Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Solo Gameplay

One of the things I like over at The RPG Corner is his feature on the Solo Great Pendragon Campaign he runs for his wife, Des.  This isn’t just because I’m a Pendragon nut (which I am), but also because of the way David writes up the sessions as a story.  I used to do that WAY back when I ran my Play By E-Mail Star Wars game*, but it wasn’t anything like this.  (It did have its moments, though.  Especially when the one astromech played a prank on the Jedi and had the laundry tie-dye his robes.)  Great job, Sir Larkins!

In any case, this recently got me thinking on the topic of solo gameplay, either one player & one GM or playing board games, like Silent Running, solitaire.  This really isn’t something that I have any experience with, since if I’m gaming on my own it will be with video games.  Even if I’m with one or two other people, I will tend to play a board game rather than run an RPG.  I think it’s because that I have always had at least 3 players in an RPG all my life.  It strikes me, though, that a game like that would be quite cinematic.  The world actually would revolve around that one character, the lead of the movie/tv series, and all the stories would bend themselves to that character’s life.

Due to time constraints, and other forms of entertainment that I know I enjoy, I don’t think I’ll be trying this kind of gaming any time soon, but I am interested in how prevalent this is.  What kind of experiences have you had with this?

* Believe it or not, the website for that game is still up.  Check it out:


  1. In my 33 years of RPGing, I've spent about 50% of game time in solo games. They work beautifully and its far easier to get the player(s) together.

  2. Yeah, I can imagine how easy it would be to get a game together. I'll have to try it one day.

  3. There are lots of options for solitaire boardgaming. Either specifically designed for that purpose, or by rules adaptions for games normally played with multiple players.

    This appears to work well for games with a strong narrative capability built in. Two examples:

    1. Arkham Horror
    Normally a multiplayer game where characters attempt to repel Lovecraftian horrors. Strongly developed character abilities and a lot of variety (especially with an expansion added on). It can be played solitaire with the player running one or more characters.

    2. Silent War
    A solitaire wargame about USN submarine operations in the Pacific during WW2. Very simulation oriented over varying gameplay. A full campaign of this game will take weeks or months to complete. However, one can develop a narrative of how each submarine doing.