Sunday, August 23, 2015

This is how I do what I do, when I do what I do...

At the request of +John Fiore, author of the 9Qs Solo RPG Engine I'm going to talk a bit about my "process" or "system", which probably makes things sound more orga-na-zized than they really are.

When I first started w/ the B/X D&D Hexcrawl that was my first foray into Solo Gaming, I wanted a big ol' 3-ring GM binder full o' page protected STUFF. The whole impetus of the the Solo D&D game was a longing and nostalgia for "the old days". I wanted an experience that emulated that as closely as possible.

So I gathered all the necessary materials went print happy. The finished product is a hefty tome of awesome. Funny thing was, when I sat down to play, with my huge binder, rule books, dice, and spiral bound notebook to record notes as I played, I found myself referring to the open laptop instead. It was so much easier to manage and find what I was looking for.

(Though TBH I DO enjoy just HAVING that big ol' binder, I like just looking through it, and do still like to drag it out!)

For the next game I tackled (a MiniSix (d6) modern-investigative-horror "monster-of-the-week" style thing) while thinking over what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it, and so on, I decided, as a thought experiment, to see IF I could play AT WORK, in between calls, issues, tasks, etc. The intention was to just get started there and pick up when I got home and bounce back and forth. I ended up running the whole multi-session adventure at work.

I will probably talk more about that experience in a separate post all its own, but for the purposes of THIS one, I'll finish on this part of it by saying I downloaded a die roller & PDF's of all the required rules and tools onto three different machines at work, so that I could snatch a quick scene here and there.

Which leads me to where I am now. When I first started the crazy-solo-RPG-thing I was very resistant to PDF's (other than as a means to get what I wanted and print it out) and still scoffed at the idea of "e-books", as I had not picked up a tablet or a smart phone yet. (Grandpa was behind the times...).

I was in the camp of "I prefer a REAL book". I always thought that I wouldn't find e-docs as "readable" as a physical book. The idea of digital was still alien to me.

But when I got a tablet (so that my youngest daughter could have her own device when they come to visit), and a smart phone (so that DAD could have a device when they come to visit!) I discovered that not only were e-books VERY readable, but there is a huge convenience and portability involved.

Also, as I acquire more and more materials printing it all off becomes less feasible. Finding a place to PUT and KEEP it all would be out of the question. Finding and fetching what I need is a hassle. And there are places you can't take everything, you may not have that one thing with you, and so on.

Discovering Google Books and Google Drive has been a major breakthrough. I can now access my documents ANYWHERE on ANY DEVICE. So....the intent for the next round of Solo RPG'ing is to be able to play anywhere, at any time, at a moments notice (more or less).

I still like having a few physical documents, like character sheets and maps, but I could do them electronically as well if I really wanted to.

I've discovered (through the D&D campaign) that lugging out all those books, binders, and so on, draws a lot of attention, curiosity, side long glances, and observation. People in the household want to know "what're you DOING?!?". I found that my Solo gaming was something I wanted for ME. I didn't really want to SHARE it with anyone.

SO...there is a strong attraction now, for me, to be able to sit down with just an open laptop, with die roller installed and dozens of PDF's open where I can flick back and forth between them at will, and be able to play a game with no one the wiser. :)

To quickly (too late!) wrap up by answering a couple of the other questions posed, I generally leave all the rules and charts "as is" in their own documents and just skip back and forth as needed, BUT I DID find it handy (necessary really) to write out a "procedure" for my Wilderness Hexcrawl so that I did the same processes in the same order every "game day". It made the process of playing a very smooth and mechanical thing, which I enjoyed.

I think having a process written out for complex operations that can become confusing is a good idea, as it allows you to work through it one step at a time in an organized way, without being overwhelmed or losing track. I've been haphazardly jotting notes off and on with the intention of writing one for Starship Combat, and the actions available to each member of a crew, for example.

As for time to play? I think one can see from the above that I've done both all day sessions (D&D) and "play whenever you've got a second" (MiniSix "MotW"). The goal for me is, ultimately, is whenever, where ever, how ever, I WANNA PLAY!!! :)

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