Finally a topic that is close to the heart of the way I like to solo play.
So the basic creative process in both group play and solo play is this. An idea (NPC, Organisation, location etc) is created (Creation). Later on you need that an NPC/Organisation/location again and it is easier to reuse the existing one than go through the creation process yet again. This is Repetition. I encourage everyone I teach to solo play to scan over the list of unused story arcs, or adventure hooks and see if they can be connected to form a more coherent plot, but one running parallel to the PCs that they are just getting glimpses of.
As soon as you start to link things that your character has touched upon before you are using Reincorporation. At the time of creation you had no idea that the strange phone call you heard was part of a major conspiracy or the horse you stole was Jesse James’s Stonewall.
Reincorporation happens when you link one creation to other ideas. It doesn’t only enrich the first creation by adding a new detail to its description but it adds new details and enriches the things you connect it to. A wonderful example comes from Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
That is a perfect example of reincorporation. Not only does the scene go on to tell us about how Trillian become Zaphod’s travelling partner, we learn more about Arthur’s previous life, more about Zaphod and about Ford.
For the full scene and more about the party in Islington you will have to (re)read the book. The point is that reincorporation embeds new facts back into your world and adds details to everything it touches.
Reincorporation is, in my opinion, and essential part of building a solo sandbox campaign that will have longevity. It doesn’t take long to have three or four significant schemes, plots and villains each with their own agendas operating around your character and there is no reason at all for you to interact with them. The idea of -> Here is the plot <-, you will accept this quest! simply does not apply.
In a group game reincorporation can add details to new NPCs to help make it appear that they didn’t just spring fully formed out of thin air. A simple trick is to ask the players to make some kind of memory check for their characters. Those that succeed remember seeing this character in the past at a location, maybe you mentioned some unusual characters in a tavern or the characters were at a busy council meeting at a castle. This simple act of reincorporation casts the NPCs history back into the characters past and the characters can infer from it that they know the same tavern barkeep or they have the same political patron.
With NPCs that make friends, fall in love, fall out of love, split up and make up it is easy to explain how you can have a common contact but in all these years they never mentioned the aforementioned NPC. If you suddenly want to drop an entire dungeon into a country and no one had ever heard of it, it can be harder. One technique is to make it the place were known heroes died. It can then appear to be something the characters know about the world but the players didn’t know. Alternatively changing a few details and you can make connections to a secret organisation that has already had contact with the players. No one else knows about this place because it is a secret kept by this secret organisation, don’t tell anyone. Change an odd detail here or there an you can associate the place with a religion or cult in your world. Little details can embed a new location into an existing world.