My current solo gaming has stalled a bit mostly due to problems of my own making. I believe at some point in everyone’s solo roleplay gaming journey you will have acquired just enough experience with roleplaying games (ditto: so-called “narrative skirmish miniatures gaming”) that you fancy yourself a game designer. You write a few house rules and eventually these notes snowball and turn themselves into full-fledged systems. Some folks will just publish these raw notes as a game outright (nothing wrong with that!) Myself I prefer playtesting because of my background in technical product design which is heavily rooted in user experience concepts such as iteration, testing, determining viability of an idea… this is just how my brain works.
Lately I’ve been noodling on a two different angles but both have reached unfulfilling conclusions. Sometimes a set of rules looks good on paper, the math even “checks out”, but once you get it to “the table” something feels off. The dice mechanic feels at odds with the tone of the game or the systems have interlinked tracking that feel more like bookkeeping than a engaging resource management.
Usually when a product design feels “off” I start to reduce the problem down to something smaller where I can pinpoint what success should look like. Likewise here on my gaming ideas I think I will pause my Privateer game and my 5150 Mythic RPG conversion so I can reset a bit. The Privateer concept was going great until I tried to mash it up with a game system concept I wanted to playtest in parallel. That playtest ran into some issue and I lost the initiative to push the story forward. The 5150 Mythic experiment hit a dead end when I could not work how combat should flow such that it felt like a Two Hour Wargames dynamic combat scene - two sides trading initiative, returning fire, ducking back for cover, and so on.
Having re-read my notes over the last few days one thing I’d like to explore is the Mythic RPG again. This time I’m going to try to work on exploiting just one part of that system: managing the stakes. Every roll in Mythic could result in one of five outcomes:
- Exceptional Yes
- Exceptional No
- Random Event (and this one could occur in combination with any of the above)
Understanding this framework I’d like to think about how to best apply this as a template to actions in the type of solitaire science fiction space-faring roleplaying game I enjoy.
The other thing I intend to do is sit down and read Floor Games & Little Wars by H.G. Wells. Both deal with “whimsical” imaginary wargames played by children. A delightful topic for reflection as I move my gaming hobby habits forward.