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Is it at all possible to run a solo game where you act as the DM/GM for yourself? I know there was a 4th edition adventure published in an old issue of one of the D&D magazines but recently I read somewhere (Reddit I think) that the games Outbreak: Undead and Eclipse phase were good games to play solo.

Can anyone with experience with running a game of D&D 5e for themselves explain how to do so?

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Yes, you can run a solo campaign for yourself!

Now, that answer comes with some quick side notes. I am not sure about the reference you gave, however will offer some of my own in its place. I should note this strikes me as similar to playing as a party's NPC.

Reasons to Solo

  1. Learn the game. I have seen a number of my friends play solo campaigns with the express purpose of learning how to play the game. The D&D 5e playtests, new campaigns, and so forth are good examples. Typically they will play though it once (using either a single character or multiple) and take it as a chance to learn the game, while following the outlined rules.
  2. Test builds. Something I enjoy personally is testing how well a build works in combat. You can do this by simply playing a game by yourself and seeing how it functions in real life situations.
  3. You can do what you want to do, always. No party vote to decide which door to take, or which direction to go. Its always nice having 100% freedom to do what you want with your character(s).
  4. Look for campaigns that are pre-made, this provides for the best story related experience (since obviously any story you come up with is rather ruined since you know it from the beginning).

Problems

  1. Role-playing really has no significant use anymore.
  2. It is sometimes time consuming to have to roll/act for everyone.
  3. If the campaign is pre-built, these problems are vastly mitigated (since situations/scenarios happen automatically). However if you have to build it yourself, the surprise factor is gone.

Recommendations: I would recommend using a pre-built campaign if you are looking for some fun time investments. Just play by the campaigns rules/settings and it should make for an excellent time. Also, random is what you probably want to do. Say you enter a dungeon, randomize everything from the number of rooms, to traps you might find, to even the monsters/items you encounter. The DMG has a lot of rules pertaining to how to randomize your campaign - I highly recommend using them (both for a solo campaign and general use).

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Yes

In a bygone millenium, I played AD&D solo. D&D 5e is a much better solo game.

A good minis skirmish game

The D&D 5e combat mechanic is complex enough you can get real enjoyment out of pitting teams against each other.

These can be just squad vs. squad like a minis skirmish game or other war-game, or more a traditional party vs. evil teams where you play traditional D&D style. (The rest of the answer assumes you will play with "characters" and not just battle creatures against each other.)

Story making with dice

If you enjoy writing stories, of even making them up in your head, playing D&D solo can be a fun way to mix things up. Your characters will need to react to situations you might not have put them in yourself.

Rolling for everything

You might want to roll up random treasure, random NPC's (the 5e DM screen can help here), random everything, to keep the situation fresh. Then it's up to you how they react.

Rehearsal

Solo play is a great way to test out encounters to see if they are correctly challenging. But the same goes for a campaign story. You'll be able to flesh out a story much better for regular multi-person play, if you've already gotten familiar with it this way.

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Yes, it's quite possible and can actually be very fun. The ideal situation is for a small group of people to play with a story teller (DM) and players, but you can play D&D alone, with just a buddy or a few people without a DM or with a full group. There are even modules and apps that are dedicated to this pursuit.

I built an app that generates random missions that is focused on players wanting to play solo or without a DM. You can read some of the suggestions I have for using the app to play D&D or Pathfinder. Endless RPG generates a multi-level dungeon that can be several different themes (caves, ruins, etc.) and creates a cohesive group of enemies (orcs, goblins, etc.).

You can use this in conjunction with random generators from the donjon website or the EN World website. There are generators that can give you stories, npc names, one-off random encounters, etc.

One fun aspect of playing alone or with a buddy without a DM is that it can really exercise your creativity. Try coming up with random tables of your own that govern the game. When I was in high school, a friend and me created tables that would tell us what happened in town, which could lead to exploring random dungeons, getting involved in a war as a mercenary, etc.

What not to do: Let anyone tell you that you can't play alone.

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I am a DM of about 3 years playing (I'm in university at this point) and I created my own campaign I want to play with others. (for those who want to know; it's the forgotten realms plagued with a zombie virus and the players must deal with the ruins of the previous world (5e)) I decided to try and play it solo to troubleshoot my difficulty classes for certain things and making sure my encounters were balanced for the players who would soon explore my world... so I made some characters.

I have found that playing solo in your own fully developed world not only clarifies how balanced it is, but it can be a really fun experience.

I believe you can play D&D solo, even with your own campaign. The way I did it was fully investing in creating the characters' personality and backstory and letting that determine their actions. From there you can imagine in as much detail as you want the extent to which the characters interact and go through the decision making process as well as how they play with others and face surprises or problems.

As for problems that stem from me knowing the contents of my game too well to play it myself: I just roll history/arcana/investigation/perception/religion etc checks to see if my characters figure it out for themselves or create a new solution to the problem that I may not have came up with if I wasn't roleplaying the characters in my head.

I track what goes on and my timeline on a separate page and keep good track of my character's loyalty/renown, skills, spells and slots, backstory; personality; and changes to their mental state, inventory, NPC's (yes I make backstory and personality for the important ones in similar detail as the party characters) and from there I just let the campaign unfold like a rube goldberg machine.

Doing something similar to what I described above would be an awesome way for a player who knows rules, character optimization, and roleplaying like the back of their hand and just want to troubleshoot their world or play on their own for fun.

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There are books that are designed for 5e solo gaming. As you read such a book, you are given various options to choose from and descriptions of how NPCs and opponents act in encounters. Your choices allow you to play the game in different ways.

You can find such products if you search on the web. There are some which have even reached "best platinum seller" status on the dmsguild website.

This answer is meant to reply more specifically to the following question, which got closed as a duplicate of the present one: "Are there any easy known ways to play DnD 5e without other real people?", which explicitly asks: "Lastly, are there any books that set up an adventure and narrate what happens? (Example below, but I am looking for one specifically for DnD.)"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There are even some official "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style D&D books, under the Endless Quest line. A new set of EQ books comes out September 4: twitter.com/Wizards_DnD/status/1027623056649400322 \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 1 '18 at 7:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast: It appears like the EQ books are not D&D, just choose-your-own-adventures books with Forgotten Realms flavor. twitter.com/wereoctopus/status/1027830661359460352 \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Sep 1 '18 at 8:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ thanks ZwiQ. I'll post another question soon asking how exactly to find those books and how to know which ones are good. \$\endgroup\$ – bob Sep 2 '18 at 16:18
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I have been playing Solo over the last few months. I find it very different than playing at a table with friends, but it has some great sides to it as well.

Recently I saw a Kick Starter where the man is going to make a random dungeon app targeted at Solo play, I think it will be quite useful. I think he called it "Endless Dungeon".

I also have found a few on line modules that were great for solo play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the contribution! However, it's pretty thin on details — someone reading this can't use it to figure out how to reproduce your success. Could you edit to include more details about what you did that works (and perhaps, what you tried that didn't) that let you play solo with satisfaction? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 15 '17 at 20:17

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