One Player and One GM

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Gargoyle
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One Player and One GM

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:26 pm

Anyone run Torg Eternity with only one player? Done it once so far and I'm having trouble balancing it, looking for any advice or ideas. It's do-able I'm sure, and giving them more possibilities and cards is one obvious fix, but I think the lack of actions still makes it hard, and I'm thinking of reducing multi-action and multi-target penalties when there is one player.
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Kuildeous
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby Kuildeous » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:50 pm

I've run it a couple of times as a demo. Granted, my demos are really just teasers to make the players feel really good about the game. So there's a huge bullshit element there that I wouldn't have in a campaign.

But I did lower the DNs of everything. In a larger group, someone will statistically hit the DN. With one person, it's sink or swim. I make it easier for them to swim.

If I were running a campaign, I'd probably consider some tricks like making the bad guys ords (or just out of Possibilities). Having both a larger hand size and the ability to put two, maybe three, cards in their pool.

I'd probably treat it more as a narrative game than a numbers game, which is basically what I did in the demo anyway.
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iceshard87
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby iceshard87 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:24 pm

Consider running a character with them? Storm Knights aren't really 'lone wolves', especially with the destiny card trading mechanics and whatnot. And given the open information nature of the system, bit wouldn't be nearly as 'meta-gamey' to be GMing and playing as it would be in other systems.

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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:41 pm

iceshard87 wrote:Consider running a character with them? Storm Knights aren't really 'lone wolves', especially with the destiny card trading mechanics and whatnot. And given the open information nature of the system, bit wouldn't be nearly as 'meta-gamey' to be GMing and playing as it would be in other systems.


It's a solution I've considered but rejected. Some Storm Knights could be lone wolves or temporarily alone. My biggest problem with running a character as a GM is that it takes away from them, even if I play a "sidekick" or other supporting type, and a lesser problem is that it makes my job harder. I also don't like players running more than one character; I feel that makes it less of an RPG, more of some sort of tactical game.
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby Rocketeer » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:22 pm

In addition to having more Destiny cards in hand, have an always available Pool of 2 random Destiny cards and 1 Cosm card available to the player. The Destiny cards in the Pool would be refreshed at the start of each Scene, and the Cosm card would be refreshed at the start of each Act.

In addition to having an increased allotment of Possibilities, let the player spend multiple Possibilities on a single action, including playing multiple Hero and Drama Cards.

Use the Value Chart to determine Multi-Action and Multi-Target penalties (This is what the Combined Actions Chart does for bonuses).

Lower the costs of Perks, and regardless of the character’s home cosm, give the character full access to Core Earth’s Reality Perks. Even consider giving the character the Realm Runner and Cosm Adaptation Perks for free.

Increase the availability of Eternity Shards, through the Delphi Council or otherwise made available fairly early within an adventure.

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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby utsukushi » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:35 am

What's their character like?

My second feeling (after, "I just don't think TorgE is well built for this kind of game, have you thought about Lone Wolf and Cub?") is that yes, a lone Storm Knight could certainly happen, but they'd do different kinds of missions. A solo game like that sounds better set up for like infiltration kinds of jobs - whether it be sneaking through an area or outright joining enemy groups to learn what they're up to. Things that groups of multiple characters generally can't do, because they require constantly splitting the party, or silly things like quietly tip-toeing six people past the guards, as we've talked about elsewhere. Also adventures that require a lot more talking to the NPCs than just murdering them all.

Rather than changing all the mechanics so that it turns out Storm Knights become exponentially more powerful the fewer of them there are, I would suggest changing the focus of your adventures. If you're using the Delphi Council, they wouldn't send a lone Knight out for the same kinds of jobs they'll send a team of six. If you're not, well, say, a Mystery Man working by herself shouldn't be kicking down The Insidious Wu Han's door and opening fire. She should be working her way up the criminal ranks and subverting his plans from the inside. Maybe repurpose some of the cards -- Supporter, in particular, could maybe copy Connection.

Which does, as a bit of an aside, bring one smaller option to mind - if you don't want the player running multiple characters, there may at least be times you can assign them a small team of mooks. Just a handful of well-armed Ords that can bring their number of Actions up for bigger scenes, but who wouldn't really warrant a lot of character interaction because they're... extras, in the `cinematic' sense.

Edit: You might even let them take some of those Boss-type Perks, like Gloater and Insidious, to make those mooks more an extension of their character.

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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby ZorValachan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:46 am

utsukushi wrote:What's their character like?

My second feeling (after, "I just don't think TorgE is well built for this kind of game, have you thought about Lone Wolf and Cub?") is that yes, a lone Storm Knight could certainly happen, but they'd do different kinds of missions. A solo game like that sounds better set up for like infiltration kinds of jobs - whether it be sneaking through an area or outright joining enemy groups to learn what they're up to. Things that groups of multiple characters generally can't do, because they require constantly splitting the party, or silly things like quietly tip-toeing six people past the guards, as we've talked about elsewhere. Also adventures that require a lot more talking to the NPCs than just murdering them all.

Rather than changing all the mechanics so that it turns out Storm Knights become exponentially more powerful the fewer of them there are, I would suggest changing the focus of your adventures. If you're using the Delphi Council, they wouldn't send a lone Knight out for the same kinds of jobs they'll send a team of six. If you're not, well, say, a Mystery Man working by herself shouldn't be kicking down The Insidious Wu Han's door and opening fire. She should be working her way up the criminal ranks and subverting his plans from the inside. Maybe repurpose some of the cards -- Supporter, in particular, could maybe copy Connection.

Which does, as a bit of an aside, bring one smaller option to mind - if you don't want the player running multiple characters, there may at least be times you can assign them a small team of mooks. Just a handful of well-armed Ords that can bring their number of Actions up for bigger scenes, but who wouldn't really warrant a lot of character interaction because they're... extras, in the `cinematic' sense.

Edit: You might even let them take some of those Boss-type Perks, like Gloater and Insidious, to make those mooks more an extension of their character.

I was going to suggest the same. More Die Hard in the AC vents taking out 1or 2 mooks at a time and less Rambo II shooting up a whole bad guy compound.
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby Gargoyle » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:17 pm

utsukushi wrote:What's their character like?


I ran one for my wife who is playing an elven warden. I'm planning on doing this more for various characters.

My second feeling (after, "I just don't think TorgE is well built for this kind of game, have you thought about Lone Wolf and Cub?") is that yes, a lone Storm Knight could certainly happen, but they'd do different kinds of missions. A solo game like that sounds better set up for like infiltration kinds of jobs - whether it be sneaking through an area or outright joining enemy groups to learn what they're up to. Things that groups of multiple characters generally can't do, because they require constantly splitting the party, or silly things like quietly tip-toeing six people past the guards, as we've talked about elsewhere. Also adventures that require a lot more talking to the NPCs than just murdering them all.

Rather than changing all the mechanics so that it turns out Storm Knights become exponentially more powerful the fewer of them there are, I would suggest changing the focus of your adventures.

Yes, this is something I'm trying to do, but I have to get better at relying less on combat encounters.

Which does, as a bit of an aside, bring one smaller option to mind - if you don't want the player running multiple characters, there may at least be times you can assign them a small team of mooks.


This is a good idea, will try this out too, I'm ok with that now and then.

My thought for the cards was to build a custom destiny deck, rather than special rules. Gives me the idea of replacing Supporter cards with Connection cards though, as I have two decks. And a smaller deck, with a higher proportion of cards that the specific character finds useful, might be a good idea, since there is no trading.

I have run a "ghost pool" when undermanned, with destiny and cosm cards, and possibilities, that anyone can pull from at any time. That works well with two or three players. I think with one player the problem with that mechanic is that they get too many options to process. Analysis paralysis sets in. And I don't want to make them super powerful when solo; it will feel like a letdown I think if someone walks in to play.

Good feedback thanks, my adventure design might be the biggest problem; my experience so far is a lone Storm Knight can handle a bunch of mooks; the problem isn't that they lose, it's that combat can drag on if the dice aren't favorable. And then it gets worse if they are wounded and suffer penalties. And cosm cards to gain possibilities are harder to play. You can't play a dino attack and kill a T-rex, the reward isn't worth the possibilities spent with fewer players, even if you win. So the other thing is that I think customizing the cosm and destiny decks to the character and situation will help a lot.
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby Kuildeous » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:28 pm

Dino Attack doesn't have to be a T-Rex to earn full Possibilities. If she struggled against the rampaging triceratops, then that's worth the full 3 Possibilities.

And a dino attack (or jiangshi outbreak or wandering monster) doesn't have to be defeated to add drama. Sometimes running away is the best thing. Or maybe even find a way to redirect that threat toward the platoon of Nile shocktroopers. I did run a demo where someone played Dino Attack, and I had them race across a bridge filled with obstacles as a DSR to ditch the T-Rex.

I honestly wouldn't put a lot of mooks against her. Dice could go against her in a terrible way, and you can only take her prisoner so often before the threat of defeat wears off. You can do the ring-of-bad-guys trope where one or two go at her while everyone stands back. When she drops one, another takes his place. That will draw out combat like a mother, though, so use that one sparingly.

And sometimes you only encounter a couple of villains, do your massive karate chops, and move on. Makes her feel like a badass. The challenge may not be whether she'll take them down. The challenge is if she can take them down quickly and quietly enough so that the villain has no reason to activate the laser gate.

And having her command some mooks is a great suggestion too. They don't even have to be in combat. She chooses what they do, and you modify the story based on what she decides. If she sends one guy to the bell tower to snipe the shocktroopers, then reinforcements don't show up to fight her, but now she has to enter the tomb alone and deal with those traps. But if she sends the guy into the tomb first, he finds and neutralizes the traps, but now she has to fight off 6 shocktroopers before she can go in.

It's kind of cool because you can tailor the adventure to that one character. One demo I ran had this 12-year-old girl playing the cyberwitch. It was too early in the day for anybody else to show up, so I ran her through a modified Day One adventure. She saw her best friend being detained by the Church Police in an alley, so she cast her scramble spell and then shot both of them. Then they went to the hospital to rescue a mutual friend. When the cybergoyle entered, they ran like hell, triggering a DSR chase. I didn't have time to do the final scene, but I would've likely modified that to allow for her to set off several distractions, and the host would've been greatly reduced. Instead, I just had them flee into the countryside so they could figure out what to do.

I'm proud to say that it apparently worked because she showed up for my next two demo sessions.

I think that maybe having your player draw 3 cosm cards and choosing which ones to play would be useful for her. And even the must-play cards are optional—unless they look super amusing to you.
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Re: One Player and One GM

Postby TorgHacker » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:39 pm

Gargoyle wrote:
Good feedback thanks, my adventure design might be the biggest problem; my experience so far is a lone Storm Knight can handle a bunch of mooks; the problem isn't that they lose, it's that combat can drag on if the dice aren't favorable. And then it gets worse if they are wounded and suffer penalties.



My emphasis.

So, a couple of things come to mind. The first is that if the dice aren't favorable, you need a bit of luck mitigation. Fortunately we have two sources...Possibilities and cards. However, cards can be pretty swingy, and part of the problem is that you don't have anyone to trade cards with.

So, there are a few solutions:

1. Grant more starting Possibilities. (I'd say 2 or 3 additional). The problem here is that you can still end up getting those drained a lot...or someone could be spending Possibilities more than perhaps they should. So they need to be able to get more Possibilities.

2. Give them more Cosm cards. The Cosm cards mostly scale well since they provide Possibilities per person. But while one per SK is fine in larger groups, that means if you keep that rule with only one person, that limits the number of options, and the number total that a SK can pick up during an Act. Gut feel is three.

3. I don't think having a second action pool is a great idea, it gets messy. But I would increase the hand size a character has, and I'd give them the opportunity to choose cards mroe frequently. So during the refresh, I'd give them the opportunity to select two cards to discard, rather than just the one. Additionally, for Approved Actions I'd let them draw two cards and pick one to put in their hand.

4. Ignore the Wound Penalties rule. I actually advocated getting rid of it entirely during development. I don't like death spirals, especially for cinematic games.

I think if you do those things that should at least smooth the bumps out.

And cosm cards to gain possibilities are harder to play. You can't play a dino attack and kill a T-rex, the reward isn't worth the possibilities spent with fewer players, even if you win. So the other thing is that I think customizing the cosm and destiny decks to the character and situation will help a lot.


One of the key things about Dino Attack is that the "strength of the attack" is relative. Against 6 SKs, a T-Rex is certainly a threat, but not a huge one. I'd only give them 2 Possibilities...but if it was against 4 Storm Knights I'd give the full 3.

Against a single SK practically anything probably is worth 2 or 3 Possibilities.
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