Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The idea so far

I  have been developing a solitaire rpg system that would be used in conjunction with Mythic GM Emulator.  I know that pretty much any game can be used with Mythic and be played solo, but I have yet to discover an rpg system that is specifically meant to be used that way.  I feel that since most rpg's aren't meant to be played solo, they do not offer the smoothest experience when using Mythic.  When playing most rpgs solo, you are doing twice the work in most cases- the player and the gm's job.  More involved systems require more time and effort on my part.  I'm married, have two young kids, a house, dog, part owner in my own business and ....  damn, I just don't have much time these days. 

I began correspondence with another solo gamer who was invaluable in providing insight and helping me form my thoughts into something more concrete.  John, thank you.
Here's the list of must have's for the system so far:

1)   There should only be one player character.  The character should be the only aspect of the game that the player should have control over.  It should also be the only responsibility the player should have in terms of bookkeeping (if any).
2)   All other elements of the game that the character encounters, whether it is NPC’s or obstacles function under a set of interpretive guidelines that either are reacting to the player or forcing the player to react. 
3)   These NPCs/ Obstacles should be extremely easy to make, no more than a minute.
4)   Whatever form of success/failure system is used, it must give the most information necessary with the least amount of effort possible. 
5)   The system should help drive the story forward.  I think this would go a long way towards eliminating some of the “what the hell do I do now?”
6)    The ability to focus in and really play those scenes that are important to the player.  Think of minor and major scenes.  Maybe one person can view climbing a wall as a simple obstacle that must be overcome to move things along.  Another person could view that same wall as a mighty barrier that their character must reach deep inside and push themselves to the limit- clawing and grasping for every inch!  It doesn’t mean that the first player is a ninja and the second one is playing Aunt May, just that there can be differences in how a player chooses to zoom in on the action that is important to them.  I’ll go a step further and say that for those things that you choose your character to make a major scene of, you should get rewarded for the greater risk involved. 

  I’ve found that sometimes when I’ve played solo, I’ve suddenly got “into the zone” so to speak.  Scenes that weren’t important at first, became more important as I got into it.  I found myself wanting to get more involved in that scene.  Other scenes that I thought of as important, would suddenly bore me and I just wanted to resolve the action and move on.  Now this could mean a simple resolution system for minor things and a more involved one for others (or even layers that can be added), but I don’t know.  I don’t want to increase any sort of complexity, but need to figure out a way to focus on what’s most important to the player.  I think this is one of the very freeing things of playing solo- it literally is your game.  You should be able to do what you want to do. 
7)   The game needs the smallest footprint possible. 
8)   Solo rpging in my experience really does need to be fast.  Games around half hour to forty five minutes tops.  I don’t know whether the rules should enforce this or not. 
9)   I see a lot of things hinging on interpretation- I believe that there needs to be some sort of guidance within the game that narrows the interpretation for you depending on the scenario at hand.

So far I have a resolution mechanic idea.  The outcomes are heavily, heavily influenced by the FU RPG.  These will be changed at some point, but I do want to give respect where it’s due. 

Basically, here’s how things work.  Instead of using a randomizer, you choose your success or failure from a programmed list.  So far, there would be five of these programmed lists to choose from.  At the beginning of the game you choose one of the five programmed lists.  During a conflict, you get to choose your success or failure from that list, applying it to the scene at hand.  For the next conflict, you can choose any other choice from that list except for the one that you have crossed off.  As soon as you go through all of the responses on that list, you choose the next list that you would like to use.  Once you have gone through all of the lists, you start over again, choosing which list you’d like to start with.  Only the PC makes choices from the list.  Any NPC/Obstacle simply reacts to your choices.

The initial lists (which unfortunately are not copy/pasting well for me) are very much the answers from the FU RPG – variations of yes, yes, and…, yes, but…, no, no, and…,  no, but…  It will be changed, I just don’t know where to go with it at the moment.  If you want to see how the list is formatted,  just let me know and I can send it to you.
These lists are just an experiment .  Some of the lists are more geared towards your character succeeding, more yeses than no’s, while others are more geared towards your character failing, more no’s than yeses. 

All you would need is that list, maybe laminated, and a china marker/wet erase marker.  Sometimes you are going to succeed and sometimes you are going to fail.  You get to choose which you’d like to do- although at some point, you will start running out of options.

So far, that’s what I have.  Please feel free to give constructive ways I can improve it.  I’m just looking to do this for myself and maybe those other people who are in the same boat I’m in. 



  1. Interesting! I will follow this blog.

    I'm using Mythic GME too for a adventure that I'm currently running. I'm using FU RPG, which works great with Mythic GME.

    You are right, some RPGs are better suited for the Mythic GME. In FU RPG for example, I had to tweak the way FU Points were handed out to the PCs, since I play solo, and I cannot just give myself a lot of FU Points. I covered my "tweaks" in this blog post: http://monodesire.blogspot.com/2011/05/mythic-gme-fu-rpg-quick-reference-guide.html

  2. Mats,

    I agree that FU is an awesome game to use with Mythic and probably the best I've found so far. It's a heavy, heavy influence in what I'm trying to do here. The biggest change would be the list format and choosing your success/failure from the list since I trying to keep away from using dice:-)

    I'm going to give what you have there a better look this evening.

  3. I’m in strong agreement with you regarding minimum amount of effort, and fast interpretation. Your idea is to have guidelines acting like a funnel towards a particular type of interpretation is awesome. How do you envision this as it applies to NPCs/other elements? Would you have different sets of guidelines for different NPCs?

    One way in which I’ve been trying to speed interpretation in my latest solo game is to use visual cues (“a picture is worth a thousand words”). My tools have been Rory’s Story Cubes, and a deck of cards named “Bright Idea Deck”. The story cubes don’t really have any guidelines for interpretation, but the “Bright Idea Deck” does, though it’s not specifically geared towards storytelling. One could easily attach a set of story guidelines to each card/picture, however.

    By the way, I agree that sometimes playing solo a story can draaaaaag. A game could try to enforce length in the rules by limiting the number of turns/scenes, or whatever unit of play one uses, but that could leave one with abrupt endings. It’s a tough one. You can always leave it up to the player to decide when there's an appropriate "break"; like a chapter.

    I’m actually not entirely sure that length is usually the primary culprit of when a story becomes boring. I think it’s other problems like monotony, or lack of action, etc…what do you think?

  4. Dreamer- The guidelines for the NPC I had in mind was a simple structured sentence that told you what the NPC is and how they would impact the scene.

    I've toyed with having game mechanics that limited the time you played. The one I had before was comic based. Average comic has around 24 pages. Each page could have 6 small panels, 3 medium panels, 2 large panels or a giant splash page- or any combination of those, except for the splash. The size of the panel would correlate to what you were trying to accomplish.

    Since your "issue" is a limited amount of pages and therefore your panel amount is limited, you'd have a sort of built in timer.

    I've been really stumped lately.

  5. "footprint" The actual physical space that you're using when playing the game. Some rpg's take up more space than others, - i.e.- rulebooks, charts, miniatures, dice, ect.

    I don't have much time to play, so I need the game to be set up quick and take up the least amount of space. It's one of the reasons that I was going with the list route. Having everything you need on a single sheet of paper to play without the need to reference the rules.

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