Review: Solo Heroes

Posted: 19 June 2013 in Reviews
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Another free web supplement from Sine Nomine Publishing? Don’t mind if I do…

In a Nutshell: GM’s tips on running adventures with a single PC using Labyrinth Lord or other OD&D retroclones. 10 page PDF, free to download.

CONTENTS

This product assumes the GM is using the Labyrinth Lord rules, but it’s trivially easy to port it to any other Old School D&D retroclone.

Solo Heroes: This section explains the purpose of the supplement, namely a way to run level-appropriate adventures with one or two PCs instead of a full party, but without needing to change either the character sheets or the scenario. This requires several problems to be addressed; a lone PC doesn’t have enough hit points, he (or she) can’t dish out damage fast enough, incapacitating a single PC is a one-way ticket to a Total Party Kill, and given that D&D retroclones have fairly strict niche protection, a single PC doesn’t have the necessary range of skills and capabilities to prevail.

Rules for Solo Adventuring: The previous section states the problems; this section addresses them by a number of rules modifications.

  • Damage: While the dice themselves don’t change, the way the results are read does, so that any incoming damage die does 0-2 damage, and  outgoing damage is deadlier.
  • Healing: Essentially, one can heal between encounters rather than having to retreat from the dungeon and wait a few days.
  • Dodging Doom: This rule affects saving throws, allowing PCs to trade hit points for failed saves. This is one that interests me, I may explore it further.
  • Experience: Awards are reduced to reflect the smaller party size.

I haven’t tried the rules out, but they look like they would do the job.

Optional Rules and Guidelines: What it says on the tin. Rules for enduring protagonists ("not dead, just left for dead"), automatic initiative, etc. These move the balance further in the PC’s favour, if that is necessary.

These sections are followed by a one-page summary of the rules (welcome, as otherwise I would write one myself before using them).

The Yellow Toad God’s Well: This is an adventure intended to go with the new rules. No spoilers, but rumours of a ruined village whose well contains the Yellow Toad God and the precious treasures the peasants sacrificed to it arouse the hero’s cupidity… and then the blades come out, and the screaming starts. I like this one and plan to use it; very Conanesque, and more than a little creepy.

FORMAT

The usual; colour cover, internal text black on white in two columns, clear and easy to read. The only internal illustration is a dungeon map for the adventure, but that’s all it needs.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

None. I would do things differently, but there’s nothing wrong here.

CONCLUSIONS

I have quite often run adventures with single PCs, but I tend to address the problems above by shifting the emphasis away from combat and toward intrigue and puzzle-solving. So, I don’t expect to use the rules – not quite my cup of tea – but the adventure is solid, and I’ll definitely use that.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Comments
  1. raikenclw says:

    ” . . . I tend to address [solo player] problems by shifting the emphasis away from combat and toward intrigue and puzzle-solving.”
    I also, except I don’t usually have to do much. The lone[some] player studiously *avoids* combat, without me needing to offer anything more than a bland, peaceful smile. šŸ™‚

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