Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Solo gaming re-think

Following on from a post on JF's Solo Nexus blog (a must if you want to explore all solo role-playing opportunities) by Carsten, I've been thinking about Mythic. I think this story needs to be told from the start:

A long time ago, in a galaxy very, very near I didn't own Mythic and toyed with the idea of creating my own Mythic-like system. Unfortunately it was a little complicated and relied on lots of tables, mostly from Starblazer Adventures with a linking chart or two.

Then I took the plunge and bought Mythic and I've been happy dabbling with it for a while, and indeed am in the process of using it 'properly' for my Cardinal's Blades inspired game. But something Carsten alluded to in his post about it being too complicated struck a bit of a chord.

In a bizarre twist of fate on the FU RPG Yahoo Group one member recently posted a write up using just the standard FU results, for those not familiar with this free game the possible results are:
6 Yes, and...
5 Yes
4 Yes, but...
3 No, but...
2 No
1 No, and...

To further explain, you start with one die (I call this the standard or static die, but this is unofficial, you always start with one die!), if the situation is difficult (the opponent has a skill you don't for example) you roll a Penalty die and read the Worst Result. Similarly if you have a net advantage, you roll a Bonus die (or two) and read the Best Result. As an aside get this game now, it is free and adds so much more than this very simple breakdown, with extremely little added complexity.

I was intrigued, but the scene setup and random events are instrinsic parts of Mythic so I was quite happy to dismiss it and carry on with Mythic. Now combine this with Carsten's thinking also using standard d6 and my mind is buzzing with my earlier thoughts. While thinking about this I thought about using cards (following on from my dabbles with using cards for AHQ!) and instantly Savage Worlds sprang to mind (more on this later), so now that the story's out the way and to make things clearer, I'm going to swap to headings that zero in on the situation in my mind.

Mythic is too complicated, particulalry in random event creation (is this why there are a few online Mythic generators?)
There are too many things to remember to make the process super smooth, updating lists, the Chaos Factor etc.
I'm a d6 type of guy recently, swapping to a different die type, while seemingly trivial, is a slight hassle (especially when you have to roll it four times in a row)

Keeping everything broad and generic, while avoiding blandness
Adding any unnecessarily complication
A system with difficult interpretation
Requiring too many random tables, or lookup sheets
Something not reinforcing the game feel that the player is looking for

Possible solutions
Using the standard FU die roll for gaming questions, with bonus and penalty dice for greater and lesser probabilities (per the FU write up)
Rolling an additional die (or die type) to determine whether a random event occurs
Something using cards to generate a random event?

Current thinking:
Yes, I will use the standard FU rules with probabilities affecting the dice rolled
I will use a single d20, if this equals the result die (i.e highest bonus die, or lowest penalty die, or the standard die) then a random event occurs (this probability is in line with Mythic at Chaos Factor 5), although could also just use 1 or 20.
When a random event occurs draw one playing card from the deck and compare it to a chart.
Interpret the event and carry on!
I think this is a much simpler system, with the scope for quite a bit of customisation, and therefore genercisim or modification appropriate to the player's game.

But how does this do that?
The answer is in the comparison chart. My initial thoughts are somewhat hazy but I'm currently thinking that each suit should be assigned a 'Theme', for example in Savage Worlds there are interludes keyed to Love (Hearts), Desire (Spades), Tragedy (Clubs), and Fortune (Diamonds), in SW these are used to push a player to generate a backstory with that theme while there is an interlude in action.

These Themes can be chosen at the beginning of the session, specific to that game. As an example for my Cardinal's Blades game I could choose Action! (C), Personal (H), Horror (D) and Mundane (S), so when I draw 7S I get a mundane event. The numbers could also be used to lend interpretation (this where it gets fuzzy!) say:

A Benefit
2 Adversity
3 Enemy
4 Encounter
5 Complication
6 Sign
7 Item
8 Escalation
9 Economic
10 Social
J Intellectual
Q Physical
K Change theme

Don't pay too much attention to this hasty table! It is just an example, in fact I would be happy to work it over with anybody interested. You could pick more themes of course and split the suits as you wished, or have five themes and tie one to the picture cards for example. As I said this is where it gets fuzzy. So going back to my 7S my player suddenly remembers he needs to get his sword repaired or a new hat, or I could ask a question or two to pinpoint.

On a downside this method also still requires character lists (and possibly others if the player wants them), I think it is going to be difficult to get away from these for the solo player, otherwise it could be a treadmill of new encounters with no two people the same.

Round up
So there you are, that's my current thinking, I'll continue to tinker with it as time allows, and continue with Mythic in the meantime, at least to finish my Cardinal's Blades game.

Until next time Steve


  1. Interesting, I'll have to locate the FU rules in the abyss that is my hard drive.

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