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 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.

Continue reading

It’s Always Sunni In The Middle East

For this year’s Remembrance Day, I figured I’d be a little more modern with my war games. Like, current year modern. The War on Terror has been a crazy saga over the past decade or so, spanning tales of revenge, ethical warfare, evolving technology, and a bunch of other stuff. And like most of the other wars, someone made a game about it. The game is called ISIS Crisis and it’s been utilized by militaries to improve on their strategies. Some say the origins of roleplaying can be tied back to people using war games to better their military might, so it makes sense for me to try my hand at this.

The situation is this: ISIS declared itself as a caliphate to every Muslim across the world and wants to control the Muslim-dominant countries, starting with Iraq, Syria, and the Levant region, the latter causing ISIS, then standing for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to become ISIL or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or even Islamic State. For the sake of this game, we’ll refer to it as IS or Islamic State, as that is what they renamed themselves as after naming Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as their Caliph, now named Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim.

Unfortunately for the Islamic State, the United Nations deemed them to be a terrorist organization due to the war crimes it’s been accused of causing. It didn’t help that the Islamic State themselves are violent in their conquest, prompting retaliation from Sunni Iraqis and constant attacks on civilians across the globe that they claim responsibility for. With the Islamic State declaring their intent to obtain Baghdad as their next nation to annex, the events of this Matrix Game begins.

A Matrix Game, from my knowledge, plays almost like Braunstein. You have multiple factions in a wargame setting, but you’re not necessarily fighting like a wargame, but rather playing out scenarios like a roleplaying game. The name comes from a Matrix of keywords that serve as a framework, even though it eventually dropped from later editions. Resolution is solved through basic arguments like “I hit you because I can punch and you’re too busy talking to me”. An Umpire would then judge how likely the situation is and the player rolls a d6.

There’s a lot to process for this game, so let’s just begin. I’ll be using Tiny Solitary Soldiers for this game. There are six factions, each with their own agendas. The Islamic State, for instance, wants to control the Middle East by crushing Shiites and Kurds and overthrowing Baghdad which they believe is controlled by a puppet of America. America, meanwhile, just wants to make things as politically stable as it is, weaken the Islamic State’s grip, and keep Iran separated from Iraq, all while avoiding direct interference by deploying ground troops. Each faction has their own story for why they do what they do. They also have current conflicts that affect how they play. America is hesitant to use direct military action, so anything they do will be at a -1.

Due to the title of this session, I’m going to be playing as the Sunni Opposition. They’re a faction who have allied with the Islamic State because they were denied a fair share of wealth after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Making matters worse is that their government is ruled by a corrupt, hostile, and repressive prime minister. A cool thing to note is that while they ally with the Islamic State, they consider just how dangerous they could be. Continue reading

My Christmas Vacation With An Alolan Ninetails

For this year’s Valentine’s Day special, I realized there was a Solo RPG that everyone seems to be raving about that seems almost perfect for this kind of day. However, the premise actually turns me off. Well, the game admits that it is unsettling…

Fortunately, I found an alternate to The Beast: Holidays. It’s basically The Beast, but instead of boning some sort of alien creature, you’re instead spending the holidays with a partner. It’s nicer, lighter, and softer than The Beast, so that’s my compromise.

Who’s the lucky partner? Well, I figured I’d pick out a character and have vacation with them. The problem is deciding who. Do I use a fictional character from a comic book or cartoon? Do I make one on the spot or use one of my old characters? Eventually, I compromised with creating a Kitsune.

Long story short, Pathfinder Generals on 4chan have a tendency to use fox-girls as their opening image. So I figured the story would be that I would be alone on Christmas until I came across…

Eh, screw it. I’ll come across Alolan Ninetails. Continue reading

[SGAM 2016] Let’s Play Chainmail! Part 2 – Don’t Give Up The Ship

Alright, so let’s be blunt right now. Trying to play the game with the original Chainmail rules was just confusing. A lot of cross referencing would have to be done and in the end, it wasn’t exactly as clear cut as I wanted it to be. So, I spent a good chunk of this month working up some new rules for the game.

Unlike with Braunstein, Chainmail did come with its own rules, but the problem was that I couldn’t comprehend them in a way I could easily put it into practice, and thus, I decided to create a new system while keeping the spirit of it in check. Perhaps this is history repeating itself, as Chainmail was originally adapted from some rules as well.

When we last left off our commander, Robert, he ended up taking over Bodenberg with the help of some pixies that might have ended up being necromancers. So yeah, Robert’s first action is to confront the Gnome on that, since he owns them. Continue reading

Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn

Alright, for this year’s Memorial Day special, we’re going back into Minden Games where I will play Combat Leader, one of their mainstay series next to Battle over Britain. I have got the solitaire rules for it as well, so I can play it right out of the gate solo. However, I’m going to add some roleplaying to the mix.

Each unit I will play as will have some sort of character to them and bonds between each other. I’ll ask narrative heavy questions to the TSS system and only narrative heavy questions to that system, as well as use the Mythic Solo Wargame system to drive up some more narrative.

I’m going to be playing Scenario 1: The Clash of Squads, which I will explain in the narrative below from the perspective of Peter Petrov, leader of the Russian Squad. Continue reading

[SGAM 2016] Let’s Play Chainmail! Part 1 – The Siege of Bodenberg

Alright, so we’re gonna commence this year’s SGAM Campaign. The RPG we’re playing is another war game. This one is yet another precursor to D&D: Chainmail.

Chainmail was made by Gary Gygax and was pretty much a medieval wargame that, with some tweaking, led to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons. Whereas Braunstein gave D&D its fluff, Chainmail is crunchier. Sadly, in the path of the voyager, even the crunchiest of games will become fluffy.

I’ve already thought of a starting scenario for this campaign. It’ll be the Siege of Bodenberg, the game that started the entire RPG genre in the first place. Long story short, Gygax was inspired to do Medieval wargames thanks in part to the game Siege of Bodenberg. So what better way to pay homage by playing out a scenario loosely based on it?

And I say loosely in the loosest of terms, as redundant as that sounds. My character will be the leader of a small peasant uprising. And by small peasant uprising, I of course mean in the two dozens. The scenario’s simple: peasants are pissed that they’re treated unfairly, and they turned to me to kick start the revolution/reign of terror. Continue reading

The Solo RPG Voyages Quarter Quell #2

Alright, it’s time for another Quarter Quell. Recap for those who don’t know what it is: Every 25 sessions, I go through RPGs I’ve played through previously, reusing engines that I have used and drivers that I have also used. Time for the quelling!

Our RPG for this round is… BLISS STAGE! Yeah! This game was fun and I said before how I wanted to play it again!

Our Engine for this round is… TINY SOLITARY SOLDIERS! Okay, I can work with this.

And Our Two Drivers will be… THE LOCATION CRAFTER AND THE RANDOM CULT GENERATOR! Okay, so we’re obviously going for a cultish feel here. Continue reading

[SGAM 2105] Let’s Play Braunstein! Part 5 – Tiro Finale

Alright, I figured I’d stop beating around the bush and finish up this Braunstein story. The headlines for this game read “And The World Dies In ‘Freak Accident’”, which, coupled with the rats that are happening, pretty much mean that we bubonic plague now.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. This game has gone so far off the rails now from what was meant to be a simple wargame where people were given roles of civilians. Now I’ve turned it into Game of Thrones set in a banana republic with proto-Skaven replacing the White Walkers and Pokemon characters as my players.

Where the hell did I go wrong? Continue reading

[SGAM 2015] Let’s Play Braunstein! Part 4 – Four Is Death

Alright, let’s go back to the Braunstein. When we last left them off, Skyla and Drake are gonna fight, while the DJ and the Assassin have gotten to the bottom of the assassination… But they’re not saying anything. Well, time for us to settle this conflict once and for all. As we noted back in Part 1, Skyla’s forces are a bit crippled. Continue reading