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JonHook

Spark of Life - An Isolated Investigator Adventure

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If you haven't seen it yet, my latest Miskatonic Repository adventure was posted, the Spark of Life. 

One of the stand-out features is that it was designed to be played with the Keeper and one player; which is why I'm calling it "An Isolated Investigator Adventure." It is my belief that a Call of Cthulhu adventure can be more frightening and tension filled if there is only one lonely player/Investigator. 

My question to the group is this... are adventures designed for just a single player something you'd be interested in? Is the mystery more terrifying or just frustratingly more difficult when it's explored alone?

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/278700/Spark-of-Life?src=hottest_filtered 

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Was gonna respond immediately, but I decided I probably shouldn't comment until I read it. So, I bought it. ;)

First Impressions:

1) You have a really good value going here. Having both a full color and print version of your scenario is greatly appreciated. The stat page and image of the threat will also save so much time. I can tell you think like a Keeper.  Thank you.

2) The text is very well laid out, great selection of handouts and detailed investigation. It will take me some time to read through it. That's a compliment.

Of course, neither of those things have anything to do with the 1-on-1, but they should definitely come first. I'd rather get a quality product of any type rather than a subpar one that happened to be 1-on-1. 

I just realized that you wrote a lot of the Age of Cthulhu products. I'm currently using both Starfall Over the Plateau of Leng AND Timeless Sands of India as background for my own take on Yithians for my players in the Dreamlands. :) (I have a Yithian Dreamer NPC using the Dreamlands to expand their research.)

To your original question:

I really like the option of two people being able to game together and the Keeper not having to spend copious amounts of time converting group scenarios to solo scenarios. It saves a lot of time. 

From a player standpoint, there is a reason why the saying goes: "It's dangerous to go alone." The fewer players there are, the greater the tension.

It makes sense for someone to leverage interest for [insert name of other company's product] and bring it into CoC.

So, the combination of the care you put into your scenarios in general Jon, plus the concept of 1-on-1 Cthulhu, is a must-have for me.

Keep up the great work!

Michael

RPG Imaginings on YouTube

 

 

Edited by klecser
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Without having bought the the scenario I can say that I am generally interested in one on one scenarios. Not just CoC, but any system.

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Thank you, Michael. As an aside, I'd love to hear how your use of Timeless Sands of India and Starfall Over the Plateau of Leng go. 

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Well, i always have more than 1 in my group so a single player scenario wouldn't be so appealing because of the single player aspect. But, if it's a rockin' scenario or has an interesting setting, i'd pick it up regardless. With your scenarios, i like them so i'd pick it up because of that. I dont know if that was helpful  :)

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As I continue to think about this, I see a couple of big challenges for solo scenarios, but also still see great potential. I'm sure that you've already thought of these Jon, and I'll be the first to admit I haven't read far enough into the text of the scenario yet. So, if these bases are covered already, I wouldn't be surprised and I'm not trying to patronize you or anything like that.

1) An unwritten rule of investigative role-playing is that you do indeed split the party during some parts of the Investigation phase to save time. You can elucidate the results of "what happens at the cops," "what happens at the Hall of Records," and "what happens at the Library" really quickly if a set of teams divides and conquers. This option isn't inherently available to a solo investigator. So, I can see benefits in solo scenarios of the Keeper heavily suggesting clip files, hiring of flunkies and contact NPCs playing a bigger role.  I think it would be useful to write this nuance of Keeping into solo scenarios.

2) The general style of a solo game is also going to be different. I see a solo investigator avoiding combat like the plague as a general rule. This potentially influences the style of threat that they can effectively face, how they face it, and whether certain threats are even on the table. It does set up the possibility of a LOT of chase (flee) scenes! I'm not saying don't challenge the player.

3) I think you did the absolute right thing by including three pre-gens to "write towards." A home-built solo investigator could find themselves completely useless in a particular scenario. Consider the "hireling" idea too, if it isn't already in there?

Once again, not telling you how to do your professional work. :) Just giving a Keeper's/Player's perspective!

Edited by klecser
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Thanks, Michael, good points. Yes, designing a scenario for a single player is different. The scope of the mystery is different. 

1. I have discovered that a one-player game is best run if the entire mystery is resolved in 3 - 4 hours of play. To that end, the mystery is designed with a limited number of clue paths. By limiting the player's investigation options, a decision on a path of investigation is more easily chosen to be worked. 

2. Design the scenario with little combat, or what combat is included us designed to be non-lethal. But, conversely, it's fun to pump-up the sanity loss. It's easier to continue the investigation crazy than it is dead.  

3. I also find this kind of adventure is best run with pre-generated characters, versus weaving it into an existing campaign. The pre-gens allow the player to take risks that would normally be avoided with a beloved character. 

Hope that helps. 

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So here's my followup question: Do you find it harder, equally difficult, or easier to do sandbox with solo investigators?

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Sandbox... writing it... planning a game for my players... I find it to be THE most difficult thing. For me, it's just to much. I have a real hard time getting my head around the nigh-limitless boundaries. 

I've spent so many years now working within the limits of a mystery that needs to be solved, that sandboxing is where I lose my sanity!  

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Not to derail the convo, but if you like 1 GM 1 Player Lovecraft, you might want to check out Macabre Tales from Spectrum games. It is a classic Lovecraft rpg for a GM and 1 player with clever design mechanics that drive the narrative toward a decisive finish. It's on sale at DTRPG right now. I like a few of the Spectrum genre games.

M

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17 hours ago, mdomino said:

Not to derail the convo, but if you like 1 GM 1 Player Lovecraft, you might want to check out Macabre Tales from Spectrum games. It is a classic Lovecraft rpg for a GM and 1 player with clever design mechanics that drive the narrative toward a decisive finish. It's on sale at DTRPG right now. I like a few of the Spectrum genre games.

M

Yes! Macabre Tales is a very cool game. I love the design of it. I need to get a play of it in. 

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