GreenTongue
 member, 974 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Fri 28 May 2021
at 20:46
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
For an example, "Five Parsecs from Home" is designed for solo play but also says that the characters in the band can be split among more than just one person.

Anyone tried that?  Does it work or do the other players just feel like a third wheel?
GreenTongue
 member, 1019 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:09
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
I see a bunch of "solo" games advertised in "Game Proposals, Input, and Advice" so in theory they are doable.

How well do they work out without other people to bounce ideas off of?

Do they run well until the "player" draws a blank on what to do next or is it more that the "player" watches the GM basically "read" a story to them with minimal input?
Imladir
 member, 58 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:24
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
There are undeniable advantages to playing in a solo games, mostly that there's no risk of a deadlock (where everyone is waiting for someone else), and of course you're only dependent on two players: much less risks of seeing someone disappear and take the GM's motivation on the way out.

But there are of course challenges, the one you mention about not being able to bounce ideas definitely being one. I've done some stupid stuff that would likely have been caught by someone else :o

As for running well, as long as the player can take initiatives, has clear goals and ideas of what's happening around, it's not much of a problem. In fact, I'd say you have even more options since you don't need to care about other characters' interests.
Piestar
 member, 989 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:25
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others

This message was deleted by the user at 13:38, Thu 07 Oct.

deadtotheworld22
 member, 151 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:27
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
I suppose it depends on the game (and the players)! I haven't got much experience of parsecs, so when you're saying a solo game, do you mean one which is meant to be a single player and a preset series of events (so akin to something like Thousand Year Vampire) or a one vs one situation where the GM works with a single player to tell a wider story?

To potentially answer either question:

A) I've run TYVampire with multiple people, and it was quite fun, but much closer to collaborative writing than the traditional 'GM vs players' approach. I tended to be the arbiter of the rules and just gave some advice and prompts, and the players discussed among themselves what would be the best responses and comprimised.

It helps if you've got people who know one another, get on well, and can discuss in real time, but if it works, you get a nice feel of bouncing ideas off people.

B) Again, with one vs one games, the GM's role is a bit more collaborative, as you're crafting the world around the player, and using NPCs more actively to give them something to play off.

It's more akin to being half GM, half player because you're inhabiting the roles a bit more and giving yourself a more active role in the setting, but I really enjoy that because it allows me to control the world while still having someone else to work with and build around.

It's also nice because you never have the situation with three or more players where you never have to sit and wait for a third party to post when two people are waiting.

I hope this makes sense but happy to discuss further if I've missed the point?
deadtotheworld22
 member, 152 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:29
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
Imladir:
But there are of course challenges, the one you mention about not being able to bounce ideas definitely being one. I've done some stupid stuff that would likely have been caught by someone else :o


Just on this, its a good point, but at the same time I think there's more opportunity to pause the game as a GM and just say 'are you really sure?' and have a conversation with a player about it, because you're not holding anyone else up, and you're not potentially embarassing the other player in front of the rest of a group.
Imladir
 member, 59 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:36
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
That's where the Intelligence (aka "you're being stupid, here's a chance to fix that") rolls come in play ^^

I'm not sure I'd like the GM to do more to be honest. I mean sure, I don't like doing stupid stuff anymore than the other guy, but on the other hand, it would sort of ruin the pleasure of doing the right thing when it happens.

Though of course, that's only for things that my character would do knowing what she does (like taking a bad tactical decision), not for things like misunderstanding the situation.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 153 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 13:54
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
Imladir:
That's where the Intelligence (aka "you're being stupid, here's a chance to fix that") rolls come in play ^^

I'm not sure I'd like the GM to do more to be honest. I mean sure, I don't like doing stupid stuff anymore than the other guy, but on the other hand, it would sort of ruin the pleasure of doing the right thing when it happens.

Though of course, that's only for things that my character would do knowing what she does (like taking a bad tactical decision), not for things like misunderstanding the situation.


It's a good point, and it's certainly something I only do with a light touch more in the second instance of misunderstanding rather than 'I as a GM wouldn't have done it like that'.

At the same time, especially if you're starting a game and you need to get the player to point A to trigger the plot, I find it helps to give the player a peek behind the curtains so they understand why you want them to go in that direction.

But it depends on the player and their relationship with you, which is one of the reasons why I like those games, because you don't have to worry about favouring one player over another in search of what's cool or not.
NowhereMan
 member, 455 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 14:25
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
Dog Town is a criminal sandbox game set in 1970s New York that's intended to be a solo game, but I ran it once with a full crew of characters. It ended up changing the feel of the game pretty significantly, but it also allowed the criminals to pull off more sophisticated heists and other schemes than any of them would have managed on their own, shifting their possibilities from knocking over gas stations and corner stores to larger, more interesting targets, and allowed them to function as their own mini-organization for less violent crimes.
GreenTongue
 member, 1020 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 16:14
Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 5):

5 Parsecs was just a handy example, for me anyway.

Just have had several games get derailed by disappearing or disruptive players and wondered if I was overlooking a viable option.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 154 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 16:38
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
GreenTongue:
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 5):

5 Parsecs was just a handy example, for me anyway.

Just have had several games get derailed by disappearing or disruptive players and wondered if I was overlooking a viable option.


As in games with just you and the player where they've vanished/been a pain, or big games where one player has spoiled it for the rest?
GreenTongue
 member, 1021 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 17:15
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 11):

Only tried one with just me and the player. In that case they backed themselves into a corner and instead of dying trying to get out of it, just stopped posting.

As for disruptive players, I had a game running for over a year and added a new player that twisted the game towards their vision and everyone else gave up on it.

Others have just been the usual where they go till Real Life Happens and they stumble to a halt.

The main problem is, since I seem to prefer games that have a low number of people interested, this makes them overly effected by loss of a player.
I don't intend to run "main stream" games so, reviewing the other options.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 155 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 17:51
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
I absolutely sympathise with those situations. If youre interested in looking into solo games, they can be really good and really rewarding, but I would give two bits of advice if you want to have a good chance of success:

A) Be picky with your players when it's a solo game.

Solo games aren't for everyone, and you obviously need to have the right match between you and your player for it to work, because if that's off, there's nowhere to hide.

To give yourself the best chance to make them work, you need to be careful about how you pick your player. As a rule, I tend not to advertise a solo game on the Players Wanted thread, and instead either approach players from games where I play and see if they'd be interested in the side project, or answer good quality 'GM Wanted' threads where you like the sound of what's being put forward.

Once youve found someone who is interested, spend some time talking to them about what you both want and how to achieve it. For my recent games, I tend to do at least 15-20 posts of discussion on theme, tone, mood, setting, likes and dislikes, what we wanted from the game, what we didn't want, before I even set up the skeleton for the game. And if it doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to say no and keep looking.

It doesn't guarantee that you won't meet some of the issues you mention, but it does at least mean you can avoid players who might not be truly dedicated to the format, and you build investment with them which means they are probably less likely to leave if they're having a bad time.


B) Really focus on building a rapport with your players.

Once you've got the game, communicate with your player as much OOC and be as accomodating as possible to their real life commitments - try to avoid the mindset of posting rates and just focus on keeping a high quality of post, while expecting the same in response.

Remember that you're not so much the GM as their writing partner - there shouldn't be a need to moderate the OOC or worry about showing favouritism to a single player, so be more willing to discuss how the game is going with them, ask for feedback and take it on board, let them see a bit behind the curtain to what you are planning (without going into too much detail) and ask them if that seems to be interesting.

If you can build that rapport, then you're more likely to remain as one of the core games that they will want to keep even if they have to downsize. In the event they have IRL issues, they're much more likely to let you know and keep you updated (and respect when you have them too), and even if you perhaps have to accept a suspension of play for a month or so and just chatting in the OOC, that patience is more likely to pay off in the long run (at least one of mine lasted more than 8 years!)


In all, solo games arent for everyone, and they suit crunchy games a little bit less than more open ended, character/drama focused ones, but if you can get a good one, its some of the most rewarding play I've had on either RPOL or the tabletop.
Yaztromo
 supporter, 454 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 18:52
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
I played a few of them and in general I believe that it is funnier when you play them with "weaker" characters than the solo character intended for that specific adventure. On top of this, there are various rulesets that give a bonus when having multiple attacks on a single target and that must be taken into consideration when "de-powering" your characters as well.
Completing an adventure too easily isn't as fun.
silverelf
 member, 277 posts
Thu 7 Oct 2021
at 19:20
Re: Ever Play In A Game That Was Intended To Be Solo With Others
I ran a game of Call of Cthulu Alone on Halloween for a babysitter and the kids she was babysitting, the group was really into it and it turned out great.