Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prelude to a Foray into Solo Fantasy RPG?

Inspired by such blogs as Tabletop Diversions and especially his solo excursions, and some of the retro and/or simple rpg rules around the net, like Chronicles of Arax, etc., I have been thinking about trying a bit myself. I haven't settled on rules yet, but I have downloaded a few free (and simple) sets from the interwebs and have started thinking about what kind of game/adventure I might want to run.

A few sites/rules that have caught my eye are:
Old School Hack
Adventure Games Guild
Gnome Stew
Chronicles of Arax at rpg drive-through

I really like the look of the Old School Hack rules. Even the graphics and layout are appealing and yet simple.

I figure, for a solo game, I could go with a single main character, or multiple characters. With a single main character I could concentrate on his or her story, pick up sidekicks, companions, hirelings, etc. along the way, and see how that develops. With multiple characters I could go with a team of equals, a "stable" of characters that I can cycle through, or a group that may have varying abilities where members may come and go. Another idea is something along the lines of the old Mission Impossible tv show, where Jim Phelps was always in charge, but the team varied over the course of the show. I always remember how, at the start of the show, he would go through a folder of photos of possible team members to include (of course the team was usually the same few people most weeks, with the occasional cast member change making a change in the usual team.)

I'm leaning towards the single main character idea. I could start that character off as a "newbie" and let the "team" or companions, sidekicks, etc., come together as the game evolves. Of course there is the danger of that single main character getting killed, but there are ways of dealing with that. From things that "stave off" death (but maybe exact some other penalties, such as permanent injury, interruption or obstruction of/towards their goal, etc.), to promoting a surviving character to the main spot to bringing in a new character, such as a relative, to carry on.

Other things I want are to have the game take place in my own imaginary world, rather than a pre-designed world or set of adventures/modules. And with characters, especially the main one/s, ones I have designed.

I've always enjoyed the dwarven race in fantasy settings; the Tolkeinesque, gruff, even stubborn, sturdy types with a strong sense of honor. So I'm thinking my game would start with a young dwarf coming of age and making his way out into the world on a quest to retrieve some long-lost family heirloom, like a fabled war axe. He would have some skills to start with, probably trained in axe-fighting, a bit of knowledge of languages in preparation for having to deal with other peoples, a little knowledge or some clues about the axe, such as something to help point towards where or how to find further info. (yes, I realize this has some aspects in common with The Hobbit and plenty of other fantasy stories. I'm not looking to create some new genre-shattering fantasy story. Just looking for a bit of fun playing the kind of story I enjoy reading or game I enjoy playing.)

So the first step, I think, is our hero would have to set off on his own and maybe follow some clues to the "big city" (which may not actually be "the" big city or even big) to do some research and/or consultation, or maybe the clues he already has (handed down from ancestors?) lead him to some location like a ruin or minor dungeon.

Actually, the first step may be to look through my miniatures collection and find "our hero"; create a character; and then start figuring out what happens next.

Assuming this goes anywhere I will probably start posting any adventures on my Tales of Mirth blog, but I will be sure to make a note on this blog, too.

Other than this foray I have plenty of miniatures on the painting desk and/or lead mountain. Terrain projects in the works, with more profile hills and mountains, trees made from plastic plants, buildings to make, etc. I have board games and card games to play, and should have some free time during the holidays to maybe even get a miniatures battle on the table.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Fitz, I'd suggest that even if you choose a single main Dwarf, you also give him a "sidekick".

The sidekick in the sense that we had in many of the old western movies. Not a hero, often comic, but useful in saving the hero's bacon in some situations (dragging his wounded body to safety, tripping the "bad guy" just before he'd deliver a killing blow, etc.).

But whatever you choose, please do HAVE FUN!

-- Jeff

Anonymous said...

You could try Dark City Games. They produce three rulesets based on the old Microgames Melee & Wizard. Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Old West rules. Also a few free adventures.

tradgardmastare said...

A most interesting post indeed.Thanks too for the links to other sites.
I am looking forward to reading more of this from you...
best wishes
p.s any chance of allowing Followers to your blogs? Makes it easier not to miss any of your posts.

tradgardmastare said...

A most interesting post indeed.Thanks too for the links to other sites.
I am looking forward to reading more of this from you...
best wishes
p.s any chance of allowing Followers to your blogs? Makes it easier not to miss any of your posts.

tradgardmastare said...

Just bought the pdf of Dungeon.I look forward to reading it later today.Thanks for the pointer...

Danjou's Hand said...

This sounds great! Probably the hardest part is deciding on a rules system.

I second Jeff's suggestion of a side kick. Even if it's just mutt that follows your hero at a distance and regularly shows up, deus ex machina style to help him out of a jam. A side kick can also drive plot - captured, lost, etc.

What method will you be using for the story elements? Mythic? Rory's Story Cubes? Percentile dice?

Thanks for the mention!

Fitz-Badger said...

Thanks guys
I thought I had it so followers are allowed. If not I'm not sure what I need to do to make it so. I'll take a look.

I used to play a bit of Melee and Wizard (and The Fantasy Trip) back in the day, and some time ago downloaded a version of TFT. (and Tunnels and Trolls from Flying Buffalo before that)
But for now I'm looking for something really simple. I mean dead simple. I want to focus on the story and not get bogged down in details.

I get what you guys are saying about sidekicks, but my thinking is I want that to come about organically as part of the game/story. I want to discover how it happens. Yeah, I could pair him up with a childhood friend or something. But I don't want to just throw something together. I like "origins" stories and stories about how things came to be. Of course, that means I will want to tailor things such that "our hero" doesn't meet an untimely death, at least not too early in the game. I don't have any problem with that. It doesn't mean it has to be a walkover or that there isn't any risk. But it can mean tailoring encounters and events to fit the "party", and the risk of losing an encounter doesn't have to be death. it could be getting captured. It could be getting delayed from the main goal one way or another. There are plenty of examples from old serials, movies, books, tv shows, etc., where there is plenty of adventure and suspense and main characters (good guys and bad guys) who "somehow evade certain death and live to fight another day".

My main goals are to have fun as I define it, which includes "telling myself a story" and having things happen as they happen. So some randomness and surprises are in order. Risking life and limb at every turn doesn't have to be. That's my take on the kind of game I want in this case.

Rafael Pardo said...

I am also wandering about solo RPG in Napoleonic times!
Merry Christmas and a good year 2013 foy you and yours!