Wednesday, July 15, 2015

[gaming] Solo play rules

+Sophia Brandt posted something over on her excellent blog today and it suddenly inspired me to pick up some dice. You can read her post here. She was inspired by a few posts from others, notably one that I have seen before, the Tiny Solitary Soldiers' Solo Engine

I decided I liked both their ideas and opted to meld them together into one. I did not change much so most of the credit should go to them for what follows.

Step One:
Stat up your Hero, Declare your setting.
This is a short description of where the Hero is and what's happening.

Describe your character in 3 sentences or more. Make a list of his strengths & weaknesses. You have 3 tokens. They represent both your mental as well as your physical health. When you are down to zero tokens in a conflict, you lose. What that means depends on the type of conflict and your setting description. It might be getting knocked out, having a mental break-down, getting captured, dying, etc.

Step Two:
Scene Goal

At this time you should also come up with a Scene Goal for the Hero... This will determine when the scene is over (whether they achieved or failed at the goal).

Step Three:
Begin asking questions!

A question can be either an Inquiry or an Action outcome. Questions must be in a yes/no answerable format.

For each question, roll 2d6 and read the following result (If your Hero has a significant advantage, roll a third d6 along with it and choose the result. If a significant disadvantage, roll the third D6 but take the worst result for the hero):
5 or less:
odd: No, but… (you don’t’ get what you want, but there is something positive)
even: No, and… (you don’t’ get what you want and something bad happens, too)
6: Not yet, not until… (the GM will tell you what you need to do in order to achieve your intention)
7-9: Yes, but… (you get what you want but at a cost)
10: Yes (you get what you want)
11-12: Yes, and… (you get what you want and there’s an extra benefit)

The NPCs are similar to PCs. They get short descriptions and the GM decides what they can do well and where they are weak. He gives them an appropriate amount of tokens. NPCs can have more or fewer tokens than Player Characters.

Example Mooks:
Five Goons: good at fighting, bad at everything else, Tokens: 5

Resolving Conflicts
To resolve a conflict compare the situation your character finds themselves in along with their strengths, weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages against those of the opponents. If both sides are more or less on par, roll normally. If the player side has an advantage or disadvantage, roll 3d6 using the rules above regarding advantages and disadvantages.

Defeat of either party can only be narrated after of all of their tokens are lost. Conflict continues until one side runs out of Tokens. You can either narrate each ‘round’ or continue to roll until one side has lost all their tokens

The Twist
Whenever you roll the dice, roll a different colored D6. This is the Twist Die. If this die equals 1 it means there is a twist to the scene.

To determine what this twist is roll two d6 dice, noting which was rolled first, then consult the following chart:
      1st d6                                     2nd d6
      1-An NPC                              1-Appears
      2-The PC                               2-Alters the location
      3-An organization                 3-Helps the hero
      4-A physical event                4-Hinders the hero
      5-An emotional event           5-Changes the goal
      6-An Item                             6-Ends the scene

Interpret these two phrases in a creative way using the events so far. I have found using Rory’s Story Cubes can help when you have a creative block and cannot determine the next path.

The Next Scene
Once the scene ends in some way (the protagonist's goal is met or failed) roll the next scene and use the result to steer the story:

1-3: Dramatic scene
4-5: Quiet Scene
6: Meanwhile…

A dramatic scene means the action doesn't let up! A quiet scene means there is no immediate danger, probably a good chance to gather intel or discover more about the characters or situation. A Meanwhile scene is a remote location, and does not involve the protagonists! This should be immediately randomized as a twist and kept quite short. I haven't done one of these yet but I'm looking forward to it.

During game play characters can grow, change, learn and even get worse at resolving conflicts. When you determine this has happened, annotate any changes to your list on your character sheet.

Setting: Cthulhuesque 1930s, PIish noir type thing
Character: Thomas McElvine is a former policeman turned private investigator with a knack for noticing things he should not, oftentimes things relating to the occult. He is a man haunted by the death of his daughter and his broken marriage. He refuses to fail in his investigations and is not above bending the laws to ensure success, this has made him a few enemies.
The List:
  • Thomas is detail oriented and easily notices details and connections
  • Can handle himself in a fight and always carries a .38
  • Thomas has some knowledge of the occult
  • He is haunted by the past
  • Has enemies on the police force.
Tokens: Three


To start I roll two randomly selected Story Cubes, getting the Shooting Star and an Open Book. I determine that Thomas has been searching for information on the strange occurrences that have been happening in the area. He is hoping to find something that piques his interest.

A few days ago Thomas came across an old dusty book in the basement of the Knoxville Public Library...the off limits part. In the book he found a miraculously detailed account of a witness who saw (past tense) a shooting star in Cade’s Cove. The problem? The report is dated tomorrow evening. Thomas quickly decides to head out to the Cove and see if anything should turn up.

Question time: Is Thomas able to sneak back out of the library without anyone noticing?
I roll three dice and one Twist die. I roll 5,5, and 2, plus a 1 on the Twist die. The Twist die over rules the Conflict resolution roll so I put aside the dice and roll for the Twist. I get a 3, An organization, and a 4, Hinders the Hero.

Thomas slips the book into his satchel and makes his way to the back stairs, guessing he can still slip out that way. As he turns the corner he sees a policeman coming down the stairs, clearly the copper thinks something is afoot. Thomas ducks behind one of the numerous rows of book-filled shelves and hopes the man has not seen him.

Can Thomas get around the cop and escape the library?
I decide the cop and Thomas are on par and I roll 2d6 getting a 5 and a 3, the Twist dice comes up a 5. Thankfully, no twist this time. Eight gives a result of ‘Yes, but...’ I grab my Story Dice again, randomly picking two dice and rolling. I get a figure with a shadow and a comic chat bubble. I like the shadow.

Thomas waits patiently as the cop scans each row of shelves, hugging the shadows. The cops heads to the far side of the room and Thomas slips up the stairs and out the door without being seen.

He darts across the street, slips into the shadows, and scans the street. No one is on the street and everything looks clear. Thomas lets out a sigh and steps into the light, making his way to his car.

Fifty yards away from Thomas, and unseen by the detective’s keen eye, a cigarette flares in the shadows. Dark eyes watch him as he moves away from the library.

What happens next? I roll a d6 and get a 4, a quiet scene.

Thomas makes his way to his office. Once there he prepares for his trip to Cade's Cove. He packs a few things into a bag then tosses a notebook, a blanket and a shotgun into his trunk. He jots a quick note to his secretary telling her he will be gone for a few days while he follows up on a lead.

  ----  o  ----
So, initial thoughts are that this works pretty well, not sure I like it or not. Maybe continue tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. I really like the idea of the post-dated account of the shooting star. Good luck, Thomas!