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Author Topic: Creating a solo rpg system  (Read 2390 times)
AlCook1
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Posts: 4


« on: May 09, 2011, 12:40:48 PM »

 
I am have been developing a solitaire rpg system that would be used in conjunction with Mythic GM Emulator.  I know that pretty much any game can be used with Mythic and be played solo, but I have yet to discover an rpg system that is specifically meant to be used that way.  I feel that since most rpg's aren't meant to be played solo, they do not offer the smoothest experience when using Mythic.  When playing most rpgs solo, you are doing twice the work in most cases- the player and the gm's job.  More involved systems require more time and effort on my part.  I'm married, have two young kids, a house, dog, part owner in my own business and ....  damn, I just don't have much time these days. 

I began correspondence with another solo gamer who was invaluable in providing insight and helping me form my thoughts into something more concrete.  John, thank you.
Here's the list of must have's for the system so far:

1)   There should only be one player character.  The character should be the only aspect of the game that the player should have control over.  It should also be the only responsibility the player should have in terms of bookkeeping (if any).
2)   All other elements of the game that the character encounters, whether it is NPCís or obstacles function under a set of interpretive guidelines that either are reacting to the player or forcing the player to react. 
3)   These NPCs/ Obstacles should be extremely easy to make, no more than a minute.
4)   Whatever form of success/failure system is used, it must give the most information necessary with the least amount of effort possible. 
5)   The system should help drive the story forward.  I think this would go a long way towards eliminating some of the ďwhat the hell do I do now?Ē
6)    The ability to focus in and really play those scenes that are important to the player.  Think of minor and major scenes.  Maybe one person can view climbing a wall as a simple obstacle that must be overcome to move things along.  Another person could view that same wall as a mighty barrier that their character must reach deep inside and push themselves to the limit- clawing and grasping for every inch!  It doesnít mean that the first player is a ninja and the second one is playing Aunt May, just that there can be differences in how a player chooses to zoom in on the action that is important to them.  Iíll go a step further and say that for those things that you choose your character to make a major scene of, you should get rewarded for the greater risk involved. 

  Iíve found that sometimes when Iíve played solo, Iíve suddenly got ďinto the zoneĒ so to speak.  Scenes that werenít important at first, became more important as I got into it.  I found myself wanting to get more involved in that scene.  Other scenes that I thought of as important, would suddenly bore me and I just wanted to resolve the action and move on.  Now this could mean a simple resolution system for minor things and a more involved one for others (or even layers that can be added), but I donít know.  I donít want to increase any sort of complexity, but need to figure out a way to focus on whatís most important to the player.  I think this is one of the very freeing things of playing solo- it literally is your game.  You should be able to do what you want to do. 
7)   The game needs the smallest footprint possible. 
8)   Solo rpging in my experience really does need to be fast.  Games around half hour to forty five minutes tops.  I donít know whether the rules should enforce this or not. 
9)   I see a lot of things hinging on interpretation- I believe that there needs to be some sort of guidance within the game that narrows the interpretation for you depending on the scenario at hand.

So far I have a resolution mechanic idea.  The outcomes are heavily, heavily influenced by the FU RPG.  These will be changed at some point, but I do want to give respect where itís due. 

Basically, hereís how things work.  Instead of using a randomizer, you choose your success or failure from a programmed list.  So far, there would be five of these programmed lists to choose from.  At the beginning of the game you choose one of the five programmed lists.  During a conflict, you get to choose your success or failure from that list, applying it to the scene at hand.  For the next conflict, you can choose any other choice from that list except for the one that you have crossed off.  As soon as you go through all of the responses on that list, you choose the next list that you would like to use.  Once you have gone through all of the lists, you start over again, choosing which list youíd like to start with.  Only the PC makes choices from the list.  Any NPC/Obstacle simply reacts to your choices.

The initial lists (which unfortunately are not copy/pasting well for me) are very much the answers from the FU RPG Ė variations of yes, yes, andÖ, yes, butÖ, no, no, andÖ,  no, butÖ  It will be changed, I just donít know where to go with it at the moment.  If you want to see how the list is formatted,  just let me know and I can send it to you.
These lists are just an experiment .  Some of the lists are more geared towards your character succeeding, more yeses than noís, while others are more geared towards your character failing, more noís than yeses. 

All you would need is that list, maybe laminated, and a china marker/wet erase marker.  Sometimes you are going to succeed and sometimes you are going to fail.  You get to choose which youíd like to do- although at some point, you will start running out of options.

So far, thatís what I have.  Please feel free to give constructive ways I can improve it.  Iím just looking to do this for myself and maybe those other people who are in the same boat Iím in. 

Al
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 04:04:10 PM »

Hi Al,
Quote
Sometimes you are going to succeed and sometimes you are going to fail
I think the whole pass/fail thing, which is a remnant of gamist play, is pretty anti creativity. It basically resolves things, ie it's an ending - which is entirely inappropriate if your in the middle of creating. Resolution is really missplaced in the middle of play (endings are for resolution). Not to mention it's a real dud in terms of providing more creative material - okay, you pass and...nothings added. I'd consider trying to ditch the idea of pass fail and simply have two (if not more) results your rolling for, to determine which are treated as occuring. These could be drawn from rolling on a table, or you roll to see if you make something up or if you go on to roll on a table of suggestions, etc.

Unless your writing a gamist solo RPG, much like nethack is, I think your shooting yourself in the foot in using pass/fail.
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AlCook1
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 05:25:59 PM »

Quote
I think the whole pass/fail thing, which is a remnant of gamist play, is pretty anti creativity. It basically resolves things, ie it's an ending - which is entirely inappropriate if your in the middle of creating. Resolution is really missplaced in the middle of play (endings are for resolution). Not to mention it's a real dud in terms of providing more creative material - okay, you pass and...nothings added. I'd consider trying to ditch the idea of pass fail and simply have two (if not more) results your rolling for, to determine which are treated as occuring. These could be drawn from rolling on a table, or you roll to see if you make something up or if you go on to roll on a table of suggestions, etc.

Unless your writing a gamist solo RPG, much like nethack is, I think your shooting yourself in the foot in using pass/fail

My goal is to create a solo rpg that helps drive the story forward.  Something that can be played without dice (hence the lists) with a small footprint in a short amount of time.  It's a niche game really just for me:-)  I need to be able to play at a moments notice and usually only get a half hour to 45 minutes of time I could dedicate to playing.

I'm not familiar with many games outside of pass/fail, so I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around the concept that you're mentioning.   Are there some games I should be looking at that have these things?  My background is pretty much traditional gaming, D&D and Marvel FASERIP were my two go to games over the past 25 years.  My favorite part of gaming was always the story. 


Al
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killxo
Member

Posts: 14


« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2011, 05:37:00 PM »

about a year or 2 ago a D&D mag released a solo adventure to play. it had your character and another goblin that you played. when it comes to solo games, you have to have creatures, npc's and environments that have attributes that make them act without alot of directions from a DM/GM. other than that, you'd end up playing every character and that doesnt make sense. plus, in my opinion, games like these need more than 1 person in order to play; because you need people to play the roles of individual characters.

so if you really wanted to make a solo game my advise is to craft the scenario's where the other npc's dont need much direction. give them relgiious or non-religious views or unique personalities that makes it obvious how they'll act, or give monsters certain traits that make them use skills based on where they are in combat. it's quite hard to make and enjoy a solo PnP game without the aid of AI from computers
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011, 07:15:10 PM »

I'm not familiar with many games outside of pass/fail, so I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around the concept that you're mentioning.   Are there some games I should be looking at that have these things?
None that I'm aware of.

Basically instead of pass/fail, your simply determining two events that you think could happen. Like say either the stone bridge you passed over in the cave collapses, or the cave begins flooding. Roll for which. Or; does a mysterious stranger offer you a glowing orb for sale or does he offer a treasure map for sale? Roll for which. Ie, it's not about pass/fail, it's simply about branching events in a story. Pass/fail is (without any gamist element) pretty flat and boring - you'd be rolling to see if the guy offers you a globe. Fail and...nothing happens, which is crap story development. And even if you pass, then it was linear - you were set towards the globe and that's it, no going in some other direction.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2011, 07:27:46 AM »

Hi Al,

This might seem redundant, but I am being very strict about the requirement for threads in this forum, to summarize the work so far (or some of it) in an external document. It could be a blog or a file storage service (like Google) or whatever, and in your case, it probably would be the same as most of your first post in the thread. Please set something like that up when you get a chance; the conversation can continue here on my good-faith assumption that you will.

Best, Ron
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 117


« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011, 07:48:07 AM »

Hi Al

Last saturday my group and me came up with (more exactly, hacked off) an idea you might find useful. Lion Rampant published the Whimsy cards accesories in conjunction with their Ars Magica game. You can check the concept and a list of those cards here: http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/systemdesign/cards/whimsycards.html We were researching for a gmfull RPG but found that these cards coud be used in a solo game to add narrative breakpoints and challenges at random to a story. I'll post a link with the ruleset of our game, once we get it polished, but perhaps this link can give you as many ideas as it gave to us.
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AlCook1
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2011, 09:08:00 AM »

Hi Al,

This might seem redundant, but I am being very strict about the requirement for threads in this forum, to summarize the work so far (or some of it) in an external document. It could be a blog or a file storage service (like Google) or whatever, and in your case, it probably would be the same as most of your first post in the thread. Please set something like that up when you get a chance; the conversation can continue here on my good-faith assumption that you will.

Best, Ron

No problem, thank you.

Here's the blog where I've put it up- http://solitairerpg.blogspot.com/2011/05/idea-so-far.html
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AlCook1
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2011, 09:11:52 AM »

Just wanted to add that I also put up the list I was talking about earlier.

@Callan-  Thank you for the explanation.  i have a better handle of what you were describing.  I'll take those considerations in mind.

@WarriorMonk-  Thanks, I'm goin to check that out.
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 117


« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2011, 09:34:36 AM »

Ok, here's the alpha version of the game we made, hope it helps you somehow:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=31524.0

Best luck!
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Anders Gabrielsson
Member

Posts: 100


« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 01:15:01 AM »

I don't think a pass/fail resolution system is bad for this type of play, as long as you only use it when both alternatives are interesting (though this may be what Callan meant).
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