Sunday, 20 December 2015

Solo RPG Thoughts: Diversionary Play


I've recently started a solo campaign using USR and I'm posting the actual plays over at the Lone Wolf Roleplaying community on G Plus. Typically I like to use a mixture of sources to create a fun game - right now I'm using the following:

I've started thinking about the nature of solo roleplaying and how much the structure differs from group gaming. The following is a post I originally wrote on the Lone Wolf community page.


Solo play isn't the same as with a group, and I don't mean for the obvious reason. There's been a lot written about how solo should be focused more on detail and character, which is absolutely spot on. But I believe solo also offers you the chance to engage in what I call 'diversionary play'. 

In a solo, you're player and GM. You build the world that you play in. Usually a group game is linear in nature - the GM says something, the players react and so on. That structure doesn't exist in solo play and I think we need to take advantage of that. This is where diversionary play comes in. 

Diversionary play builds your game in a non-linear fashion. It fleshes out your character and world, giving you more inspiration for your 'core' game. So what constitutes a diversion?

- The Gazetteer: creating news in your world is a great way to make it feel like a living place. Aim for a front page story and two or three smaller stories. Hell, put some classified ads in there if you like. If your character has done anything noteworthy, they may appear in the gazetteer. For other stories, roll a few story cubes or use a generator of your choice to come up with a handful of headlines. You don't need to go further than headlines unless you want to.

- Flashbacks:  have your character evolve through crafting their past. Write about their childhood, their best friend, their favourite foods etc. Use a generator to flesh out the most minute detail. Just focus in one aspect per diversionary session, buy go to town on it. It can help the way your character is shaped in the present.

- Character thoughts: take some downtime to figure out, in detail, what's going through your character's head at this point in the campaign. Note their thoughts on the NPCs they have come across and the situation they are in. This can help you decide how they react to certain situations in future.

- Political/ Military manoeuvres: play out what might be happening in the seat of government. What Wars are happening. Do they directly or indirectly affect your character? Play a your favourite wargame to determine the outcome (this one comes from +John Fiore​)

The point of diversionary play is to supplement your core game. You can use the above play styles when you have a spare moment on the train or on your lunch break. It takes advantage of the fact that you are the player and GM, so the game doesn't begin and end at the table - it can be constantly in motion.