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Solo Gaming Roundtable

Last night I took part in the first Solo Gaming Roundtable hosted by Matt Kay with Chris Bissette, John Lopez, Jamila R Nedjado and Tana Pigeon. It was really good fun, after initial nerves, and all the feedback I have had so far, it seems to have been well received.

I now have another invite next Sunday on the Zweihander channel! No rest for with wicked apparently.

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Warlock! Weekend

I really think I can get the Warlock! Solo book wrapped up this weekend. All the hard bit is done, I just need to turn my scrappy spreadsheets into something presentable.

I am going to do my best to get it written up this weekend and over to Greg Saunders at the beginning of the week. With luck this will be out before the end of 2020.

It has been fun. My wizard’s apprentice managed to steal a few spells off of an evil cult, made an alliance with a thief and went looking for a lots temple, base of the mad cult.

I promise I didn’t know the Ruby eyes on the idol were trapped. I got out of that scrape alone., never found the thief’s body.

Talking of bodies

On Monday I will be putting out the third cut up supplement. This will be based on The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward. That story is my favourite Lovecraft story, it has a bit of everything, the occult, the hideous creatures in the pits, it harks back to older times, and Lovecraft’s constant references to mental fragility.

The supplement gives just over 11,400 snippets to play with in the spreadsheet and the regular 2,000 in the PDF.

It is my intention to try and cut across all genres with these cut up supplements. There is absolutely no reason not to mix and match them. Bringing Lovecraft and Howard together should be perfectly natural.

Next time I am looking for a classic science fiction story to chop up.

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One Weird Trick… Not really

This video is all about an experiment I did that seems to be paying off.

The basic idea is about what we call social proof. When ads say 8 out of 10 cats, or websites show you the brand logos of big name customers, they are all trying to suggest that if we are good enough for them, we must OK. Another form of social proof works the other way. People don’t want to be the first to leave a review, in case they say something bad, and everyone else loves it, or they love it and everyone else pans a product. Finally, people don’t like to be the first to like or share something. People much prefer the safety of numbers, and following a crowd.

So, in this experiment I wanted to get rid of the zero that DriveThruRPG puts next to the Facebook Share button on every product page. I have shared each of the products I have released in the past month. As soon as I do that first share, and the counter shows 1, organic shares started to follow.

So how much effect do I think this has?

I really have no idea. I cannot believe that having people share these product pages on Facebook is doing me any harm. In the past month, I have gained nearly 100 Facebook shares. If I make this standard practice, and that is my intention, I could be looking at thousands of shares across all supplements each year.

It is a pity that DriveThruRPG do not append a useful marketing source parameter to the shared url. That makes it very hard to track.

On the other hand, this is potential free advertising. Who is possibly going to turn that down? All it takes is sharing the product page to Facebook, using the provided button after you have set the product live.

When I made the video this morning, Solo Adventures Compatible with Stars Without Number had not been shared. I did share it just as I started to write this blog. You can use the link above to see if anyone follows my lead and uses the share button.

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Warlock! Solo

This weekend has been playtest weekend for Warlock! Part of me doesn’t like games where you have to roll randomly for your career. I say part of me, because when I play games like Zweihander I always randomly generate my character.

The dividing line between accepting random careers and rejecting them is whether you get locked in to a path. Warlock! has a wonderful balance in this part of character creation. You roll four careers and choose one of those four. If you don’t get one you are enthusiastic about it isn’t a massive problem because it only costs you 5 ‘advances’ (experience points) to change career. There is no ‘lock in’.

My character, Kallen of course, had the choices of beggar, grave digger, outlaw, wizard’s apprentice.

There was no way I was going to turn down Wizard’s Apprentice in a game called Warlock!

I normally give solo characters a boost to counter balance the lack of a supporting party. In this case I am maxing out Stamina and Luck. Both are highly volatile anyway, so starting with 24/19 is good, but isn’t going to last long. Every time you cast a spell it costs Stamina. I will be burning through it pretty quickly.

Warlock! has pretty simple character creation, which means for solo characters you don’t get a lot of levers to pull when trying to balance the game. In a previous iteration of the rules I tried giving characters a number of bonus advances to improve their skills but more Stamina and Luck makes your character feel more heroic. Everything else I left as random, the background and in my case my first spell.

Basic Oracle

The basic yes-no oracle is going to be d20+Luck. Over 20 for Yes, Under for No.

The adjustments for likelihood are in blocks of 5 and they are only for things being less likely. Five is a recurring number in Warlock! opposed tests, such as having the initiative or shooting at a distance. As Luck is always positive, only negative modifiers are needed.

Basing the oracle on the character’s Luck means that an average Luck of 14 (2d6+7) means that there is a 70/30 bias towards Yes answers. It is generally accepted that the GM should lean towards Yes, and that is what happens here. As soon as something is unlikely, it becomes typically something like 55/45 and very unlikely, a -10 or two lots of five, goes 30/70 in the favour of No. These numbers are rather variable as Luck starts high and descends as adventures progress.

Having the characters Luck pretty much controlling the universe does mean that life in general favours characters that are lucky. It is oft repeated advice to ask the questions that are best for the game, not the questions that are best for the character. If the oracle is focused on the character, it removes the need to try and be unbiased. Ask things from the characters perspective, where yes is good and no the less good, and the gods will smile upon you. As you push your luck, the universe will slowly turn its back on you.

The open question style oracle uses a d20 table that has different aspects. You chose two or more aspects and roll for them. Then try and read some meaning into the combination of words. It is intentionally compact.

This set of rules is not the most complicated, but Warlock! is not a complicated game.

I will let you know how the playtest goes, tomorrow.

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Year-End Crunch

I am working on a fist full of stuff for the end of the year. Some of the projects are still under wraps but two are approaching completion. The first will go on sale on Monday, as my usual new release.

Cut Up Solo – Dracula

It was one of three irresistible titles to do cut up versions of. The three are the Conan text, done, Dracula, ready to go. The third title will be The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I simply could not do these without a Lovecraft story.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the classic vampire story. Vampires are also a classic source for Roleplaying. The two go hand in hand.

This supplement is very similar to the Conan one, the changes are subtle. The included yes-no oracle is 2d10. I made that change because the most popular vampire games are d10 dice pools. This just makes it a little less alien if you want to use this with that vampire game.

There is a sample of playing with solo using the Dracula snippets, and the snippets themselves.

The spreadsheets bundled with the PDF are big beasts. Conan/Hour of the Dragon offered just under 17,000 cut ups. Dracula gives you over 37,000 snippets!

This short example of play gives a feel for what you will get.

Warlock!

I have been working on a solo supplement for Warlock!, by Fire Ruby Designs. If you don’t know this game, it is in the same vein as Fighting Fantasy books. Your character gets Stamina and Luck stats and a Career. When you get your career you get a basket of skills.

Mechanics are simple, roll d20+skill. Roll over 20 for success.

Solo rules for Warlock! were requested by someone who I chat to on Discord. It is not a game I knew beforehand. This meant that I had to learn the game and play to refine these solo rules. They were penciled in to be released this week but they were not quite ready, so I needed to push the book back a bit.

If you know Warlock, you will probably know that Warpstar uses exactly the same game engine. The book will work for both games.

More details to come….

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