Solo RPGs on Your Table - February 2016
Jason Doyle
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Hertfordshire
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Welcome to
Solo RPGs on Your Table - February 2016


Short intro as I'm in a bit of a rush, I may pop back and edit it. Thanks to everyone who keeps this one going, it definitely serves to highlight some things which would be lost in the monster that is SGoYT.

Look forward to seeing what adventures everyone is getting up to this month and I'll pop back when I have a few moments to add my own.

TIPS donated to the list will be distributed for contributions.

TL;DR Rules
1. Play an RPG solo.
2. Post an entry/entries on this geeklist and tell us about it.
3. Be nice, but most of all have fun.

Optional: Likely you'll love the games you post, so a thumbsup or thumbsdown micro-review can balance this - RPGs are expensive, even in electronic form.

Long Rules
1. Play an RPG solo.
It might be a paragraph chooser or some other bespoke solo roleplaying experience, or you may be emulating the GM somehow. Alternatively you might be emulating characters or even players and you are the GM. It could be physically on paper, or on a tablet, phone or a computer. If you consider it to be a solo RPG then it really is. If your mind is constructing a narrative and or characters around your play experience, however abstract, then it counts. There is no wrong way to play and if you think it belongs here, it totally does. There is a time and place for discussing what might or might not constitute an RPG, but this is not it. I will be very grateful to anyone who feels they'd like to contribute to this list and I'm not about excluding anyone.

2. Post an entry/entries on this geeklist and tell us about it.
The RPGG database is a thing of beauty, especially given the relative complexity of RPGs. My best hope for this geeklist (and its future siblings) is that it both builds community and improves the database.

There are a number of ways we can help. Firstly, each user should add an item to this list for each RPG item they are using in their gaming. Multiple entries of the same RPG gauges popularity. Multiple entries from a user is not boastful, it gives a little bit of data-love to each of the RPG items you use; the database automatically links the geeklist item on the item's page, possibly alerting authors, publishers and fans of the item. A lot of solo RPG games will need multiple entries anyway and this is desirable too for exactly the same reasons. For instance, I might use Mythic as a GM emulator to run a RISUS game and I would add both to the geeklist. I'm thinking you probably want to be adding RPGs to this list rather than RPG items, but it's ultimately your call.

What you say about each item is entirely up to you. Feel free to summarise what happened, or even just what you enjoyed/what worked and what didn't, link out to a "script" in a blog (BGG or external) or post the script in-situ (for now at least and the list becoming unwieldy would be a lovely problem to have).

Lastly, if the RPG you are using is not on the database, please consider adding it. As I've already said, the database is complex and adding things can require a bit more effort than on BGG. Modern RPGs can use tens of artists and/or a large production team. Before you can do anything, these people need to be added first. Then you need to create the RPG as a system before you can add an actual item like a rule book. It took me the best part of a morning to add the recently released Cypher System Core Rulebook. However, mention that you added something in your description and you'll get a gg tip.

If you really can't face/don't have the time to go adding the item yourself, mention it at the bottom of the post and I (or some else) will endeavour to add it for you.

3. Be kind, but most of all have fun.
Every person fights a hard battle you know nothing about and life is short. For some reason, "You're wrong. In fact [body of opinion]" causes way more upset than "I disagree. I think [body of opinion]". Although they're functionally interchangeable, the latter owns the subjectivity of the opinion and does not invite an endless exchange of defence and counter attack. If a person opines that Fate is better than Savage Worlds (whatever that might mean), feel free to add a counter opinion to the contrary for the benefit of the audience; just don't expect to change the OP's mind. As for Ad Hominem attacks, I always feel a bit embarrassed on behalf of the attacker. Name calling? Really? I know it's never pleasant being the target, but perhaps this frame will help let it slide past; there is a very real sense in which the less someone knows you, the less weight of veracity their opinion has. If my close family think I'm a fool it might be time for a long, hard look in the mirror. On the other hand, if someone I don't know thinks I'm an idiot, why should I care about their opinion? If you see something that annoys you, click that [X] and stay on the moral high ground. Apologies if that was a bit preachy.

SROYT Resources
Solo Roleplaying Guild
SROYT Monthly Geeklist Subscription Thread - The Meta-List
SROYT Made me buy this!

Future Hosts
March 2016 - Andreas Kaiser
April 2016 - Simon Hunt
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1. Board Game: Myth [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2260]
Judy Krauss
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I have been playing Myth solo using several heroes, and creating a story as I play. It feels a lot like a solo RPG and I've been having a lot of fun creating additional backstories and motivations for my heroes, too.


I played a lot last month, but found that last month's geeklist wouldn't let me include any entries that weren't designated as "RPG" by Boardgamegeek.



Anyway, here is a link to my plays (with pics and story flavor text) of Myth so far this year:

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/200075/item/4296216#item42...

If you check out entry 3 (d10-3) there, you will find that I have started a long campaign of adventures for my trio of heroes:
Boudica the Soldier
Bhavya the Acolyte
Bahati the Archer

and even created a story of how they first met:



Sitting upon a log fence railing, three rustic types watched the sheep grazing. After eyeing one another warily, the three realized that each was eating a different type of food which would go well together, and so offered to share theirs with the others.

Tearing her loaf of hard, stale bread into equal pieces, the Acolyte introduced herself as Bhavya, and said, "This field of sheep makes me feel homesick."

The Archer passed out apples which appeared to have been pierced and bruised, but which were otherwise quite fresh and tasty. "Me, too. I am coming to the conclusion that I should make my way back home soon even though I was hoping that I could make a name for myself here in town. My name is Bahati."

Their muscular and furry companion accepted a piece of bread and an apple while handing out chunks of slightly moldy cheese. "I'm Boudica. I know nothing of sheep. I came here to try join a band of mercenaries to make my fortune using my prowess as a soldier. But, it seems that humans are suspicious of letting my people fight for them. I've had to sell my sword and shield just to keep from starving, so it is unlikely that any band would see me as a soldier now that I have equipped myself with trash pickings." She pointed to the rusty fire iron and the bent and dented pot lid that were leaning against the fence. She quietly added, "And I no longer have a home to return to."

After an uncomfortable pause during which the Acolyte and Archer pretended to be busy eating and watching the sheep while the Soldier wiped her eyes, Bhavya replied, "I have sold my weapon also, but luckily, I found this broken plank to replace it. My holy book which I brought from home is tattered and old, but at least I still have it. I may have to sell my leather jerkin next. I was hoping to do some good here in town, but no one looks past my worn clothing and book to see the magnificence of my powers."

Bahati held up her bow and arrows and proudly stated, "I am luckier than you two, because I make my own useful weapons from the trees, and then use the arrows to help me obtain their fruit!" The others looked dubiously at the stick-and-twine bow and crude bark-and-vine bag of arrows fletched with various tattered feathers. "Still, it would be awfully nice to have enough gold to be able to buy wine and sleep indoors."

A passerby had been eavesdropping on the trio's conversation, and now made himself known to them. "My name is Talek Three Dunes, and I am prepared to pay you a sum of 6 gold pieces for the return of my merchant chest." He then proceeded to tell them his tale of woe, but it was the offer of gold that sealed the bargain.


===

Myth is a great and fun game, IMHO, and one that I have been waiting for my whole life!

I chose it for one of my Hardcore 10 x 10 Challenge games, and I will be keeping track of my Myth adventures on my geeklist at this link (also mentioned above):

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/200075/item/4296216#item42...

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2. RPG Item: Star Trader [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Andreas
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I am still working out stuff for this one here.

I have a small sketchbook in which I stick my character sheets in, as well as a picture of the ship my crew is flying around with. I am going to write down the story of my characters in there and use it as a logbook as well.

Right now I am doing my map with AutoCAD. (at work of course)

I am going to post pictures soon...

I am going to add some ship Details here too:


And the heroes aren't finished too:
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3. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:3050]
It's not Christmas people, it's November!
United Kingdom
Gateshead
Tyne and Wear
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It's one of the Click Your Poison books by James Schannep.

After borrowing it from Amazon I have realised it might not be available in physical form which might be a bit of a cheat. Sorry everyone.

I'm looking forward to being a super hero though.

I will update you as I play through it.

Update 7 Feb:

I've got super strength and I've decided to use my powers for good.

I nearly chose a darker path but for this first game I wanted to go on a journey I would take if it happened for real. Once I finish my first run through of this I will definitely go bad.

More updates soon.

Update 20 Feb:

Disappointing.

That's the word that sums up my experience with this book.

I found the writing style not to my taste and the choices limited.

The end came pretty quick in one of my read throughs. Too quick considering what had happened to that point. Left a bad taste in the mouth.

I can't recommend it, which is a shame.

I'm going back to the Dave Morris books for a good experience next month.
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4. RPG Item: Down Among the Dead Men [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:4437]
Andreas
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Received this one yesterday along with these:



Anyway, I decided to go for the pirate story. Since Gary had such a blast with the book and it was on my radar for quite a while, I decided to Play as the Gypsy.



So far I manage to escape in a small boat from the bad guys who had kidnapped me. I am going from island to island to find food and water. A witch took away pieces of our souls and that's where I stopped yesterday.

I must say that the book pulls you right into the pirate mode. That's very good! I had the same with Necklace of Skulls. It just pulls you right into it! I love that. I hope it stays that way.

Keep you updated...

Update #1:
I managed to survive all of the 4 islands, was found by a very friendly ship on the open sea and they brought us back to land. I met the captain of that ship at his home and I am fully recovered again, thinking of what to do next.

This book rocks! I really like the atmosphere created here.
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Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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Finally carved out some time to try this today. I liked it, although I think the system is maybe a touch too light to have serious replay potential, even with the different scenarios. As a writing exercise, it was a lot of fun - trying to figure out how to structure your writing to include the Superior words was a bit of a mental workout, especially given the possibility of failure! In the end, I was able to score 12 points, which was more than enough to satisfy the archduke and ensure that I would receive a gift of great worth for my trouble! Pictures below, but the quality isn't really all that great - sorry!



(Somehow I originally posted while logged in with my boardgame account...oops. Sorry for the confusion.)

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6. RPG: Inquisition: Purge the Unclean [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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I'm going to record here that I played this, but I think it stretches the notion of a "roleplaying game" almost to the very limit. It is, in essence, an exercise in rolling a six-sided die and consulting a table until either a) your hit points are totally depleted, or b) you've rolled a sufficient number of times to "defeat" the Daemon Prince who represents the end of the "game." There are in fact zero meaningful choices here - in fact, there are no choices at all! You roll a die, consult the table, determine what your target number for this enemy is, and roll until you either equal or beat that number, or you fail a sufficient number of times that you die. You can't go backwards. You can't evade combat. You can't explore - all you can do is roll a die. And then roll it again. And again. I wonder if this was left incomplete - the rules in one place refer to "XP gains," but these are not evident anywhere else in the (one page) of rules. Certainly as it is, it's very difficult to recommend this as anything more than an exercise in determining if your dice is fairly weighted.

There's a kernel of half a good idea here - the "end game" encounter triggers when you've progressed through a certain number of levels of the "dungeon," as tracked by your LOC (location) score. It doesn't mean much here, since you are instructed to increase your LOC score by one after every four encounters, which means you will always have exactly the same number of encounters, but the idea of having the game mechanics semi-randomly determine when the end of the dungeon is reached is a perfectly fine one that you could hang a much more interesting game on.

I shouldn't be overly harsh here - this is a free one-page RPG that seems like it might not be entirely complete - but in the end, I agree with Stelio: this is very long for an exercise in which you make absolutely no decisions.
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7. RPG Item: Ring of Thieves [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:4990]
Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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A search for "solitaire" on DriveThruRPG turned up this, for Risus - a system I've heard a lot about, but have no experience with. The usual caveats apply - this is a gamebook, so your choices are constrained, and you do (of course) get funneled towards the "right" end, even if there are a few different ways to get there. With that in mind, this is a really excellent little adventure - it's very engagingly written, and the story, while certainly not a particularly novel one (rescue you girlfriend/partner, who has vanished), has a couple of amusing twists and turns, and should keep the player turning the pages to find out what happens. There's some weirdness here - I encountered an ending that involved some dwarves who were not happy to see me - but I think it adds to the charm. From a story perspective, this is really well done, and I absolutely wish this was longer than its 137 entries.

I'm not sure, though, that this really shows off the Risus system - it works, and what I saw seemed pretty straightforward and robust - but it's hard to get a feel for the strengths (or weaknesses) of the system in the confines of a fairly linear gamebook (even one as well done as this). I think I need a little bit more experience with the system before I can comment on it more definitively, but I liked what I saw.

Definitely recommended for gamebook fans!
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8. RPG Item: Alone Against the Dark (1st edition) [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1456]
Raymond Dickson
Scotland
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Still in the middle of this adventure.

The good professor has made it to Athens, trying to clear his friends name. However he has had to dodge 1 or 2 assassination attempts. Very intriguing story. Can't wait to see where it goes
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9. RPG Item: Book 27: Star Strider [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:6086]
Eric Dodd
New Zealand
Martinborough
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Another Fighting Fantasy book by Luke Sharp. I haven't really liked any of his other Fantasy gamebooks I've tried, but finally gave this one a go.

Completing the book hasn't really changed my mind, but it had some amusing references to the 80s. Sharp's future setting sees Earth as a remote, wasted planet that has become the haven for criminals. A humanoid race called the Gromulans have also settled on Earth and displaced the original humanoids from positions of power while they perfect their mind-bending illusions. But now the galactic President has been kidnapped by the Gromulans and must be rescued before a brain scan gives away vital information. You have only 48 time units to find the President, signal for rescue and get away.

Aside from Gromulans, you will also face killer androids and the criminal gangs of old Earth. Called 'Houlgans' they wear different colours and have names like 'R'al, Juve, L'pool and G'ners'...

My Rogue Tracer agrees to take the job to free the President.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Taking the shuttle to Earth I eat the offered food. When I arrive I take the Silverhound bus to Madrid, surviving interrogation from the androids on the way. I'm forced to steal a stolen vehicle, despite the illusionary anti-theft devices inside it. In Madrid I follow an android i think might be my contact, but realise it has been 'turned' by the Groms. Instead I fall in with some Houlgans who help me break into a hacienda in search of a computer terminal. After some games with a little girl and an illusionary chess board I learn that the code '169A' is associated with the captured President, who is held at a high security base.

I leave and take the Silverhound onto Roma. The food and overnight sleep restore my health. I think I recognise a fellow Tracer and follow her. Luckily I catch up and agree to help her in her mission in exchange for the information I need. At a club I corner the criminal I want, but he makes me play a game of Russian Roulette to gain his aid. I learn the President is held in London! Unfortunately, my cover is then blown, and I'm beaten up. Waking up in a cell I have to swim through a flooded passage to safety. The bus to London is gone, and my hitched ride turns out to be a pirate!

I'm knocked out by a gas and wake to find myself in another underground lair. I'm forced to fight a huge robot, which I barely manage to beat. Chained up overnight I manage to grab my communicator and send a distress beam. Arana the tracer rescues me, then helps me get aboard a transport for London. There I manage to infiltrate the ancient tube tunnels which are crawling with robot guards. An illusion nearly puts me off, but the map I found and the coordinates I've uncovered keep me on track. I find the President, but am barely strong enough to carry him out of his prison and up to the top of tower. We're picked up by a Galactic security ship, and after a final terrifying illusion we escape to safety!

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10. RPG Item: The Brain of Katherine Mansfield [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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I hadn't intended to do any solo gaming tonight, but through the magic of RPGGeek, I fell down a hole and found Stelio's Geeklist of Gamebooks, which I was then perusing for future play opportunities. I clicked on this simply for its bizarre title, and then found that it is available online here. I think it's fair to say that if there is such a thing as a postmodern gamebook, it would be this. I'm not even sure it's truly a game - it's really a piece of art that you interact with in a game-like way. But you should really go and look for yourself. Go on, look! It's worth a little bit of your time - not because it's a great and fantastic gaming experience, but because it's slightly weird in a postmodern sort of way, not to mention that it's written by the well-regarded New Zealand poet, Bill Manhire. Wait, you're still here? Go look at this thing!
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11. Board Game: 5150: Fringe Space [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Jason Doyle
United Kingdom
Hertfordshire
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Have been busier than expected this month so I've not had time to put into the RPG side of things this month.

Have been playing with this new one from Two Hour Wargames though. This one really strips back the miniatures side of things, you can play out the encounters in a 12" square using the counters provided and no need for terrain or anything.

Need to mess with it more but good fun romping around the galaxy in this one.
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12. RPG Item: Monsterhearts [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:112]
MoonSylver
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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After learning about this game and checking it out a few weeks ago I managed to run a couple of solo sessions over the past couple weeks.

This is the first exposure I've had to new school, indie, "story driven" RPG's in general, and a "Powered by the Apocalypse" game in particular. I was attracted to how the games rules codified social interaction and dynamics, and how so far that aspect of them has lent itself to solo play quite well.

I see there is a thriving PBF game going here, but sadly I am not available next Sunday at that time. Maybe some other time though.
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13. RPG Item: Murder at the Diogenes Club [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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The first "half" of this Sherlock Holmes-themed gamebook is actually "Irish Star," an adventure that riffs primarily on "The Adventure of Silver Blaze," but also nods a little towards "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" and others as well. This was a little tricky, as getting to the right solution requires you to get a hold of the right clues - and getting the right clues requires you to make use of your skill, and the dice can be a little unforgiving here. I was a little fortunate, but realized as I reached the end of the case that I was probably only a failed skill roll or two away from not having acquired the information I needed. The adventure itself was commonplace enough (and the answer became apparent in narrative terms before I'd pieced together the game bits necessary to get the right answer), but this was entertainingly written in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, and I'll certainly be back to figure out who murdered Colonel Sylvester in the Diogenes Club!
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14. RPG Item: Zombie Death Town [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Oliver S
United States
Stafford Springs
Connecticut
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This is a solo gamebook with a zombie theme - and as much as zombies have sort of overrun a lot of other things, I'm not actually aware of too many gamebooks that employ them, so there was at least a nice change from the usual fantasy setting here. That might, however, be the best thing that I can say about this - I think it really does exemplify the problems of game books without really giving you much good to go along with it. The writing is not particularly strong, the rules are minimal, and you are required to double back on yourself so many times (and therefore read entries like "If you take the road to the south, turn to ##, if you take the road to the north, turn ##" several times in quick succession), and the layout is such that while reading one entry, you can often see relevant entries very close by. There are some formatting issues as well - poor spacing, difficult in reading the entries because important mechanical information isn't readily distinguishable from the rest of the text, etc. Given all that, does this work? Sure - the mechanics are enough to shepherd you along and resolve any zombie encounters that you might stumble into. There's a certain gross-out black humor in the writing, if you like that sort of thing. Some of the endings are entertaining. There's one thing that makes this a little bit interesting, though:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Based on my reading of this, there's no way to "win" - every ending results in your death, which is probably appropriate for the genre and has a certain black humor to it as well, even if it might be frustrating to a player looking to survive!


Is that enough to rescue this? Kind of, but not really. It's an amusing twist on the genre, and given that, it's probably about the right length, but I'm not sure that there's enough here to really recommend it unless you're a really dedicated fan of gamebooks. If you are...go ahead and check it out. It's probably diverting enough to be worth the time - just don't expect too much!
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