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OSR Cosmic Horror Solo Roleplaying
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2021 19:42:48

PPM does a great job introducing solo concepts and tailoring a starting toolkit. Solo is very personal, and no two players solo the exact same way.

OSR Cosmic Horror Solo is one of the broadest products on offer from PPM and gives a really nice starter toolbox. You get a yes/no oracle, a twist mechanic, complex questions, a conversation (tone) oracle, a scenario generator, the oncoming horror mechanic and lots of advice for how to solo, how to solo and investigation, and how to solo the genre. Again, this is a ready made kit for playing OSR eldritch horror games - and it works just fine out of the box. I really appreciate the explanations of how to use the tools, and the optionality discussed.

Because ultimately, solo roleplaying for most people is assembling a variety of tools for different use cases. Here's a handful of tools that have broad applicability that are dialed in for the genre, and so using just and your favorite OSR rules, you've got a solo game. Or, you can take pieces and mix in other tools easily.

I love the oncoming horror mechanic - a suit of cards represents a force acting against you, but the Ace is the trigger. I also appreciate how straightforward and relatively simple the investigation mechanic is here. This is for emergent mysteries, not traditional pre-plotted gm-led story puzzles. PPM products are scene based, so the tools are built around having discrete scenes. This works for me, but I do know not everyone likes that format.

If you are at all interested in solo (or just GM less) play using some combination of OSR, Cosmic Horror, Investigations, then I can easily recommend this product as a starting point or a supplement to raid.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
OSR Cosmic Horror Solo Roleplaying
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Player's Guide to Solo Roleplay
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2021 17:16:27

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Traveller – and role-playing in general – has historically been very much a group activity. While material for handling solo play isn’t completely nonexistent, it is rare enough that ‘vanishingly’ isn’t an inappropriate modifier for ‘rare’. This volume is intended to provide a mechanism by which one can role-play without a group.

The introduction sets out the author’s goal for the volume: to present a set of rules for solo play that strike a reasonable balance between high creativity and improvisation vs. high mechanical randomization on one axis, and between rules-heavy and high-abstraction on the other axis. There is little discussion of why the extremes are considered undesirable; one might assume that the author sees the reasons as being self-evident.

Before actually getting started, the author provides definitions for terminology; even the experienced role-player would be well-advised to read through them, as some familiar terminology is used in ways that differ from ‘normal’ usage: for example, an ‘encounter’ in these rules refers to any situation or scene in which the character must make a meaningful choice, not just when the character meets a person or animal.

There is no description of character creation; the player is expected to use the standard character creation mechanism (in this case, Cepheus Engine, though the reality is that there isn’t anything in the rules that absolutely relies on any particular system or variation thereon). The author does note that the provisions for zero-level skills should be used in character generation.

A discussion of the structure of the solo adventure is included; it is important to realize that everything is structured around “encounters” as defined at the beginning.

While you do need a world for your solo adventure, you generate it “on the fly” as you need to. You do need to keep track of the facts about your world (and your character’s beliefs about it, which may not be the same); the author uses a “mind map” as the mechanism throughout the book – but you can and should use whatever best suits you. Rolling dice is kept to a reasonable minimum, and is almost invariably in response to a a question phrased so as to require a ‘yes/no’ type of answer. One exception is generating a ‘hook’ (the reason for the adventure); you are provided with a three-column ‘Chinese menu’ to roll on to generate inspiration, and then have to take the three words generated and decide what they mean. Of course, you don’t have to use the provided method; the idea is simply that you need to come up with a quick (ideally, one sentence) description of the purpose of the adventure you are about to set out on.

The descriptions of the process throughout your adventuring effort encourage a cinematic viewpoint: adventures, after all, are fundamentally dramatic, and it is ultimately the drama that draws you in and holds your attention. That you are choosing the direction of the action, and building the world and the adventure as you go along doesn’t change that; if anything, it emphasizes it.

The book wraps up with a strong recommendation that you keep a log of your adventure – it doesn’t matter what tool(s) you use, or the specific format of your notes; the idea is to keep the notes so that you can take a break and then pick up where you left off, and keep the logic of the adventure and the world consistent.

If you can run yourself through a few solo adventures and be happy with the results, you’ll find that you’re beginning to develop the skills you need to be a referee – because that’s really what you’re doing here; you’re not just a player in the solo adventure, you’re the referee.

If you’re interested in the refereeing side of things, this isn’t a bad tool to have in your toolkit (there’s material here that’s usable in party adventures, not just for solo play); if you’re only interested in the player’s side of the table, this may not be for you – it doesn’t hold your hand or provide any pre-generated scenes; rather, it tells you what you can do to build and adventure from scratch.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Guide to Solo Roleplay
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Rogue Handler
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2021 06:22:44

This is a great resource, not just for the intented purpose, but also for adventure building. The tables provided will make any on-the-fly investigation-based session shine. My recent Interface Zero bio-horror adventure could have used a pass through this to polish it. Great stuff!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Handler
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Dungeon Crawl Solo
by Gabryel S. E S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2021 15:08:16

The pdf is ok, but if you can afford the extra value, I would rather invest in "The Solo Adventurer's Toolbox" even though it's a D&D material, I have got much more value, in both material and tables, which I find quite essential when playing solo. "Tome of Adventure Design" also brings much more value.

It brings some cool mechanics like the Drama Pool and the Event Dice, but I feel like it lacks material exclusive to DCC, like tips on how to use the monster tables provided by DCC to generate random monsters. (There are tables for Dragons, Demons, Undead traits and so on) Some tips on random encounters, I don't feel like the Icon Dice do the trick, as it leaves entirelly to your imagination, and as you are playing solo, you really need some quick monsters/traps, on the fly to avoid disruption of the game flow and your immersion.

When playing DCC solo I have had a blast using a mix of the "Four Against Darkness" for dungeon generation, using events and encounters(dungeon, wilderness and urban) from "The Solo Adventurer's Toolbox", using themes and tropes generated from "Tome of Adventure Design". I get random monsters on the fly from https://juliosrpgcove.com/monstergenerator/ such a good site, with many amazing tools! I can't help but promote it. As such I had extracted very little value from the purchase, but if you are just starting to dabble into "Solo Play" with DCC, I feel like the book will give you a decent start.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Solo
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Rogue Handler
by Marcel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2021 15:51:29

Very useful dissection of a typical modern Investigation paired with great random tables, good ideas and oracle that seamlessly integrates into BRP, Rogue Handler is an amazing Solo RPG tool for solo beginners and veterans alike.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Handler
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Crusaders Solo Handbook Compatible with Castles & Crusades
by Cedric A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2021 21:56:10

I've been trying to use this basically every day since I got it, pulling up my characters and trying different adventures. I've tried using a module, I've tried going freeform and making things up as I go in a variety of different ways, but basically every time I try to use the product it ends up being a frustrating experience.

On a technical level the book is hit or miss. It's 34 pages, the interior art is ok, but looking at the credits reveals that the only original art piece is the cover which is... fine, I suppose. The interior is riddled with spelling errors, up to the title itself (it's given as both "Crusaders Solo Handbook" and "Crusader's Solo Handbook"), and though it doesn't get in the way of understanding the product, it still stands out. The book mostly uses a simple column style, except for pages 12, 13, and 15 which, for some reason, use a strange half-column layout that's actually more annoying to read than one would expect.

The contents itself... well, the first page has an introduction and a sidebar, but both say pretty much the exact same thing. It is hardly necessary to have both. Getting to the actual meat of the product, it explains that the real basis of the product is improvisation, and it gives three tables (technically four and... well, I'll get to that) to help. Unfortunately, the tables are so basic that it mostly leads to frustration. It has very few suggestions to help guide you, most are simple and are often repeated a couple times, and the amount of pre-game prep is never really explained. How much do I need? Have I been doing too much or too little? It is explained that you break the game up into "Scenes" but it's also noted here and there that one should have a list of scenes, sometimes suggesting a pre-designed set (especially for modules, though again it's vague on if you should have a list ready to go even if you're not playing with a module). In many ways it feels like trying to write a story rather than play a game, which is something I enjoy but is a very different activity to playing, even playing a TTRPG like C&C.

The actual mechanics are pretty simple, you have Closed Questions, i.e. yes and no with three results (No, because...; Yes; and Yes, and...), which works similar to the "SEIGEengine" [sic] mechanics of C&C, but without an ability score, just the d20 and your character level. At various points, such as rolling a '1' or a '20' or when the CB hits 20 or more, there is a complication. A complication is whatever you want it to be ("Complications are the perfect time to take the first thing that comes into your head and build it into the game"). Rolling a '1' is a particularly bad complication and rolling a '20' is a particularly good one, while the ticking CB (it climbs by 1 each time you roll a 'No, because...' on the Closed Questions table) is just a complication.

Open Questions are for things that aren't yes or no questions. You roll 2d20, and one die is the first half and the other is the second, giving you results like "Scheming with alchemy" or "Lending aid to old lore". What that actually means is, as you might have guessed, all improv. It ties in with the next table, on NPC reactions ("[...] for NPCs it is always worth rolling a 2d20 Open Question roll. Use this as the NPCs [sic] deepest desire, motivation, or personal goal"), so you roll another d20 and find their reaction. Then you improvise what that means. The example given has an error that's minor but silly, a roll of 19 should be 'alchemy' and not 'magic' but the example goes on as though 'magic' was rolled.

After that you get an explanation of how to use the Scenes List (use it to keep track of scenes), NPC List (use it to keep track of NPCs), and Loose Ends (whatever's left over that might possibly be used in a later game). There's a lot of words, but very little being said. Next we get the Progress Clock, which might be a neat and simple way of having a time pressure but every time I tried to use it I would manage to roll phenomenally well and not had it tick down.

Next we get a section on Combat. The first part has some decent advice for manipulating the numbers of enemies one would normally meet in a regular encounter, but then we get the section on Narrative Combat which is so vague as to be completely useless (after spending far too long trying to figure out what it actually meant, I stopped trying and used standard combat), and a section on Solo Combat which doesn't say anything new nor anything interesting. There's a section on Traps and Riddles but... well, "[i]f you are setting the riddle and you know the answer, so does your character. You can reduce the riddle to a CB roll, but I don't think that adds much to the game." It's a tricky subject, but I'm not sure handling riddles like that adds much to the game either?

After that you get sections on things like Experience (story experience is recommended), playing around with flashbacks (one of the things that's easier to do in solo gaming than group gaming, though its use here seems to be more how to give yourself a previously unknown edge when the dice turn against you), keeping a journal of your adventures, using the Closed Question table for world-building, using the handbook for group play (if the DM/GM/Keeper's gone and nobody wants to run things?), and using these rules for a published adventure. It's less useful than it sounds. There's a bit in the section on modules that sounds like at one time there was a deeper system for Keeper Emulation, since it mentions that some results may lead to "xxx end the scene" but that is not, in fact, a result one can roll.

After that we get a section of Playing Advice, which gives options for starting at higher levels (Start at level 3, but with 0 XP so you have to go enough XP to reach level 4 before you get to level up is the example used), Fate Points (I'm personally not a fan of that mechanic, but it gives several options for using them), and the player always getting first initiative unless surprised (the only one I used). This is followed by a page for NPCs, a page for Scenes, and a page for Loose Ends ("Thread List" as it's labelled here).

Then we get the Alternate Open Question Prompts. Instead of rolling 2d20, you look up, choose something in sight with a two-word name and use the first letters (example given, "Tea Cup" gives you 'T' and 'C') to select from a 9 page word list and interperet the combination you get. It is awful to look at, hardly stimulating, and I have no idea how useful "CB radio", "E-waste", "New York", or "Zabadabadoo!!" will be. I guess it probably works, but it really feels like it's there to fill out a page count. After this you get the last real table, Magic 8 Ball Answers. It is exactly what it sounds like. The book wraps up with the OGL and a blank page.

As I said, it's been a frustrating experience. I never thought I had much issue thinking on my feet, but this product makes me question that and frankly, my capabilities as a DM (not, uh... not great). I'm not quite sure who the Crusaders Solo Handbook is for, the people it seems to speak to most (improv people and writers) are also the people I'd assume aren't in need of the product, or at least not the product as written. The three main tables, Closed Questions, Open Questions, and NPCs, feel like the start of something useful, but also don't hang together in a satisfying way. The advice and explanations are over-written, repetitive, and rarely particularly useful. The formatting is standard, except where it isn't. The quality of the product varies and it is rife with errors. It's not a 1-star product completely void of use or promise, but it needs so much more polish to reach the 3-star mark or higher. The Crusaders Solo Handbook is something I want to like, but the result as-is doesn't reach the heights it needs to.

For the record, if you, like me, wanted to know what Stephen Chenault had to say about this, it's at 18:33 on the hour-long video on the store page.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Crusaders Solo Handbook Compatible with Castles & Crusades
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3Deep (2nd Edition)
by DSC T. G. C. _. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2020 10:39:08

3Deep is an interesting game that uses a very basic system, and tries to cover everything. It does lack some detail but is a very serviceable tookkit in which to run a game in virtually any setting. In addition, it provides a well done set of solo-play rules.

The Tabletop Gaming Club recently finishing running our first campaign using these rules. Overall, things worked pretty well, though combat can be a little slow. We recommend that people looking for a new system that is quick to learn check out this product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
3Deep (2nd Edition)
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Lone Star: Solo rules for Mothership RPG
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2020 22:41:56

Nice solo companion for Mothership. I really like the adaptation of the PC emulator for giving crew an edge in the game. -Arcturus



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lone Star: Solo rules for Mothership RPG
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3Deep (2nd Edition)
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2019 01:09:45

3deep takes a Traveller-esque 2d6 mechanic, combines a thoughtful set of solo (one person wearing the GM hat as well as playing one or more PCs) rules, and provides just enough scaffolding to build your game around. It is a very serivcable toolkit with lots of examples that I found easy to spin off into my own house rules.

My only wish is that the content was better formatted. In particular I would have liked it if the core mechanics and then examples were better separated - either thru a different content structure or a visual deisgn. Obviously this is a personal preference and I still found the product well worth the investment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
3Deep (2nd Edition)
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Solo Fate
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2019 18:37:31

This is an improvement over the earier Fate Solo product from Cabbage Games. The earlier product was hard to understand and use -- just plain poorly written. The editing problems here are wording mistakes (such as "To me I the first icon" and "I keep use little more"), but you can figure out the meaning when you see them in context. And I'm pretty sure there's a missing "not" when it tells you that a genre-specific Seer icon "does mean it has to relate to that genre."

This product offers a decent intro to solo RPGing and it does a good job of explaining the tools in this document, including examples. It offers usage tips and guidelines. These are all good things and they're improvements over the earlier product.

It makes a distinction between the Oracle (variations on yes and no answers) and the Seer, which is for open-ended questions. The Seer consists of various icons that are much like Rory's Story Cubes -- stylized little pictures. It's up to you to put meaning to them in context. To implement the Seer, they give you a track to use or some DIY dice you can make. If you already have some Rory's Story Cubes, especially a themed set, you could use those as your Seer instead. (But they cost more than this document.)

If the idea of using Rory's Story Cubes makes your skin crawl (and I can immediately think of two players I know that fit that description), you won't like the Seer. The little icons come with no descriptions of what the pictures might represent. Those two players I mentioned would take one look at the icons and reject this out of hand.

You could use a Deck of Fate (mobile app or physical deck) as both Oracle and Seer. Ask a question, and let the Deck of Fate guide your answer.

I still wonder though whether Fate really needs a solo oracle. An oracle, after all, is a tool for getting a somewhat random answer to a question, preferably an answer more nuanced than a mere yes or no. Fate already offers that in its four action outcomes, especially for Overcome and Create an Advantage. Pose your question, set the difficulty level, roll the dice, and interpret the outcome. You already do this for your characters, so do it for your solo GM role as well.

However, if the Oracle and Seer appeal to you, go for it.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Solo Fate
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3Deep in the Wild West
by Wayne A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2019 10:14:17

I bought this with the core rule book

Cons: This book is a solid wild west setting book but doesn't bring anything new to the genre No Weird West content

Pros: Combined with the core rules 3Deep Wild West is a fast and simple wild westt game. The magic in the core book means I can make things as weird as I like.

At this price the core book and this supplement makes a good value first WW game.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
3Deep in the Wild West
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3Deep (2nd Edition)
by Wayne A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2019 10:08:38

Cons: 3Deep is a basic game. It tries to cover everything but means that nothing is covered in any great detail There is no default setting Combat can get slow if every rule is used. Combat is dangerous Pros: This game is easy to learn and fast to play It is every easy to adapt to any setting or genre There are lots of adventures available from full adventures to plot hooks I can develop.

I will buy the print version to use at the table.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
3Deep (2nd Edition)
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3Deep (2nd Edition)
by Pasquale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2019 15:46:17

I will write a review of 3Deep in the worst possible way, using the less polite of the narrative gimmick: I will write about myself. I'll justify this tremendous act of discourtesy and bad manners after 2 important facts:

  1. I am a Game Master of Old, properly infused with Endless Ego
  2. We are talking Roleplay and storytelling here, so here's my story.

I felt in the trap or RolePlaying games back when I still had hair on my hair but not on my stomach. The book's cover had the very same pattern and layout of the well known (and beloved) game books (Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf and so on...) Except it was three times bigger. I traded. The book for few hours of my time in the next week end (for additional chores)... and entire years of the rest of my life (Maps, NPCs, Plots, Artifacts...). Starting with that book ( basic rule of The Dark Eye since you are asking), I learned how important is to be able to dive into a setting, to provide tiny but significant details that lead the players through the same wood, across the same sea or into the same dungeon. I learnt that a "Thief" Is not necessarily someone who steals. I learnt that the ruleset has to serve the setting and the atmosphere you want to deliver. I learnt that the setting and the atmosphere have to serve the fun. And a lot of other things (Which, I must say, I recognize through several PPM products)

I (role) played with my friends. Then life happened (I moved out of the country, grow up, had a job...) Then internet somehow made me believe that I could start playing again. Getting back my friends and put them in fron of a PC was not the problem, deciding a good ruleset was. I am a big fan of Rolemaster, but time constraints (as I said life happened) don't allow adults to spend enough time on it. Needed something faster, more accessible.

At the same time it has to be something that allows depth and freedom and does not try to mimick a videogame, or miniatures game. A game where the player can decide how to develop their character without rule constraints. And were the rules do not flat out the player efforts to find smart and never-seen-before solutions to their problems.

3Deep is all that I have learnt to appreciate and nothing that I do not like.

I'll try to force my 2nd group of players to change to 3Deep as soon as the current adventure ends. (as you guessed, the 1st group can still afford Rolemaster).

I do wonder though, where the name comes from. 2Deep would make me think of the 2 dice the game uses in most cases, and also "Too deep!" sounds like a compliment to a roleplaying ruleset. Would you like to share something about the origin of the name?

To be fair though I must add that the rulebook will benefit of an update with minor changes like bookmarks (pdf version) or adding the hit location table in the Rules Reference Page. I cannot say I played intensively, but trying a simple fight I had many doubts, and although the GM can easily cope with them I feel like something is missing or unexplained.

SHORT: The product irradiates passion, knowledge, and inventiveness. How all of this is delivered, could be improved.

Thanks for caring about GMs.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Almost everything in RPGs comes in threes. It could be "dice roll + your characteristic + magic" or it could be "dice + skill - penalty". Everywhere you see just three elements, it is as if game designers have decided an mass that two things is too simple but four things would befuddle GMs and Players alike. It also comes from the very first game mechanic, that started life in the 1970s as a D&D house rule. 1d6 for light weapons, 2d6 for medium weapons and 3d6 heavy weapons. The house rule was part of an attempt to unify Car Wars with D&D game mechanics. Another favourite game of the same era was Champions. So there were three influential games, three types of weapon, three genres, historical, modern and Sci Fi and three parameters to each test that the PCs are expected to make. That is why is it 3Deep and not Too Deep. It was very briefly, in a previous iteration 3Cubed but that was just weird.
Profession-less and Level-less Gaming with Rolemaster Classic
by Ingo H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2016 11:14:47

This short collection of house rules tries to de-complicate the RoleMaster rules, and it succeeds. The approach that is presented is a bit comparable to Runequest-based systems.

Apart from minor things like spelling/grammar ("their" vs "there"), I found it a bit hard to follow the text as written - in the end, everything becomes clear, but while in the middle of it, some things are a bit confusing.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Profession-less and Level-less Gaming with Rolemaster Classic
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Creator Reply:
Thannks for the review and picking me up on the spelling. I will go over the text and try and clear them up. I agree it gets a bit complicated but Rolemaster is so interconnected it was difficult to tackle any one element without it impacting or every other part. I am glad it made sense in the end.
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