I’m currently running a Call of Cthulhu campaign for a single player. I was struggling to find a list of suitable scenarios, so I did a little digging, which turned into a list, which became this blog post! I hope you find it useful.
If the idea of running a single-player scenario seems odd, then you’re in good company. I’ve always been a “3 or 4 players and the GM” kinda guy, but it seems to work well in Call of Cthulhu.
This isn’t a long list. Feel free to comment or message me if you know of anything I could add. Every week I see people asking about single-player scenarios. Couples, often, running a game for their significant other. There’s clearly demand for more!
Does Love Forgive: this book contains two scenarios written specifically for a single player, Love You to Death set in 1929 Chicago, and Mask of Desire in 1932 New York. Excellent. Available from Chaosium and elsewhere in PDF and print.
The Paper Chase: the first of three scenarios in the Starter Set, this is set in 1922 Michigan for 1-2 players. Single session lasting 2-4 hours. This is a classic scenario which works easily with a single player. Recommended.
Storm From A Teacup: 1920s northern USA, fictional town of Pineview, 1-3 players. I really like the look of this one. The location is generic so it could be slotted into any campaign. Somewhat light on graphical work with the author admitting they are more of a writer. Miskatonic Repository guidelines have been followed closely. Probably the next scenario I will run.
Doors to Darkness: this book contains five scenarios, with the first two suitable for 2-6 players, adaptable to 1, that’s The Darkness Beneath the Hill set in 1920s Providence, and Genius Loci in 1925 Danvers, Massachusetts. Available from Chaosium and elsewhere in PDF and print. These are high on my play list but somewhat delayed as they’re similar to scenarios I’ve recently run.
Monophobia: this book contains three scenarios specifically written for a single player. I think they’re cheating with the first one, Vengeance From Beyond, which requires the assistance of an NPC or another player. I detect a lack of player agency in these scenarios which might be more suitable to the bleakness of Classic Cthulhu rather than Pulp. Your Pulp Heroes may still easily die with the mechanics in use. But it’s free from Unbound Publishing, so no complaining!
Cold Harvest: late 1930s Russia, 1-6 players. Available from Chaosium and elsewhere as a PDF.
Red Skies: “one-to-one adventure that puts the player in the cockpit of a Sopwith Camel biplane battling the Mythos during the First World War”. This sounds fantastic! But it’s currently unavailable on DriveThruRPG. Does anyone know why?
The Assignment: Cthulhu Invictus, single player.
Hail To The King: 1989, single player.
Care Forgot: 1920s New Orleans, single player.
Spark of Life: 1920s Arkham, single player, part of the Isolated Investigator series previously published in the Goodman Games Age of Cthulhu series. This is (currently) the only scenario in that series available at DriveThruRPG. Would be difficult to add to an existing campaign as the player is a graduate student in a college.
Light My Way Home: 1919 Cornwall, England, single player, single session / 1-6 hours. Perhaps more suitable as a one-shot or the first scenario in a campaign as it’s set in the UK with the investigator hired as a lighthouse keeper.
Mister Corbitt: first scenario in Mansions of Madness. Not to be confused with the other Mr Corbitt from The Haunting. 1-3 sessions, early 1920s, Boston, can be switched to any time or location. Brilliant monster. This is on my ‘maybe’ list for my current campaign. I’ll be changing that name.
The Crack’d and Crook’d Manse: second scenario in Mansions of Madness. 1-2 sessions, nominally set in February 1925, Gamwell, a fictitious town in Massachusetts but can be changed to any time or location.
The Code: third scenario in Mansions of Madness. No spoilers as this is very high on my priority list for my campaign! Less horror, more sci-fi. 1-2 sessions, 1925, Hampton just outside of New York. Time and location can be changed (I’ll be switching it to near Chicago).
Finally, check out this Seth Skorkowsky video where he discusses one-on-one play.
Many scenarios actively state they’re suitable for adaption to a single player, such as the first two mentioned above in Doors to Darkness.
I think this might be a conversation for another blog post. Adapting a scenario to suit a different number of players isn’t just about changing the number of goons, there are often structural or narrative considerations. A scenario requiring two investigators on either side of a literal or metaphorical rope bridge is obviously impossible for a single player. Could an NPC help out?
Saying that, Call of Cthulhu scenarios seem more suited than most other game systems for adjusting party size without a complete rewrite. I guess it’s the lower frequency of combat. Applicable skillset is probably more important. 1 or 2 investigators with a good match of skills might handle a “2-6” scenario more easily than 5 or 6 with skills focused elsewhere.
My single player’s investigator is actually a Pulp Hero. Such characters have higher characteristics and skills, one or two talents, double hit points, a wound system that encourages them to keep breathing, and Luck points to help avoid a trip to the asylum.
I get the feeling that a Pulp Hero can probably solo through a lot of scenarios intended for two or more Classic investigators. To make matters more interesting, my player also has an animal companion. They’re extremely effective in combat together. I’m currently exploring this and I’ll get back to you in a future blog post, after more playtesting at my end.
I don’t know enough about those campaigns to consider this as a possibility and, of course, there is the obvious question: what about continuity if the investigator is killed or goes bonkers? Maybe it would be fun for a new investigator to pick up the trail of the last one? A challenging roleplay.
And what about writing a campaign specifically for a single player? Is there demand for such a thing? I’d buy it. Would anyone else?