Solo Gaming with OSE

I've started a new solo campaign using the Old School Essentials rules where I'm going to play through BX6 Grave of the Green Flame by Pacesetter Games. When I started playing D&D in the 1980s I was already a fan of Choose Your Own Adventures and Fighting Fantasy novels, and enjoyed the short tutorial adventure in the Mentzer Basic D&D rules that used that format. Of course what makes roleplaying games compelling to me is the wider range of choices you can make as you explore the imaginary worlds of the game, which isn't something most solo games do that well. Still, I think it might be something fun to try and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

The first character I rolled up is what I'd consider a "Sub-Par Character" as per the OSE rules.

Strength: 7
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 7
Dexterity: 7
Constitution: 5
Charisma: 9

The rulebook says that the referee may allow you to discard the character and start again. Since the referee is me and it's a solo campaign I decided this sub-par character had already fallen victim to the enemies in Grave of the Green Flame and I'd roll up a second character who would be exploring the same environment.

Strength: 14 16
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 13 9
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 8
Charisma: 13

This looked much better, although I was a bit concerned about that low Constitution score. I considered making a Dwarf so that I could reduce my Wisdom to increase Constitution which would be a prime requisite. I decided against that though since one of the things I like about Old School gaming is the more human-centric low-magic world. I also thought about making a Cleric, but that's what I'm playing in the Friday night face-to-face game my son is running for family and friends. I decided to make a Fighter and after some more consideration I reduced his Wisdom by 4 points to increase his Strength from 14 to 16.

I rolled a 5 for hit points, which was reduced by his low Constitution score to give me 4. Of course in old school games how many hit points you have doesn't make that much of a difference, and you need to avoid losing them as much as possible anyway. I rolled relatively well for starting coins getting a 12 for 120 starting gold pieces. I bought him plate armour, and decided it would be a Brigandine style coat of plates and that he was a soldier returning from a battle when the adventure begins.

Unlike a regular game where you need to keep things moving at a brisk pace, this solo campaign is deliberately slow and I'm going to limit gameplay to exploring one or two locations a day. This means no hurried decisions about what to do or how the rules work, and I can pick it up and put it down whenever I choose. I've started thinking of it as "slow D&D" where what I'd normally expect to play through in a few hours will likely take several weeks or more. In between these short sessions I find myself thinking about where I left off and what I planned to do next, just like I would in a regular game. The difference is that's almost every location now, which I find has me imagining the scenes in more detail than I would normally, and having more fun with the game than I expected.

The new slow D&D campaign has inspired me to start watching the BBC's Robin of Sherwood again, draw some maps, and do some sketches. I've also stopped looking at social media and dusted off the old gaming blog again. Just those things make me happy I decided to give this style of gaming a try. d20