#RPGTheoryJuly – 24th – Alternative Topic Solo Roleplaying

The actual prompt today was Fantasy Heartbreaker and as a rule I don’t do fantasy games either as a designer or solo player. I run a couple of fantasy campaigns for long term friends but that is it.

I want to talk about solo play.

I was on the Cypher System discord and saw this quote.

As far as I’m concerned, solo RPGs are called “writing a novel “ smile


I just found someone talking about using a “Cypher Emulator” to play solo. I found it on drivethrurpg. Weird


I am pretty sure I could find the same, basically uninformed, attitudes on ever game system specific discords everywhere.

I even took Epidiah Ravachol to task over his definition. Point 1 and 5 are clearly wrong.

  • It’s a game you play with friends in a social setting. …
  • It’s an exploration of intriguing or fanciful scenarios. …
  • It’s a chance to be someone you’re not. …
  • It’s a celebration of sticky situations. …
  • It’s collaborative daydreaming. …
  • It’s exercise for your personal sense of drama. …
  • It’s a way to trick ourselves into creating interesting things. …
  • It’s something you’ve been doing all along. What Is a Role-Playing Game? Ravachol, E., Dig a Thousand Holes Publishing, USA, 2013.

Getting a regular game together is hard for a lot of people and in those cases you still have options.

Discord is used for distributed groups, but they still have scheduling problems.

Forums offer play by post but that is slower with a couple of rounds or turns a day being considered fast.

Computer games are rather shallow compared to human role play.

For some reason solo play sits at the bottom of the list.

Solo play does two things better than any other form of roleplaying.

The characterisation of the setting, characters and action is perfect. There is nothing lost in translation between the GM’s vision and the players visualisation.

Breadth of play. By this I mean I can play a hard bitten glaswegian private eye this morning on the train from St. Ives to Taunton and then beta test Ironsworn Starforged this afternoon when I get to Bristol. On the plane to Edinburgh I can play Stars Without Number.

I can experiment with different settings and situations and can set up situations where the PC is likely to die in the first two minutes, just to see if the character dies in the first two minutes. Do that with an entire party and people would get upset.

For many, solo play is not some poor relation to the knights of the dinner table. Solo play is distinct and the go to form of the hobby.

It is hard to put yourself into the shoes of a brand new player and the first time you have to speak in character in front of other and probably more experienced players. That awkwardness can appear in solo play as well. It isn’t easy to solo your first scene.

Juggling your character, the game rules and a solo engine can be a lot if you don’t know if you are working the Oracle correctly.

I have a mission to make sure there are simple to use solo rules for every major game system. Rules that help ease new players into solo roleplaying. If I manage that, and there are a lot of games to write for I will loop back and start to write solo adventures for these games. The more solo material there is, the higher the profile of solo play.

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