Collected Archives III The 3 elements of solo

Kenny Norris talks about the three elements of a great solo adventure being Passion, Time, and Story.

I cannot argue with any of them, but I have never really considered the time element as an integral part of solo play. Sure if you don’t have time to play then it isn’t going to happen. The time pressure is possibly a lot less in solo play than it is in group play. It is easier to organize myself than it is to wrangle half a dozen players.

The flaw is that once you have wrangled your players into a game session, that commitment keeps you turning up and playing. With solo, it is very easy to let the game slide if you run out of time.

I 100% concede that point. I have been on my own for the past 10 days while Mrs. R has been south visiting family. Looking after the farm, the horses, and our dogs, and trying to work has meant that almost zero playing for pure enjoyment has happened. I would run out of time, and something had to give.

The passion element in interesting. If I am playing a game for me, created by me, using my choice of rules, setting and combining all the things I like, I can be pretty sure I will enjoy the game. Why would you create an adventure you don’t enjoy?

The only good answer I can think of is when an idea turns out to be not as fun as you had hoped.

That is simply part of the learning process, or I think so at least.

So, I think the passion element should be there almost by default.

Kenny’s third pillar is the story. I agree, a great story and one that hits all your favorite points is key, at least for me. I know a lot of soloists who run almost zero-story dungeon crawls. If you swapped out story for challenge it would be a better description. They get their kicks from overcoming the challenge of the dungeon, killing the monsters, and getting out alive with the loot and new toys.

There were so many solo dungeon crawls going on in November/December that I did one myself just to get involved. I think I lived all of seven sessions, but I delved, retreated and restocked and delved again. You can read it here. But, you will notice that I started to inject story into it. The idea of a mindless dungeon crawl just doesn’t fit my play style, so I unconsciously start to build a story and the setting up around my play.

So, I think story in important, but that is not a view universally held.

Kenny also asks some questions:

  1. What is it that made you first try solo roleplaying?
  2. What is it that keeps you coming back?
  3. What do you want out of your ideal solo RPG session?
  4. What is your favourite Book / TV Series / Film?
  5. What do they have in common?
  1. I got into solo play because I was a games reviewer and I wanted to be able to play a game before reviewing it, rather than just relying on a read through.
  2. I enjoy the indepenence of playing what I want, when I want, and exploring the characters I want to play. The characters I play in solo games are not the same as the ones I play in group games. My party members are all good team players, solo frees you from that. Solo is probably when an antisocial loner is a good idea as a character.
  3. There are some sessions that just flow, you don’t have to stop and think about what an oracle answer means, it is all just obvious, when the dice decide an action, I can see it perfectly. I love those free flowing sessions. They are what I am looking for.
  4. Favourite book? Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. TV? I only watch one or two things on TV in a typical year. One of them will be Death in Paradise. This is a trashy, low stakes murder mystery show set on a carribean island. Film? All quiet on the western front. We watched it when I was at school, it made a big impact on me. I don’t rewatch things very often, so I haven’t seen it in 30 years or more. It is entirely possible that my memory of it is better than the original, which is all the more reason not to watch it again.
  5. I cannot answer this. I cannot see a pattern. I am open to suggestions.

This chapter of the archives is the leaping off point for three chapters, one on each of passion, time and story. I will try and get through these quite quickly so that my ideas stay fresh and coherent.

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