Can You Play Dungeons And Dragons Solo?

Do you want to play Dungeons & Dragons by yourself?  Perhaps you can’t find a group, or maybe you just don’t have the time that it takes to commit to one. Or perhaps you are looking to just mess around and try out something new!

In this article I will be showing you how to play solo D&D 5e, letting you know what you need to play, what tools there are out there to help you, and what the best solo adventures are.

Can You Play Dungeons And Dragons Solo?

It is possible to play Dungeons and Dragons by yourself. There are no official rules or adventures for playing solo, but there are 3rd party supplements that give you the rules to adapt any adventure for solo play (including the official campaigns) and you can also find 3rd party adventures designed specifically for solo play.

Why Play D&D By Yourself?

There are a few reasons why people would want to play Dungeons & Dragons by themselves.  A few of these are:

  • You can’t get a group together
  • You can’t make the commitment to play with a regular gaming group
  • Scheduling is hard – you have free time right now and no one else is available
  • You want to feel like an epic hero on your own, without a group weighing you down
  • You can ease into the rules or learn to be a DM without the pressure of other people
  • You want to play through some additional content that you have

How to Play A D&D Adventure Solo

There are several ways to go about playing Dungeons & Dragons by yourself as a single player. The first one we will cover is how to use the “DM-less” method to run an adventure. That means that instead of having a DM, you will create your own player character, write down their actions and reactions, and then play those out yourself.

My number 1 recommendation for learning how to play D&D solo is the book DM Yourself by Tom Scutt.  This book is pretty cheap and is an amazing resource in teaching you everything you need to know to run adventures for yourself.  It teaches you the changes to the rules and your character that you’ll need to make the game balanced, how to read an adventure without spoiling it for yourself, and how to play out the adventure simulating all the choices that need to be made that would usually be done by the DM.  It even has specific advice on how to run some of the most popular D&D modules for yourself.

The book above plus an adventure is actually all you need to run solo D&D from a module.

The Tools You’ll Need to Play Solo Generated D&D Adventures

Another way to play solo D&D is to use tools to generate a campaign, which allows you to generate your own maps and dungeons, your own NPCs, monsters, encounters and even storyline as you go.  The whole story is generated on the fly and the generation system comes up with what happens, rather than you reading a module and playing through it by yourself.  These can be a lot of fun and a different experience from running a module as you get to be surprised when funny and unexpected things happen.

Some great tools to play solo D&D using generated methods are:

  • FlexTale Solo Adventuring Toolkit – this is a book that is a generator with tons of tables and systems to help generate quests, NPCs, combat encounters and actions.  It’s everything you need to run an adventure using a generated system rather than a premade module, with dice rolls determining what happens in the campaign story.
  • Donjon Dungeon Generator – gives you a dungeon adventure map plus monsters at each location so you can use this to generate and then run a quick dungeon crawl for yourself as something fun to beat.  Or we have a whole article on other random dungeon generators that you can use for this purpose.

D&D Solo Adventures And Solo D&D Books

The final way we recommend to play D&D by yourself is with solo adventure books.  Solo adventure books are a bit different to the above 2 options, in that they are more like a choose your own adventure book on steroids.  They tell the story, and you flip through to the appropriate page depending on what you roll and the choices you make.  They’re a great option for solo D&D, the only problem is there is quite a limited amount of solo D&D adventures available.

Here are our recommendations for some good solo D&D adventure books:

How To Play D&D By Yourself With Apps

To be honest I haven’t seen a good app for playing D&D by yourself.  While I think it would be cool, I also think it would be really hard to make something to emulate playing through D&D in an app and here’s why:

  • I play D&D to get off my screen, an app defeats the purpose of this
  • You don’t get to roll dice 🙁 
  • An app would restrict your options (similar to a video game) which is the exact opposite of what you want from an RPG which is complete freedom
  • Sometimes I cheat and pick something else from a random table because it fits better with the story I’m telling and you wouldn’t be able to do this with an app
  • You can’t homebrew any of your own rules

Overall I just don’t think AI is far enough along to be able to provide enough freedom in an app to emulate a DM or playing solo, I think it would be too much like the options of a text-based video game.

Where To Find Other Solo RPGs

There are plenty of resources for solo tabletop roleplaying games that aren’t D&D and the mechanics are specifically made for solo play. Most of them are available online and have an active online community and additional downloadable content.  Here are a few of the most popular ones:

  • Mythic Role Playing – this is one of the most popular stand-alone RPG systems, and it also has a great system for creating adventures using random generators (called the oracle).  The generator can also be used separately from the provided rules to generate an adventure for a solo D&D game in a very similar way to the FlexTale Toolkit outlined above.
  • Ironsworn – is a free solo RPG that you can play with a Game Master, as a co-op or solo, but is becoming very popular for solo play.  It’s a dark fantasy adventure setting and is a narrative-driven game, where you are a hero that needs to go on perilous quests, so it will give you a very similar feel to Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Alone Among the Stars – this one is a bit different to D&D, as it’s an adventure through space where you are exploring new planets.  It uses dice and a deck of standard playing cards to determine what you discover and what happens on your adventure, and then you journal your discoveries.  It’s a very engaging experience, feeling a bit like a procedurally generated video game where you end up creating a journey that is unique to you.

Conclusion

Solo D&D is possible but requires a bit more work than normal D&D. The best way to learn how to do this is to start small with a one-shot or two and build up your skills until you feel comfortable enough to tackle a full campaign.

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