Tag Archives: Solo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas Greetings Web

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Rising Phoenix Games!

Blackmore’s Night is one of our favorite bands, and their cover of ‘Here We Come a Caroling’ couldn’t be closer to our wishes for you and your family this season. Please, enjoy their cover, below.

God bless!
Rodney and the Rising Phoenix Games Team

 


Let’s Go Solo with Pathfinder 2e — A Quickstart

There are loads of reasons to play RPGs alone, from avoiding the plague to testing out homebrew rules, or just for the fun of focusing on a single hero’s story. These days, there’s a huge number of tools and adventures for the solo player. We’re going to look at some of the intricacies of roleplaying solo with Pathfinder 2e.

December is Fun for One!

No, I’m not being a Grinch. I mean that the RPG Blog Carnival is parked here this month, and we’re talking Fun for One. That can mean all sorts of things, not just about solo gaming specifically. Go check out the host page, and be sure to check the comments for more posts on the topic. You can even add your own, so why not join us?

rpg blog carnival logo

Now, back to going solo with Pathfinder 2e.

The Core Appeal of Solo Play

Playing a game alone is usually fun for very different reasons that make a group game fun.

Solo games can present a puzzle for you, and you alone, to solve. In this sense, every combat encounter becomes a puzzle: how do I defeat the enemy without losing too many resources (Hit Points are one resource, after all).

Solo TTRPGs are very introspective, and you can enjoy the time alone with the character and their story in a uniquely intimate way. I love writing stories for exactly the same reason, and it’s probably why solo adventures intrigue me.

You might enjoy your solo experiences in other ways too, and here’s the point: understand that solo play is fun for a different reason and play your game to maximize that experience.

Solo Pathfinder 2e Encounters

Let’s take encounters and think about them as puzzles some more. How do we get more of a tactical challenge from encounters, if we’re a solo player?

XP Budget and Character Adjustment

In a solo game, the XP Budget is the Character Adjustment. See XP Budget, in the Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook. In other words:

XP Budget for Solo Play
Trivial – 10 XP or less
Low – 15 XP
Moderate – 20 XP
Severe – 30 XP
Extreme – 40 XP

This XP Budget limits what you can throw at your hero, especially if your hero is 1st or 2nd level. You might consider playing a 3rd level character right out the gate to make up for this. Otherwise, you’ll be serving up Moderate to Extreme encounters until you gain a level.

Random Monsters and Generated Dungeons

Completely random tables aren’t going to provide good synergies for building meaningful encounters. Instead, take a look at the maps, map tiles, and monster miniatures you have. What interesting combinations can you build from those?

I’ve already spoken here about building dungeons as a way to invent encounters,  where you put yourself in the role of Dungeon Keeper, using tiles and dungeon scenery as a toy to inspire you.

If you still want to randomize parts of the encounter, then create short, D4 or D6-based lists that let you swap out a few elements of terrain or change up some of the monsters in the encounter. You might have a table for environmental factors, like the level of lightning and if the ground is slippery or not.

Help and Healing

Before you jump into playing the game, decide how deadly you want your game to be. Do you need to keep an NPC handy to cast stabilize, or will you have a magical item that casts raise dead on you whenever you die, up to three times? Will monsters kill your hero if you’re defeated, or will they attempt to heal your hero and keep you as their captive?  

DriveThruRPG.com

Fun for One — RPG Blog Carnival, December ’21

It’s December, and that means Rising Phoenix Games is hosting the RPG Blog Carnival. This month, it’s “Fun for One”. Read on and find out how you can join in on the RPG-flavored action.

‘Tis the Season to be Mental

Aargh! It’s December again! Is the Christmas spirit supposed to be this silly? Is the mad rush of buying gifts worth the heart attack? Any way you paint it, December is always a “special month”, much like mommy’s “special boy” who’s mostly unruly but can have his moments of genuine humanity.

At Rising Phoenix Games, December means gift-giving, hiding toy soldiers in Christmas trees, eating too much chocolate, and hosting RPG Blog Carnival.

rpg blog carnival logo

RPG Blog Carnival and Fun for One

RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by a different blogger every month, throughout the year, with each blogger suggesting a topic for the month. Any RPG blogger can take part by writing about the topic and posting a link in the comments section. You can write as many articles as you like, too, and we’ll compile them all into a roundup that’ll come out around the 1st of 2022. So, if you love reading RPG blogs, this is the place to be, all month long.

Our topic this month is “Fun for One”, and you can swing that any way you like. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Write about a session nobody but the GM enjoyed. It happens! Give us some ideas to help us avoid the same train smash.
  2. Tell us about a game you ran for a friend.
  3. Create a big bad boss for your favorite system. Make sure your creation is tough as nails and hard to take down.
  4. Make some magical items that give a hero plenty of perks, at the expense of a curse on the party.
  5. Write an encounter or short adventure using the theme “Fun for One”. We have loads of cheap stock maps to inspire you.
  6. Make a short RPG for one player, or for one player and a GM. Or write an RPG where every player controls the same character, much like in Everyone is John.
  7. Give us some ideas for turning character creation, which usually is only fun for one, into something the whole group can enjoy together.
  8. Talk about how you handle splitting the party.
  9. Build some diabolical traps that are designed to target one hero only.
  10. Make critical fumbles the most fun thing to roll with new rules that’ll amaze and entertain.

We look forward to seeing those posts rolling in.

Unleash the Power of the Magus

Our friends at d20pfsrd.com Publishing just released Art of Magic: Melee and Magic, which hit Copper Seller in 24 hours. It includes new magus archetypes, feats, magus arcana, and spells. Melee and Magic offers a wide variety of builds for every magus player.

Melee and Magic

The book is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (first edition) and is $2.99 for 24 pages.

 

The Quick Win – Leveraging Goals for the Big Win

I’m a big believer in the quick win.

Especially when it comes to hobby gaming.

The Quick Win
Photo credit: Andre Hunter.

Quick wins, as the name suggests, are small projects that don’t take much time, or effort. The miniature you paint in an hour, the terrain you bang out in 3 hours, or the monster stat block you write in 5 minutes all fall into this category.

Why the Quick Win?

Getting things done is very motivating. My recent post about painting RPG miniatures gets into that more. The reverse is also true though, that having too much on your plate can turn you off of your hobby quicker than a quickling in hyperdrive.

It’s also great having something to show for your efforts, and with a string of quick wins you can easily build up to a much larger goal. It’s a lot like how I write now. My current RPG book — teasers here, here, and here — is being written in 2-hour bursts. In each session, I aim to finish one section of the book. Sometimes I’ll get 2-3 monsters done, sometimes it’s most of a background, but every session that I finish something is another thing off the checklist.

How’s this different from how I used to write? Before, I didn’t break down my tasks much, so in 2 hours I often worked on a bunch of sections, got demotivated, and lost my concentration. That kind of thing can lead to burnout. In other words, I’m talking about the tortoise’s approach to winning the race: slow and steady, and about breaking down that race into milestones. Each milestone is a victory in and of itself.

Life also takes up much of our hobby time, so when we have time, we need to use it wisely.

Your Next Quick Win

I’ll leave you with this thought. What small hobby project would give you the most satisfaction. Is it drawing that dungeon map you’ve been planning? Making a handout? Stating up an NPC? Or do you just need to run a short session over Google Hangouts to get everyone ready for a longer session?

Plan it. Do it. Celebrate your quick win.

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

This Black Friday we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG.  This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Looking for some unique gaming gift ideas? D20Radio.com has some excellent gamer gift ideas worth checking out.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

A Love Affair With Deadly Solo Games

I strongly believe that gaming, or any geekdom, should be about people first. So then it might seem strange that I love solo games so much, particularly deadly ones. Solo games, like The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Zombie in my Pocket, or our own Choose Your Destiny Adventures, are a conversation — a dialogue between the designer and the player — of the most intimate nature.

Deadly solo games
Photo credit: Steve Halama

A solo game designer creates a puzzle for their players to solve.
The best designers get the difficulty balance right. They know their audience and create challenges that’ll push players to bring their best, without breaking them.

But how difficult should a game be?

Different Strokes

It varies. Solitaire’s three-card draw version is perfect for many players,  while others prefer the easier one-card draw version. It largely depends on your audience. Hard-core puzzle solvers want a challenge, other players just want to relax and take a load off. Still, make things too easy and players will pass through your game too quickly and have little reason to come back to it. If it’s too tough players will eventually give up and hate the game. The sweet spot, in my experience, is somewhere just before that: deadly.

Deadly and Desirable

The Dark Souls series taught us that a deadly challenge is memorable — even desirable. Of all the bazillion games out there, Dark Souls is the only one tempting my brother and I to buy a console. And a TV. And the game. I’ve literally watched hours of other people playing the game, and it still fascinates me.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the Fighting Fantasy series, is famous for being difficult to beat, with only one true path through it. You’ll die plenty of times on your way to the warlock. I picked it up again recently because I’ve still not beaten it — and that’s enough to tempt me back again.

This is starting to have weird similarities with BDSM, and maybe there’s wisdom in that. The question then is, how difficult is too difficult?

A Step Too Far

A game gets too difficult if it’s unplayably hard, if the player bearly gets started before meeting a grizzly fate, or if multiple attempts result in little  or no progress. In a solo game, without a buddy for backup, it’s vital that the designer supports the player, so the rules need to be digestible and must provide the tools for beating the game.

We like a challenge, we don’t like getting the snot kicked out of us again and again.

When a designer nails the difficulty then the player feels respected, and that makes for a fun game that’s hard to forget — just like a good conversation.

Choose Your Destiny

Our Choose Your Destiny Adventures can surely prove deadly, and they’re a lot of fun, especially if you want to break out your fifth edition fantasy character and play for an evening. You can subscribe to the series on our Patreon page.

Death Queen  - A Deadly Solo Game
What’s more deadly than an adventure with “Death Queen” in the title?

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

It’s Here! Test Drive Outrun Today – Devlog 5

This is going to be a short post because Outrun’s development just reached a major milestone. Instead of me yakking on, let me give you a copy of the game so that you can take it for a test drive.

Test Drive It Now. Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.
Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life. You can find our other devlogs here: Devlog 1, Devlog 2, Devlog 3, and Devlog 4.

Gearing Up

Throughout these devlogs I’ve looked at iterations of the game, each building on what came before. Heck, you might even think there were two very different games being built. This morning I put everything together and gave it a test drive, now you can too.

Of course, we’ve still got a way to go, and there could well be bugs, but let’s call this the alpha playtest.

What’s In, What’s Out

The playtest includes the very basic game, without the music and RPG component, which will all come later — once the core mechanics are working perfectly.

How Can I Help?

Download the rules (link’s at the bottom), read it, play it, then give me your creative feedback at itch.io/t/268449/outrun-this-thread or in the comments below. Giving me feedback helps me evaluate the game and polish it up, but it will also earn you a playtest credit in the final version of the book.

It’s really helpful if you can tell me if any rules are hard to understand by pointing them out to me.

Enough Already, Give Me the Book!

You can download the book from:

Itch.io

Test Drive Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev

Enjoy!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

The Minimum Viable Product — Devlog 4

Extra Credits has this great video about making a Minimum Viable Product (video embedded at the bottom of this post). Basically, you build the simplest version of your game possible, before getting into all the features that aren’t vital to your game.

It's the quest for the minimum viable product!
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life. You can find our other devlogs here: Devlog 1, Devlog 2, and Devlog 3.

Building the Minimum Viable Product

I caught myself designing POD cards for Outrun before I’d nailed down the core mechanics. What a waste of time that’ll be if my core game changes and I need to update the cards.

But what does Outrun’s MVP include? Here are my design requirements:

  1. A challenging solitaire game involving choice, with a low level of randomness.
  2. That’s it.

Here’s what the bare-bones version of Outrun looks like:

Outrun — A Solitaire Card Game

Use a standard deck of 52 playing cards. These represent gas in your fuel tank. Shuffle the cards well, then place them in front of you, face down.

Draw a card face up from the top of the deck. If you draw a red card (Hearts or Diamonds), stop drawing. If you draw a black card (Clubs or Spades), draw again until you have 3 cards face up in front of you or until you’ve drawn a red card.

You can take 1 even card and place it to the side. Queens count as 12, so they’re even. Each even card represents 1 hour of driving, and your goal is to drive for 24 hours by collecting all 24 even cards. Place the other cards, if any, in your discard pile.

Repeat the process of drawing cards and taking an even card, if any show up. If your deck runs out of cards, you’ve run out of gas and you lose the game.

Refueling: If you take a Queen from the cards in front of you, you can immediately shuffle the remaining face-up cards and your discard pile into your deck.

The Pale Rider:  The King of Clubs is the Pale Rider. Whenever you draw him, discard 2 cards from the top of your deck into your discard pile. Shuffle the Pale Rider back into your deck. You may then take an even card if any remain face up in front of you. If the Pale Rider is the last card to be drawn from the deck, you lose the game.

All the lazerpunk goodness builds on top of this minimum viable product. Give it a go and tell me what you thought.

Lazerpunk – A Definition

I’ve thrown around a few definitions in my earlier Devlogs, but here’s one worth defining clearly.

Lazerpunk: Cyberpunk with an 80’s retro aesthetic.

Outrun’s look is what I call lazerpunk — cyberpunk with an 80’s retro feel. It’s Hotline Miami and Satellite Reign smashed into one.

30% Off Pathfinder

We’ve got a huge Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible sale on. The sale’s going for a few weeks, then it’s gone.

Till next time, live awesomely.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Here’s that Minimum Viable Product video I mentioned:

Funding Outrun – Devlog 3

Making games is awesome, but keeping your projects funded and in the black is just as important as having fun. Today I’ll look at some of the ways we’re funding Outrun. I’ll also look at sourcing and creating cheap assets.

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Status Report, Scottie

A load of playtesting’s done and written up, so the core mechanics are in. Next, I’ll be focusing on additional mechanics and fluff. The bones are there and just need fleshing out.

Games assets got some love over the weekend, so let’s take a look at those.

Art Makes a Game

Great art draws you into a game. It’s also the one aspect of game design that hobbyists frequently get wrong, not through bad art, but through poor design.

Design is about unity and the thoughtful application of elements within the product. I’m starting to get technical, but my point is that, by applying design principles, you can turn a collection of assets into one unified whole.

I’m always scouring the Internet for useful assets, so I already have a library to pull from. For the rest, I make whatever I need or find an artist.

For Outrun, I’ve done 12 different page backgrounds. Here are two of my favorites so far.

Retro & Lazerpunk Boarder Samples
Retro & Lazerpunk Border Samples

I’ll be offering these page boarders off Drive Thru RPG, as a way of funding Outrun.

Page Background Set - Funding Outrun
Page Background Set

Photos and Filler

The rest of the book will be filled with emotive photos that bring the world of Outrun to life, similar to what I did with How to Plan a Murder — one of my best layout jobs yet, IMHO.

I’ll create my own design elements to fill in the gaps. I spent a lot of time researching the look and feel I want for outrun, so now it’s just a matter of making everything. Yay, Photoshop!

And the Cover?

My beautiful wife will bring her design talent to Outrun’s logo and cover, but you’ll have to wait and see. There’s a chance that the cover will be heavily inspired by Philip Summers’ design, below, but adapted to an RPG book format.

Wouldn’t it be awesome, though, if the PDF was formatted to look like a TV screen running a Famicom game? I think buyers might want to fling their keyboards at me for that one, but I like interesting ideas.

Rushing Drive, by Phillip Summers - Funding Outrun
Rushing Drive, by Philip Summers

No Tip Jar Here, Friend

If you like what you’ve seen please consider checking out our other RPG products. If you like something in our catalog, the team and I will always appreciate making a sale, and the money keeps us going.

Check out our Products

By the way, we’ve got a 30% Off sale on all our Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible products, starting tomorrow, in celebration of the Pathfinder 2 Playtest that just kicked off.

Join the Conversation

I’m sharing our progress here, but the conversation is happening at our dedicated progress thread at itch.io. Come along and say hi, or leave a comment here. Comments are moderated, so your comment won’t go up until a mod has had a chance to approve it (we get a LOT of spam).

Later.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Outrun, Driving Beats – Devlog 2

Driving beats and hand brake turns, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal!

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Base Mechanics – Driving, Part 2

Last time I talked about driving mechanics, but there are two parts to it — distance driving and skill driving.

Driving Beats Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev

Distance driving uses the rules I mentioned in the last post and covers the exploration part of the game.

Skill driving is all about shifting gears, hand brake turns, and gunning the engine. The rules were inspired by Tokyo Drift Racers, a 200 word game by Martin Killmann.

Disclaimer: These rules are in development and very likely to change. I’m sharing them so you can give them a try and tell me what you think.

You start with a pack of regular playing cards and 6d6. Shuffle and draw ten cards, face down, to make your challenge deck. Take 2d6 to make your starting dice pool. An extra dice or note paper is useful for tracking damage.

Driving Beats Sitting Around
Skill Driving Playtest, Underway!

Follow this process:

  1. Before a card is revealed you can shift gear, adding or removing 1 die from your pool.
  2. Reveal a card from the top of the deck.
  3. Gear shift up or down 1 die (remove or add a die).
  4. Roll the dice. Your aim is to equal the value on the card. (Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Aces = 1)
  5. You can hand brake turn to remove 1 or 2 dice from your pool after you’ve rolled. These dice don’t come back magically, you have to add them back to your pool by gear shifting up again (step 1 and 3).
  6. You use your brake to subtract 1 or 2 from the total value of the remaining dice pool.
  7. The difference between your target score and the final result is damage to your car. Your car can take a total of 6 points of damage, anything over that wrecks it.
  8. Rinse and repeat for each card in the deck.

Give it a try. A few plays should lead you to a winning strategy.

Driving Beats

Is music a key part of your play sessions? Shouldn’t it be?

In my last post I promised to fill you in on Outrun’s secret sauce. Nightrun and outrun retro wave music captures the heart and soul of Outrun. It’s in the friggin’ name!

But what’s outrun anyway? Time to get your laserpunk on!

There are a few musical RPGs out there, but not many that include music as part of the game’s mechanics. Ribbon Drive uses mixed tapes to direct the narrative flow and Waxing Lyrical uses song lyrics for the basis of character creation and world building.

So how else can you use music as part of a game’s mechanics?

Tracks have a variable length, differing beats, and moods. Outrun turns that into a core mechanic that makes up for the lack of a GM with driving beats. More on this, later down the line.

The AGBIC Game Jam

Want to know a little more about the #AGBIC jam? Here’s a great video that tells all.

See you on the flip side.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Outrun – Devlog 1

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG inspired by Rushing Drive, a cartridge cover for a fictional Famicom game, created by Philip Summers (on Instagram). I’m developing Outrun as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Core Concepts

Outrun is a blend of stuff I love: night run synth music, cyberpunk, fast cars, solo gaming, retro aesthetics, mutants, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. I’ve been kicking ideas around for this game since November 2017, and it’s finally starting to come together. Thanks, game jam deadline!

Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.
Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.

Base Mechanics

So it’s a game about driving, and it’s solo, and it’s an RPG. Outrun is all about the driving — think Drive and Baby Driver. Because it’s solo, a lot of the adventure has to come from the mechanics or the fluff supporting the mechanics.

Junk’d, a hot new game by Runehammer Games, has some great mechanics for simulating road-rage induced highway combat, and is perfect for a board game. Outrun’s “road” needs to be just as tight, but with plenty of adventure, choice, and replayability packed in.

Outrun uses a deck of cards, with each card keyed to a specific encounter. To drive, roll a d3, which tells you the number of cards to draw. Each card has two entries: what you see up ahead and what you find when you get there. You get to choose which locations to drive through, and your aim is to beat the deck in a number of turns — before the sun sets.

Vampires

Why do you need to beat the sun? It has something to do with vampires. Mutant vampires. Because, of course, vampires.

Pedal to the Metal

If you want to make RPGs, you have to make RPGs that really spark. We’re lucky to have a great line of products that have sold well, but Outrun is all about pushing the game design envelope. I’ll talk more about Outrun’s secret sauce in future posts, stay tuned.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.