Solo Play: Questions Answered

So my wife has answered my questions from the solo play setup, and today I’ll be going over them and what this boils out to for the forthcoming campaign. A look into a small portion of my creative process, if you will.

Lethality: 3-4 out of 10
  • This particular value runs from “You will never die, only be embarassed by your own failures” at a value of 1 to “Bring your best tactics and skills and loaded dice, because everything wants you dead” at 10. Most of my campaigns run around the 3-4 value, and this one will be no different. Mistakes probably won’t kill, but there are lethal opponents and hazards to be stumbled across. Prepare but don’t fear.
Horror: 10 out of 20
  • This goes to 20 because, as the last 10 entries show, horror is kind of my thing and I can measure it with a much finer grade than other options – and because my games really do go well past 11. At 1, there is no horror at all. There are no sinister aspects to worry about. At 20, you are facing the worst nightmares the uncaring and callous cosmos can throw at you, and you are doing it alone against impossible odds. At a 10, this is a higher value than my Blades of Light campaign that I finished up earlier this year; there will be dark and terrible things lurking in the shadows, there is great evil moving in subtle ways, and there are monsters hiding in plain sight. Reality isn’t quite worm-ridden, however, and there’s stability and sanity to be fought for.
Heroic opportunities: 10 out of 10
  • You’d think this one would be easy to crank up all the way, but in truth most groups like to play around a 4-6 on this. At 1, you’re effectively playing an amoral campaign. Shadowrun and Eclipse Phase are rife with games that sit around 1-3 on this scale. This isn’t a good vs evil measure, but a measure of chances to get a clear view of the Right Thing to do and a chance to do it. This might seem at odds with a high Horror value, but they mingle surprisingly easy.
Social interaction: 3-4 out of 10
  • Pure and simple, this is a measure of how much time you can expect to spend dealing with NPCs rather than rummaging through dungeons, fighting monsters, and the like. A large number of campaigns tend to go low on this, since games like Pathfinder are heavily slanted toward combat as an option. At 3-4, this will actually be a little more NPC-intensive than most of my games tend to be. A 10 would be something I’ve never even tried to do, but a courtly intrigue game where you can’t use weapons and combat magic would be an example. Talk to get your way out of trouble and your enemies into it. Convince me, as the GM, without the dice being involved.
Prestige: 5 out of 10
  • This boils down to non-mechanical rewards, although there are mechanics in place with some of the optional Pathfinder rules to handle some of it. Rewards like granted land, titles, honors bestowed by the wealthy and the elite of the campaign, even those bestowed from celestial sources like angels and gods. At a 1, the characters are in a campaign where coin is king and their closest interaction with something resembling nobility will be with a rich merchant hiring them to do something or paying them a reward; at a 10 they likely start off as minor nobles and get to work their way up, with the bulk of their rewards in social standing, prestige, and fame.
RP Depth: 5-6 out of 10
  • A 1 on this scale there is no RP beyond PCs bantering and the occasional villain monologue. Things like the Emerald Spire superdungeon and Rappan Athuk are at this end of the scale; a 10, on the other hand, is the kind of deep and immersive RP that best fits games like Amber Diceless and the like; multiple sessions can go between rolls of the dice, every single NPC has a backstory and motivation, and the world moves around the PCs without them needing to be a direct part of it.
Theme: Straight-up heroism; maybe intrigue and politicking; no conspiracy and subterfuge; no slice of life; base of operation background/downtime.
What we’re getting here is a game with RP, some social climbing and polite-society interactions, with ample opportunity to be a grand hero in a world being choked by the darkness lurking in the shadows. Most thing involving financial transactions will just be a matter of marking off cash and acquiring the item, with RP haggling over it being limited to special orders, setting up first-time deals on long-term situations, and dealing with the Dreaming Apothecary.
There will be evil, both banal and supernatural, and horror in the form of things supernatural and psychological. Evil will be able to fought, even though doing so will exact a price and that price may end up too steep to pay. The character’s history will be brought up repeatedly, along with the history of Ptolus, the Tarsis Empire, and Praemal itself. With the character being a paladin with the Tortured Crusader archetype and the Heroic Opportunities dialed all the way up, sacrifice is also likely to be a recurrent theme.
Next time I bring this up, I’ll hopefully be in the aftermath of the first session; either way I’ll be talking about the Grand Old Evil of the world, the Galchutt.
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Solo Play: Questions Answered

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