I’ve been transferring over some of my previous solo plays from a character that I was actually using in my group play sessions, and I realized that this was really a fun and exciting way to play solo. Even my Red Markets solo run was really just me running the same character as my group Red Markets play but just on my own. So allow me to expound on the virtues of doing this after explaining mechanically what I did.
Solo Mechanics During Group Play
Gulduron was a magic-user that I created using the awesome Spheres of Power supplement published by Drop Dead Studios for Pathfinder. I played Gulduron at our weekly game night for about a year through a campaign titled An Impending Doom where we were trying to stop a near omnipotent dragon from taking over or destroying the world.
Gulduron and the rest of the party were often under a time crunch, so there weren’t a lot of “rest periods” for the character in the game world. However, whenever I had a spare couple of hours during the school year (I’m a teacher), I tried to make a semi-plausible in-game excuse for Gulduron to slip away and adventure on his own for a few hours of in-game time.
These tiny sidequests had no bearing on the overall plot of the campaign with the group as a whole. However, it would have been cool if they would have affected the overall campaign! Two of my companion NPCs on these sidequests were related to dragonkind one way or another, and I found Gulduron often searching the skies for his other friends on dragon wings even while he was on mission with the rest of the party of actual PCs from the group play.
The point is that whether you have a few hours or years of in-game time pass between your regular gaming sessions, you can surely make up a flimsy excuse to take your character out for a solo gameplay spin. Here’s what I think that can get you.
I definitely felt like I could flesh out more of my character’s quirks and passions in solo play which in turn made me a better player at the table with the whole group. Very often in our group play games, we are on an epic mission with mounting pressure to go after the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy). As such, I personally tend to expend most of my mental energies into solving the immediate problem rather than character development. That’s my flaw as a character, not a flaw in how my friends run games as a GM. It’s something I want to improve upon, and solo games helped me to do that.
Testing Strategies and Abilities
I’m definitely a power-gamer, so having a quick sidequest to try out the latest abilities that came with leveling up helped me to scratch that “new and shiny” itch in between game sessions. It was really a blast to figure out how to incorporate new stuff into my character before taking it back to the group as a whole. Plus, I really like setting up the battle maps and fighting it out.
Telling Worthwhile Stories
One of the fascinating aspects of heroes in typical fantasy games is the carnage they leave in their wake. These fantasy heroes are often merely “murder hobos” who wander from place to place murdering and loot. In some of my sidequests I got to deal with the siege of our hometown in more detail and explore some of motives of a jerk of a governor who had tried to magically strand the main PC party in the snowy mountains. It was really fun to delve into this further, but next time I think it would be even more fun to incorporate these sidequests from all the PCs into the main story line even if only fleetingly.
Making and Meeting New Characters
At the beginning of most campaigns, I have lots of options in mind for a character to play. I want to play them all, so the sidequests let me do this. For the Spheres of Power characters in particular, I couldn’t pass up a straight up magic master. That’s sort of my MO. However, I also wanted to try a shapechanger who could morph into a dragon and a fighter with a dragon companion. (This was a dragon based campaign after all.) Making those character and seeing how their personalities turned out was in some ways more enjoyable solo than they would have been as my main PC because I could write their accents and personalities in ways that I’m still not the best at doing at the table.
Solo Sidequests = Good Times
My overall recommendation is that you should try taking your main PC in your current game out for some solo adventuring. You won’t regret it!