A GM and one player...?

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Lightstorm
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A GM and one player...?

#1 Postby Lightstorm » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:53 pm

I love Savage Worlds! Unfortunately, I rarely get to play - it's very difficult to find any local players. I *do* have a friend who is very interested, however. As a general question: how is the best way to approach Savage Worlds with only a GM and one player? Is there a particular genre or campaign that fits best? Are there any official or fan-man scenarios that may be used? My friend and I prefer to only play with one character when we play - we don't like having to manage two or three characters.

I'm sure this has been asked over and over, but I'm new to the forum (this is my first post) and I'm simply trying to figure my way around.

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#2 Postby Kythkyn » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:58 pm

I run private games for my Girlfriend all the time. We usually both have characters, so that way there is something to offset the small group size, but even that isn't necessary. It takes a little time to get the hang of running for just a party of one or two, but it can be a lot of fun. You'll want to pay close attention to what your friend wants to play, and what your friend has made, in case you wish to supplement it with one or more guest NPCs or one constant traveling companion.

Actually, I tend to try out new settings / ideas out on her first before we play with bigger groups, but that's beside the point.
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#3 Postby Lysander » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:42 pm

Give the Player a few NPC (non-wild card) helpers. Depends on the genre, but it's hard to go alone. A low level noble always had a few retainers to help out (hunter, scribe, guard, priest, and so on...) where ever he went or whatever he wanted to do. Plus they make great hostages! Oh, wait...
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#4 Postby marshal kt » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:59 pm

Some games, say NE, can easily be played as a solo and it's henchmen.
Weird War, Rippers or the Vampire Earth [based on the novels] can easily be played as a solo and a small group of helpers.

Look at movies like the expendables.. have 1 main character and the rest as highly trained henchmen.
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#5 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:18 pm

As mentioned, Allied Extras are a great resource to provide the solo protagonist. They're fast, simple, and expendable while still being actual characters with emotions and plot hooks - and since they are controlled (in combat) by the player, the GM just has to remember their names and any sub-plots built around them.

Other options include: allied Wild Cards (run by either the GM or the player); multiple PCs for one player; Colombo-style investigations with very little action; non-combat scenarios; setting rules that make it very unlikely for a single PC to be laid low.

The real problem with one-on-one is that a single player often finds their character the victim of bad luck. Some extra aces a few times and suddenly Conan the Barbarian is Conan the Corpse. :oops: Having a few allies around to absorb the pain and increase options is great; having some setting rules that mitigate some of the randomness of Savage Worlds combat is another good option.

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#6 Postby Ryche » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:59 pm

Beasts and Barbarians is a good one for solo characters as well. There are setting rules for a Lone Wolf. Most of the adventures provided can easily be geared towards one player.

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#7 Postby Dirty Ernie » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:50 pm

I think Pulp-style, Hero-centered stories work very well.

Batman, for example. :cool:

He basically works alone, and is a one-man, crime-fightin' machine. He has all the bases covered with a wide array of skills, yet has his own weak points and blind spots (Hindrances).

He has loyal people to cover his back, take a hit, provide information, and even rescue him if the story dictates.

They're also ripe for advancing the story when they get into trouble themselves.

But... they never steal the spotlight. :wink:
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#8 Postby Redtwin » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:47 pm

I don't see any problem with a player making a whole A Team of characters. When there's only one player, you don't have the spotlight problems that multiple PCs per player introduce in a group.
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#9 Postby Takeda » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:16 am

I run a single-player game for my Wife. I made 6-pregen characters. She picks which one she plays as a PC per session and the rest are supporting characters at best. Anybody not being played as a PC has a 1-die-step reduction in all their abilities to reflect their non-PC status ... but they remain Wild Cards so they don't die too easily. It's been working pretty well so far.
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#10 Postby sablemage » Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:26 am

I've run single-player games quite a bit over the years. A couple of lessons I've learned:

1. Make it easy for the PC to pick up a few expendable NPCs. Over time, the player can get quite attached to these if they survive. They don't need to be fancy; a Soldier with a one-word personality from the Ally table will do. I don't give them bennies, because I like to use these "redshirts" to show the player why he/she should think twice about entering combat.

2. Focus adventures on NPC interaction, puzzle-solving and intrigue. Combat still happens, but it's not the centre of attention as it would be in, say, D&D.

3. Ask the player what sort of adventures he/she wants. A lot of single-player games I've run have fizzled out early, and I suspect it's because the player and I had a different vision for the game.

I haven't found any fan or official SW adventures aimed at a single player, so I either write my own or use some kind of GM emulator to drive the plot (say, Mythic). Writing my own works better for me.

Good luck!

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#11 Postby SeeleyOne » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:02 am

I have not ran nor played a solo game since the 90s. However I did have a lot of fun doing it. People have already mentioned really good advice. There was one simple thing that we always had in such a game, that even the 1sr level PC started out with: a Ring of Regeneration.

There was a basic rule: the game really DOES revolve around the PC. This isn't to say that the world does, but you cannot KILL the character. But you can torture. maim (until regenerated, of course), and otherwise mess with that character, often targeting their allies with the horrors. f you killed the character the game was over, unless they became undead or somebody raises them from the dead.

This thread has made me think that I should start running a solo game for my oldest son. He would love it! The other kids would, too, but it is a good way for me to spend some one-on-one time with him for visitations (as he usually lives with his mom). His sister might like it as well.

There is one added bonus to the idea of running a solo game, and that is if you have a gaming group you can do solo games on the side. If you and a player are itching for a different genre or adventure this gives you a way to play it without sabotaging your main game. This is usually only an option for teenagers and the unemployed, though.
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#12 Postby farik » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:15 am

If you need inspiration for 1 player games there are several great TV SHows I'd encourage you to check out
Kolchak: the Night Stalker;
John Doe
and of course
Doctor Who

now that I think of it almost any series where the title is a single character's name (Angel and Buffy being notable exceptions) are good source material for 1 player games.

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#13 Postby Takeda » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:41 am

There was a movie that was turned into a one-player RPG called Ghost Dog. It might have good source material for a solo game ... The movie (starring Forest Whittaker as Ghost Dog) and the RPG.
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Sam: "Yeah, what do you wanna do, poke her with a stick?"

[Dean nods]

Sam: "Dude, you're not gonna poke her with a stick?"

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#14 Postby TommyBrownell » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:47 pm

I've done solo games a lot and it works great.

In fact, my Solomon Kane game was one PC with three NPCs...and the PC wasn't even the front line character (he was a spellcaster working from the back).

But even straight up, one on one, it's definitely not hard...just remember that the capabilities of one guy aren't the same as the capabilities of four.
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#15 Postby Dirty Ernie » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:45 pm

Espionage, infiltration, sabotage, commando, rescue missions...

James Bond, Snake Plissken, etc... :cool:
I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me.

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#16 Postby Virgobrown72 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:54 pm

Any one of the "DieHard" movies...
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#17 Postby Kertain » Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:43 am

A little bit of thread necro here but..

I just picked up 50 Fathoms, any thoughts on this being run as a single player campaign? Was explaining the world to my wife and she likes it, but I know she has no interest in taking the time to be in a group.

I am reading the plot now, but would love to hear from some people who played it already.

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#18 Postby ValhallaGH » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:39 am

Kertain wrote:I just picked up 50 Fathoms, any thoughts on this being run as a single player campaign?

Totally doable. Give her a couple of plucky sidekicks (NPC Wild Cards) and a mess of crew (allied Extras) and it should mostly work just fine.

You may want to tweak Incapacitation. You don't want it to be too easy for your wife's PC to die. :cool:
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#19 Postby SeeleyOne » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:12 am

Just give her the ability to heal somehow.

A magical ring or trinket of some sort is easy. Maybe some family heirloom that had been collecting dust and it turns out that it works for her (maybe it only works for Wild Cards).

Maybe she regenerates like Wolverine. Another possibility is she is just "hard to kill" and heals from being incapacitated or even death.

There are worse things than death to a PC. :) And besides you don't want to kill her character, as she is the star of the story. Other players will not be playing so there is no reason for them to cry foul for favortism.
Just about every kid today wants to be Batman, Spiderman, or Superman. Maybe if we were better parents they would not want to become orphans.



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#20 Postby Kertain » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:09 pm

Thanks for the suggestion folks :)


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