and what will be needed to hit them.

In such a manner, you have worked through an RP encounter without actually doing any role playing. You know the personality, made a few skill rolls, and are probably not talking to yourself. The great thing about Solitaire D&D is that you can cut to the chase. However, if you enjoy the role-playing aspect a lot, feel free to break out the word processor and novelize the encounter:
Tev walked into the weapons shop. Hanging on the door was the most glorious axe he had ever seen. It seemed to be calling to him from its lofty perch above the doorway to the back. He barely even paid attention to the jingle of the bell over the front door, or to the smiling dwarf who had emerged from the doorway.
“So, you like her, do you?” the dwarf asked, following Tev’s gaze to the axe. “She’s a beauty, that one is, just waiting for the right hands to wield her. Do you think to be the one?”
“Let me see her,” Tev’s voice was quiet, as though he was in awe at the flaming scrollwork carved into the mirror-like axe head.
His hand felt electrified as he grasped the handle. It felt warm and comfortable. He gave it a couple of test swings, learning quickly that this axe would become an extension of his arm as well as of his soul. There seemed to be nothing magical about this axe. All of this beauty, this perfection, it was all due to sheer craftsmanship, and that made her all the more desirable to the young warrior who favored the skill of a man’s own two hands over the mystic manipulation of arcane forces.
“How much?” he asked, his eyes still fixated on the fine details of the axe.
“She’s about 15 gold, but I’ll tell you what. I kind of like you, and I can see she does, too. I want to see how well you two work together. Let’s go out back.”

Any RP encounter can be handled thusly. You don’t even have to be a great writer. Nobody’s going to grade you. All you’re doing is fabricating an encounter between two or more characters. The rogue perched on a building ledge might overhear the duchess and her lover discussing how to dispatch her husband, the duke. Write it up! The cleric might be poring over dusty religious texts by himself, seeking the true name of a demon. Write it up! The wizard might be arguing his reason for extended absences from the academy as research (read: lucrative dungeon delving). Write it up! Any of these can incorporate a skill check or a skill challenge, so keep your eyes open. Do the guards below notice the rogue? Does a self-appointed guardian of banned texts walk in as the cleric is nose-deep in dusty scrolls? Do the Superiors at the academy buy the wizard’s story? It’s nothing a little creative license and a few rolls of the dice can’t handle.

The side-effect to this is that you start to build a journal of your adventures. You can take these entries to build a new campaign from. Build it as though it’s going to be a regular session with buddies, pizza, everything. If you do wind up with a bunch of the guys over, you’ve got a detailed game ready to go. If not, it’s all metal for the forge of your imagination.

Another side effect of this sort of thing is that you can go through romance scenes if you are so inclined without having to hear your buddies make barfing noises. In a series of stories involving a young noble and his spirited, red-headed mistress, the romantic element was rife throughout, and the tension in the relationship as he began to settle down became a catalyst for tragedy. She charged off on an adventure in spite of his attempts to keep her home, and it ended with her messy demise at the hands of an orc king. I would never have put the guys through such a thing. Most teenage boys aren’t notoriously patient when wine and roses pervade the storyline. But by myself I was allowed to acknowledge my double-X chromosome and get all flowery. Meh, it’s a good release that keeps me away from chick-flicks.


Treasure and XPs
Show
The published modules have the treasure already listed and dispersed. If you’re crafting your own dungeon, you may want to follow this example and simply record what will be found once you get there. Stay within your PCs’ levels and don’t Monty Haul them. If you were DMing for your buddies, would you dump tons of magical goodies on them right off the bat? (You’d better say “no”.) Don’t do anything for your PCs that you wouldn’t do for your buddies’ PCs.

Another way to handle the doling out of treasure to yourself is to take the treasure for the dungeon and break it into smaller chunks, making sure there is treasure in at least a third of the rooms that you will be exploring. Write these chunks on index cards, with one blank card each for the rest of the rooms. If you want a specific treasure to show up in a specific room, assign that room number to that card. Shuffle the rest and stack them by your map. As you explore a room, open a chest, etc., pull a card off the top of the deck and that is what you’ve found.

Experience Points are straightforward, although you shouldn’t allow yourself XPs based on great role-playing. That sort of thing is best done by another person, which you don’t have handy if you’re playing Solitaire D&D. Stick with what’s handed out by the books. The published adventure will tell you how much you get, and the DMG can tell you what to award yourself for homemade dungeons.


These tips should get you your D&D fix whether or not you have any friends to play the game with. I have run entire campaigns by myself, and I have to admit that it’s not as rewarding as having the whole gang over for pizza, beer, and D&D, but it makes the game no less valid, provided you have played by the rules.
Any questions, suggestions, jeers, taunts, whatever, go for it.
Personally, I like the idea. Good job. Thanks to this I'll have something to do (with D&D) until I find another group.
Have to say I've been playing D&D solo for years since my last group moved on and since work commitments have prevented me finding another. The way you have set this out is superb and I am pleased that I am not the only one enjoying this aspect of the hobby.

Personally I novelise everything either as an in character journal or as a full blown fiction piece. At the moment I am favouring the latter and running the Keep on the Shadowfell in the Realms.

Hope you keep enjoying this as much as I do .
You want to do it. You know you shouldn’t. You know you’ll never live it down if anybody catches you. You’ve heard it might even make you go blind. Still, it’s normal, right? There’s nothing wrong with it. Nervously you draw your shades and slink off somewhere private. Maybe your room, maybe the basement. You hope nobody calls to break your concentration while you’re doing it. It’s not as good as doing it with someone else, but when you’ve got an itch, you’ve got to scratch it.

Best intro ever.

i c wut u did thar.

BTW, great tips. Now salitaire D&D doesn't sound as creepy *starts writing up characters*.
Resident Piggles Zombie piggy is eatin' your sigs om nom nom (>*o*)>
MTG Card
Front: PigKnight, One Line Poster (3W) Legendary Creature - Boar Knight Vigilance When this creature dies, return him to play and transform him. (2/3) >(5/3)< Back: (Black)ZombiePiggles, Eater of Tomato Sauce Legendary Creature - Boar Knight Zombie Trample, Intimidate B: Regenerate this creature. When this creature is the target of a white spell, transform this creature. (5/3)

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Thanks, I'm glad you guys liked it!
Burning Wheel is also good for characters personality follow the three or four life path rule.

Good example of interesting characters
Burning Wheel? Sounds familiar. Is it a recent thing, or when did it come out?
I wrote up a group, and started playing around with it. It's a lot like writing, or DMing without an audience. All in all, a lot of fun. Thank you for the awesome tips and advice!
I thought I'd post an example of a Solitaire RP encounter out of an active game. It's Thunderspire, and the party put two and two together and went to go talk to the duergar at the trading post. Among the party is a rogue drow, who has his own reasons for being there. He used to stab the party in the back a lot, got away with a lot of it, but has slowly become more dedicated to the mission, especially knowing that he's dealing with duergar, a race he has a serious issue with (from his as yet unfinished backstory, he spent some time as a slave when a child).

Knowing duergar, and dwarves in general, he figured that no "Short Sh--" worth his salt would build a plain room without a feature or two. Two doors in plain sight? Not on your life. He wanted to see what was behind the counter. Picking an Underdark-y looking item on the shelf behind the counter, he feigned indignation, identifying said object as something that belonged to his Matron Mother. With fury in his eyes he stormed for the back of the counter, his eyes darting around for any anomaly. Passing the area with the secret door, I gave him his check. He spotted it in passing while making a Bluff check on the duergar.

Rolled a d20 twice. Guess what I got? 1 and 20. With numbers like that, I didn't see a need to roll any kind of countering check.

Duergar 1 turned around and was looking at the shelf to see what the drow was identifying as goods stolen from a Matron Mother. Make no mistake, he had no intention of returning it. He was just getting ready to jack the price up and wanted to know how far he should push it. Duergar 2 drew his weapon and took a threatening step toward the drow. "I don't know what you're up to," he growled. "but you'd best be getting your worthless ass back on the other side of the counter, dhaerow..."

Recognizing the use of the obsolete word as a racial insult, the drow slowly stepped back. He had seen what he needed to see.

It was then that the party took umbrage at being asked, in less-than-civil terms and actions, to leave the shop. The wizard has pulled to the door to give himself as much distance as possible between him and the duergar. The drow, who kind of likes the wizard, has pulled back with him and readied his hand crossbow. The fighter, an imposing dude with a sour attitude, has leapt over one end the counter, looking more like he's used to smash-n-grab robberies than in fighting bad guys (easy Athletics check,a counter for dwarvish people is going to be shorter than average). The dragonborn is about to introduce his breath weapon at the other end of the counter and the cleric is blocking the middle of the counter to keep the duergar pinned.

WORTH NOTING: The only time this group encountered duergar before, the duergar didn't have the chance to use their beard spikes. They're in for an education when I get back to the combat part. (Another nice thing about Solitaire D&D, you can pause the action without anyone complaining!)




At this point, my husband sneaked up with lunch at the ready and I had to pause the encounter. The set-up for the impending combat is that the drow has had no time to tell anyone about the secret door, so he's the only one who might suspect that someone or something may come through that door. The party has it's attention split between the visible doors and the duergar, who are (according to the text) calling for help.

Has anyone else pulled off any Solitaire scenes yet? I'd like to know how it's working out.
With apologies for the length of this but this is my version of the intro scene from the FR adaptation of Keep on the Shadowfell provided in Dungeon. All played solo with combat played as the OP suggests and decisions made using a d6 and my perception of a PC's character. I novelise as I go so that there is a record of play and because I do enjoy going back to these sometimes and rereading. Incidentally, this group are now back in Arabel seeking ingredients for a raise dead ritual although I have already decided that said ingredients were stolen and taken to nearby Kobold Hall.

Arabel bustled as it always had despite the chill of mid winter and the thick ice that covered gutters and limned roof edges. Trade along the East Way and Calantar’s Way slowed with the cold but never dried up altogether. As the day waned, Lavren found himself as usual seeking out a tavern in which to make himself comfortable and find some warmth. Coming across a sign that marked an alehouse as the Gilded Lady, and noting that he had never come to the place before, he motioned to the man beside him and they stepped inside.

A low fire burned in the hearth of the comfortable common room but the tavern was empty of patrons except for a lone man and a group of apparent mercenaries on a table next to the one Lavren and his friend made their way to. Not long after the two had sat down with their drinks, a group of tough-looking men sauntered into the tavern to the center of the room. The man in the corner leaned back into the shadows of his booth but the seven new arrivals spotted him. Four moved to the front and back doors, while three crossed the room, cornering the patron. A raven haired woman amongst the mercenaries whispered something to her companions but even with his finely tuned elf senses, he could not make out what she said. It seemed that the mercenaries were content in their drinks and so Lavren pushed back his chair, curious to learn what went on in the tavern.

“What happens here?” he asked.
“Mind your own business,” grunted the leader of the group, a scarred man in chainmail. He turned back to the booth and leaned menacingly over the table of the loan man.
“You’re the one, ain’t you?” he asked. The other man recoiled in the booth, mumbling.
“I—I—d-don’t know what you’re talking about.” Lavren heard him manage to stutter
The scarred man seized the shirt of the tavern patron, fumbled with the man’s shirt collar, and yanked out a holy symbol. Lavren saw his friend rise and reach out a restraining hand.
“Leave it Mandratan,” snarled the elf.
“He’s the one,” said the scarred man with a sneer, ignoring the two newcomers. He reached for his sword and, pulling it out, lunged for the terrified man.
Mandratan shoved his chair back hard enough to knock it over and with a snarl of his own, turned to face the scarred man. The scarred man shoved the cowering man back into the booth and turned towards Lavren and his friend.
“Take care of that rabble,” he growled.

At the doors, the men that guarded there reached for weapons while at the booth all turned away from the man and faced the common room at large. One man took a dagger from his belt and strode across the room until he stood before the fire before hurling it at Lavren. The elf panicked then for a moment, realizing that he was truly in battle for the first time. He raised his arm and swatted the dagger aside but felt it nick his arm as it tore through his sleeve. A second man strode forward and hurled a dagger at Mandratan, striking the brown haired man in the shoulder. He cried out and also felt panic seize him as the rough looking men came forward. Luckily, the mercenaries were more interested in the happenings in the tavern than they seemed and at that moment they began to rise from their table. The first was a dwarf who pushed back his chair, drew forth a warhammer and strode to meet the men who had hurled daggers. Another, a woman with short dark hair rose from her seat, unshouldered a bow and loosed an arrow at the scarred man. It nicked his shoulder but she strode forward, drawing another arrow from the quiver on her back.

One of the men from the front door rushed at the mercenaries’ table, flailing wildly with his club. The raven haired woman ducked and then rose but the creature beside her was quicker. It was a black scaled lizard like humanoid which Lavren guessed to be a dragonborn though he had never seen one in the century and more that he had lived. The dragonborn rose, pulled a huge sword from its back and turned to face the dagger throwers and the scarred man. The raven haired woman rose, drew her blade from her back and plunged it into the chest of the club wielding man. He fell to the floor, dropping his club and collapsing in a rapidly growing pool of blood.

From the back door came two more men, the first rushing at Mandratan, his club held high. He swung it and the man raised his arm taking a stinging blow there but the fury of battle was upon him by then and he ignored the pain. The other rushed at the dwarf but the stout warrior turned aside and the wild swing missed. The scarred man snarled his anger then and rushed to join the battle. He barreled past a table, upending a chair and slashed at the dragonborn, striking its shoulder plate and forcing it back two steps.
All this Lavren watched until suddenly, the second man from the door came at him from his left and swung out with his club. The elf ducked instinctively and retreated towards Mandratan, upending his chair between him and his enemy as he did so. He lashed out with his hand and loosed a crackling bolt of dark energy at the man. Alas, his aim was wild and the bolt blasted out a window behind the man with a loud smash and a show of broken. The barkeep cried out and then ducked down behind the bar while at Lavren’s back Mandratan lashed out with his stave. The club man he faced ducked under the wild swing and then came on again. Together, the two faught back to back while around them the rest of the battle raged.

Lavren saw the dwarf struck on the helm by a mace blow from one of the ruffians who had been menacing the man in the booth. The dwarf reeled away seemingly stunned and the other ruffian seized his chance, drawing his own mace and striking the dwarf on the arm as he staggered. With a roar, the dwarf lashed out at both in fury, striking one a ringing blow on the arm and driving both back. The short haired bow-woman moved to cover the door then, loosing arrows as she went. The thugs had only the back door through which to flee now and faught more ferociously. The dragonborn meanwhile pointed its sword at the scarred man.
“We fight to the death, bully man,” growled the dragonborn and then strode to meet the leader of the thugs.

He slashed out with his sword but the man ducked back and then raised his own blade, seemingly accepting the challenge. The raven haired woman moved past Lavren then to meet the club wielding foe who had attacked the elf earlier. She drove her blade into his belly and he fell beside his companion, soaking the floor with more blood. Mandratan ducked as his foe swiped at him again and the dwarf did likewise as the other who wielded a club swung at him. Lavren thought then that the battle would swiftly be won for the thugs faught poorly but then the dragonborn cried out and staggered back from the scarred man, clutching at his belly while still just holding his sword. He seemed sorely wounded and staggered again as he retreated. The scarred man came on and Lavren felt a furious anger rise within him. He lashed his hand out, wand held tightly in its grasp and loosed another blast of dark energy. It seared through the chest of one of the men and pitched him over a table. The elf felt an exhilaration he had never felt before as he used his fey powers to slay for the first time. He strode into the centre of the common room and surveyed the battle, seeking more enemies who could taste of his wrath.

Lavren watched as Mandratan retreated from the foe he faced just far enough to loose a silvery bolt of force at his enemy. Another foe fell then with a smoking black wound in his chest. Mandratan smiled stoically and then moved along the bar until he faced the flank of the remainder of the battle where the dwarf and the dragonborn faced the three ruffians that remained.
“I said to take care of them,” roared the scarred man then. “Not to dance with them!” The ruffians surged forward and drove back the dwarf and the dragonborn.
“Hold here!” called the dwarf to the dragonborn and the scaled creature seemed to recover for a moment, lashing out with its sword, cutting one of the ruffians. An arrow drove into the shoulder of the scarred man from the bow-woman near the door and he staggered, cursing. Lavren felt his confidence returning then and as he did, the dragonborn seemed to gain renewed strength, surging forward himself. The raven haired woman charged into the battle then, driving her sword into the leg of one of the ruffians and slowly, the three began to retreat towards the fireplace.

The scarred man lashed out with his blade but the dragonborn leaned back and avoided the swing. Lavren past another table and reached the row of booths, turning to wink at the archer who now stood behind him. Calling upon the mystic energy of the Feywild as he had rarely done before, he drew a brilliant white flame and sought to set it in the mind and body of the scarred man. Instead, the ragged curtains of the booth next to the man caught alight suddenly and burned with a bright white flame. Lavren cursed and from behind him, he heard the bow-woman do likewise. From the left of the battle, Mandratan called forth a rolling ball of fire that he hurled towards the nearest of the ruffians but alas all ducked or dodged and this too flew into the booth that had already been singed by Lavren. As it burst and set the drapes once more alight, all heard the barkeep squeal his frustration at the damage that was being done to his tavern.

The battle became more fierce then as the three thugs faught with more and more desperation. The short haired woman put aside her bow and pushed past Lavren with a wink of her own. She drove her blade into the thigh of the scarred man and he staggered, sinking to one knee. The dragonborn took a step forward and smashed the hilt of his sword into the man’s face, shattering his nose in a spray of blood. Beside them, the dwarf and the raven haired woman drove one of the ruffians back against the back of a couch that stood before the fire. Panic seemed to grip the thugs then. The scarred man turned to flee but both the short haired woman and the dragonborn brought their blades down upon him and cut him down. Lavren moved over to where Mandratan stood and loosed another blast of dark energy that struck the nearest of the ruffians, hurling him onto the back of the couch. Mandratan extended his hand and launched another silvery bolt of force at the stricken man. It seared through his chest, rolling him over the back of the couch onto its down-filled cushions. He did not rise.

The last of the ruffians darted around the couch and the seats before the fire and rushed to the back door. Pulling the portal open he made to dart out but the dwarf was upon him a heartbeat later. The short haired woman followed as did the others. Lavren raised a hand towards the man and loosed more dark energy that struck the door frame. The man made to duck through the door but Mandratan raised his own hand and struck the man in the back with a silvery bolt. He staggered and ducked through the door at the last as the short haired woman and the dwarf swiped at empty air.

The man huddled in the booth was dressed in plain clothes, indistinguishable from a craftsman or farmer were it not for the holy symbol that he now clutched in white-knuckled hands. The man’s brown hair was in utter disarray, and even after the battle, his thin, wiry frame quivered from the traumatic experience. He looked up at his rescuers with wide, blue eyes as they approached.
“Th-th-thank you so much for saving me,” he said. “Chauntea bless you; bless all of you! I thought for sure I was d-d-dead. My name is Gevarn, and I’m an acolyte of Chauntea.”

There was a brief commotion at the door then as the watch arrived to investigate the battle. The barkeep, despite much hand wringing at the damage, blood and bodies explained well what had occurred and the good deed that had been done and soon, the watchmen went on their way. Slowly, the barkeep began to tidy up, dragging the bodies to the door and bringing rags to mop up the pools of blood.
“Who were those men?” asked the raven haired woman who called herself Dulvarna and came from Eveningstar west of Arabel.
“Hired street thugs,” answered Gevarn, “ruffians sent by the forces of evil to stop me on my mission.”
“Your mission,” asked Lavren, his curiosity piqued once more. “Why were those men after you?”
“I come from a town called Winterhaven up in the Thunder Peaks,” Gevarn replied. “The cleric I serve, Sister Linora, has learned that a cult of Shar has asserted itself in our town. She sent me to go find help, but I’m afraid I’m not well-educated in the ways of the world, and those men must have tracked me down to stop me from finding aid.”
“We could help you find the aid you seek,” said Mandratan. “Where were you bound?”
“In truth I know not,” said Gevarn. “But having seen the way you battled my attackers here, perhaps you are the aid I am seeking.”
“Perhaps we are,” said Lavren. “And though I have travelled the Realms for a century or more I confess that I have never been to Winterhaven.”

The others nodded their approval of this without one pointing out that they had arrived as three groups and would leave as one.
Now you make me wish I'd put the module in FR! Excellent! You put together a really fine scene, there. The mechanics are lurking just below the surface, and if you look closely you can see them, but I got caught up in the scene!
Arabel bustled as it always had...[snip]

My eyes! Would you be so kind as to double space your paragraphs to leave a little white space on the page? Solid blocks of text scare people away.
I usually have that happen when I write something in Word and then Copy/Paste it into the forums. I have to go back through and space things out, reformat, etc.
My eyes! Would you be so kind as to double space your paragraphs to leave a little white space on the page? Solid blocks of text scare people away.

Duly noted. The Word formatting does not translate well into posts and I didn't take the time to mess around with the formatting. Will try an edit to make it more readable.
For those who are interested, I have now started posting this as a story hour on ENWorld at the link below.

http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-hour/241863-medrievs-forgotten-realms-keep-shadowfell-updated-5th-october.html

Finished KotS last night and moving on to Thunderspire Labyrinth so it'll be a little while before the posts catch up.
Sadly, I have no groups nearby where I live, and my schedule is too busy to start one up. Thanks for writing this up, Shiftkitty, I've tried to play Solo before but somehow the game always collapsed.

I'll be sure to use this guide while I'm waiting for more posts on my PbP game -Thank you for taking the time to post this guide!

*Pulls up Microsoft Word and starts to copy-paste*
Medriev- Awesome story! I'm glad Solitaire is working so well for you!

Raz Fox- Happy to help. If you (or anybody) sees any ways to improve things, let me know!
Medriev- Awesome story! I'm glad Solitaire is working so well for you!

Good work writing this up so well and thanks for the pointer to Central Casting. Downloaded it last night and it is superb!
You ever play chess against yourself? No? Good. You’re not THAT lonely

Oi..I have 4 boards set up which I play against myself on. Not to mention 60-ish matches online against other people :P

What about the occasional dice fudge which you'd also do for your pc buds? :D
Four boards? Wowsers!

Dice fudging, a DM's best friend. I would do a fudge if it was a life-or-death situation and the miss was only by one.

I was running a solitaire wizard's duel last night, pitting a 17th level 3e wizard (core) against a 4e Spellstorm Mage (20th Level, core). For the sake of keeping the 3e wizard alive (remember, kids, without scrolls and multiple memorizations, every 3e spell is a Daily!), I had to allow a couple of "missed by one" rolls to hit. Other than that, the wizards were fairly evenly matched. Both burned through nearly all of their spells before fate threw the 4e wizard a 1 on what would have been a finishing move. Then the 3e wizard whipped out Chain Lightning and had the last say.
I enjoyed reading about Dungeons and Dragons Solitaire. I think I will use d&d solitaire to test out my adventures and campaigns before I send my friends through them. It can also help me judge the difficulty of encounters, dungeon layouts, how well script or descriptions are, and making good npc reactions. I can run an adventure for my self and then and then later in the week for my friends. Maybe this will help me with the npc roles and lines?

Thanks for the read.

PS: I also agree with pigknight. The intro was really good.

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

Using Solitairy for test runs is a good application. Been doing it for battles already. Since I've also been busy writing...well it is a little step to just use dice and get more interesting stuff :D
For those who are interested, I have now started posting this as a story hour on ENWorld at the link below.

http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-hour/241863-medrievs-forgotten-realms-keep-shadowfell-updated-5th-october.html

Finished KotS last night and moving on to Thunderspire Labyrinth so it'll be a little while before the posts catch up.

You should post it in [link=http://forums.gleemax.com/forumdisplay.php?f=344]Once Upon a Time[/link] too! They are having a dearth of posters lately.

Nice one ShiftKitty! Fun!
Put simply: Outstanding!

Now how long will it take to make my 1st level characters capture their epic destinies...
I'm glad everyone's enjoying it so far! I'd love to hear how the Solitaire games go.
Shiftkitty, have you thought about putting this together in a PDF so people can keep it with their game books? I think this sort of thing is gold.

Thank you for putting it together!
I had thought about it, but I'm not sure how to create a PDF. I know there are plenty of free sites to host it at, I just have to make it. Does MS Word 2003 have the ability to make one?
Here it is! (I hope.) A link to the webpage that has the link to the PDF for the Solitaire rules!

http://shiftkitty.angelfire.com/


Oh, somebody PLEASE tell me this worked! (I've never made a decent webpage before, just photo sharing brain-dead stuff that the computer did all the work for!)
The link works.

I like the pictures that you have with the pdf version, that along with the formating of it makes it look more interesting to read than seeing it on the forums. Basically the pdf version looks less intimidating.

I also now have the pdf version saved for my viewing pleasure. Thanks for the pdf Shiftkitty.

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

sweeeet.
Thanks! I was concerned that the pictures might not be appreciated. Sometimes a graphics heavy document uses waaaaaaay more ink than just the words would have, but I wanted to break up the sections more clearly. That left me with a lot of empty space between sections. It's nice to see that they actually improved things!

I'm glad to have everyone's approval on this project. I made about 5 or 6 false starts before finally getting it all together. Salud!
this thread is very useful. long have i been using d&d elements to aid my story writting. now i can just play the story, and then write it as i go.
thank you ShiftKitty!!
You're very welcome! :D
I thank you for writing this. I just cannot find groups, even searching online, and have wanted to play solo but kept thinking it could never turn out interesting. It was good to see that there was someone who has enjoyed the process enough that they would write a long essay on it. I feel some vigor returning. :D
I've always been curious about the solo thing. There are times where I've wanted to play an adventure, but can't because I'm either running it, or we're playing a different campaign (or different game entirely), so it's quite interesting to me.

So I'm tempted to give it a go then report on how it's gone, though I must admit, I am very tempted to try it with the 3.5 Scourge of the Howling Horde adventure first as I've always liked the look of that one.
I've been doing the solitaire thing for a week or something now. Using KOTS/published adventures makes it like someone else is DM'ing, almost, and you're just running 5 characters.
SilvercatMoonpaw- I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Lazulli- I'd be very interested in hearing how well it works with 3.5. I was already very into 4e when I wrote it and may have been more than a bit influenced by it, but I tried to keep it good for all editions.

zeratulcraft- I hope it's working well for you. I'd be interested in hearing how things go in your game.

There's a link on the Solitaire page that goes to a story called "Order of the Vanguard" that I believe is a novelized version of a Solitaire game. It's a work in progress by Caldarion. I recommend giving it a read! It would be cool if we had a log book somewhere where people could post their Solitaire games and update them as needed.
zeratulcraft- I hope it's working well for you. I'd be interested in hearing how things go in your game.

Pretty good, really. I don't have to wait on anyone to do a battle, If I lack anything to do, it's as simple as drawing up the map and rolling initiative. Takes less time too, but I find it hard to not metagame my tactics.

Not so much responding perfectly to the enemies tactics or anything, but I just create a tactic when normally, in a group of others, it would not be adhered to as everyone runs about the battlefield dying.

Coolest part is making a set of backstories that fit together really nice. And I can have super long term character goals between the party. I like being able to plot.

Writing it up is a bit difficult though, I tried just doing turn by turn descriptions of the action, but it read very poorly. So I've stopped doing that except for super big battles where I should be describing everything awesomely, every other battle just gets written like a small skirmish in a novel, it was either a hard or easy fight, the opponents were either driven away or slaughtered, the party was either grievously wounded or barely touched.
Something else I've thought about: you really can, if you want to, play stories that revolve around one character.
Something else I've thought about: you really can, if you want to, play stories that revolve around one character.

Aye, my 'paladin' is a primordial who regained consciousness in his astral prison, the mere act of an awakening primordial apparently causes reality tears, so he made himself small and escaped through one such thing.

Couldn't pull that kind of awesomeness in a many player game.