There are loads of reasons to play RPGs alone, from avoiding the plague to testing out homebrew rules, or just for the fun of focusing on a single hero’s story. These days, there’s a huge number of tools and adventures for the solo player. We’re going to look at some of the intricacies of roleplaying solo with Pathfinder 2e.
December is Fun for One!
No, I’m not being a Grinch. I mean that the RPG Blog Carnival is parked here this month, and we’re talking Fun for One. That can mean all sorts of things, not just about solo gaming specifically. Go check out the host page, and be sure to check the comments for more posts on the topic. You can even add your own, so why not join us?
Now, back to going solo with Pathfinder 2e.
The Core Appeal of Solo Play
Playing a game alone is usually fun for very different reasons that make a group game fun.
Solo games can present a puzzle for you, and you alone, to solve. In this sense, every combat encounter becomes a puzzle: how do I defeat the enemy without losing too many resources (Hit Points are one resource, after all).
Solo TTRPGs are very introspective, and you can enjoy the time alone with the character and their story in a uniquely intimate way. I love writing stories for exactly the same reason, and it’s probably why solo adventures intrigue me.
You might enjoy your solo experiences in other ways too, and here’s the point: understand that solo play is fun for a different reason and play your game to maximize that experience.
Solo Pathfinder 2e Encounters
Let’s take encounters and think about them as puzzles some more. How do we get more of a tactical challenge from encounters, if we’re a solo player?
XP Budget and Character Adjustment
In a solo game, the XP Budget is the Character Adjustment. See XP Budget, in the Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook. In other words:
XP Budget for Solo Play
Trivial – 10 XP or less
Low – 15 XP
Moderate – 20 XP
Severe – 30 XP
Extreme – 40 XP
This XP Budget limits what you can throw at your hero, especially if your hero is 1st or 2nd level. You might consider playing a 3rd level character right out the gate to make up for this. Otherwise, you’ll be serving up Moderate to Extreme encounters until you gain a level.
Random Monsters and Generated Dungeons
Completely random tables aren’t going to provide good synergies for building meaningful encounters. Instead, take a look at the maps, map tiles, and monster miniatures you have. What interesting combinations can you build from those?
I’ve already spoken here about building dungeons as a way to invent encounters, where you put yourself in the role of Dungeon Keeper, using tiles and dungeon scenery as a toy to inspire you.
If you still want to randomize parts of the encounter, then create short, D4 or D6-based lists that let you swap out a few elements of terrain or change up some of the monsters in the encounter. You might have a table for environmental factors, like the level of lightning and if the ground is slippery or not.
Another option is to build decks of dungeon cards and monster cards that you can draw. Magic: The Gathering commons are great for this, if you don’t mind modifying them.
Help and Healing
Before you jump into playing the game, decide how deadly you want your game to be. Do you need to keep an NPC handy to cast stabilize, or will you have a magical item that casts raise dead on you whenever you die, up to three times? Will monsters kill your hero if you’re defeated, or will they attempt to heal your hero and keep you as their captive?
Hi there, I’m Rodney.
Writer, Game Designer, Editor, Kitbasher, Skateboarder, and Ork ‘Ed Banga. But Nothing Without Christ!