Why I Won’t Be Playing The Other Two Worst RPGs Of All Time

A while ago, I played the worst RPG known to the Tabletop RPG industry, FATAL, and found that, even without all the offensive material, it lived up to its name. Needlessly convoluted with its skill system, its job system hopelessly broken, and the entire game is incomplete. And yet, of the three to be considered the Unholy Trinity…

This is the only game I can play. Today’s post is going to go into detail as to why I’m not going to be playing the other two entries in the “Worst RPGs Ever” category. Before you think that these are a no brainer, allow me to preface this with a question:

If it took me a while to wrap my head around FATAL’s system, how would I be able to wrap my head around these?

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The Quiet Year Post-Mortem

My overall thoughts on The Quiet Year are that this is a pretty great map-making game. So long as you have a good idea in mind for the setting, you can pretty much make a fun story out of it. As a solo game, however, it is rather difficult to figure out a way to play this solo without betraying the core rules of the game.

While the base of the cards and the rules surrounding them make for good worldbuilding, playing the game as written solo is a different story altogether. Not only did I have to invent a new rule (the Shadow Action), but also reinvented how the Contempt Tokens worked. The end result is essentially a different beast altogether.

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Thousand Year Old Vampire Post-Mortem

While not truly RPGs in a traditional sense, journaling games seem to have a large place in my heart, as some good stories can be told with just a prompt and a few gameplay mechanics to drive the narrative further. I had earlier said how Thousand-Year-Old Vampire was one of the best, if not the best, journaling games I have ever played. I’m going to expand on that by comparing it to the other journal games I have played, as I feel like Thousand-Year-Old Vampire fixed the holes I had with those games.

Now, I shall start with a disclaimer. Obviously, no RPG is created equal (even those that share the same system will have their differences), especially in the terms of quality, as some of these games were made for Jams. I love all these games evenly, as they each hold a place in my heart. However, it’s through comparing do we see how a game mechanic makes the game enjoyable, especially in examining through a solo lens. With that out of the way, let’s begin with…

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A Review of Alice Black: Blood Tribute

A couple of years ago, I purchased a Gamebook at a convention that uses the Fate Engine. I had been meaning to play it on this blog for some time and now, I feel like this is the right time. This is Alice Black: Blood Tribute (it’s also on Lulu). It is a pretty thick book at around 250 pages with a small enough pocket book size. One cool feature to note is that the game doesn’t go by pages but rather by sections. So, if you make some sort of choice, you instead go to a different chapter rather than a page.

Now, normally I would be playing through this as though this was an adventure, but I’m iffy on posting spoilers. I originally had the actual play written up to the end of the prologue (where it introduces you to the story and the premise of the gamebook), but I decided to use my better judgement and give a spoiler-free review instead in the same manner that board game reviewers do their reviews of Legacy games.

This may sound a little hypocritical, since I have tackled these kinds of gamebooks before and have spoiled the lot of them to the point where I gutted a few of them and broke down all possible routes, but allow me to explain: most of those game books were not only free to play (or pay-what-you-want), but were roughly twenty five pages at most. Barbarian Prince was also free to play and was old enough that, chances are, unless you’re new to the hobby like I am, you might have played it at some point.

While I have played a few pre-written adventures, the key difference is that those adventures are often just scripts for how certain aspects of the game would work. It’s mostly up to the GM’s discretion to figure out how those pieces worked and each story can be radically different depending on the GM, the players, the party make up, the rolls, and dozens of other variables. A CYOA Gamebook, however, doesn’t have this luxury. It gives you the story, asks you what to do, and then you read the result. It’s why I haven’t done a session on Welcome to Sand Hands.

Read more, though be warned that this may ruin your chance of playing this completely blind

Testing Out Astral With Micro Sci-Fi

So, during my fiddling around with both Astral and Foundry, I ended up having the urge to play games on them. As I mentioned in my previous post, Astral and Foundry have features that Roll20 cannot simply compete with. Astral is able to take any character sheet and turn it into a fully functional sheet you’d have on Roll20, while Foundry has community driven databases that power up some household games. In other words, use Astral for the lower-scale RPGs that Roll20 overlooks and use Foundry for the big-name RPGs that Roll20 doesn’t cater to enough.

 As such, I’m going to be playing a game on both these platforms, starting with Astral. You may recall from my previous post that I was experimenting with the character sheets feature using the Micro Chapbook Sci-Fi RPG. That’s the system we’re going to be playing around with.

The game takes its roots in OSR with a roll under system. Four stats for this game, Strength, Dexterity, Wits, and Charisma. You only have 7 points to spend, so I’m going with a rather beefy outset, 4 Strength and 1s in everything else. It’s one of only three point arrays that there are. The other ones would be 3, 2, and two 1s, or three 2s and a 1.

Next are the classes, of which there are four to compliment the four stats, as in making them proficient, which allows for rolling at disadvantage (or, I guess, advantage?). I’m taking the Strength-based one, the Soldier. The Soldier’s story is pretty simple. He’s called in when combat arrives on the doorstep. There’s also ranks, which add a +1 to your stat, so, in actuality, you have 8 points to spend. This varies up the point buy system by a bit, so what I’m going to do is have it be two 3s and two 1s. He’s in security and his name is Baul Plart.

Lastly, items. I got myself two pieces of armor that increase my health and willpower by two, and some rations to recover my health. With that, Baul Plart is going to embark on his first mission. The ship he was on has been hijacked by pirates and he has to save the hostages.

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Shining a Spotlight on: Foundry VTT (Featuring Astral Tabletop)

I’m going to be writing this a little differently than my other posts, since this is a first impressions of a Virtual Tabletop than it is me playing a game or testing out an RPG or Engine. Particularly, first impressions using Foundry as a soloist. 

The Virtual Tabletop is called Foundry, and what I can say is its claim to fame is mashing up the robustness and depth of Fantasy Grounds with the approachableness and API-integration of Roll20. It has a bit of a price, asking for $50, but the benefit to it is that you’re able to have as much, if not more, control over your campaigns than if you were to pay for a subscription on Roll20 and you (as in the GM) only need to pay once.

Starting up the program, you are greeted with a few menus arranged in a sleek array. The first is Worlds (your games), then the Game Systems, then Add-On Modules, and finally, Configuration and Update Software. You’ll have to download a Game System in order to make a Game World, but that’s as easy as going to Game Systems and picking one from a list to download and install.

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Reviewing All The Engines I Used In The Past

Back when I started Solo RPG Voyages, there were only a few available Engines one would normally need to play solo. There was at least five that most people pointed to, to which I made one of my very first posts a five-day marathon of playing the same game, same setting, same story, but the difference was how the Engines worked.

This was what I called the Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week and it was a means for me to get out of my comfort zone with the Mythic GM Emulator and try out Engines in a controlled environment so I could look exclusively at the Engines and not let any outside force like how the game plays or a plot point causing the game to drag and distract from the Engine’s overall quality.

However, as soon as I made that, I was given the request to review another solo Engine called CRGE. One month later, I find another solo RPG Engine for me to play with… and another… and another… Eventually, I wanted to do a second Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week, but I kept doing other things that occupied my time.

Now it’s almost impossible to pick just five Engines for a sequel. With solo gaming becoming more mainstream than ever before, more and more Engines are made to cater to various degrees of player. There’s even one author that creates Engines tailor made for certain RPG systems. What adds to this increase is how easy it is to make solo Engines.

For instance, I can take dice from the Genesys RPG system and use the symbols to interpret yes and no answers. Easy. I even made a system using the lowest numbered dice called the Coin, Tumbler, and Caltrop system or CTC for short. A coin is used for yes and no, a d3 (a tumbler) is used to see if it’s a “but”, “and”, or neither, and a d4 (a caltrop) would be a controller to see if a plot twist would be coming.

So now I have the situation of having so many Engines to try out and not enough games to pair them with. Granted, some are easy to pair, like PPM’s Engine or even cases like Ironsworn where the Engines come packed with their own games. However, it’s come to a point where it feels more pragmatic to read the Engine and make conclusions to how it plays rather than devote entire sessions to playing around with it.

Earlier, I made a review scale for RPG games based on how soloable they were, under the idea that any game can be played solo. The problem was that I had way too many variables and scored it on a ten-point rating. Worse still, it shot my own ideas and mission statement down and even made the system as a whole feel like more busywork than a two-paragraph review.

So, with this, I feel like it should be a little more restrained. Instead of numbers, I’d bring the Engine into a few categories based off ease of use, if the Engine is focused on mechanics or story (more on this later), and whether the game has a twist system. Rather than grading it, I feel like it’s more appropriate to see what sort of people would enjoy the Engines.

I’m not going to go into all the nitty gritty details like the odds of getting yes vs. no or how often you trigger an event, since that’d be edging towards reviewing and I’m only making recommendations for this list.

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Introducing my review scale!

I decided to create a review scale of how soloable a game is. How does one go about it? Well, I like to thank Todd Zircher for suggesting that I use a ten questions scale. I basically ask ten questions regarding the RPG’s soloability and then grade it based off how many it answered correctly.

As such, these are the ten questions and the criteria needed to answer them correctly.

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Crafting The Next Session For LotFP

So, I’ve decided to create an entire campaign out of the antics of Wiki Dot Pod and his band of merry men, of which he will get two new recruits soon enough. How will I flesh this out? Well, with something called the Adventure Crafter. It was bound to be used sooner or later at this rate and I’ve been itching to try this puppy out.

Especially considering that the Free RPG Day Modules that I thought were Modules were in fact splat books. Welp, can’t win them all, so I guess it’s time to crank out my own adventures.

So, cracking open the book and grabbing the sheet (along with teaching myself on how its used), I write down the name and date of this adventure. Next, I determine the themes. Already, I can think of the order. Tension, since Lamentations of the Flame Princess is pretty unnerving, Action, because it’s an OSR game, Mystery, keeping in tune to the mysteries such as the Crystal-Headed Children, and lastly Social & Personal, since they’ve gone insane to the point where they can’t hold normal conversation.

After that, I’ve pretty much finished what I needed to set up. I chose two plotlines already in progress: Wiki Dot Pod’s conquest and curing the insanity from the cast. For characters, I added Andrews.

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A Cozy Den Post-Mortem

I ended the post for my A Cozy Den game abruptly all things considered, even if it was for a joke. In truth, there’s a lot of things on my mind for both the session and the game. You could consider this to be a mashup of a review and an editorial.

So, let’s start from the top. As I said at the beginning of the session, the setting and premise are very interesting. The RPG industry is filled to the brim with fantasy games first, sci-fi games second, and rarely any room for other types of settings to crop up except for some variation of horror, leaving the other types being few and far in between. A good selling point for me is a setting that’s completely different from the norm, and A Cozy Den does exactly that. A slice of life game but the twist is that you’re a lesbian snake girl living with other lesbian snake girls.

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