member, 13 posts
 I do boogie consistently.
 Consistently boogie I do.
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 15:25
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Never DM'd before (kinda; basically I sucked over several sessions), and I'm trying to get my wife into DnD'n. She's very creative, imaginative, and an excellent actor. She's also stupid levels of intelligent, and if you can't tell I  love her very much.

We've been best friends for 15 years, and we've just been married for just a little over a year. She didn't know until four years ago how much I dig role-playing. We tried a game once - her first - that ended up being pretty freaking toxic, and she's been hesitant ever since.

Once she's done with her last exam, she'll have a few weeks off to chill. I've already brought the idea up to her, and she's onboard.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a relatively new DM on making a great experience for one other player? Any recommended modules, or methods that would help the experience. I'm hoping to make this a real bonding experience.

Thanks in advance cool cats.
 member, 898 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 15:30
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
In reply to Boogs (msg # 1):

I would speak to her about themes first of all. Does she want fantasy (high/low), horror, modern, sci-fi, aliens, etc. That will help you narrow down a setting and system. Then look at scenario ideas. Would she want hacknslash, problem solving, social interaction, or a blend of all of them.
 member, 14 posts
 I do boogie consistently.
 Consistently boogie I do.
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 15:40
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Wow, thanks for the quick reply!

In terms of theme, she said she was "open to any." She's a sci-fi type, but I've turned her on pretty hard to fantasy. So that's in the works.

And knowing her when it comes to scenarios, she would be into a blend of all. I'd probably push a little more hackety-hack on her because I've watched her get down pretty hard on Diablo and Borderlands, but she loves good character development.

I'm leaning towards Pathfinder to run myself, because it's my personal favorite, and she could play anything as complicated as what she would want. I'm also considering 5e because though it has less to mess with, the slimmed downness might make it easier to manage.

Of course, I'm open to any setting. Probably would help if I established a setting first...
 member, 665 posts
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 16:15
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Id suggest not pushing anything, really. You should meet her where she is rather than pull her to where you are. Your goal here, I assume, is to get her into RPGs. Your best bet for doing that, especially after a toxic first attempt, is to cater the game entirely to her interests. If shes a sci-fi fan, find out what her favorite shows, movies, and authors are and do something like that for a game. Trek, Wars, Stargate, Philip K. Dick, Asimov, Clarke, Burroughs. Take the time to find a setting, story, genre, and game system that does what she wants and use that. Something lighter and more story focused would probably be your best bet as you minimize the barriers to entry. The further away from her core interests and the crunchier the game, the harder it will be for her to get into it. Sorry if thats not what youre wanting to hear, but this is such a common problem.
 member, 15 posts
 I do boogie consistently.
 Consistently boogie I do.
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 16:40
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
In reply to liblarva (msg # 4):

No need for sorries, I full-on appreciate that!

I honestly think you hit it on pretty straight, and I would be neglecting her experience by pushing my own on her. She's very sure about most everything she wants except for the rare thing like this, and I would be making a mistake by trying to take that decision power from her.

When it comes to sci-fi, she more conceptual in her like than show/story based. In all the years I've known her I've only known her to ever enjoy shows like The 100, Lost, and Margaret Atwood's excellent works,  Homecoming...but those already give me some great starting points now that you've brought that to my attention!

We watched all the Star Wars, and hated them (except the newest ones. Don't crucify us.)

Huge Harry Potter fan.

She also loved Death Note, Assassin's Creed series, Skyrim (blew her mind), and Portal.

She's a horror buff when she's in the mood, but not big on the vamp/were schticks.

Do you have systems you would recommend? FATE comes to mind for its simplicity, and so does d20 modern. I'll definitely do my own research too and ask her more specifics after tomorrow.

That was super helpful, liblarva. Thank you so much!
 member, 357 posts
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 18:32
Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
It might sound counterintuitive but maybe Mutants & Masterminds? It can be built for many different genres besides supers and while I've never attempted it personally it might suit a Potterverse style game.
 member, 172 posts
 The horn that wakes
 the sleepers
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 19:29
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
I think liblarva hits it pretty spot on here:

Id suggest not pushing anything, really. You should meet her where she is rather than pull her to where you are.

I had the idea to attempt something of the same thing a few years ago, and generally succeeded, except in my case I didn't really have a lot of fandoms or genre inclinations to work with.

YMMV, but I chose Call of Cthulhu as my opening gambit for a few reasons:
  • The genre and setting (at least a 1920s game) is different enough to feel like you're playing a character, but understandable enough that new people won't feel completely out of their depths. It's easy to run for the same reasons: easy rules and intuitive setting.
  • The system couldn't be simpler: d100 roll under. You can explain all the needed rules in a few minutes, and people can jump right in.
  • It's super well supported. Just find a nice haunted house adventure, and people can get into that pretty easily because it's a narrative structure most will probably understand from movies.

I know you spoke of a solo game, but here's another place to consider your wife's preferences. There's great social appeal in roleplaying games, and if that's something you think she might help, it's worth considering (I know it's hard now due to COVID, but in the future). I ran a game that (by a stroke of great luck) two of her girlfriends ended up hearing about and asking into, and that social engagement really I think pumped up her enjoyment of the whole thing. To avoid the toxicity, only get people who aren't toxic, and try to get some gender diversity at the table too to avoid any feelings of isolation.

If you're stuck on D&D as a system, there's is a set of adventures called the Crystalline Curse Trilogy on DMs Guild. I've never run it, but I found it when I was looking for an idea for a one GM one player game (called a "duet" game sometimes; some consider a solo RPG like a literal one person adventure with no DM). It might give you something to work with.
 supporter, 662 posts
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 21:38
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
I would suggest that you stick with a system you know well.  Nothing bogs down a game more than the GM having to hunt through rulebooks looking for how to adjudicate something.  Also, don't do that.  If you don't know exactly where to look for a specific rule, just act confident, roll some dice, and declare the more fun result.  :-)  (Remember, though, that it might seem fun at first to have everything go your way, it isn't in the long run.  A little pro-player "luck" is good but too much takes the fun out of the challenge.)

This message was last edited by the user at 21:39, Thu 17 Dec 2020.

 subscriber, 689 posts
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 21:53
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Just to add a few alternatives to what's already been said as it's all very good advice.

You might look to more non-tradional games as well.  Role playing is more about getting someone into the mode where they're comfortable in telling a story over rolling dice.

My social groups have had good success bringing really new people in using tools like the Castle Ravenloft board game.  It's familiar in its trappings to many people, gives some RPG'esque mechanics, and provides a framework to tell a specific "story".  It's then easy enough to encourage people to put a personality to their character, narrate their actions, engage in banter, etc.

As a novice GM, you might also approach things by introducing a "GM'less" game like The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen which are all about story but within a defined framework that allows people to guide and prompt new role players without necessarily having to "present" a game/adventure for them and worry about the quality of the presentation.
 supporter, 406 posts
Thu 17 Dec 2020
at 22:25
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Personally, I would pick a very light ruleset and focus on the right kind of story leaving a lot of room to storytelling.
A friend of mine run with much satisfaction a RPG campaign for his wife using Blue Rose adventures (not sure about the ruleset that he used) - this setting has some soft touch adventures that perhaps may be appropriate as introductions for your sweet lady.
Have a look at it.
 member, 189 posts
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 03:14
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
I would strongly recommend Ironsworn, with the GM-less option, then you can both play and create the story together!
 member, 62 posts
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 05:08
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
My suggestion start simple.

The most enduring campaigns I ever created started small. Don't worry about the world, or galaxy or universe....

Start with one town (or if space opera a single planet). Work on that then branch out. The key here is to make it fun for both of you.

Starting say with Pathfinder for example. Use just the core rulebook. Anything outside of that doesn't exist for players or you. This narrows down the options allows the game to move more swiftly and get an adventure in. Then add more stuff as time goes by if you hear her say I wish I could do X and you know X is in book Y then you pull out Y and let her start working with it.

Mechanically complicated characters are not always fun. Sure they can be fun to make but to play they aren't always fun and the more complicated the more likely you overlook some ability at a critical time (either as the DM or the player).

If she likes a challenge and is intelligent then there are systems that can allow you to make almost anything with time, HERO System for example. However most people find it daunting to make characters and it's not as easy to GM as you don't have a lot of monster books to just plop down monsters, plus how many times does Ogre escape from Prison syndrome.....

Keep it Simple at First, then build on it.
 member, 407 posts
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 05:56
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
My SO's first game was a homebrew d20 monstrosity. She cried a little, but now's she's a bigger proponent of crunchy systems than most of the grognards I know. She tends to get bored with simpler systems and hates storygames almost as much as I do, so I fear if I'd taken the popular "start simple" advice, I wouldn't have one of my best, most passionate players.

In short, your mileage may vary.
 member, 129 posts
 "Choose you this day
 whom ye will serve..."
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 07:25
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
We tried a game once - her first - that ended up being pretty freaking toxic, and she's been hesitant ever since.

If details were given elsewhere, I missed them.  What specifically did she find to be toxic?  That might give you some hints for her gaming experience preferences and anti-preferences...

I would suggest that you stick with a system you know well.

+1.  There are RPGs out there that are easy to pick up quickly, but whatever you choose, it should be something that you can be comfortable, competent, and confident running.

For setting/genre/etc., you might take a hint from the types of things she most enjoys watching and/or reading.

Bonus points for finding something that both of you can enjoy.  Unless both player and GM are having a good time, the game's life expectancy will be limited.  :)
 member, 684 posts
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 07:42
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Take it from a divorced guy: It's a solo game for your wife.  Give her really nice magic treasure and make sure she wins everything and you'll be golden.

Nothing else matters. As long as she enjoys it, what else matters? And who doesn't enjoy being the best in the land, with the best gear?

Truthfully, I've had more than one DM who's wife was also playing, and she always did better than the rest of us. There's a reason for that. And in a solo game you don't have to pretend you're being fair.

Let her do what makes her happy. You'll be happier for it. What else really matters in a solo game with the wife (or other significant other)? Seriously?

This message was last edited by the user at 07:44, Fri 18 Dec 2020.

 member, 408 posts
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 07:49
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
...she always did better than the rest of us.

Mine never gets special treatment, and would be mad at me if she did. Different strokes.

For any solo game, though, the "power level" doesn't matter, since there's no one else to balance against. In D&D terms, a character could have a 25 in every ability score and it wouldn't matter a whit, since the only character the game is balanced against is theirs.
 member, 16 posts
 I do boogie consistently.
 Consistently boogie I do.
Fri 18 Dec 2020
at 13:18
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
You cool cats have contributed so much, and not only did I not expect this, I really appreciate it. I'm still doing my research, and taking everything you've been sharing into consideration.  After today we'll actually have time to hang out, and I'll be taking that time to dig a little deeper into what she'd be interested in.

Definitely want to find something we can both enjoy that caters to her preferences, and hopefully something I am semi-familiar with. The M&M was a good suggestion, so thanks RossN. I'm also reading up on the other systems too because I like overloading myself.

And OakMaster at the time we played we hooked up with a dude from my (at the time new) job and there brother to play a Pathfinder game. The DM (brother) kept using derogatory RL slurs, so when I told them it wasn't cool, the cat was like, "I'm the DM so suck it or leave." He must have got in his feelings when we dipped right out since the next day they tried to show up at my job to start something. It was wild as a mug.

So yeah for some strange reason it was not the most pleasant first experience for her :/

I think I'm going to lean away from GM-less options for now, as I do want to put that work in out the gate to craft something special for her, but I do appreciate the suggestions because we'd been doing mystery boxes the last year knot since our schedules got flipped) and they're almost like GM less games already :)

Again folks, I really appreciateit. And thanks for that module suggestion too, Waxahachie
 member, 94 posts
 middle aged gamer
Thu 24 Dec 2020
at 02:52
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Other suggestions, apologies if I skimmed over them from above.

Lot of people have a lot of fun with Lady Blackbird.  It constantly gets good reviews, though I've never participated in it myself.

I have run a Ghost Echo game on RPOL here a long time ago.  I like this one and you kind of get to make it whatever you want: sci-fi, weird horror, techno babble, any combo.  It's also incredibly small.

People give RIFTS and Palladium a bad rap, but I've always had an affinity for it.  RIFTS is a big bag of anything, but the system is a little... well, that's what a lot of people have a problem with.  However you might find you like it.  I homebrewed the hell out of it to remove crunch and streamline a lot of decisions.  It can be very rich if you only include the parts that make sense for your game.  AND if you do like the system, then there are a couple of secondary products from Palladium to look at: Manhunter, and Nightbane.

Also, there is a certain amount of charm to be found in the DnD Red Box set if you can get ahold of one.  Which then might lead you to something along the lines of  I might be mis-remembering, but I thought that WOTC had released some of these things for free in pdf format.  B11 King's Festival is a good straightforward Fantasy adventure, where you gear up, go in, watch for traps, and rescue the victim.

Also, finally, You may want to not be the DM, but find someone who can DM just the two of you so that you can have a shared experience playing the game instead of potentially running as adversaries.  The GM-Less suggestion above is good but if you're not into it, I find often that sitting on the other side of the table (so to speak) can take away from the "let's play a game together" that you want and turn it into "competition".  Having someone be the potential adversary allows you to be the team you want to be and still enjoy the game.  There are plenty of GMs out there who don't have a problem crafting a game for others and being as much or as little of an adversary as you want.  Seeing the example you gave of someone throwing around RL slurs is not a shining example of a good GM (or maybe even person).  GMs run the full gamut of garbage and paragons just like the rest of the human race.
 member, 936 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Tue 5 Jan 2021
at 00:18
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Don't forget that there are games like "Rangers of Shadow Deep" that are designed for solo play. That would let you both play without requiring a GM/DM.
A bit more combat orientated but something to cut your teeth on.
 supporter, 2028 posts
 RPG since 1982
 Author & Inspiration
Fri 8 Jan 2021
at 22:03
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
One technique that works for any setting or group is to have each player suggest "three scences" they would like to play in.

With 3 the GM has a choice and can play a possible hook that its really a different one.

With a solo game its a little more directed but that can still be of use.

I've also had good sense with similiar skilled roleplayer friends playing 1+1. Where one of is the GM and the other a player, but from adventure to adventure we rotate. Each player has a PC but when that player is GMing their character moves out of the spotlight and makes less decisions.

Some combos that have worked are:

Star Wars: a Jedi + Naval Officer
Some adventures focus on the force and Sith, while others focus on ship battles and both can take part in investigations

Space 1889 (ish): An immortal scientist + immortal fighter
But each has a different philosophy but some major dangers take them working together

Star Wars: Smuggler with ship + Rebel heroine
Saving the galaxy while paying off that bounty on your head
 member, 17 posts
 I do boogie consistently.
 Consistently boogie I do.
Wed 13 Jan 2021
at 02:08
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.
Hey cool cats,

Just wanted to say thanks again for all the love and sharing. Because of the intensity of both of our schedules, I decided not to hurt myself and keep it relatively simple. After asking her input, I'm going to run the First Blush 5E module with her this weekend!

I really appreciate the support and if you'd like I'll let you all know how it goes :)
 supporter, 413 posts
Wed 13 Jan 2021
at 19:11
Re: Thinking about running a solo game for my wife.