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What a grand week that was!

There is a joke about waiting for a bus to arrive, only for three to come at once.

That is what this week has been like. I knew that Alone in the Dark was going to go platinum, but it sat on exactly 1000 sales for days before finally getting the all important 1001st sale.

I was asked on YouTube if I had considered writing for Silent Legions and Other Dust. I had an email exchange with Kevin Crawford and I have permission to do exactly that. The books are in my DTRPG basket right now. I will check out at the end of the week and start reading.

Sales of Solo Adventures for SWN picked up nicely over the week, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday certainly helped. When I get to write for the other Sine Nomine titles I would expect them to help with the sales of the SWN book. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. It would certainly give me more presence in the categories where Stars Without Number features.

I am still making progress with Cut Ups. I have some software to try out. The programme is still in development, so I am looking at an early version. My moment of brilliance is, I think, being able to create Fantasy Grounds module versions that will do a lot of the cutting up and shuffling for you. The add the random snippets to a FG ‘Story’ element. From there you would be able to add them directly to your chat log and so you chat log becomes your journal.

This solution is more elegant than a spreadsheet. I can also incorporate the spreadsheet and PDF in the finished product. This is a way of getting cut ups out to more people to try.

So, all in all, quite a grand week.

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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.

Authoring

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

Non-Authoring

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.

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Cut Up progress – The hooded un-man

I am getting quite into this cut up method of solo play. I am getting a little faster as well.

What I am doing is grabbing 20 snippets at once, pasting them into word and then deleting all the times that don’t seem to add much. What I am left with is sometimes needs rearranging, and I could edit it to make it more legible but I don’t really feel the need to do that.

Drink a little of // and gagging on a mouthful // remembered great horns of foaming // vein of sparkling gold running //

the men who killed your// merchant of Velitrium[1].  They // Each was named Salome.

I decide to try and hear more of what they are telling.

shores of Lake Zuad and// columns glimmered among the trees// and led him toward the //  up to the palace steps// like a black opening to // call that carried strangely.

I have never heard of Lake Zuad[2], I try to see if I can learn anything more from these drunken thugs.

lives in this city // guide turned eastward and led // him, and a hood // man?’  ‘He’s not

As the evening draws on, I managed to glean a few more hints to go by. There is this mysterious hooded figure from the east that may be able to tell me more.


You can see that the game has not progressed much further, but I have been a busy chap. In the above example, there were two oracle calls. These are in the footnotes. I am working in Word and CTRL + ALT + F inserts a footnote. This is a really tidy way to keep the game mechanics out of the journal. The oracle I am using is my Mörk Borg book from last week. I prefer Hyperborea over the two-headed basilisk.

I have done some other bits of cut-up play, mainly to test drive a different set of snippets. The method I described above, paste in and then delete seems much faster than searching for suitable snippets using a concordance tool and then bringing them across. Maybe because I am not sure what I actually want, so I cannot search for it. I could search for tavern, and choose a tavern snippet, then search for drunkards and grab one of those, but I found myself trying to find the ‘perfect’ snippet. Rather than letting the snippets inform me. I think that that is not how this is supposed to work.

I cannot remember the word for it, but it is common for humans to attempt to see patterns in random data, often patterns that do not exist. I think that is part of what makes cut-up work. Put two or three snippets together and my imagination can start to create relationships between them, that simply do not exist.

That last cup-up block, the hooded not-man, I can almost see him in my mind’s eye and yet I have no details about him at all barring him having a hood.

I was asked today when I would be able to publish something based on cut-ups. The best answer I could give is 2020. It could end up being sooner rather than later. I may have some spare time next week to play more, and I am keeping copious notes on what is working and what doesn’t work for me.

If you are using cut-ups or a variant and you can share some advice, I would love to hear it.

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[1] Am I related to the merchant? DR12 Yes.

[2] Have I heard of Lake Zuad? DR12 No.

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Delving further into Cut-Up

This kind of follows on from yesterday’s blog post.

I am getting more comfortable with the cut-up method. I continued my game today, but I was starved of time, and we were playing online this evening. That meant that all my creative oomph when into the online game, and not spilled out onto the page.

I have five projects in progress at the moment, some big, some small.

Number 6 is going to be a cut-up method solo book based upon a Conan source, with a d20 oracle for filling in the blanks. I think I have most of the physical stuff I need. What I need to build is my experience. I need to make mistakes and hit dead ends, so I can share my learning experience with other new soloists.

The only flaw, or should I say weakness, is the availability of more contemporary texts. I can draw on a huge volume of public domain texts up until the start of the 20th century, but much less since then.

Does anyone know of a source of public domain modern day and sci fi writings? Feedbooks is the best I have found so far, but I cannot believe that the entire web just has one site to offer up.

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Tilt – An Oracle for Solo Roleplaying

This post is a continuation of my playing around with Mork Borg. I want to get a grip of non-authoring solo and I was pointed in the direction of Tilt, and I was kindly send a complimentary copy today.

The book is in several sections. The first is a simple generic solo oracle. The tilt system uniquely treats your character, all the NPCs and the world differently. It is an almost reciprocal system, if the odds are in your favour the odds are against the other elements of the game world.

Unusually, you do not really shift the odds for yes or no depending on the question being asked. With the Tilt system those odds are relatively fixed. They can be moved but the majority of the time those odds remain fixed.

The second part of the book deals with how and when you can shift those odds, and that dovetails into establishing facts in your game world, and interacting with the game system you are playing.

Cutting Up

The third and final part is all about the Cut up, non-authoring system. For me, this is the pure gold in this book. The reason I struggled so much in my efforts this week was because I was doing it all wrong! (No surprise there!)

Imagine you took a book of dark and threatening fantasy, the sort of thing that Mork Borg was made for, and then cut it all up into 5 word snippets. Next you draw out a collection of these snippets and lay them out.

Reading through the snippets you look for common ideas, threads and themes.

Here is a pile of snippets.

Each was named Salome.  
.  Count Trocero of Poitain 
them which men to kill 
remembered great horns of foaming 
and gagging on a mouthful 
his paddle across his knee
.  Drink a little of 
vein of sparkling gold running 
of his blows, breaking 
caress.   ‘Not a sound 
hurling down boulders from every 
of his sword.  A 
had poured over the walls 
not fear, nor any 
Aquilonians shudder for centuries to 
the men who killed your 
her sword in her hand 
us in better shape to 
merchant of Velitrium.  They 
a deep, clamorous roar 

I have certain ideas I want to inject into the story. The first is that my character is a bit of a lowlife, from a poor background. I also an imagining a mountainous and rugged country.

Now taking some of these sentences I can try and piece them together into something resembling a scene.

Drink a little of // and gagging on a mouthful // remembered great horns of foaming // vein of sparkling gold running //

the men who killed your// merchant of Velitrium.  They // Each was named Salome.

What this suggests to me is that of being in a tavern and overhearing a private discussion. There is much drinking of strong spirits and then tongues being loosened by drink.

The conversation turns to the death of a merchant. I tested an oracle with the question of Am I related to the Merchant of Velitriun, the answer came back as Yes. So now we have these people talking about the death of a relative by men known as Salome.

The Tilt rules suggest cleaning the text up to make it more legible, or at least coherent. I am not sure I will do this just yet. As with anything new, I am rather slow and tentative. In most of my own books, I tell people that if you are new to solo, don’t worry if it starts off very slow, and feels cumbersome. Well, that is how I feel now just by trying a different technique.

What I quite like is that the places are being offered up to me. I can see how the scenes are suggested by the texts. I almost never start my solo games in a tavern. I try and be more Hollywood and start in the middle of hot crisis.

I am going to carry on with practicing this and see how it evolves.

If you want to give this a go I seriously recommend checking out Tilt. The book is 17 pages, costs $2.75 at the moment, and is available on DriveThruRPG.

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