Minimal solo RPG

I use the One Page Solo Engine by Karl Hendricks and Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy (OSE) to run solo adventures. While creating a situation (DM mode), I use every random table I have on hand, such as Tome of Adventure Design, Judges Guild Village I & II, Madeline Hale’s books, and the tables in OSE. Once the situation is set up, I play through it (player mode) and ask Yes/No questions using the oracle in One Page Solo Engine. The key is to set some rigid/fixed elements in the world. Then, let the random results add surprise and excitement. Interpret unexpected results based on how they interact with the rigid/fixed elements already set up in the world.


Hey @Perkins , thanks for sharing your solo method! How granular do you get with your questions? Do you abstract a lot of action into a single question or do you drill down to a tactical level often and ask a lot of very specific questions for individual actions?

I posted a YouTube video: OSE Solo 002 - YouTube

My questions tend to be what a typical player would ask based on the scene presented by a DM (DM mode). Like “Do I see any signs of activity around the ruins or the stairs going down?” The results from the oracle are used the inform the situation. I find myself switching from DM mode to Player mode a lot.

One thing I am finding with solo gaming is leaving a lot of unanswered or undetermined content for my character to explore. At the same time, setting down certain things is a rigid/fixed element. Getting into “Player mode” and thinking like how players think because they do not know everything that the DM knows.


So far, I have been keeping the questions and results loose and letting logic and interpretation as a DM provide the little details. And the game aspect of solo D&D works by keeping the action in turns and the sequence following what is defined in OSE. I do not ask too many detailed questions.


Aha so do you consider each question to cost an exploration turn or something similar?

Depends on the situation. A search in a dungeon 10x10 area would take 10 minutes = 1 turn. However, asking the oracle questions does not necessarily impact game time. For example, after exploring the above-ground ruins for three turns (30 minutes), I asked: Can Orn the Dwarf tell what the ruins were before they were overgrown? The oracle’s result was “Yes.” So I rolled on the random Dungeon Settings to get “Temple.” However, I did not need to equat the question to the three turns. I did that because it made sense to me.

I decided outside the dungeon was wilderness - forest, calling for 1 wandering monster roll per 8 hours. Once in the dungeon, wandering monsters would be once every other turn.

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Aha. Do you tune the wandering monster procedures for solo or run with them as laid out in the rules? (Also, do you play with a full party or just a single character?)

I am running a single Dwarf character of Level 1, 8hp, AAC14. So the OSE standard wilderness and dungeon wandering monsters are too deadly. I am nerfing the encounters. I half the number of monsters or give him a chance to escape. And I have added a few bits and bobs. For example, after a significant fight, I let the Dwarf roll under CON13 to restore 1d3 hitpoints (patching up and licking his wounds). And his shield can be sundered (destroyed) to take one major hit.

So far, he is surviving. He runs away. Without any magical healing, he is likely to die quickly.

If he dies, I will decide whether to bring him back or not. For example, he might wake up “naked in the dark” somewhere.

I aim to get him to level up and gather enough gold to upgrade his kit.

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All very reasonable! Don’t forget to factor in encounter distance! :grin: Do you use Reactions and Morale or do you use oracle questions instead?

I use Monster Reactions and Morale to add twists to encounters. I want monsters to run away or be helpful. Simply killing everything is just too dull.

My primary method is: 1. set the scene; 2. run in turns; 3. ask yes/no questions for the oracle; 4. fill in the details using the logic, theme, and random tables. I decide the details of the situation without asking the oracle.

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What would you say is the sweet spot for the number of oracle questions you ask per scene?

One oracle question per scene is a good minimum; there is no absolute maximum number of oracle questions. However, I keep the oracle questions to three or fewer per scene. Mainly, I want the questions to come naturally from what a typical player would ask a DM. Oracle questions do not replace random rolls for wandering monsters and other mechanics already part of the OSE dungeon or wilderness turn sequence.

For example, I might roll 1 on d6 per turn or every other turn (20 minutes in world time) for wandering monsters. I rolled a human bandit while my Dwarf was searching the first room of the dungeon. I asked the oracle: did the bandit follow the Dwarf down into the dungeon? I got a 'yes, and…" result. So I decided (DM mode) that the bandit was alone, sneaking up on the Dwarf. I rolled for a surprise (I got a 2 on d6, so the Dwarf was surprised). The bandit got a free round to stab the Dwarf. He missed. I decided that the chainmail blocked the blade from doing damage.

After the first round, the Dwarf (Orn Austrik) won initiative and rolled a natural 20 on his to-hit roll. I decided to give him an extra 1d8 for damage. He rolled 17 hp of damage. The bandit only had 8 hp.

This whole scene and encounter only needed one oracle roll. And it only mattered from a context (bandit coming out of the dungeon or following the Dwarf into the dungeon).

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I received “Solo Game Master’s Guide” by Geek Gamers printed by Modiphius today. My plan is to read it and then do a vlog review. This guide appears to have a lot of ideas for improving solo role-playing gaming. I am a slow reader so it may take me a week or more to finish it.

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Have you flipped through it yet? What’s your first impression?

So far, it appears to be a well-written compendium of her Geek Gamers YouTube channel. I often find her videos hard to watch. However, the book is readable. She has a lot of good recommendations on GMing, a solo role-playing game.

I haven’t read too far yet. Her methods are game-agnostic, so you could run any RPG solo and use her strategies, tactics, and tools.

Four Essential Solo Resources:

  1. Generative Resources = Random Tables, etc.
  2. Suggestive Resources = For example, Magic Cards or other similar non-RPG game components.
  3. Restrictive Resources = Oracle like 1d6 with results:
    1. Yes, and…
    1. Yes
    1. Yes, but…
    1. No, but…
  • 5, No
    1. No, and…
  1. A rubric = A game system (OSE) + all that goes with it.

Currently, I do not use a Suggestive Resource. I can add ICRPG cards that I purchased off DriveThruRPG.

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I’ve seen folks use Tarot cards for this and, if you understand or want to learn that symbolic system, it seems like a deep resource.

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I have a Rider deck of Tarot cards that I could use. Mostly, I am reading through Geek Gamers’ Solo GM Guide. I am about halfway through it. Today, I saw Peter Rudin-Burgess’ videos on solo gaming. Peter has a bunch of solo books on DriveThruRPG. He runs Parts Per Million Limited.

I might do a book review series for my vlog.

Not familiar with them. I will have to look them up.

If you search DriveThruRPG for “solo,” you will likely see a bunch of Parts Per Million items. He has a YouTube vlog about publishing on DriveThruRPG.

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Ah, okay, I’ll check those out!