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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Oculus Voyages

Alright, now let’s do something I had been talking about half-a-year ago: give Oculus a try. Just by itself. No other RPG system or Engine. Just Oculus and, like last week’s session, something that’s used for fortune telling as an Oracle. In this case: I Ching… Or iChing… Whatever.

When we last left off Jonny Indianapolis, he went off to face some thugs seeking to unearth a robot from Atlantis. With his mind-reading powers gifted to him by the Leviathan, the being responsible for sinking the powerful nation, can Jonny be able to thwart the bad guys? Let’s find out. Continue reading

Oculus Pathways

If I have to rank who my favourite game developers are, Genesis of Legend is in the top five. They have a priority of RPGs that have story over mechanics, which I always like. Not only that, but they also have a knack to incorporate team-based storytelling to ensure that everyone tells a story. They’re a good company to follow and I highly recommend them.

Fun story, I managed to buy the entire catalogue Genesis of Legend-created games in a single purchase. Long story short, the shop I bought Spark from also threw in Posthuman Pathways for free. Posthuman Pathways is a storytelling game without dice and is uniquely packaged in an envelope.

Now, like the name implies, Posthuman Pathways is about transhumanism and transformation. It’s told in three acts and is a pretty good RPG with exactly three players. Doing the game solo will be a little challenging, since it depends on three players, each doing a different role. To resolve this, I’m asking our good ol’ buddy Oculus. Hey, we’re going into the viewpoint of a character, so we might as well use that.

The game has three roles; Trailblazer, who starts the scene, Voyager, who guides the central character, and the Guide, who manipulates everything around said character to force them to make a sacrifice. So, if Oculus is our Trailblazer, then Rory’s Story Cubes will be our Guide. Now, to make our character. We’ll let Oculus roll a few concepts up for me and I’ll write around it. 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