Tag Archives: Solo

Three Stone Stories — Rerolled

In 2014 I wrote Three Stone Stories, a quick and easy solo story game that used simple dice mechanics to resolve challenges — challenges that told a story.
Now I’m putting the final touches on a playtest version of the updated game.

What’s New

The mechanics have been totally reworked, making each die roll more important to the story you’re telling. Some concepts introduced in the first version of the game are still there, but I’ve worked hard to make the game more fun and playable while keeping things streamlined.

Three Stone Stories
Fear the Skull Die

Challenges still form the basis of the game and are the main aspect driving the story. The rules include simple instructions for creating meaningful Challenges, but they’re still as intuitive as asking a question.

Banes have been replaced with Consequences, and you suffer more of them than before. Consequences drive the story to some degree and also aid the major villain in your story. Watch out!

Boons are still around. Who doesn’t like Boons! Now you have a chance of gaining more Boons per Challenge, and they have a greater impact on the story, giving you some control over your hero’s fate.

The biggest addition is a section on Group Play, which details how to use the rules to play in a group, with or without a Game Master.

More Three Stone Stories

When the full rules are released I’ll include six or more adventures, each offering a jumping-off point for your Three Stone Stories. Each adventure will be vastly different from the others, giving you an excellent look at the variety of stories you can tell (or play) with the game.

Get Your Copy

There are three ways to grab your copy of the playtest rules, once they go live:

Subscribe to our newsletter.
Each subscriber will get a free copy of the playtest rules when they launch.

Support our Patreon.
Every patron on Patreon gets a free copy on launch day.

Buy it on Drive Thru RPG.
The playtest rules will sell for $1 on Drive Thru RPG. Why a dollar? It’s my experience that people who’re invested in the game are more likely to provide feedback, so we’re not giving it away to any old Joe. The bonus with this option is that you’ll get the full version of the game for free. We’re not making you pay twice.

I hope you’ll join us in making Three Stone Stories an excellent game.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

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Role-Playing for Two

Role-playing is important.

I’m not going into it now, but, partly, it’s about relationships.

Many of us have spent hours role-playing with groups of friends, but couples can have just as much fun rolling dice and creating shared stories together.

Photo by Alex Chambers
Photo by Alex Chambers

Role-playing for two provides a uniquely creative, shared experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

My wife and I have played several campaigns together. She loves a great story just as much as I do, and we’ve found that RPGs are a great way to spend time together and hang out with friends.

A while back, we started playing an undersea campaign. Just the two of us. She played a mermaid, while I GMed.

It was a blast.

But, for some reason, it took a lot of effort.

We never finished the game, and I have to ask… was it worth it?

I realize it took effort because, like anything worthwhile, it takes planning, commitment, and sacrifice to keep a game going. We had to make the effort to play, instead of taking the easy option and watching a movie.

We probably could, if we were 100% honest, have made the time to play.

But it was worth it.

Any chance for me to get closer to my wife, to understand her, is worth it.

When we played, I got to see inside her head in a way that I never could elsewhere. We created a shared world, with shared adventures.

And there was no audience.

It was our private little wonderland.

And every part of the adventure was tailored to suit our tastes. If it didn’t, it was a chance to talk about and learn what those tastes were. (Apparently, she’s not keen on gory monster encounters. Good to know.)

Would I run a game, just for her, again?

Yes, totally!

There’s even a Jane Austin RPG that could make for a really fun, romance filled game.

And, if you’re looking for adventures that support role-playing for two, then check out our Choose Your Destiny line, which is built for 1-on-1 and solo play.
Death Queen and the Life Stone is the first book in the series, followed by Forest of Secrets. You can support our Patreon to subscribe to the series and get the third book when it comes out.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Take on the Death Queen

No GM? No Problem!

From the creator of Lunatic Labyrinth comes a new solo adventure, the first in a series of solo adventures revolving around Scarthey, the University of the Arcane.

The Stone of Ashirai—said to contain power over life itself—is rumored to lie within the tomb of the goddess Ashirai, the Death Queen. Can you be the first to reach her tomb, find the stone, and survive to tell the tale?Death Queen and the Life Stone cover

Get Death Queen & the Life Stone on Drive Thru RPG

 

Character Class: Cleric or Fighter
Character Level: 1st
Play Mode: Solo / 1-on-1
System: fifth edition fantasy
SettingScarthey, the University of the Arcane


Till next time, Tell Thrilling Tales
Rodney Sloan and Bob Storrar
Rising Phoenix Games

Ashirai, Queen of Death

This is our latest cover, a piece for our first product in a new line of solo / 1-on-1 adventures.

Bob Storrar did the art and layout, and you need to see inside this, because it’s beautifully done. The guy has real talent.

So, who is she and why does she matter?

Ashirai was once a fair and beautiful queen, who turned to necromancy to secure her power. That power came at a price, as she slowly lost her famed beauty to the corrupting energy of her magic. She took to wearing a cobra hooded mask carved to resemble her as she once was, and became known as the Death Queen, a powerful ruler with legions at her command.

And then, she died, or so it was thought…

Have you got the skills? Write for us!

Rising Phoenix Games is looking for freelance writers.


Project Length: 3,750 words
Pay Rate: A 25% cut of sales. (25% to the adventure writer, 10% to the player options writer (Rodney Sloan), 25% to the artist/layout artist, 35% or less to the vendor and the rest to the publisher. )
Additional details: Rising Phoenix Games is looking for writers to produce solo and 1-on-1, choose-your-own-adventure style adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons 5e ruleset. Excellent examples can be found in the D&D 4e Beginners Box and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginners Box. The adventure should be tailored to a Cleric or Fighter of level 1 to 3 and should scale appropriately. Familiarity with Twine is recommended, but not essential.
750 words of the project are reserved for extending the adventure (such as adding random encounter tables, or modifying the game if played at night, etc).
Please send a 200~300 word pitch and a writing sample to the email address below.
We are looking for 3 writers for this assignment.
Respond to: contact@risingphoenixgames.com
Respond by: February 17th, 2017
Assignment Deadline: To be discussed. We’d like to release 1 adventure every 2 months beginning early April.

3 Stone Stories

Find out about the upcoming 3 Stone Stories playtest and secure your copy today. Find out more here.

I’ve been yearning for a game that was simple to play and didn’t need much ‘stuff’. Something that focused on the story, but didn’t require source books and rules referencing. The game I wanted would unlock the imagination, not impede it. As a bonus, I wanted the game to help me write more meaningful stories too.

I’ve been hugely inspired by solo game systems written by hobbyists like JF (The 9Q’s) and Spacejacker from Tiny Solitary Soldiers. They’ve designed rules that let solo players use their imagination to game, much like role-playing games gamified collaborative story telling.

I decided to build the game I wanted, based loosely on what these other hobbyists have done. The dice would determine the direction of the story, but I decided to limit their impact to what I call challenges. The rest would be up to the player’s imagination.

 

Challenges:

Challenges are what makes a hero. The protagonist becomes the hero when he takes on the dragon, when he stands up to the tyrant, when he rescues the princess from danger. He might not succeed at first, but failure drives the hero on to greater feats of heroism.

The Dragon and the Hero by puimun
The Dragon and the Hero. © Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

 

To play, you describe the story, creating the world and the characters that inhabit it. Then you set a challenge for them, and let the dice decide how well they do.

Roll 3 dice. Each roll of 4+ is a success:
3 Failures: The hero fails the challenge completely. Describe how the failure advances the story.
1 Success: The hero succeeds, but a Bane is added to the story. Describe how the success advances the story and how the success or some new element also complicates things for the hero.
2 Successes: Describe how the success of the hero advances the story.
3 Successes: The hero is incredibly successful. Add a Boon to the story. Describe how the success advances the story and also sets the hero up for future success.

Why 3 Dice?
I like rolling more dice, but you could just as easily play with one die, flip coins or use some other method to decide the outcome of a challenge.

 

Example

Our hero, Hypercondraclese, walks into the ancient lair of Biggus Dragonus, the dragon overlord of Peasantvillus. The challenge is simple, tell Biggus to “sod off” and leave the peasants alone.

I roll a 2, 3 and 6. Not bad. Hypercondraclese squares his shoulders and shouts up to the dragon: “Sir, would you please mind relocating your enormous rump, so as the peasants can get back to sheep farming.” Our hero has guts and the roll means he’ll succeed. But has he really? The Bane (from one success) means I add something to complicate the story. Biggus grabs Hypercondraclese around the waist in a taloned claw and beats his large, leathery wings. Before Hypercondraclese can shout “no, I get terribly air sick”, the dragon launches itself into the air.

Hypercondraclese may have succeeded in ridding Peasantvillus of the dragon, but his adventure is only starting.

Because challenges are the only time you roll dice, you don’t have to worry about a string of bad rolls derailing your story. While the climax might be a good time for a challenge like “dodge the bullet”, you can easily avoid these life or death situations in favor of challenges that add something to the story. If the hero doesn’t “rescue the girl” during this challenge, then there will be more adventure ahead, and even if he succeeds, there’s a chance that things will get more complicated.

 

Heroic Chronicles

Recording the story is a good idea, even if it’s a few bullet points typed out on your phone. This makes it easy to pick up the game again.

The game is a simple as that. Create, explore, challenge the hero, then repeat.

In the coming weeks I’ll be looking at a neat model you can follow to add a little more structure to things. Give these rules a try and let me know what you thought.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

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Super Sale

This week through till July 1st we’re running a 10% or more off sale. Click on the links below to grab your copy now:

Claustrophobia Beta
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=937fb19456

Claustrophobia! Role-playing game logo.

 

Lunatic Labyrinth
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=93f4b3c2d7

Lunatic Labyrinth

 

Pewter Tankard Tavern
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=94054b8e4c

Pewter Tankard Tavern

Tactics for Terrors

Welcome to part 4 in this series focused on solo and GMless infiltration games. Check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 if you missed out.

 

“The secret of success in battle lies often not so much in the use of one’s own strength but in the exploitation of the other side’s weaknesses.”
John Christopher, When the Tripods Came

 

I like those little snippets of monster tactics you sometimes find in published adventures. They give you a better idea of why the monster is in the adventure, and they provide you with a framework for making play decisions.

Monster Lair with unknown enemies.
“This should be a safe place to camp!”

In a solo game, it’s just as helpful to have a plan for the monsters, otherwise I tend to fudge their decisions in my favour. “Oh, I know I could easily kill the hero with my sneaky attack. But I’ll come out of hiding, being the brave goblin that I am. I’ll even let Hero-Man have the first swing.” If the goblin has a plan, many of my choices are made, I can focus on playing the star of the show, my optimized and much loved character with the dog eared character sheet.

I came up with the following simple strategy sheet to help me out:

Goblin Strategy Sheet

Here’s a brief description of each entry:

Role: a word to describe the monster’s tactics, such as sniper, assassin, wrestler, commander or artillery.

Morale: If the creature tends to be brave, cowardly, or something in-between.

Ease: How the monster acts when there is no threat.

Alert: What the monster does when they become aware of any danger or enemies.

Melee: What the monster does when engaged in, or within range for melee combat.

Range: What the monster does when engaged in, or within range for missile combat.

Blood: What the monster does when they have taken significant damage. You can decide what “significant damage” means, but I usually go with 50% and below of their HP as the crossover mark.

 

Playing, you will have some idea of how a given monster will react to your actions, eliminating some of the surprise; a problem I’d still like to solve. Furthermore, you have to play as the GM, especially during setup. But this turns setup into a game on its own; how do the goblins think? What are they fighting for? Would they rather fight from far or up close with a sharp blade? These questions bring story and tactics together, giving you a chance to add to your narrative, as discussed in part 2.

Have you tried something similar? I’d love to know what you think.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr Tzu:

 

“Conform to the enemy’s tactics until a favorable opportunity offers; then come forth and engage in a battle that shall prove decisive.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

Till Later, Tell more Thrilling Tales!

Behind the Dungeon Door

This is Part 3 of the Daggers at Dusk Series. Check out part 1 and part 2 for more on playing solo infiltration games.

Last week I ventured into the Goblin Caves, had fun and got captured. Now I’m going to show you a simple system I use to make my games even more interesting. You never know what’s around the next corner, and this system is all about adding that kind of uncertainty back into the game.

What's behind the door?
What’s behind the door?

First, decide on the monsters for your map and add a couple extra. With the Goblin Caves from last week, there might be an orc or two hanging around, so I set aside two orcs with the rest of the miniatures.

We added two orcs, so we’ll set them aside with two goblins, but place everything else on the map: a goblin boss on the throne and two goblin guards to watch the prisoners.

Goblin Caves
The Goblin Caves from last week. Look carefully and you might find my blood stain on the rocky floor, urgh.

Now place counters for the unknown enemies. These counters might turn out to be the orcs or just plain goblins. They might even turn out to be nothing at all. Place one counter for each goblin/orc pair (the minis still in our pool).

Now play the game as usual. The counters move 20 feet per turn using the system I described in part 1. Since the counters are most likely to be goblins, they have the same perception scores.

If your character lays eyes on the token roll a D4 and consult the table below, replacing the token with the appropriate miniature.

(D4) Random Monster Table (MK1)
1-2: Goblin
3: Orc
4: Nothing

Once the creature has been identified, play with its regular stats. You can also use random monster tables from published sources, but building your own from the ground up keeps the game more manageable. Play around with the table to get more variety for your games, for example:

(D8) Random Monster Table (MK2)
1-2: Goblin
3: Prisoner
4: Orc
5: Dire rat
6: Goblin Boss
7: Goblin Dog or Warg
8: Goblin riding a Goblin Dog or Warg.

If you’ve played Lunatic Labyrinth then you’ve seen this system in action before. The unknown really raises the game, demanding more of you as a solo player. Scouting missions make more sense too, while intelligence gathering becomes paramount to carrying out a successful mission.

A Shadow in the Goblin Caves

Last week I told you about a simple infiltration game I played many years back. Today I’m breaking out the minis to do it again. Let’s go kill some gobbos.

For this game I used the Pathfinder Beginners Box, but you could just as easily use the full Pathfinder Role-Playing Game, Dungeons and Dragons of any vintage, or some other system.

I’ll be playing Grunni, a human sell-sword (fighter) of level 1. I’m out to rescue a friend who fell foul of goblins in the early hours of the morning. I’ve been tracking the goblins and found their cave, which I’m watching from an outcrop of rocks as the evening sets in.

Goblin Caves

 

In the caves are four goblins, each by a fire, and one goblin boss, who sits on a stone throne. In the prison is a wounded and bound halfling by the name of Ranna Lightleap. She’s fast asleep on the hard stone floor.
Swimming around in the lake is a gray ooze, which feeds off fishes and the waste the goblins throw into the stream. It’s important to have the odds stacked against you; two goblins may be a challenge, but with the boss and an ooze to fall foul of, I’ll have to watch my step.

My mission is to free Ranna. My secondary missions are to kill the goblin boss, kill or drive off the goblins or to reconnoitre the caves so I can come back with a stronger force armed with some knowledge. Four different objectives will give me options when goblin poop starts flying.

Because the forces I’m dealing with are goblins, I don’t want much order to their defences. I want the grunts to move at random. They’re not patrolling or on watch for danger, so they’ll use the system I defined last week.
The boss will stay put in his chair. I’ll roll for him in the same way, but he’ll only change the direction he’s facing. If a roll would mean he’s left staring at the wall, I’ll keeping him facing as he is instead. This way he’s a kind of sentry, and harder to sneak up on.
The ooze will move at random, but will stick to the river (and the lakes that he’s used to). If anyone comes within striking distance (10 foot), he’ll attack. This way he’s a manageable threat, but could cause problems if there’s fighting near the river.

Now, a little more back story, to set the mood. Ranna is a skilled ranger who has been helping me track bandits in the area. Lone travellers have gone missing recently, which is strange this close to the safety of South Fort. We’d been tracking the bandits for days, eager to claim the sizeable bounty on their heads. Then a tribe of goblins attacked us while we slept one night. I (Grunni the sell-sword) feel like I got Ranna into this mess, so I better get her out again.

I start inching my way towards the cave mouth, using boulders for cover. I can see movement within and a goblin appears at the cave exit, looking out. He turns away, so I inch out of hiding, my bow ready if he should spot me. Suddenly he turns. I don’t see his face, silhouetted by the firelight within, but I see him raise an arm to point at me. I loose my arrow, but my shot goes wide, clattering off the stone wall. He shouts something in his guttural tongue and all hell breaks loose. Another gobbo runs out, bow in hand, I fire again and drop my bow. My blade comes free of my scabbard and glints in the moon light. “So much for stealth”, I mutter as two more goblins appear. In the storm of arrows I take one in the shoulder. It’s a solid hit, but I’m not going down yet.

The fourth goblin levels his bow; a hideous creature with a baboon like face. The arrow flies straight and true, punching through my armor and flesh, sending out a black cloud of my life blood. He rolled a 20 to hit and confirms to take me to -3 health. I slump to the floor and my world goes black.

When I awake, I’m roped and lying next to Ranna.
“Good morning. I trust the rescue attempt is going well?” She smirks.

Next time I’ll be more patient.

Short, I know, but the whole game played out with the rules I’ve laid down and no GM. It was fun, challenging and I’ve since replayed the mission again, trying out a more stealthy rogue. Why not give it a try and let me know how it goes.

The next post in the series is here.