I was recently asked for a set of solo rules for the West End Games [WEG] 1st Edition Star Wars, focusing on playing published adventures.
Playing published adventures is always a challenge for solo play; the problem is how well you need to know the adventure before you can run it and avoid having too much foreknowledge that it spoils the surprise or sting in the tail of the adventure.
I will try and address these concerns in these rules, and I will introduce some custom tools.
I have made a simple spreadsheet attached. You only need Sheet1.
The top section is all dice codes from 1D to 10D+2, and these are the skill and attribute rolls for everyone else or yourself if you are not in a position to roll dice at work or on a train or plane.
The second section is identical and is used for gear, weapons, etc. It can also be used for opposed rolls when you want to see if your attack roll is greater than their dodge, for example. It has the same 1D (club) to 10D (thermal detonator damage) range, including +1 and +2 steps.
The third section is a random quote. These come from either the 1st Edition rules or from the first three films, New Hope to Return of the Jedi. They are intended to be used in several ways.
Firstly, you can pull out relevant words and use them to inspire your improvisation.
Secondly, you can try and use them as real dialog. Just change a word here or there, insert your character’s name or location, ship name, etc.
As these quotes come directly from the game and films, they should help maintain the feel of the Star Wars universe.
The final section is a simple yes-no oracle based upon a 5D roll. The regular difficulties [5, 10, 15, 20, 30] become the breaks for the different answers.
Pressing F9 on most spreadsheets will recalculate the sheet, roll all the dice, and grab a new random quote.
This spreadsheet is also the data behind a digital card deck, also linked here.
Playing An Adventure
/* SPOILER ALERT */
I am using Tatooine Manhunt as my test adventure for this article.
This adventure is intended for a minimum of two characters. I do not like playing a party of characters. It makes it hard for me to get into character. Therefore, I will create my own character, Kallen [Minor Jedi], and an NPC, Alex [Laconi Scout]. The difference is that I will not have absolute control over Alex. I will decide want I expect Alex to do but use the oracle to make the final decision.
Next, I read the introduction, and in this adventure.
It will be unavoidable to learn some ‘secrets’ in preparing to run the adventure; for example, an NPC is a traitor in this adventure. What I can do is wait until that moment comes up in the adventure and then make an oracle check, “Are they the traitor?”, if I get a no, then I can rationalize that as it is actually someone close to them, and the NPC that is listed in the module has just been manipulated by the real traitor. This means that now, although I [Peter] know there is a traitor and Kallen doesn’t know it, none of us know who it is. At least not for certain.
I start by following the GM instructions. Next, I read the boxed text, and in this case, the script provided in the adventure.
I next skim-read the rest of Episode One, looking explicitly for skill tests and attribute tests. When I find any, I note them down, with the target number if it is given. Again, I do not read the context; let that be a surprise; I just want to know what is being rolled for.
Once I have found them all, I roll each test for each character. I don’t know yet who will take the test, so I need both rolls.
When I reach that point, I will use the number of rolled now. This means that the test can be described purely narratively. I know whether it was passed or failed so that it can be described or imagined without stopping for the dice rolls.
If I need to ask a yes-no style question, I try and keep them to things that I consider to be self-contained within the scene or episode that I am playing. For example, I don’t want to ask world-building questions as the adventure contains the setting. Before I ask the question, consider what both the yes and no answers look like. In this adventure, there are bounty hunters everywhere, so if I am on the lookout for trouble, there is a very good chance that if I find it, it is going to be a bounty hunter.
Keeping your yes-no questions down to details about your local scene will go some way to giving you the freedom to do your own thing without breaking the adventure.
Complete the Episode.
Now that I have played the opening scene, I have set the tone for how I want to play this out, whether guns are blazing or stealth and deception or bluffing and fast talk. Armed with this playstyle, I read the rest of the episode, skipping things that clearly do not apply to my version of events.
If I make subjective rulings, such as how much of a bribe a stormtrooper will accept, I note that in my journal. I need that to keep things consistent between gaming sessions. For example, if a trooper accepts 1000 credits, an officer would probably cost more if they are even open to a bribe.
In this adventure, there are plot armored NPCs. These cannot be killed before their moment comes. There is one who is supposed to always be one step ahead of your character. Just accept this as written. Just because you know that the NPC did not have to solve the clues to get ahead of you, your character does not know this.
The adventure tells you who they are and how to deal with them.
I feel it is important to set the tone of your adventure before reading the rest of the episode. You will have to react to the situation, of course, but once you have chosen your approach, even if the adventure advises exactly against your preferred way of tackling the challenges, stick with it until you think your character would change tack.
I have played the first three episodes of Tatooine Manhunt and it is all working so far.