Author vs Non Authoring

I spent this afternoon playing the new edition of Chivalry & Sorcery (5th Edition) and using my regular oracle methods, customised to the rules.

This evening I played using my non-authoring spreadsheet.

Roland the Ruffian met a bloody death in the end at the feet of a mountain troll. It could have been worse, the troll was fleeing from a dragon…

This evening I was searching for the hooded man, before meeting up with a mercenary who somehow knew many of the detail I had only learned the previous evening. Further, this mercenary had the hooded man in chains in the basement under a guild hall in the city.

Playing them back to back allowed me to directly compare the play styles.


This was much faster, meaning it also felt much more dynamic. It also leaned more towards a mix of exploration and combat.


Maybe it is because the prompts never suggested it but there was never that push towards a conflict. I cannot blame the system for being slow while I am so inexperienced.

Not leaping into battle is not a bad thing. I suspect that had I wanted it I could probably have found an excuse for a fight. I cannot remember all the snippets.

I certainly would not choose to solo play exclusively through cut-up and Non-Authoring. But, I also want to keep it up. It is different, at the moment it is not better, or worse, just different.

One the lone wolf discord we have talked about a variety of tools and options. It seems like Non-Authoring is always going to come with an overhead. That could be dependence on a computer to use spreadsheets, a ‘net connection to use AI Dungeon, or a substantial bulk of text.

Authoring can be as light weight as a coin toss or looking out the window (I often use an I spy… method where I look for an object and then word associate around its named until I get something that answers my question).

What I find interesting is that I am writing much more down while Non-Authoring than when authoring. The generated texts are more complex and convey more information, my contributions then become longer in response. When playing solo normally I can play for hours and only generate a page of bullet points.

I notice that AI dungeon comes up frequently. When I last looked at it it was bearly functional. I will take a look at that tomorrow, just for completeness.

4 thoughts on “Author vs Non Authoring”

  1. I watched your video about this but I am not sure I see much difference between the standard Oracle and the non authoring other than non authoring uses sentence fragments? I am a little dense so maybe a play through using it would help me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also have you thought of designing tailored solo rules for Sine Nomineโ€™s Silent Legions and Other Dust RPGs?

    • Hi,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Ultimately there is no difference in end result. The difference in play is that the proportion of content on the GMing side is greater. The cut ups throw up details that I may not have thought of. If all the cut ups come from similar sources these details can also be consistent across many games.

      I speak very poor German, if I were to try and GM for you in German, I would probably sound like a cut up GM.

      I haven’t played Silent Legions or Other Dust. I cannot write for games I don’t enjoy. I will buy them and take a look. If they grab me I will see what I can do.

  2. Thanks for the breakdown Peter. I agree with a lot of your points, specifically about non-authoring providing more details and needing more overhead. I’ve been using the technique you debuted in your video and it’s sped up non-authoring play for me, as generating a number of cutups and scanning them goes faster than fiddling with them heavily. It’s definitely a different method to just using your own inspiration off seeds and pattern recognition.

    I find non-authoring using cutups to be best used with a solid, light-weight framework that can give narrative tension – either through Mythic+Adventure Crafter or Ursa Minor with it’s tension mechanics; the two times I tried just non-authoring ended up meandering a bit – I think my source material didn’t have enough action or conflict in it.

  3. Hi Peter,

    I really appreciate your effort in trying on a “non-authoring” sort of approach.

    I think we can agree that this cut up method does carry more overhead than how play with oracles is usually done. It’s interesting how our priorities as players color the experiences. While it is true that traditional oracle play can be speedier on average, the more content you create on your own without constant contact with any system, the less interactive it may feel. This is part of the reason many who try this type of solo play end up running into that feeling of just doing something akin to creative writing with dice and eventually lose interest in this type of play.

    On the other hand, a person may find that approaches like the cutups or AIDungeon feel much more interactive. As there is constant contact with something outside yourself, you’re not relying on your own creativity alone. For myself, at least, this keeps my sails going for much longer. I still have a place for traditional oracles, but it is much more limited, and as you see in my product Tilt, it’s modified to create challenges.

    What I am hoping for, once there are enough people experimenting with this, is to break down the properties that something like the cut up technique brings to play and then try to find those components in other approaches.



Leave a Comment

WordPress Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield