Test Driving The CRGE Engine

Hey everyone. This is going to be a bit of a special playtest, since it’s literally a playtest. Conjecture Games’ founder, Zach Best, asked if I can test out the Conjectural Roleplaying Gamemaster Emulator, or CRGE for short. I agreed and here we are. The RPG I’m playing with this is another movie-based title: There Is No Spoon, by Steve Darlington. Unlike Ghostbusters, I do not have a starting scenario in mind, so any story I have will be generated by CRGE.

One thing I will note right now is that there is a section that addresses the paradox of solo RPG being more of a GM’s job than a PC’s job and makes a suggestion of how to separate GM knowledge from PC knowledge, which I give kudos for. One thing I also found interesting was a section devoted to multiplayer Play-By-Post RPGs. I am actually a veteran of PbP RPGs and that I believe is where I got my start to roleplaying. There’s a lot of nice information regarding what to do when solo roleplaying, including whether to ask a big question or ask smaller questions revolving around a bigger one.

Perhaps the most important is the advice of always asking “why” after your questions are answered. Most games I played never tell this to me, but instead say “conclude from there your answer”. For example, if I were to ask Mythic if this door is locked and it says yes, it will just tell me “the door is locked. What do you do?”, but if I ask CRGE the question, it will instead say “Yes, but why is it locked?” It’s pretty thought-provoking and I like it for that. In fact, that is actually how I’ll begin this game, by asking why. Continue reading

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Revisiting Epic D6 and Making Corrections

Hey everyone. This is going to be a redux of the rules for the Epic D6 System. During the Battle Royale Week, I’ve been notified by Roryb, the author of the system, that I had indeed got the system wrong and told me how to properly use it, which you can see in the comments. I thank him for the clarification and feel a rerun would be in order. However, I’m not going to do Snakes on a Plane again, rather what I think is its base inspiration: Ghostbusters.

The test length is One-shot, so when I complete the story, the session’s done. One thing I liked about Ghostbusters is the multitude of Adventure Seeds and NPCs you can have. Rather than use one of the Adventure Seeds, I’m going to make a scenario based off the first NPC I see, as well as a two-part episode from Kamen Rider Drive. Just for context sake, the story of the Ghostbusters RPG is that, after the defeat of Gozer, the Ghostbusters branch out and become a franchise.

So the opening scenario is this: There is a Ghostbusters station down by Portland, Maine. The member count is roughly a dozen due to a recent outbreak of ghost hauntings, requiring more members to tackle the threats. This resulted in my character, a college graduate, being forced to apply for a job to there, because it was either “get accepted by those ghost-whispering quacks” or flipping burgers. Well, the pay was roughly better with the former.

So I get the job, and after a day of orientation, the President of Ghostbusters Portland, a.k.a my boss, tells me I have an assignment involving the haunting of an art museum. With some training of how to operate the Ghost Trap and Particle Thrower, the boss shoved by butt into an Ecto-1 and sent me on my way to the museum where our game begins. Continue reading

Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Tiny Solitary Soldiers

Welcome to the final part of this five-day experiment. Now, if you noticed, I’m doing this in alphabetical order (Epic D6, Mythic GM Emulator, Oculus Trifold, Covetous Poet, and Tiny Solitary Soldiers), so this is why this is the last thing I’m trying out. As I noticed, Tiny Solitary Soldiers isn’t even the name of the system, but rather the site.

Much like Epic D6, TSS’ Solo RPG system has its roots in Mythic, but for different reasons. This system was made to be handled faster than Mythic and similar products, and it shows it in the streamlined Yes/No chart. It’s actually how I expected the Epic D6’s way of getting answers would work before I read more into it. Half of a D6 reads yes and the other half reads no. They have varying twists of the classic ‘and’ and ‘but’, and also in the form of Twist Die, in which an extra die is rolled to see if it lands on a 1, and if it does, results in a twist.

Another interesting twist for this system is that you don’t ask if a scene is interrupted or altered, but rather if the scene is quiet or full of action. There’s a small chance that you could get a different scene all together. I can see how easy I can get into this, but as for how fast, I’m not sure.

To increase the bookending of this, we’re also having a return to the Tangent Zero dice. So with that, let’s begin. For this system, each scene has a “scene goal”, which you have to complete or fail the goal to end the scene unless the game calls for something else. Let’s see who our mystery person is… Continue reading

Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Covetous Poet

Welcome back. I’m not gonna lie. Half the reason why I did this experiment is to experiment with Covetous Poet. Though the list of other GM Emulator tools out there had me curious to see how they all play out, and so, this experiment began. When we last left off the experiment, I discovered that I managed to do a bad, good, and bittersweet ending. I wonder which tone of ending will stick out more as we continue this.

We’re looking at The Covetous Poet’s Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook by Frank Lee. Or as I put it for short: Covetous Poet. Like the name implies, the PDF not only lets you solo GM a game, but also create your own adventures. And by God can you create your own adventures.

You have five genre packs to choose from (two are downloadable) and they have a nigh endless supply of possible stories for you to do. To compare, Mythic had a version of the genre packs that simply edited the Event Focus tables to include events related to said genre (they had an example of a Zombie Genre where Zombie Attack was one of the random events) but everything else was the same.

In Covetous Poet, you have several thousand items related to the genre in question, so you are almost never without end. I want to give Frank Lee massive props for this, especially if he did all this himself, since it takes huge amounts of dedication to make lists that require a D1000 to generate. Yes. D1000. Don’t worry; it’s just 3 D10s instead of the usual 2.

Thing is, I already have the starting scene and some semblance of a plot in mind; I don’t need to run the usual scene/plot set up. This might be a case where I’ll revisit this with another RPG instead of a uniform scenario for the project. What this adds to the table is not just an adventure creator but also a character creator and a conversation emulator.

In short, Covetous Poet takes the Mythic GM Emulator’s Event Focus and Event Meaning Tables, puts them on steroids and rolled it into the Universal NPC Emulator. To say I am excited to play with this system is to put it lightly. As you can see, I’ve spent more paragraphs talking about how it works than I have actually playing the game. I guess it’s a sign that I’m gushing about something I haven’t even played before.

But that will all change now. Continue reading

Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Oculus Tri-Fold

Hey everyone, welcome back. Last time, Jack got arrested by the security guards because I thought lightning struck twice and the Mythic GM Emulator proved to be just as useful as ever. Now we focus on the Oculus Trifold, which actually has two versions. For the sake of ease, we will be using the updated version by Geoff Osterberg.

This is a rather unique beast among the crowd. Reading the play test, I can sum this up as being like a mix between Winter and the Nine Questions system. Basically, you are asked questions based on scenarios rolled via a dice. I like the way Oculus writes itself out. I actually feel like this would make a tabletop version of the LSD Dream Emulator. How funny that yesterday I put down one emulator and today I pick up another.

By what I mean with that comparison is that the Oculus’ story is basically “you, with your polyhedral talisman, can see alternate universes and it’s up to you to write your experiences with the talisman down” and it has a nice bit of world building to it with the concept of Familiars (basically the focal point for all your dreams) and writing up how multiplayer would work (shared viewings). It is very interesting and perhaps I’ll be willing to give it a try on its own.

However, I’m going to see how well it works with playing in cooperation with other games, to see if can work or if it is supposed to be played on its own. Although, I think we might need to use some sort of focal point to guide the focuses and lenses. So let’s begin. We have the same scenario of a man in a plane with a witness and someone who I am hoping is not a shady man.

The game has two sets of twenty words, each labelled Focus and Lens. Focus is meant to be used first, and then Lens is used afterwards if Focus isn’t enough. Though let’s use the Focus/Lens to see through the Oculus Window and see the man sitting with Jack Jackson. Continue reading

Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Mythic GM Emulator

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Solo RPG Battle Royale. Last time we left off, we successfully apprehended the man who would let loose the snakes on a plane and conquered the Epic D6 system. Now onto the Mythic GM Emulator by Word Mill Games, the system I am very familiar with.

For those who don’t know, Mythic uses D10 and D100s to get answers and plot twists. Yes/No questions are answered based on a complex chart of numbers, odds, and chaos factors, and complex questions are answered with two lists of 100 words to jog your noodle. Random Events happen either when you roll doubles equal to or below the Chaos Factor or if you roll an even number in a Scene Roll, so long as it’s equal to or below Chaos Factor.

So now, let’s begin Mythic at Chaos Factor 5. The scenario’s the same as before: we have a guy sitting in a plane with someone he has to protect and a third person that is to be determined by the system. Continue reading

Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Epic D6

Alright. This is going to be the most ambitious test yet. As you can see from the title, I have five Solo Emulators capable of generating scenes (Epic D6, Mythic GM Emulator, Oculus Trifold, Covetous Poet, and Tiny Solitary Soldiers) that I will be play testing. The idea is to have a contest of what is the better system. This is going to be a week-long thing, so for the rest of the business week, I will be taking a look at a different Solo RPG system.

The RPG I’ll be doing this experiment on is a simple one: Snakes on a Plane by Deacon Blues. The scenario there is fixed. You’re on a plane. And there are snakes. I’ll have the same setup as well so as to present the same scenario to the Emulators. The only difference is in the random events. For a good measure, I’ll ensure any condition that results in random events will be met, for example, double numbers will always result in a random event in Mythic, regardless of current Chaos Factor. This is to ensure maximum randomness and shows me just what will be curvebally enough.

Let’s play! My character will have average stats and his goal will be the same: Protecting a witness for a trial. I’m only going to go through five scenes for each emulator or if my character/escort dies. I’m demoing the engines, not doing a full blown campaign or session. Let’s start off with the Epic D6 System from No One To Play With. For reference, all story-based talk will be in italics and all mechanics-based talk will be in normal.

The Epic D6 System has the same ebb and flow of Mythic. Chaos Factor, yes/no questions, and random events. However, the difference is the fact that you use a number of D6’s to add to the answering of questions. It’s a tad confusing to me, but I’m gonna try and sum it up. Forgive me if I butcher the summary.

To answer a question, you need to roll 5d6. You add more based off the Chaos Factor (going from 0 dice to 4 dice) and the odds. The odds and Chaos Factor cancel each other out (for example, if you have a Chaos Factor of 3, but odds of No Way, they cancel each other out). You need to roll a minimum of five, though it could also become six if you have a Chaos Factor greater than zero.

After rolling your dice, you make a hand of five dice and count the odds and evens from that. You count up the results based off the difference between odds and evens and that is how you get the result. I’ll deviate from this system and count the difference from the entire roll, though for now, this is a trial-by-fire, so let’s just do this! Continue reading