How To Play The Quiet Year Solo

The Quiet Year is a very interesting game about creating a map with a society that lives in it. However, playing solo can be rather tricky, especially given some mechanics require other people to play. This guide will teach you how to play the Quiet Year solo, or at the very least, show you how I played it solo in last year’s SGAM.

First, I’ll assume you know how to play the game already, that way I can cut right to the points where solo play comes in. Second, get yourself an NPC or Conversation Emulator. There’s quite a selection to choose from, so don’t feel too worried about picking a specific one. So long as the emulator in question does something to create a conversation, you’re fine. If you want me to specifically pick out a Conversation Emulator for you, I used the Universal NPC Emulator. However, I would also recommend Play Every Role if you want NPC responses.

When setting up your map, determine four details about the surrounding area. You may either think of this yourself or allow a Driver like Mythic Variations 2’s Detail Check or the Tangent Zero dice to generate ideas. Once you’re done arranging the map, determine its Abundance and Scarcity. After that, play begins like normal.

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The War Theme for Mythic GM Emulator

So, I didn’t have time to do a war game RPG for this year, but I decided to make up for it with a theme pack for Mythic GM Emulator.

In Mythic Variations, it explored the idea of using different themes and changing the Focus Chart and how Chaos Factor is done to fit the tone of the theme in question.

For this, I will be making a theme pack based around War.

War theme

Introduction

War, primarily the genre of war films, is an evocative genre that contains not just the extremities of violence but also the goodwill of the fellow man. The focus is heavily on major battles and the lives that are changed as a result of it.

This theme is to replicate the feeling of a war film using Mythic GM Emulator, though, for best results, can be paired with this PDF, which offers new words that fit more closely to the theme of war.

Chaos Factor

There are special rules to the Chaos Factor for this theme. The following rules apply:

  1. Doubles (11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 100) guarantee a Random Event, no matter how high the Chaos Factor is.
    1. Rolling an 11, however, guarantees a Random Event where all negative or Violent events are replaced with the Camaraderie event.
  2. Rolling 10 for the Scene Roll results in Scene Interrupt where all positive or Camaraderie events are replaced with the Violence event.

Event Focus Table

There are a couple of events added to the table that are unique.

  • Violence: A battle immediately breaks out.
  • Camaraderie: A peace-filled event happens that strengthens the bonds of the party.
  • Lose Weapon: Similar to the event mentioned in the Zombie Focus Table, a character (chosen at random) loses access to a weapon of theirs.

How I Use CRGE Kai

This is going to explain how I use my go-to engine: CRGE-Kai.

Really, it’s just CRGE, but with Mythic and Ursa Minor attached, but I feel as though I should bring up how the process of how this works in this post so we’re all on the same page.

So, the game begins with the three factors set up: Chaos, Surge, and Turmoil. Chaos is Mythic’s Factor where it changes depending on how in control things are. Surge is CRGE’s Factor where it tracks how many vanilla Yes/No questions are asked, so as to swing the next question asked to a spicier result. And Turmoil is Ursa Minor’s Factor where it tracks uncertainty.

To give an example, the game starts at a Chaos Factor of 5, a Surge Factor of 0, and a Turmoil Factor of 2. The scene ends with the hero attracting a lot of unwanted attention from villagers and townsguard, but otherwise had the situation under control. There were also quite a lot of Yes/No answers that were vanilla, and, as a result, the Chaos Factor goes down to 4, Surge Factor goes up to 3 (as there were three vanilla yesses in a row), and the Turmoil Factor goes up to 4.

For the most part, CRGE answers the questions. When a double is rolled, either naturally or if with modifiers added, it triggers a random event, which Mythic handles. Modifiers are basically either the Surge Factor and the “odds”, which are modifiers of increments of 5 depending on how high those odds are. For example, “Has To Be” and “Impossible” are a 25 and a -25 respectively, while “Likely” and “Unlikely” are 10 and -10.

Ursa Minor activates when I either need to use something that makes long processes that require multiple rolls (i.e. combat or travel) into one single roll or when I roll an altered scene. Usually I don’t have a good idea for altered scenes, so I instead see if it triggers an incident from Ursa Minor, to which I use the incident rolls.

And… That’s roughly it. It’s simple, but at first glance, it’s understandably complex.

10 Ways To Monetize Tabletop RPGs, inspired by Microtransaction: The RPG

I’m definitely going to be taking a tackle at this satirical game because of its fun premise, in which you pay actual, real world money to the GM for dice rolls, but this post isn’t going to be an Actual Play just yet.

See, the overall premise of the game is a large middle finger to the controversial practice of microtransactions, translating them into RPG mechanics. As someone who’s watched a lot of YouTube videos about microtransactions and have been a victim of one such scam, I’m gonna create ten house rules you can put into this game to fully ensure your gaming buddies stop being buddies at a rate faster than if you put them through the Tomb of Horrors.

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Turning Storyline into a Solo RPG

I came across a board game similar to Once Upon A Time called Storyline. Picture Once Upon a Time and Apples to Apples having a baby. That is how Storyline do. To get into more detail, whereas Once Upon A Time plays as long as you want until you get to the ending, Storyline runs for 15 rounds, where the winner is determined through how many points they secured via tokens that they have to grab face down.

Storyline comes in two flavors: Fairy and Scary Tales. Obvious differences are obvious. But, this had me thinking of how to turn the assets into a driver for solo play, not unlike how I used Once Upon a Time as a makeshift Driver for solo.

Of course, this means creating a set of rules to make it solitaire friendly, since the game was intended to be played for three-to-eight players. Thankfully, I got the hard stuff out of the way thanks to overhauling Once Upon a Time.

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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

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.

Originally, 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!

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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