I'll introduce myself quickly. Played a lot of RPG in teens; mostly AD&D for fantasy, but also Call of Cthulhu and Cyberpunk for those other settings. I lived kind of remote, so all we played was homebrew, didn't get our hands on any published adventures.

I've got a lovely wife and we sit at home a lot in the evenings because we've got kids. Would love to get back into roleplaying, but lack a group for the moment, so we'll have to go one-on-one. My wife hasn't played a lot, but knows the concept. So it'll be an adventure (pun intended) trying this out, getting to know her and her character in a different setting.

She would like to play fantasy (Tolkien, Martin's A Game of Thrones, etc.) and a friend of mine bought me the Pathfinder core book as a christmas present, so we'll use this system and homebrew adventures.

We are both interested in the idea of more storytelling adventure and character development. Puzzles, challenges, and the occasional fight would be good, though not too much politics and social intrigue. The game would be more of a mystery/investigation adventure and not so much encounter/fighting based.

Are there any house rules/mechanics you would suggest in order to make the Pathfinder system flow well and adjusted to our needs/wants?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I found Lord Vreegs answers to these questions link and link interesting about matching ruleset and game. As I am stuck with Pathfinder, I would like to have some suggestions as how to tune this system to our needs. Cheers. \$\endgroup\$
    – c3038354
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 13:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Make sure and check out rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/7777/… as well as everything with the one-on-one tag! \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 2:55

4 Answers 4


Solo Itself

I don't think there are any house rules required to play Pathfinder one-on-one. There are solo adventures for Pathfinder from Expeditious Retreat Press and have been for other D&D versions over time as well. All that's required is DMing. Since there's one PC, they will need difficulties tuned to them and some kind of safety net in case of bad luck - a NPC friend, or fate points, or something.


If you are concentrating on more storytelling and whatnot and it's low combat then most of the problem isn't getting killed so much as getting stumped. If you're going to do lots of investigation consider Lorefinder, the Pathfinder/GUMSHOE mashup, which changes investigation skills to not block PCs. I playtested it and it brings the good parts of GUMSHOE (Robin Laws' investigative system that powers several Pelgrane Press games) to Pathfinder.


In our Pathfinder games we stopped using XP a long time ago; the DM advances us when it's time. That removes the grind incentive and allows story development without artificial combat.


We also about half the time use FATE aspects and points in Pathfinder. Essentially we declare three aspects to our character, and when one gets us in trouble we get a point, you can spend a point for a reroll or a +4 if it can be linked to an aspect. FPs reset to 3 at each level. I am ambivalent about how much they really help with roleplaying, but they do present a consumable resource PCs can use when they think it's important.


In terms of NPC relationships, I have a separate question open to get good relationship mechanics for Pathfinder but no one's come through yet really.


Not really a rules variant, but consider letting the player have more than one PC.


I have never ran a pathfinder game, but I have done a number of D&D (of several edditions) that were either 1-on-1 or had long solo times with lone player splitting off for a bit. The main issues I ran into centered on the fact that the game is designed for a group that can bring a wide variety of skills to play, and not having that group changes the nature of the game a bit, but there are a couple of ways of dealing with that:

  1. Provide henchmen - If you provide some characters that are several levels lower but fill out the rest of the group with the PC as the group leader then you largely avoid the issue and the diversity of skills are there.

  2. Design the campaign around the PC - Actually, I think its always smart to design the campaign around the PCs, but its more critical for a single character since they don't have that diversity. I wouldn't send a lone mage that specialized in being a controller against a single powerful being with tons of magic resistance, but dealing with a whole horde of weaker monsters plays to their strengths.

  3. Consider encouraging a multi-class character and being very generous with the loot and XP - A real powerhouse deals well with going off on their own in a way someone who is either narrowly specialized or low-level would not. Also, balance issues become much less of a concern with just one player.

And finally, I don't think you need any house rules, BUT consider using any your player suggests. If I am GMing for just one person and they want a unique feat, they will probably get almost anything (though they might have to sacrafice in other areas).


You're likely going to have a tough time with a 3.5 variant like PF in a 1 on 1 game if you can't find anyone to join in via facebook/craigslist/ask your FLGS if you can stick up a little ad somewhere. The only house rule I can think of if you absolutely need to go with PF is to include an extreme injection of rule zero with a heavy slant towards whatever is the most fun.

Almost anything short of maybe one of those board game boxed sets is probably going to be tough one player. The only way I can think of, which might work, is to do a FATE style world/city pregame generation collaboratively where you both know everything that is going on, even if her character only knows the little bit discussed. Then, toss in a slow/apprentice type npc for you to play alongside her while being sort of a sidekick type to her & stick firmly within the pregame creation guidelines.

Including a lot of the rules from FATE that seem/look useful, like aspects, declarations/invocations/compels & fate points, might help a lot as well. They could let you use a compel to keep things close to the rails or keep her from doing something that would almost certainly result in you sleeping on the couch. Since they allow two way use by both GM & player, it allows you to be more involved in playing the game together rather than effectively being her dealer in a solitaire game since there is no 2+ player for her character to collaborate with or anything.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ouch ... I thought lots of players had ran good one-on-one campaigns also with Pathfinders, I know we did some intense and interesting ones back in the ad&d days. <br/>thanks for the tips for FATE rules, I will look the ones you mentioned up and see how I can use them in PF. \$\endgroup\$
    – c3038354
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 15:47

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