Thursday, August 29, 2013

Solo Campaign Play

It was a fun few hours play testing JF’s Nine Questions no-frills solo rpg engine. Fans of other solo tools for player-alone style rpg play, such as Mythic, should note the wonderful benefits of the 9Q’s — namely concision and conclusiveness.

Although I have had some fun moments with Mythic, tried some solo experimentation of my own, and used other tools like Ultimate Toolbox, being able to wrap things up to a final conclusion can be foiled by endless twists and turns, never knowing when the final scene will arrive. Anxious to get on to the next gaming idea, or having no end in sight can easily diminish enthusiasm. Knowing that in two more scenes I will complete the adventure (or die trying) keeps interest high. The 9Q’s are great for this sake. They are a wonderful way to try that other idea out, rapidly switch genres, or test that new system — ultimately invaluable for the solo gamer. Mythic is wonderful too, but can be a bitfussy, and tends to drag out indeterminately.

Two uses that arise from this rapid momentum are being able to satisfy one’s wanderlust, or, as I have discovered, spin forth a collection of interlinked adventures forming a campaign. Starting in December, 2012, John, the creator of the 9Q’s, did exactly that and launched a campaign to test the D&D Next game currently in development. L’amore tra i mostri is an enlightening demonstration of how such a project can develop, and is complete with stock character representations, and an Italian comic opera feel.

Inspired, I decided to do the same with my Drowsbane character, envisioning a grand arc involving learning the nature of his family’s tragedy and prophecy, to escaping and foiling his enemies, to finally seeing through and realizing his destiny and reclaim his ancestral home. This was a campaign I had sketched for a friend in college before graduate studies interrupted that plan for the foreseeable future.
So, with simple scene-framing techniques set forth in the 9Q’s, this campaign is continuing today in a solo format!

Remembering my last game years ago, I picked up exactly where it left off. To date, it is roughly four adventures in, and I am finding it immensely entertaining and fulfilling. Whether I see a conclusion to the plot or not, I feel, is limited only by my own motivation because of the tools I now have. I will post this ongoing series here.

Here is the prelude that summarizes my actual play sessions from the 90’s and transitions the campaign to its ongoing adventures:


Late Flammerule, Tengrym had tracked another member of the Drowsbane family to Ravensbluff. Thedric was the half-brother Tengrym never before knew he had.

Zuzala, a Waterdavian priestess of Loviatar had also tracked, and successfully captured Thedric and somehow knew his value to the dark elves. Just before Zuzala made a deal with Dhrikzar, a drow representative in the surface world, Tengrym made a daring rescue on a moonlit night near the docks in Ravensbluff, leaving a warehouse in flaming ruin.

Now, he and the fatigued, injured, and malnourished Thedric lay hidden in The Golden Goose. The young lad seemed to know nothing of the Drowsbane legacy. Tengrym filled him in while the boy finished his soup. He told everything—the greatness of the family, the fall of Sullaspryn, the curse of the dark elves and their hunt to extinguish every last drop of Drowsbane blood to appease their dark goddess, and the prophecy of Sel√Ľne: that one day, the last of the Drowsbanes would vanquish the drow in the north and rebuild Sullaspryn.

Thedric heard it all and was silent with fear and loathing.

“We must first get you far from here,” said Tengrym, “before that Zuzala tracks you here again. I am thinking to the north—in Tantras, at least the city’s great dead magic area will keep their scrying spells from locating you. From there, we shall come up with another plan…”

The thought of fleeing seemed to invigorate the young Drowsbane. He seemed ready to depart before the sun was up.

“You need a new name, however,” Tengrym mused. “I go by Veldis. You shall be Feldar, my assistant.”

Check back again for part one of the next adventure, “The Rescue of Thedric”, an FU, 9Q’s, and Forgotten Realms mash-up.

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