role-playing

Playing a one-on-one d&d adventure


June 20, 2017

The Dark Eye fantasy art by inSCAPE

A variant of the classic team-based game and a unique opportunity to play as protagonist.

A one-on-one is a D&D game that includes a dungeon master and a single player character and as all other D&D adventures, it can be experienced within one or more sessions of play. The one-on-one can be a powerful as well as a flexible tool in our pocket. It can be a complete adventure to introduce a new player, a dedicated campaign to deeply develop the story of a character, or even a quick parentheses just to resolve a particular encounter. With the following tips we cover what we think deserves particular attention for a successful one-on-one.

Make the character the protagonist

True for a team of adventures, it’s even more so for a one on one experience. Give the character a strong, clear role and make the story centered around every action he decides to do.  Remember: he has to stand as important as a team of heroes! Will he be the chosen one of the gods? The lost prince of the kingdom? Or maybe the first wizard that came in contact with an alien? Decide what’s best for your adventure, but make sure the character feels great. Make him the protagonist of your story.

Empower the protagonist with powerful equipment

Because he has to act as powerful as a team of heroes, the protagonist should get all the help he can get. Itemization can compensate those areas where he does not excel. I.E. if he is a skilled warrior, a mystic totem of healing can help him remain in action; if he is a wretched wizard, a staff that summons an eldritch companion can boost his defenses. Be generous with items, the protagonist will need them.

Manage the pacing with helpful NPCs

Being the sole protagonist is both interesting and energy consuming. If for every hour it's true that each player of a group is usually active for a fraction of it, let's say 20 minutes, we have to keep in mind that our one-on-one protagonist will instead have to act the whole hour... three times more! Keeping up the level of attention will sooner or later become a challenge. A simple trick to alleviate the tension can be “the helper” NPC.  The helper does not steal the spotlight from the protagonist, but either enter the scene to share some tips or to smooth the story forward if needed. Let the helper NPC be the perfect companion of both the protagonist, and the Dungeon Master.

Conclusions

D&D is a lot of fun when we can watch scenes unfold in unique ways such as those of a one-on-one. However, we need to keep an extra eye to balance environments and encounters to give our players the chance to finally enjoy together a fantastic adventure.


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Flavio Marcato

I help people to explore fantastic worlds.

IT engineer and experiencer, I am a fan of exploration and discovery. Things that make me happy are real life friendships, good food, hi-tech disquisitions or a nice and juicy role-playing session.

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