Should Role Playing Games Be a Solo Endeavour?
Okay. Please hear me out before I get branded a heretic in the RPG community. I think it’s okay, but with a few stipulations. No, a mental health waiver isn’t one of them, although you may want to keep your solo RP activities at home. Moderation is always a good thing with anything. It’s also probably better to go out and socialize occasionally if you can. Just sayin…
Yes, I am guilty of rolling dice and talking to myself, mostly at home. As far back as high school I ran scenarios with my 2nd Ed AD&D characters to work out combats and anticipate what would probably be said by an average party. It filled a lot of lonely Friday nights in high school with Dr Who playing in the background. Back then, I didn’t have minis, so I used painted thumb tacks and push pins on a piece of graph paper tacked to a piece of wood. It’s okay to laugh, really.
Solo roleplaying evolves into story writing.
As I grew older, I really found a fondness for writing. I still generated tons of D&D characters, but I started writing their stories out as they leveled. It became more about fantasizing and less about rolling dice for random outcomes. This is something I still shamelessly do today with games such as ICONS and ICRPG. I even have a Pathfinder 2E character that’s kind of going this way.
I’ve written a lot of good fiction for myself this way. It’s a good way to kill time if I’m stuck at my kids’ practices and I’ve already done my meditation for the day. I shamelessly carry a bag of dice and a notepad around for just such an occasion. I also come up with a lot of interesting plot and campaign ideas this way.
These Days, It’s More Common Than Ever.
Thanks to the Icky Cough-Coughs (as my oldest calls it,) a lot of games went indoors, out of the public and online. If online isn’t your thing and your family doesn’t like dragons, giant robots or magical girls, there aren’t a lot of other roleplaying options. Computer games don’t require dice rolls. Most console games have relatively simple characters and no dice rolling.
Luckily, a few companies easily found on DriveThruRPG have you covered. They have tables for NPC reactions to simulate roleplay, approaches to solo combat, and even some adventuring tips related to exploration. Most of these are oriented toward fantasy RPGs, but not all of them. I’m particularly fascinated with solo ICONS and solo Operation White Box (WW2 RPG.) There aren’t a lot of modern or supers solo games, but they aren’t impossible to find.
Again, most of my focus these days is on writing, so I sit down and make a lot of notes or just start banging out stories. It works the other way around, too. Sometimes I make a D&D or Pathfinder character based on something I’m writing. It can help fill in some character blanks that I might not have considered yet.
One of my characters from a novel I was writing has actually showed up as an NPC in three different systems/worlds. It’s the end result of knowing a character inside and out, I suppose. It helped me acclimate to PF2E and WOIN.
I recommend solo RP for writers, GMs/DMs, and game designers who are struggling to work out character design challenges or just looking to boost their creativity. It also helps with designing interesting combats and traps sometimes. If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day and just want to roll some dice because you’ve already made over a hundred characters, it’s good for that, too.
Art for this article is courtesy of the Bitmoji app. Too much fun to be had. Have a great day. See you again very soon. Game on!