Sunday, June 1, 2014

Powered by FU

Greetings readers! No, I’m not dead… I have, however, been traveling far too much. There has been little comfort or let alone internet access for more than a month, and RL business before my trip prevented posting prior.

Enough for the excuses.

What is next? I have plenty of unfinished projects and solo campaigns to pick up…which I will! First, however, a plan to add a new project, one that features the flexibility of FU RPG (free universal RPG) by Nathan Russell. For those who do not know, it’s a fabulous light and elegant system, and great for trying those ideas you would like to try with your group (or alone) with no prep or forethought. As an aside, Nathan is currently working on a second edition, which I am anxious to see. Hopefully this can also help build some excitement.

I plan to post some short play reports using FU to feature and test its flexibility. Each post will center around a different short solo adventure utilizing a different genre. FU can easily do this straight out of the box with no effort except perhaps renaming the descriptor types. However, each genre I’d like to feature I will try a small surgical alteration in each to highlight the genre.

This is where you, the reader, can help too. If you want to propose an idea for a specific genre for me to try, voice it. I plan to try a cyberpunk and a swashbuckling session first, maybe followed by a Wild West session. I WON’T try a Star Wars or Kung-Fu session, because those hacks are already available.

Secondly, each session will make use of a new solo narrator with which I’m experimenting. Like most that I’ve tried to devise, this one is light, and is based on the development of a random plot generator and interspersed shifts, which I’m calling, Twist of Line.

Twist of Line

This off-the-cuff scenario generator was inspired by the space adventure creator in John Harper’s Lasers & Feelings. Twists are added through random determination.

The Setup

Roll or choose:

A Threat…

Roll Story Cubes, select a random picture, etc. or just pick.

Wants To…

3Bond With


Roll Story Cubes, select a random picture, etc. or just pick.

Which Will…



Roll Story Cubes, select a random picture, etc. or just pick.

The Play

Play to find out how the characters come into conflict with and resolve the threat. Gradually assert the threat’s malevolence over the characters, motivations, and/or setting, then have the characters take a proactive stance. If the genre dictates or character motivations are not directly in conflict with the implied threat, have their actions' successes or failures push that threat into direct opposition.

This can be freeform or more structured, short or long. In a more structured approach, define the adventure in terms of:

  1. The Hook. The threat makes its presence known. Characters learn of the stakes and become forcefully involved.
  2. Action. The characters formulate a proactive plan to overcome the threat and take discreet steps to do so. This implies one or more scenes. Their successes and failures change the face of their opposition.
  3. The Plot Thickens. This optional stage introduces a major plot twist that changes the face/true motivation of the threat, or complicates the story, and heightens the threat’s imposition on the characters and/or setting. Fill in the twist generator below when the characters have attained at least one step toward their goal (but more likely are closer to their goal). At your option, roll a die at the end of each scene…on an odd result, throw in a twist.
  4. The Showdown and Epilogue. The characters deal directly with the main antagonist or its representatives in a final confrontation to stem the threat once and for all. Depending on their success or failure and its degrees, determine the impact on the characters and the setting at large.

Twist Generator

Things are not what they seem when…

Roll (d66)Subject
11-13The Actual Threat We Didn’t Before Know Is Revealed
14-16The Threat Just Escalated (Bigtime!)
21-23All Appears Bleak (Really Bleak!)
24-26All Is Lost (Goal Changer)
31-33Fake Victory
41-43That Was Part of the Plan, Fools!!!
44-46The Threat’s Identity Changes (Wasn’t Who We Thought)
51-53Besieged On All Sides
54-56Side Plot Takes Over
61-63I Wasn’t Actually Dead
64-66Victory At Great Cost

Pick a threat, supporting character, or thing introduced in the story so far, or roll Story Cubes, select a random picture, etc to help focus the subject of the twist.


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  2. Great! I AM from Brazil, and I really like your Chapter System. But this one, add something even new. Hope we can share our experiments with you, about these solo systems. :)

    1. Thank you! Please do share! I've noted that this one is hard to work with characters that have less than heroic intentions.

    2. So, this system would be perfect for FU, Fate, Savage Worlds and other games about proactive characters. I just love your blog, and I hope to see the nexts posts soon. How about the Chapter System? I will like to ser examples of tour solo sessions... :)

    3. Yes, those sorts of systems and the characters they typically produce works well. Others can work too, but one has to sometimes "contort" the threat to get in the way of other sorts of characters. Sword & Sorcery stuff comes to those, a threat can get in the way, and the character saves the day, but only thwarting the evil by "mistake" in their quest to satisfy their baser wants. It still *can* work this way, but it's more of a stretch.

      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement! I have lots of distractions, not just from Real Life (which is beginning to get back to normal), but also I have an acute case of gamer ADD. I have started dozens of things, and am tinkering with others. I have many unfinished campaign-length solo things I want to get back to (Return of the Shattered Mail with Mitra, and the Drowsbane legacy).

      As far as the Chapter System, it's been a bit of a disappointment. After a few play tests, I discovered it was much more a scene builder rather than a "chapter" builder (implying a fast-paced thing with many scenes). I may have to look at that again.

      In any case, thanks for the encouragement. I'll try to get something posted this week. Thanks for reading!