Good fantasy games for one GM and one player?

edited February 2012 in Story Games
My girlfriend's itching for some elves and dragons and treasure and all that good stuff, but for the time being, it's just she and I playing. There's a lot of games out there that we could just play, but came out kind of lame when you don't have the amount of players it wants you to have. So! Does anyone know of something out there that works well with just a single player and a GM?

(We're looking for pretty basic, as-you'd-expect stuff: wizards, magic, dragons, treasure, kings and castles, dwarves, all that jazz.)

Comments

  • Burning Wheel works fine with one player and one GM. I suspect The Shadow of Yesterday does, too.
  • edited February 2012
    Beast Hunters is an excellent two player game--it's designed that way! One player is the 'hunter' and the other player controls the opposition. The rules encourage creative imagining of the character's actions, which I think is perfect for allowing players to say, 'here's what I do...' rather than having to pick actions from a character sheet or other list of tactical options. Although the default setting is a tribal-type civilization, characters are built with various possessions/aspects--weapons, armor, tools, skills or even relationships that can be tailored to other settings. The hunter could very easily be a questing knight. It should be simple to turn the hunter into a wizard; a hunter's bow is just as easily an apprentice's 'magic missile.' And the creatures can be used as is, just change the names to create dragons, trolls, etc.
    I played Beast Hunters a few years ago in a pick-up game right after buying the book. I recall some confusion following the text, but overall a great time. In our case, the hunter was an elven initiate sent out on a ritual hunt as a rite of passage. He swung through the forest seeking 'horned gazelles' (or maybe leaping gazelles--I forget--basically horned apes living in the forest tops), a creature created on the spot.
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Adam DrayBurning Wheel works fine with one player and one GM. I suspect The Shadow of Yesterday does, too.
    I second both of these suggestions. Dogs in the Vineyard would work well one-on-one, I think, and if necessary changing up the setting shouldn’t be too difficult (just make it about fantasy paladins or whatever).

    There’s also Ron Edwards’ S/Lay w/Me, which is a two-player fantasy game. Thematically, it might be good for playing with one’s significant other.
  • edited February 2012
    Trollbabe is another Ron Edwards fantasy game, and is designed for one player - one GM play. I played it once and had fun with it.

    I have run Ghost/Echo in 1-player 1-GM mode twice - once with the cyberpunk/supernatural setting provided, once in a Lankhmar-like city infested with psychic-powered thieves. Very easy to adapt to a fantasy setting, and the first-time gamer I ran it for seemed to enjoy it well enough.
  • Dungeon World seems like it would work, maybe with the player controlling two characters? Anyone tried it one-on-one?
  • I'd go with either S/lay w/Me or Beast Hunters. Either one will put a very specific spin on your game compared to run-of-the-mill castles, dragons & elves, though. Both worth checking out.
  • Dude. Time to bust out Faery's Tale Deluxe.

    No, I'm serious.
  • Faery's Tale. I just looked that up. Had no idea that even existed. That likes awesome.

    I'm checking out everything that's mentioned! I already knew of Trollbabe and some others. The Shadow of Yesterday has its rules up for free, correct?
  • There is GM-less In a Wicked Age - talked about here

    Primitive D&D you can also do Primitive Dungeon World
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: amazingrobotsThe Shadow of Yesterday has its rules up for free, correct?
    It does, in a few different places. Usually, I go here: The Shadow of Yesterday.
  • Check out Tunnels Trolls if you want some old school D&Dish stuff with dwarves, elves, treasure, dungeons, and a rules system that's pretty flexible and I think would work extremely well for a one-on-one game. And I've had great success doing a one-on-one Burning Wheel game before too.
  • Posted By: Mel WhiteBeast Hunters is an excellent two player game [...] I recall some confusion following the text, but overall a great time.
    Was that the recorded one? That was fun to listen to.

    About the confusion, hopefully the revised rules, which are chock full of examples and summaries, help with that. They're out there for free on the wiki.
  • If you've got a strong idea of what you want the fiction of play to look like, you can probably get away with some very simple, bare-bones systems. You might try:

    Vincent Baker's "Otherkind Dice" - cool, but kind of hard on characters. "Ghost/Echo" is a hack of this you could mine for ideas.
    The Pool - It's pretty neat
    A d20 variant - a hacked-down d20 variant, several of which are available online, would work fine if you're both already familiar with these systems and like them.

    All of these are free!
  • Wushu Open Reloaded is probably a pretty great game for one-on-one. And it's a great game in general. You can find metric tonnes of APs for it and here are a buttload of settings for it: Wushu Skidoo
  • DW does work well (though not as well) one-on-one. I just made my partner design bonds with significant NPCs that you will inevitably re-incorporate as much as possible. She played an elven ranger and it lead to a wonderful Katherine Kerr style 'Celtic Elves', wilderness game. Very much like playing Burning Wheel one-on-one. I second BW, it has the depth if you want it for amazing characterization and wonderfully squirmy decision making baked into the mechanics.
  • Uh, I almost forgot Simon's On Mighty Thews is supposed to work well in a 1-on-1 setup! Am I right, Simon?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Christian Griffen
    Was that the recorded one? That was fun to listen to.
    Indeed it was! Virtual Play #33 at the Internet Archive.
    The Beast Hunters portion runs from 28:15 to about 36:10.

    The complete game is also posted at the archive.
  • Posted By: RafuUh, I almost forgot Simon'sOn Mighty Thewsis supposed to work well in a 1-on-1 setup! Am I right, Simon?
    Yeah, but it's not Dwarves and Elves and Kings and Castles. It's cave-dwellers and cat-people and tyrants and ancient spaceships. You could use it for more D&D-style fantasy, but it would make me cry.

    On Mighty Thews
  • edited February 2012
    Burning Wheel Gold. 600+ pages (and you can play just fine with only the first 74), a hardcover book for just 25 bucks. It works GREAT with one player and one GM.
  • Good lord, what's it got in those six-hundred pages?
  • I've been playing BW (first Revised, then Gold) solo for over a year and a half with someone who'd never roleplayed before. It's been amazing (though very occasionally frustrating). I do bring in friends to play NPCs pretty regularly though, which is a great technique.
    Posted By: amazingrobotsGood lord, what's it got in those six-hundred pages?
    The first 74 pages is the core of the game, and it really is all you need to play for awhile, once you have a character. Pages 75 to roughly 300 or 350 are rules for character generation, but you only use less than two-fifths of them at once, since there is a short chapter on the overall steps for chargen, followed by a chapter each for Orcs, Humans, Dwarves, and Elves. There are a lot of lists that would not normally be read page by page.

    Following that are a bunch of sub-systems, some of which are more optional than others. In particular, you can live without the detailed rules for ranged and melee combat, (and weapons, armor, and injuries), social combat, magic, and Faith for a long time (unless your player is desperate to play a mage or priest or whatever). I will say that Steel, Circles, and Resources need to be incorporated pretty quickly, but they're not hard to learn and their chapters are only around six pages each. Chases often come up but that's like two pages. Other stuff comes up only rarely, like breaking through materials and doing mounted combat (again, unless the character is a knight, and even then you can stick to the simplified combat rules presented at the beginning of the Fight chapter).

    The back has a few tables of like weapons and stuff like that.

    Any questions? :-)

    Matt
  • edited February 2012
    You might take a peak at my own High Valor, I have run and played it solo...

    High Valor

    Preview material is there for you to take a look!
  • I find myself in the same predicament but right now I am more interested in 1-to-1 adventures than specific rule sets (I'll just pick whatever rules I like more on the spot).

    I found the old D&D UK series Blade of Vengeance and it looks great, but I would like to have more choice.

    (Keith, I can change thread if you deem this to be a different topic)

    i.
  • So, Keith, what'd you ultimately pick? How'd it go?
  • Posted By: ivanI find myself in the same predicament but right now I am more interested in 1-to-1 adventures than specific rule sets (I'll just pick whatever rules I like more on the spot).
    I have a softcover of 11 Pathfinder 1-on-1 adventures from Expeditious Retreat Press. You should check out their line of 1-on-1 adventures.
  • ivan - not a problem!

    We're still in the process of selecting! I think she'd like Burning Wheel, although I'm most interested in TSOY. She digs the indie stuff I present her, always enthusiastic to try something out, but still suspicious of it. She loved Trollbabe, but I think she wants something a little more complicated. I guess.

    The search continues! Still taking suggestions, I've looked at everything so far!
  • BW's a way better choice than TSoY. TSoY and its spinoffs really depend a lot on interactions between PCs, whereas BW has robust ways to handle a solo game.
  • edited February 2012
    My RPG, Narrative Adventures Made Easy, is not yet ready for general discussion here, but it's nearly done. It is specifically designed for one GM and one Player. It is certainly ready for other people to use and/or adapt.
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