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DM Yourself - solo roleplay for 5e, D&D and OSR adventures

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Welcome to DM Yourself – a guide for soloing existing adventures/campaigns written for Fifth Edition (5e), other editions of D&D or OSR. The system enables you to play these adventures with a single character, as close to the way they are written as possible. The aim is to allow players to enjoy these adventures solo with the minimum of preparation, work or additional rules, and maximum immersion. The guide includes:

  • How to Prepare for the Adventure – Increasing the PC’s power without making them invincible, putting in safeguards and rebalancing the action economy for a single PC, setting up default behaviours and choosing a difficulty level.

  • How to Read the Adventure – When to skim-read and when to deep-read, where to start and what to skip (and when to come back to it), how to avoid spoilers (but not get hung up about them), and using flashbacks.

  • How to Play the Adventure – How to act as your own GM, using immersive roleplaying rather than reading-with-dice, dealing with maps and using fog-of-war, making binding decisions and using hindsight to help you deal with secrets, traps and hidden treasure, how to run encounters and a simple AI for enemy behaviour, and interacting with NPCs.

  • …and lots more in the Appendices – a minimal DC Oracle system, pages of extended Immersion Tables and AI Combat Tactics tables, guides to soloing several of the most popular 5e adventures, how to adapt DM Yourself to other systems, and quick reference sheets.

DM Yourself was developed with the support of over 500 backers on Kickstarter, and includes all of the stretch goals from that campaign.

It’s going to be an exciting journey, so let’s get started…


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Reviews (12)
Discussions (24)
Customer avatar
Craig W September 17, 2022 1:28 pm UTC
I know this is for 5E, but I imagine it should be usable for OSE as well?
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Customer avatar
Tom S September 17, 2022 3:48 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There's a page in the Appendices on how to use DM Yourself for OSE and similar RPG systems. About 80% of DM Yourself will work as is, the other 20% will need some adaptation.
Customer avatar
Chris T April 23, 2022 6:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Purchased, got the confirmation email. Couldn't download, kept getting the "this is embarrassing" error message. Now it doesn't show up in my library and prompts me to purchase again. Is this a joke? Not funny
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Customer avatar
Tom S April 23, 2022 7:10 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Chris. I'm sorry that you're having this issue. However, I'm afraid it sounds like a DriveThruRPG problem rather than anything I have control over. If you scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the "Contact Us" button, I'm sure DriveThruRPG Support will be able to sort out the issue for you.
Customer avatar
Ryan C April 17, 2022 6:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Would this be great to help myself learn the game? I'd love to join a group IRL but I have a very basic knowledge watching College Humor's Dimension 20 series. Just picked up the Starter Set and some extra dice.
Customer avatar
Nox S March 03, 2022 10:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
For someone who wants to play on his own, this is a pretty good Resource
Customer avatar
John S February 25, 2022 4:44 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello Tom,

Let's take it back a bit more - do you see any reason your recommendations would not be readily usable or adaptable to B/X or 1e?

Thank you
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Customer avatar
Tom S February 25, 2022 9:17 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi John!

Yes, it's definitely usable with B/X or 1e with a bit of adaptation. There's a page in the back of the book on how to adapt for older editions of D&D.

A lot of the systems will work without any changes. For the characters, you'll want to run 2PCs instead of 1PC and a Sidekick. You may want to play using the 'easy' difficulty settings given how brutal 1e is compared to 5e. The other main difficulties come from the format of B/X/1e adventures - often these don't have boxed/italicised room descriptions which DM Yourself uses as a way of avoiding spoilers, and they don't have the equivalent of DC skill checks which are another thing which lessens the amount of DM judgements you have to make when playing solo. Both of these difficulties can be worked around, however.

Here's a Reddit play review of someone using DM Yourself to play B4 The Lost City: https://www.reddit.com/r/Solo_Roleplaying/comments/kuyomg/dm_yourself_actual_play_and_review/
Customer avatar
Guillermo C February 14, 2022 5:50 pm UTC
Hi Tom, I don't know if it was answered but, Can I use it for 3.5?
Thanks
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Customer avatar
Tom S February 14, 2022 8:57 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Guillermo!

There's a page near the end of the book on how to use DM Yourself with older editions of D&D.

About 80% of the book will work without any changes, the rest you'll have to adapt.

There are two main issues with running DM Yourself with D&D 3.5: Firstly, the abilities of characters and monsters are much more grid-movement and miniatures-based than 5e. The combat AI in DM Yourself handles how enemies behave in general it won't get them to the exact square to flank, or avoid being flanked (and the same goes for many other spells/abilities). Secondly, DM Yourself uses the idea of a 5e Sidekick. For D&D 3.5, you'll either have to adapt a 5e Sidekick, or run two PCs.

Having said all that, I know people have successfully run D&D 3.5 adventures using DM Yourself, so it can definitely be done!
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Customer avatar
Guillermo C February 16, 2022 5:25 am UTC
Thanks Tom.
Final questions. These supplements work with the boo? Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay (D&D Next) and Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Next).

also, the DM Yourselves Red, helps with the rules for 3.5?
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Customer avatar
Tom S February 17, 2022 11:13 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I don't have either of those adventures. From looking at previews/reviews of them I think that Legacy of the Crystal Shard should probably work okay (treat the italicised paragraphs following "Read or paraphrase the following:" as the boxed text). I'm not so sure about Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay - it looks like there are big puzzles/mechanisms across the whole dungeon that might be difficult to work without reading a big chunk in advance.

As for DM Yourselves - it does have advice on the best way to read non-5e adventures, but there's nothing more on older editions of D&D that isn't in the first book. So, it has lots of extra stuff - on running GM-less games ,and speeding up combat, and emulating Sidekicks/PCs, but nothing specific to 3.5
Customer avatar
Sarah N January 18, 2022 1:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Bonjour
Ce serait vraiment génial d'avoir une traduction Française
Nous sommes pas mal de joueurs Français orphelins de MJ, mais nous n'avons aucune ressource française pour jouer seul aux RPG, et nous n'avons pas tous un bon niveau d'anglais.
Franchement, ce serait vraiment super top d'avoir la traduction de ce livre.
Merci ;
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Customer avatar
Tom S January 25, 2022 8:58 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Bonjour Sarah. J'aimerais avoir une traduction française du livre, mais comme vous pouvez probablement le constater, mon français n'est pas très bon (même avec Google Translate pour m'aider !). Quand j'ai envisagé de faire traduire le livre par quelqu'un d'autre, cela coûterait environ 1000 euros :(
Je ne pense pas que je pourrais vendre suffisamment d'exemplaires pour que cela en vaille la peine. Je suis désolé.
Customer avatar
Jimmie H December 14, 2021 3:02 am UTC
PURCHASER
Is it possbile to use this with the old boxed D&D sets, such as the Basic or Expert box sets? Thanks.
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Customer avatar
Tom S December 14, 2021 1:59 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Jimmie. There's a page of advice in the back of the book for how to adapt the system to older editions of D&D. In general, the system is quite easy to adapt the actual rules - the problem tends to lie in the format of the older scenarios/adventures. In 5e, most locations have a boxed location text which you can safely read without spoilers and make a decision on what you're going to do in the location before going on to read the non-boxed location text. 5e also uses DC skill checks a lot, which are easy to spot in the text and avoid what follows if you fail the check. Earlier editions of D&D don't have either of these, so it's much harder to navigate the document without running into spoilers.
Customer avatar
Frederic M December 05, 2021 10:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It's an excellent book, full of advices and "rules" to how to handle a solo session. One of the best books on this subject. BUT, if like me you don't have very good eyes, the printed book is a small A5 format with really tiny fonts size and it's hard to read... So, if you want to support the author, purchase the bundle print+PDF but you are warned. I hope that an A4 or a modified A5 new print edition will be released.
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Customer avatar
Tom S December 05, 2021 11:13 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi. Thank you for your comments. I'm really sorry that you found the font too small - a few other people have remarked on this as well. I am a bit confused by this because my eyesight is terrible (I need +3.5 reading glasses) but I can read it fine. The font is 85% the size of that used in the 5e Player's Handbook (I took photos to check!), so I would say it's small but not tiny. However, I do take on board what you say and I will investigate whether I can make an A4 print version option available in the new year for those who need a larger print size (I can't change the A5 version - there are too many large, complex tables to just increase the font size in that).
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Customer avatar
Frederic M December 06, 2021 12:13 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you Tom for your very fast answer!! Yup, my eyes are very tired from these long hours on a computer screen doing coding (and my glasses are not the best too)... I will wait for an A4 printed edition. Until then, I will use the printed pages from the PDF (but I keep the printed book: it's waaaaayyyy cool on my RPGs shelf!!). =)
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Customer avatar
Brian H December 13, 2021 1:54 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh, I see you use a +3.5 reading glasses....Mine are +1.25. Well, I already got a refund, and through the book away. If I would have known that I probably got that strength reading glasses instead of throwing the book away. I just didn't know what to do with it.
Customer avatar
Miguel P November 25, 2021 1:03 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi, can someone please tell me where would be the right place to ask about my order? It says It was shipped almost a month ago and havent got It yet
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Customer avatar
Tom S November 25, 2021 1:09 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Miguel. I'm sorry to hear that. I think you'll need to contact customer service - https://www.drivethrurpg.com/contact_us.php
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Customer avatar
Miguel P November 25, 2021 5:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the quick answer, I will. Looking forward yo reading the book!
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Customer avatar
Miguel P December 05, 2021 3:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It arrived! :)
Customer avatar
earl M November 23, 2021 5:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi again there.
Just purchased this one and had a question.

I saw that a few months ago on reddit that you had made a comment about starting a kickstarter for DM yourself 2. Did that become a reality ? I am so curious as to if it will cover pf1e within it if so.

Would love to have an opportunity to back you there or on here ny pledging and orcpurchasing it (depending upon the model you used for sales) :-)

Thank you.
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Customer avatar
Tom S November 23, 2021 5:50 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi! Yes there is a Kickstarter for the sequel - it's called DM Yourselves. As well as lots of other new stuff, there is about half a page on using the system with Path/Starfinder. Currently you can late pledge for PDF and/or printed copies, but within the next month or two I hope to have the PDF at least for the new book here on DriveThruRPG! The Kickstarter link for DM Yourselves: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tomscutt/dm-yourselves
Customer avatar
earl M October 17, 2021 5:02 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you both very much I will let my spouse know sicne they want to buy me something with their account for christmas and this now is on the list :-) 80% is a heck of a lot better then most other systems and also agree with Moritz M because i also do a bit of gridless combat. it is god to know that about needing a second character. i generally do so anyways or a dang good animal companion haha. Would have reponded sooner but honestly didnt see that i had any replies until just now :D
Customer avatar
Jim P September 07, 2021 12:17 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm going to try this with ad&d 1e. Well, when I have the time. But I'll let you know how it goes.
Customer avatar
earl M July 30, 2021 12:16 am UTC
PURCHASER
Question. You specifically say other versions of d&d. Would one of those versions be 3.5? I ask cause would love to buy this if it worked for 3.5/pf1e
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Customer avatar
Tom S July 30, 2021 7:58 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Earl. I would say that maybe 80% of it will work, the rest you'll have to work out how to adapt.

There are two main issues with running DM Yourself with D&D 3.5 and PF1e: Firstly, these games and the abilities of characters are much more grid-movement and miniatures-based than 5e - the combat AI in DM Yourself handles how enemies behave in general it won't get them to the exact square to flank, or avoid being flanked (and the same goes for many other spells/abilities). Secondly, DM Yourself uses the idea of a 5e Sidekick. Older versions of D&D (pre 3rd edition) can just replace this with another PC (because the PCs in older versions are relatively simpler in terms of number of abilities etc.), but for for D&D 3.5 and PF1e, you'll either have to adapt a 5e Sidekick, or run two complex PCs.

Having said all that, I know people who have successfully run both 3.5 and PF1e adventures using DM Yourself, so it can definitely be done!

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Customer avatar
Moritz M October 03, 2021 7:14 am UTC
I have played through the first two books of Rise of the Runelords solo and I have to say that at least in Pathfinder 1e enemy behaviour is not an issue. The modules describe the behaviour of all tactical thinking enemies in quite some detail including in which circumstances they use which special ability/spell. All I ever had to do was check an oracle for some details like which of my PCs get attacked when they both present attractive targets.
I also don't agree that you can't play without grid. I usually play with Terrain and minis gridless (just because I like Terrain and Minis and because it keeps my eyes away from possible spoilers in the module) and when I'm playing not at home I use theater of mind: just imagine the room/ your enemy's behaviour and then decide if they flank you or not. Just ask an oracle if you are not sure.

But yes 2PCs would be recommended. However I think you don't have to make them both evenly complicated. For one solo campaign I was playing with an allied cleric...See more
Customer avatar
Lea H July 28, 2021 2:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello,
Which 5e core books are required if I were to use DM Yourself with an adventure module please?
Thanks :)
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Customer avatar
Tom S July 28, 2021 4:59 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Lea. None of the 5e core books are absolutely required. Ideally you'd have the Player's Handbook and I do make a few references to parts of the Dungeon Master's Guide, but nothing essential. If you want to you could download the Essential Kit rules PDF (available for free) and pick up a free adventure from somewhere. Alternatively the Essentials Kit boxed product is good value for money, will give you the basic rules, some dice and a very soloable adventure.
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Customer avatar
Lea H July 28, 2021 6:14 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Tom, Thank you for the reply, much appreciated. I just bought your book, downloaded a copy of the Essential Kit rules (thanks for the suggestion) and am probably going to go for the Player's Handbook to begin with.
All the best,
Lea
Customer avatar
Brian H July 01, 2021 9:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I just received my hard copy a few days ago, and I can't read it the font is way too small. The only way it is bearable to read is with reading glasses over my regular glasses. Mind you, I don't normally need reading glasses. Also, it had a binding defect. I ended up asking for my money back, because they weren't able to fix the print issue. Please, fix the font size! I would love a new copy with a normal sized font!
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File Last Updated:
December 21, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on November 03, 2020.
Publisher
Tom Scutt
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