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Re-Thinking The Solo Campaign July 20, 2009

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Solo Game.
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I am taking a break from trying to rush into more solo play with my wife. The reason is two-fold: I don’t want to overwhelm her with too much D&D (we are supposed to play the Eberron campaign again this weekend) and I want to get more experience running battle sequences in order to speed up the process (by having a greater familiarity with the rules/system).

I will mention the sources of these ideas later on, but it struck me that I need to give Ela a greater chance of developing as a character. My wife has stated that she is not all that interested in roleplaying, so I am trying to be careful about how much focus I put on that aspect of the game…at least how blatantly I bring those aspects in. My hope is to design encounters that allow her to gain a greater familiarity with what her character can do. I also want to create a lesser reliability on NPCs and especially DMPCs, and so I took some great advice from the Wizard’s forums and decided to redraw up her character (using the Character Creator–using the free version, because I do not have a membership to DDI). This turned out to be a GREAT move. First of all, I was able to tailor the character more to what I feel she wants (as I said before, she expressed a lack of interest in drawing up her own character, so I did this so she wouldn’t have to). I also upped her ability stats to make her a far more epic character (not epic tier; I’m speaking of the story here, folks).

Last night I showed her the new character sheet for Ela Brightvale. I was surprised at the level of interest she showed in checking out all of the new stats, skills, and powers. She was very impressed with the sleek look of her character sheet (my wife loves interior and graphic design–it should have hit me sooner that aesthetics are going to be HUGE for her). She also took the time to read through her new powers and what not. That made me extraordinarily happy.

I also spent some time redesigning the character’s backstory and world. This will require a little ret-conning, but she was fine with that. The village of Brightvale originally was a town filled with humans, halflings, half-elves, eladrin, etc. This no longer the scenario. She nowlives in an exclusively Eladrin community and Tira Duskmeadow (the previously half-elf warlock) is now Eladrin also. I redrew up that character, making her powerful but not as powerful as Ela so as not to steal her glory. I left in the bit about the tiefling community that also resides in the Vale, but I made the relationship between these two communities much less stable. This also meant ret-conning the two characters that came to the rescue at the end of the 2nd encounter. They were both Eladrin in the story now, sent by Ela’s father.

Some Great Reads

I have been feasting on some great advice by excellent DMs on the subject of running a solo campaign. One that has been an invaluable resource is Oakspar77777‘s massive thread over at Wizards (he uses 3.5 from all that I can tell). Another great source has been CHGOWIZ’s Old Guy RPG blog. He is not using 4e for his campaign (he uses some mishmash of Microlite and D&D), but it has helped to see how he keeps it interesting for his wife, as well as her creativity in many scenarios. The other source that I have turned to a lot has nothing to do with solo campaigns but everything to do with learning how to DM: NewbieDM. He is actually using 4e, so that has been nice, plus he has great ideas for keeping the game affordable, but looking good. The last one I will mention is a collection of posts on ENWorld by some obviously intelligent DMs. Go check all of these guys out.

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