1GM / 1 Player OSR Zines

So I’ve been getting into rules-light OSR stuff, like Troika!, Into the Odd, In the Light of a Ghost Star, and all the stuff that Highland Paranormal Society puts out. Has anyone run across any products such as this that are geared towards the one GM + one player format? I just picked up Scarlet Heroes, but I still find digging through 130 pages a bit daunting, and those short zine-style games really melt my cheese.

Barring that, what mechanical or procedural modifications would you adopt if you were to run one of these stripped-down OSR games for only one player?

Thanks in advance!

3 Likes

not answering but elaborating on this: isn’t 1 player OSR basically fighting fantasy books? weird, gritty and deadly? Come on, no one of us ever finished an adventure without cheating… the math doesn’t allow winning.

How could we recreate that experience without cutting short every adventure because of continuous PC death? NPC companions that activate when the PC dies? Some sort of legacy adventure where every time your PC dies you move forward N years and, as you learn from the dungeon, the dungeon learns about the adventurers?

2 Likes

Ahh, good point/questions! Let me specify that I was originally referring to a two-person format, with one serving as a facilitator and one the player.

1 Like

Neither of these suggestions are directly what you’re asking, but I think looking around and outside of strictly OSR (whatever that means, tbh) could help you design the experience you’re looking for even inside of Troika! et al.

Chris McDowall has a series on playing his Bastionland collaboratively:



And I just have to recommend you read Ironsworn. It is Powered by the Apocalypse, but I frankly don’t see how that should be barrier to informing any OSR play (and vice versa, really).

With both of these suggestions, I don’t think there’s a need to completely eliminate the authorial division between GM and player that is presumed in some OSR, but both, I think, demonstrate how to create a narrative collaboratively when the table is not full.

Lastly, I’ll suggest Trophy. Dark is, allegedly, exquisite with only a GM and a player, while there’s just no obstacle to running Gold in the same format.

2 Likes

@darren, I can attest that Trophy Gold is brutal for a single player playing a single character but a single player playing 2 characters is pretty fun. As long as there is a way to bring in random characters to replace the originals, this works great! Also, the GM can go easier on a player than standard and require less rolls than usual, which would make a one on one game of Trophy Gold manageable.

Meanwhile, I also agree that Ironsworn probably works best as one on one or with 1 GM and 2 players. Any more than that and it becomes a little fatiguing to run and keep track of all the moving pieces.

2 Likes

I think that if you wanted to keep the brutal spirit of OSR with only one player you should expect to have to throw several characters at the dungeon before even making a dent. There could also be some mechanism that allows you to learn something from previous characters’ deaths… maybe the torch bearer escaped, maybe another party brought some information out. Every new character that goes in should add to the information about the dungeon and make the next incursion slightly easier.

You could also have some meta rules… if your previous character played well (by some definition), the next character could be higher level, or better equipped and with better maps.

2 Likes

If the game takes place in an actual dungeon, perhaps whatever room the PC dies in, the player can take over a character in that room or the next. Character A dies in reach of a prisoner that steals the keys and escapes restarting the adventure :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

Thanks for the thoughtful replies everybody! I picked up Ironsworn, which looks really cool. Between that and Scarlet Heroes, it looks like I have my reading cut out for me.

1 Like