Minimum Viable Product for Solo RPG? [NEW POLL]

UPDATE - This poll has been closed, please see here for follow-up polling. Thank you!

How much detail do you want in an RPG ruleset?
  • Minimalist - Just enough of an idea to build my play around
  • A Little More - I need some structure/guidance, but don’t want too much
  • Significantly Structured - I want tables and instructions for most of what you can do
  • Simulationist - I want to know how much a gold piece weighs and how many I can carry
0 voters

So, I am making a Solo RPG - for those unaware, that is a single-player version of a tabletop game where the GM tasks are primarily taken over by randomizers (typically called “oracles”) and interpreted by the player. As you both run the characters and determine the state of the world via the oracles, it tends to be treated more as a sort of “writing prompt” system in many of the games that I’ve found - extremely rules-light and based more around constructing a story than anything else. That said, most of the fetish-based mods for tabletop gaming here are based around D&D… and that is about the most “set rules for everything conceivable” game which exists.

Now, I’m not making a solo version of ExpanD&D - that’s pointless (there are so many generators already out there or in the books themselves that it makes no sense to retread that ground - you can literally find free solo D&D systems everywhere, and the ED&D rules wouldn’t be changing). But I do need to know if you’re all making D&D mods because you like the system, or simply because you’re familiar with it.

Hence this poll. I need to know what level of detail (in actual firm detailed rules) you prefer in a game - basically, how often do you want to be actually rolling dice or consulting charts for things and how much do you want to be making decisions based upon how the situation feels (or what seems right at the moment)? There is no possibility for covering every eventuality - D&D has a whole company division, plus homebrewers, working on that and it still has times where the GM has to make calls based on “well, I guess X happens.” But the fewer rules there are, the more of that you need. Some people find that inspiring, some people find the lack of specific choices to be paralyzing. Same thing with concrete rule-sets; some people hate how limiting they are, some people need the structure to function.

Since I’m making this game with the people who populate this forum in mind, and I can see the merit in both sides, I’m turning to the lot of you for your opinions. No reason to be making a bunch of rules for specific situations when nobody wants them, after all. Let me know your opinions, and if you’d like to detail them - please add a comment too!

1 Like

Personally, I’d want the core rules to be well established but things outside that to be open for custom rules. Also, I’d prefer if the rules were consistent and simple. Ex: not needing to roll high to succeed sometimes, then low to succeed other times.

1 Like

Alright, pretty sure there isn’t going to be a sudden swarm of thirteen votes coming to add to one of the outer extremes - so I’m going to close the first poll and say that “some mechanics, but generally-lightweight mechanics” seems to be the general consensus. The two responses with the most votes both fall within that scope, and only disagree on the total number included.

So now I need some additional input, because one of the reasons I’ve been spinning my wheels on this is because I keep trying to make a “one size fits all” system that covers all possible settings and… well, they don’t work that well. Frankly, in trying to cover all use-cases they wind up being pretty fucking generic. By which I mean boring. The more I’ve delved into explorations of other solo roleplaying systems, the more I’ve found that systems made for specific use-cases just wind up playing better. A game system built for science fiction does a better job of presenting sci-fi concepts than any other, a game system designed for dungeon-crawling just does dungeon-crawling better, and so on and so forth.

After trying and failing to make “the perfect general-purpose solo RPG” for the last few months, I’ve decided it’s actually going to make for better games if I just stop doing that and make smaller-scope systems which fit specific genres really well. I’m still going to leave the actual fetishes in-game up to the player to define, because THAT is so uniquely-defined as to be individual, but I’m going to focus on a specific setting in a specific genre to get that nice and polished instead of trying to make something that “lets you play anyone, doing anything, anywhere” in a bland, generic way.

That said, I need to know what setting you want me to focus on first. Hence this next poll:

What genre should my solo RPG use?
  • Fantastical Modern
  • Traditional RPG Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Something Else (Please comment below!)
0 voters

A brief breakdown of the settings presented, so you understand my thoughts on them:

  1. Fantastical Modern - It’s basically modern-day times, but with magic and/or science that is advanced enough to be magic. For examples of games which use this setting, see Big Aspirations and Super Fatty Office Administrator Simulator.

  2. Traditional RPG Fantasy - Your traditional fantasy table-top (or video game RPG) setting. Basically what anime/manga keeps isekaing people into, or the default setting of RPGmaker games. For examples of games which use this setting, see NPC Simulator and Eat the Dungeon.

  3. Science Fiction - The future. Technology is now capable of taking us beyond currently-understood limitations of physics, and people are living in massive cyberpunk cities or space-stations. For examples of games which use this setting, see Research Station M-00 and Spacethumper.

  4. Post-Apocalyptic - The future sucks. Civilization has mostly fallen, vast parts of the world are uninhabitable by humans, and day-to-day life is more about scraping out survival than taking advantage of any technological advancements which may have happened. Hell, they’re probably hostile to people anyways. For examples of games which use this setting, see Surviving and Apocalypse XL.

Let me know what you think, and thanks for the input!

Personally, I just wouldn’t want to see everything hand waved away by magic or tech. There should still be some realism

Personally, I just wouldn’t want to see everything hand waved away by magic or tech. There should still be some realism

Well, basically my take on Fantastical Modern settings is based around “what type of characters could you run into?” Since I like monsters and kemonomimi and androids and such, the basis of “fantastical” for me is defined firmly by “how can they exist?” I’m not going fully into anime-logic, where they exist because the authorial voice says so, and as such there has to be a level of world-building around how and why they’re there. Beyond that, as this is not going to be a fully-simulationist system the level of “narrative realism” is going to be intentionally left to the player to define. As most people want a system leaning towards fewer rules, I’m going to be focusing more on rules which determine “does X do Y” instead of “how does X do Y.” The “how” can be left for you to answer as a player, and you can utilize or ignore the fantastical at your whims when defining what exactly went down as X did Y.

It would be interesting to see something like this done in the style of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or Fallout since I personally haven’t really seen it done before. Especially with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. . Anomalies that have some kind of abnormal effects on the body and factions that have different types of ideologies are really cool to see in this genre even if it’s not much. However it’s ultimately up to you if you go down the route of something else. All these genres seem good to me either way. Good luck with SRPG.