The Markdown Mechanic

I never tend to get uncomfortable in roleplaying games and part of that is usually because I tend to challenge my comfort zone time and time again. So, when I was introduced to the X Card safety mechanic, while I wanted really badly to test it out (as I do with any new game mechanic), I couldn’t find a good moment to properly use it until the very end of the session, where I used it on myself because I got a little too intense with my character. Long story short, I was playing Dread with some friends for a Halloween event and my character went through a harrowing experience.

However, there are times where my comfort zone will be challenged and I feel odd for going past it. Case in point, I played a session of Night Witches that ended up becoming so uncomfortable that I deleted the scene. During that session, I used the Mark mechanic, which is used as a consequence of certain moves or actions, as a cudgel against me making jokes about Downfall (a movie detailing the, well, downfall of Adolf Hitler, which ended up having tons of gag subtitles) and Soviet Russia being Big Brother.

As I’m going to be tackling FATAL, a rather infamous game for its uncomfortable everything and a module for Lamentations of the Flame Princess which is said to be 18+, I decided to try and recreate that, but as a central mechanic. Namely, the intent is to be used as a cudgel against me going for either uncomfortable moments or discourage me from doing things I’d normally do.

The tentative name for it is the Markdown Mechanic, and while I would base it off Night Witches’s own mechanic of Marking, it’s a unique beast that only works with Night Witches. I need something that I can use across all RPGs.

The idea? A table of 20 items that you must roll on once you do something that triggers it. For instance, let’s say I’m playing a game that is kid-friendly and encourages players to resolve conflicts without violence. I don’t want myself to resort to violence in tune to the game, so I want something for me to use when I do decide to go with violence.

You may ask why I don’t just don’t do it… And, well, it’s mostly because I end up getting too into the game and suddenly I have members of the Soviet Union dragging two soldiers who were harassing one of the characters and unpersoning them. Ergo this punishment mechanic.

Also because I’m a glutton for random events and this gives me a chance to tinker with something that allows that to happen.

So, I’m gonna use the infamous Deck of Many Things as my go-to template for the list. Except the deck is a bunch of X-Cards with almost nasty effects written on the back. I should also mention that every time you roll a result, you cross it out and reroll when that number comes up again in the future, so as to discourage the same things from happening. The list gets refreshed when all the events are used. Also, the list applies mostly for traditional RPGs that use levels and die rolls, so tweaking may be required for games like Genesys or Cortex.

Read the list
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The Gandalflocke Challenge (Rules)

A long, long, long time ago, back during the beginnings of Solo RPG Voyages, I had hatched a challenge that I’ve decided to share with the community to see if they can try their hand at it. It’s based off a Pokémon challenge called Nuzlocke. The basic gist of a Nuzlocke is that you play Pokémon like normal, but with two stipulations: You could only capture the first Pokémon you see in every route and when a Pokémon faints, they automatically die.

Translating that for a solo RPG campaign is pretty easy. I recommend using an RPG that’s based off the D20 system, so any OSR game, D20 game, or even 5E will do. Next, either pick your favorite adventure/campaign or make a whole new one up. Create a party of four characters or less. The recommended party build for this challenge is the following: Continue reading

Cards Against Humanity Solo: You Laugh, You Lose!

So, I decided to broaden my horizons and play a solo board game instead of an RPG. The reason for this is me getting Tabletop Simulator, which allows me to play board games without having to actually clear the table to get the game out, and then have the board game lay around while I type out the play-by-play commentary.

Orginally, I was gonna play King of Tokyo with the assistance of a solo card system to emulate another player, but I’m instead gonna play Cards Against Humanity. Why? Because I am contractually obligated to play it.

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LITERALLY!

As you can see with the messy haired man in the leather suit holding said contract and the fairy-tale themed sample cards, we’re playing a different deck, with cards based around the TV show Once Upon A Time (not to be confused with the card game). That said, however, the two sample combinations are hilarious enough with our without the show’s context.

And this inspired me to make a solo game out of Cards Against Humanity. The rules are pretty rough draft, so bare with me on this. You draw a Black Card face up, then flip a White Card face up. If the combination makes you laugh, you put the two cards to one side of a table where their points will add. If you don’t laugh, however, you put only the white card to the opposite side where their points will subtract. If you go through five white cards without a single one making you laugh, you then get to put the black card to the “didn’t laugh” side.

At the end of the game (when either deck runs out of cards), you tally up the points. Cards you laughed at add while cards you didn’t laugh at subtract. White cards are worth one point whereas black cards are worth two. The aim is to get the lowest amount of points possible. Alright, everyone got that? Good. Let’s begin! Continue reading

My Chosen Engine

I have struggled with picking a personal favorite Engine. Out of the emulators I playtested, I ranked three on the top of my list, Covetous Poet, Mythic GM Emulator, and the Conjectural Roleplaying Gamemaster Emulator. I adored these three for various reasons… but… At some point, when I have no idea what Engine to use, I need to decide on one.

However, this is where things get… spicy. Over on the Solo Roleplayer’s site, Kenneth Norris had an interview with Zach Best, the creator of the CRGE. Originally, CRGE was to be a framework to put over Mythic GM Emulator in an attempt to condense the Engine and make things less hectic.

This is the plus to CRGE. The answering is very solid, straightforward, and has an addictive system regarding keeping track of how many straight yes/no answers you have, so that when you roll again, you can get a better chance of an And, But, or Unexpectedly (CRGE’s plot twist option).

However, while I enjoy CRGE’s plot twist resolution system, sometimes I still hold a torch for Mythic’s plot twist resolution system. That’s when I realized… I could basically import that into CRGE without any fuss. I basically curb a rule or two by making all doubles, regardless of Chaos Factor, triggers for a Random Event.

So why not cut the middle man and import that (and Scene Rolls) over to CRGE? And so I will. Thus, I dub this Engine… Well, it’s not really worthy enough, since it’s just CRGE with two extra things imported from Mythic. I’m not even sure if it’ll work. Gotta give it a test run soon.

But anyways, I’m personally calling it CRGE Kai (bonus points to whoever gets the reference) but for all rights, intents, and purposes, (or TL;DR) CRGE wins the Enginebowl for me and unless I decide otherwise, it’ll be my go to Engine.

Tips for a Solo Campaign

For the last month of the year, I decided to release a list of tips regarding making a solo campaign. Not as in-depth as, say, The Solo Roleplayer’s tips on making solo campaigns a la EPIC, but these might help you think more about playing in campaigns.

We all want to do it at some point. Some of us already have. If you’re a solo roleplayer, chances are, you wanted to one day play a campaign solo. However, there’s a bit more bookkeeping to endure. I actually did a small campaign at one point and in this post, I will show you what I did and what I could have done during that campaign that might make that bookkeeping easier.

Note: This post is made with Mythic in mind. Continue reading

Stay Alive: The Extra Life Inspired RPG

Inspired by the Extra Life fundraiser in which people play games for twenty-four hours straight, I figured to make a solo RPG using the Snakes on a Plane system. The basic premise? Survive twenty-four hours while fighting off zombies. To basically put, it’s Snakes on a Plane the RPG, but on a much, much longer scale. A Macro-Game, if you will.

Your stats are as follows:

  • Guts: How strong you are.
  • Nerve: How fast you are.
  • Cool: How unlikely are you at freaking out at zombies.
  • Wits: How smart you are.
  • Charm: How charismatic you are.

You have 25 points to distribute to each stat. You also have to decide on a goal, something short-term that you have to do before the 24 hours are up. If you fail to achieve your goal, you will be bitten by a zombie and die.

Task resolution is the same. Roll a number of dice equal to your chosen stat. 1s are fails, 5s and 6s are successes. If you don’t have any 1s, 5s, or 6s, it’s called a “misstep” and you must reroll until there are 1s, 5s, and 6s. Getting damaged is also the same thing.

Much like the game, there’s a Before Zombies phase and an After Zombies phase. The basic starting scenario is that you are holed up in a spot along with some other survivors. You decide whether this would be a farmhouse, a mall, a bunker, or practically anything. You have one hour in the Before Zombies phase to properly prepare for an oncoming zombie swarm, or twelve skill checks. These skill checks can be a variety of things, like putting up barricades to talking down some of the panicking survivors.

However, if you fail one of these checks, the zombie attacks and your fight for survival begins, thus beginning the After Zombies phase. Every check you make will now have a constant threat of a zombie attack. To help you in the beginning, every successful check made in the Before Zombies phase turn into a number of times you can reroll ones, leading up to twelve times you can reroll a single die with a one.

Getting damaged works practically the same, but flavor wise, it’s different in the sense that they attack certain parts of your body (arm for Guts, leg for Nerve, head for Wits, face for Charm) or if they just menace you (Cool). As usual, you die when one of your stats hits 0.

Time passes differently in this game compared to Snakes on a Plane. Every successful skill check takes five minutes away from the total time while every zombie attack takes away fifteen. The game lasts for approximately twenty four hours in game, as any remaining minutes you had in Before Zombies when you fail a check will be added to the remaining hours.

For every hour that passes, you gain one additional stat point to add. This includes the hour in the Before Zombies phase. Achieving your goal will net your two stat points. Well, happy trails, and good luck in your fight against the zombies.

Fate Dread

A new month, another new batch of Solo Rules. Because it’s the month of Halloween, I figured to revisit Dread. I showed you all how to use the Jenga Tower for Mythic, where you use the table to simulate the Jenga Tower, and now I’ll do it again for Fate Solo. I personally like Fate Solo, though mainly I play Fate games with it. Seems only fair.

But, if you ever wanted to play Dread with the Fate Oracle, then be my guest. Here’s how to read it. You will basically do the same thing with classic Mythic-driven Dread, but instead of stepping the odds up every three pulls, step the odds up every nine. The reason for this is that the odds in Fate are different compared to the ones in Mythic. Whereas Mythic has eleven different odds, Fate Solo only has the five.

This also extends to when people die too. If they die, count only three pulls when “rebuilding” the tower, but don’t step up until you have nine total pulls. Exceptionals are different now.

  • No– means that the tower doesn’t fall and manages to become sturdy enough. Step down the odds and reset the number of pulls until Odds Shift. (Example, Poor to Terrible)
  • No- means that the pull you made it sturdy enough. For the next three pulls, don’t count it towards the number of pulls until Odds Shift.
  • Yes+ means that the person pushes down the tower.
  • Yes++ means that the tower has become rickety after you rebuild it. When rebuilding the tower, automatically shift the odds to the next one over (Example, Terrible to Poor).
  • No+ means that, while it doesn’t fall, something happened to cause the tower to be wobbly, and thus add three pulls to the pulls needed to shift odds.
  • No++ means that the tower, while sturdy, is obvious that one mistake could spell the end for the next person to pull it. On the next pull, temporarily shift the odds to one higher for the roll.
  • Yes- means the tower slightly falls, but the person made the pull in a way that causes a bit of a debate on whether it counted. You can decide for yourself if the tower truly fell.
  • Yes– means that while the tower did indeed fall, the rebuilding of it ended up making it slightly sturdy. When you rebuild the tower, reset the number of pulls needed until odds shift.

And that’s basically it. The biggest curveball has to be the new Exceptionals. I might try to better explain stuff if people find them confusing. Until then though, Bon Voyage gamers, and see you at the Fan-Voted Quarter Quell.

The Secret System

I wrote up a random, quirky system regarding keeping secrets separate from player knowledge so as to avert those problems of keeping GM info away from Player info. The solution? Make it so secret and random, not even the all-knowing GM knows about it. How does it work? Simple:

To start with, ask the GME “does [insert NPC here] have a secret?” at 50/50 odds. If yes, then they have a secret. What is it? Well, you don’t know. No one knows. Until a designated time in which the secret is revealed (up to you on how to determine it, but I’d probably use NPC Action ([NPC with the secret]) as the “This is when he reveals his secret” moment), you have no idea what the secret is. It helps for a good twist.

For the rest of the game until the secret is revealed, if you pick up any sort of hints that might involve the secret in question (like you think the NPC is a vampire or is the bastard son of a noble), note that. If it comes up multiple times, note how many times it comes up. This will contribute to the big reveal.

When it comes for the reveal, ask the GME what you think is the big secret from the list of possible ideas you have, with the odds ranked depending on how many times it came up (1 time = No Way!, 2 = Unlikely, 3 = Likely, 4 = Near Sure Thing, 5 = Has To Be!). If the answer comes up yes, then congratulations, you figured out the secret! If none of them are the big secret, roll on the Event Meanings or some other secret generator (not sure if Mobius has one) to figure out what the real secret is.

One-Die Twist For Tiny Solitary Soldiers Engine

So I figured, because Tiny Universal has no twist system, I figure that I’ll transplant the twist system from Tiny Solitary Soldiers. The idea being that the twist’s use of two dice would fit perfectly with Tiny Universal’s two dice system. To replace the twist system, I figured to make a simple one-die version. Instructions on triggering the twist will remain, though.

  1. New NPC/Thread
  2. Positive Thing Happens
  3. Goal/Thread Changes
  4. NPC/Thread is killed/closed
  5. Negative Thing Happens
  6. Scene Ends

Simple stuff. I apologize for not putting out a new session this week. I had a bit of a busy schedule and wasn’t able to complete it.

The One Cube Challenge

Alright, I have another solo idea to present you all with, though it’s brief. It’s a challenge for people who want to test themselves as they play solo. The idea is to test how far your imagination can go.

I call it the One Cube (13) Challenge. The challenge is simple: No Engines. No Drivers. One Story Cube only. Any RPG you want. To expand in detail, you can play in any RPG you want, but you can’t use Engines like the GM Emulator or CRGE, or Drivers like the UNE or Location Crafter. Your only thing to rely on outside of the RPG itself is one Story Cube or Tangent Zero die (using the Roll 6 option and using those six images). You may only use one side/image once. Once you’ve used all sides/images, you’re left with nothing to fend for yourself.

You must decide yes/no on questions you’d normally ask the Emulator. You must flesh out the NPCs that you’d other use the Driver for. A simple challenge to learn, but I’m not sure if it’s easy to beat.

However, there is a way to try to make the challenge easier: Some RPGs, like D&D, Scarlet Heroes, or Maid RPG, have their own internal Drivers you can use. While it may help you, other than that and the cube, you’re left alone without help. Will you sink or will you swim? Have fun.