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Lonely TTRPG EP 30 - Talking About Solo
Episode 3014th October 2022 • Lonely TTRPG • Black Dragon Dungeon Company
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Hey yall. Unfortunately, I have going to have to take a break for a couple of weeks as I am moving. Hopefully, it won't take too long and I'll be back to introducing you to more great solo games.

Until then, enjoy my thoughts on Solo TTRPG and how the systems can work for you.

Art by https://www.instagram.com/craftyteapotfox/

You can find us on Twitter @bddc_pod

You can support us on Patreon https://patreon.com/blackdragondungeoncompany for early releases and exclusive content.



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Transcripts

SteelStash:

Greetings, weary wanderer and welcome back to Lonely TT rpg, the

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Solo Actual Play and Review podcast.

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This week we're doing something a little bit different.

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We are not gonna be playing a game.

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Instead, we're gonna be talking about solo RP in general.

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Now, reason for this is I'm actually in the middle of a move.

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The movers are coming in a couple hours.

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I have been very bad.

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I'm a horrible content creator, and I am never ahead of schedule.

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So this week we're gonna talk about solo.

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So first off, why solo why get into Solo TT RPG in general?

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Now, this is episode 30, so if you were one of my followers or subscribers, then

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you guys know it's because it's fun.

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It's a fun way to play and to just get into the hobby and continue the hobby

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after all.

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Game schedules can be kind of tricky.

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Finding a game can be kind of tricky.

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You may have gotten burned on a game, you may have gotten burned in a group,

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and it's just, you know, sometimes you just can't play with people, and Solo

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provides a great opportunity for that.

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It also might be that, you know, your home group just isn't scratching that itch,

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that it's not satisfying that urge that you have because you might be in a group

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that is very combat focused and you wanna be able to explore some RP and you wanna

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be able to explore some character aspects.

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On the other hand, you might be in a very RP heavy group and every once in a while

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you just wanna do a good old dungeon dive.

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Like dungeon crawls are fun.

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There is some fun aspects to 'em.

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And you know, you might not be getting enough of that.

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Or, Or it's also just one of those, Yeah.

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D and d is great as a social game to play with your friends.

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But it might not be actually hitting the role playing urges that you need.

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So, lot of reasons to dive into solo, a lot of reasons to have fun

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with it and to help out with that.

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In fact, we're gonna be talking about some solo systems.

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Now, there are a lot of different flavors to your solo games, okay?

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There are a lot of different things that you can do, and there are a

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lot of systems that help with that.

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Now, of course, you can always play your favorite TT RPG solo.

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You are going to need some help.

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You're probably gonna want some help because there are just some things that.

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Don't work.

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Especially if you're trying to have some surprise.

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So one of the most popular tools to help out with playing something like

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Dungeons and Dragons Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, something like that in a solo

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setting is going to be a GM emulator.

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And one of the most popular GM emulators is the Mythic gm.

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emulator.

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Now mythic is great.

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What Mythic does is it.

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Basically provides an oracle.

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All right, Something that you can ask yes, no questions to.

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So instead of where you would ask your DM or gm, Hey, do I see this?

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Can I do this?

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Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

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You ask the oracle, you ask mythic and mythic has some nuance to it.

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You have different options that you.

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Choose from, Very likely, somewhat likely, 50 50, not so likely, that sort of thing.

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So you assign some weight to your question, Hey, are

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there bandits in this room?

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I think there's a 50 50 shot.

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Then you roll and the mythic tables will tell you whether yes or.

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Now in addition to that, something that mythic does is it has

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what's called a chaos factor.

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And that chaos factor does two things.

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One, it does affect the outcome of your role, so it will, it will

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affect the outcome of your yes or no, but, and this is where mythic

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really does help out, is it also will affect the outcome of your scene.

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It will affect what scene you have coming up next.

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So every time you go to start a new scene, you roll against your chaos factor.

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If you roll above your chaos factor, then it proceeds as

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normal as you think it's going to.

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If you roll below your chaos factor, there is going to be a change.

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Either something happens right before what you think is supposed to happen or.

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The scene that you thought was gonna happen doesn't happen.

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It's the next logical scene.

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So mythic is great for that.

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In addition to that, Mythic has some tables to help with generating ideas.

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So if you kind of get stuck on something and it's, Well, I'm not quite sure

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what would present, like the Oracle says something's there, but I'm not

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quite sure what I want to be there.

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You can roll on the tables and it will say, Along the lines of treasured

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heirloom or something like that.

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You know, something just to spark some ideas.

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Now, the other thing that will help out is going to be some type of.

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Collection of random tables.

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Cause after all, you're gonna get into a situation and yes, there's gonna be

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an encounter indicated, but you can't think of what the encounter's gonna be.

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So you wanna roll on a random table, and there are just, Anything

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that you want to do with that?

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Anything that you want to use for those random tables.

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You have the Flex Solo toolkit.

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You have the solo toolbox, you have Reddit communities dedicated

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to generating random tables, dms, Guild, d and d, beyond Google.

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Just anything that you can think of.

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There are gonna be random tables, and those random tables will help

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flush out those scenes and provide you stuff to do in those scenes.

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So those are really the two big things that you need, or you can just do

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whatever you feel because it's solo.

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This is all about your personal enjoyment.

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Now, outside of, outside of that, some things to help out with.

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Running one of those major systems is to roll up a couple characters

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and play those characters.

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After all, something like d and d, it's not really designed for one person

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to try to go through and do that.

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It's designed for a team to go through and try and beat this dungeon or

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accomplish this quest or what have you.

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So roll up that team.

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When it comes to controlling that team, well, one thing d and d does very well

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is the classes are based on archetypes.

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So just start out with the archetype and the stereotypes within that archetype,

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especially in your first couple sessions, especially if you're nervous about it.

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Start out with those archetypes and those stereotypes and play to that.

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. And then as time goes on, you can add some nuance to the characters as you start to

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get a feel for them and how they actually would respond in those situations.

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But it is fine to say, Hey, I have a barbarian.

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The barbarian is going to be angry and they're going to take

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an angry response to everything.

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But I also have a wizard, and the wizard is gonna be very calm

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and logical about everything.

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So when we end up in.

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When we end up in a town and an NPC is giving us a quest, then it's fine

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for the barbarian to be like, Yes, we shall go out and we shall kill it all.

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And for the wizard to be like, Well, calm down, check it out.

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We should do this instead.

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Or at least we should think about this.

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And that type of stuff is cool.

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And that's fine.

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And then as you progress, then you can start working on character

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arts where maybe the barbarian.

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learns to control themselves a little bit more while the wizard

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becomes a little more bold.

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Now, outside of the group games, you do have systems that

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are designed more for solo.

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So starting off with one of the easiest one is Caltrop Core, and

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this was developed by Titanomachy, and it is, it's a great system.

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It is a great little system.

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It's based on the D four and that D four is basically going to give

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you yes and yes, no, but no answers.

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So very super simple Oracle type system and this can actually

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be used to great effect.

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There are some great games that use this.

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You died, is one of them.

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You died.

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Has a great dungeon crawling experience, a real old school feel to it.

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And the D four system just really simplifies everything down.

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And there are several great caltrop core games.

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That basically boil down to either yes or no with a little bit of flare,

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depending on if you got a four or a one.

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Now, one of the other popular ones is going to be wretched and alone, and there

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are two variations of wretched and alone.

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But wretched and alone is going to first and foremost be great for horror games.

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This is one of those.

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It is designed for those horror.

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After all, it's based on the game, The Wretched, which is a aliens

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inspired game where you are trying to survive an alien invader in your ship.

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And one of the ways that it helps out with these horror aspects is

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with the use of a block tower, with the use of a tumbling block tower,

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Jenga knockoff, whatever you got.

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And this works great for horror because as you're going along and you're

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doing your stuff and you're pulling your cards to get your prompts, which

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is the other thing that it does, it is, it is a card prompt based game.

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Every turn, you're gonna draw a number of cards and respond to the prompts on them.

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Some of those cards, though, are also gonna tell you to pull from

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the tower, and the horror comes in with, Well, your tower can fall over.

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And when your tower falls over, your game is over.

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So you have that, You have that constant tension and that building

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tension with the block tower, because you can see how wobbly that tower is.

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You can get that building dread of, eh, is this gonna be the one that knocks it over?

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Now the other one that you have, the other variation that

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you have, the one that I use.

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Is a dice pool variant where you have 100 D six and

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every time that it would ask you to pull from the tower.

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Instead, you would roll this dice pool and anytime you roll a one, you

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would remove those dice from the pool.

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So your dice pool is a dwindling resource now.

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This does fundamentally change the feel of wretched and alone games because,

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, you don't have that building tension.

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You don't have that sudden dread that, Oh, is this the

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one that knocks over the tower?

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Instead, You do get a growing depression.

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As you watch that dice pool dwindled down further and further and

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further until finally it's gone.

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You're never gonna be surprised when it ends.

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It's just going to end.

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And so like that's still great for the horror genre, but it's like some

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fundamentally different type of horror because again, this is more of the

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depression based, the grinding one game that, one game that uses wretched

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and alone, that I think benefits a lot from using the dice pool variant

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is reign in hell because that game.

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A lot of the theme on that game is you are, you are one of the last people trying

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to prevent the fall of hell, and you're one of the last demo trying to prevent

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the fall of hell and it's been forever and you don't know how long you can hold on.

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So using the dice pool variant and getting that growing depression

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works very well for that.

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Now another system, another popular system is Carta.

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And Carta is based a little bit on wretched and alone in the sense that

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Carta use uses cards for prompts in the same way that the wretched does and all

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of your wretched and alone games do.

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But with Carta, you're not.

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With carta you're not rolling a dice to see how many task

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you're gonna accomplish in a day.

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With carta, what you're doing is you're laying those cards

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out in some type of grid.

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So carta works really great for games of exploration.

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And discovery.

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It's really great for games like that.

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Of course, one of the best games that you can play with Carta is gonna be dead belt.

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All right?

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Go check out dead Belt by a couple of Drakes.

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It is an amazing game.

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It has a great aesthetic.

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It's space cowboys and carta works wonderfully for that.

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But on the other end, there's also very cozy games that you can play

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with that like as the crow flies.

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As the crow flies, has a love.

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cozy feel and chubby Crow games did a really great job with just

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capturing a little bit of whimsy, a little bit of fantastical, and

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using carta to help build that up.

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And then on top of all of that, the next system you have, building more on.

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The cards is going to be just card prompt style games in general.

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Using a deck of cards to create some prompts, to create some story ideas is

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just, you know, that's just classic.

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That's just some classic solo play at this point, and it is a very

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easy, very common way to do that.

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So the cards become your oracle.

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And some games that do that very well, you have.

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Galatea by Mirror Lock Games that uses cards wonderfully well to build that.

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Now technically it is a, technically it does use the wretched and alone alone

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system because you do have a dice tower or you do have a block tower involved.

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But a lot of that is, a lot of that game is based on the cards and the

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prompts that you get from them.

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So yeah, the block tower exists, but.

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That's more a game of self-reflection.

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And the game works wonderfully well without the block tower, honestly.

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Like you could, you could pull that out and you're really not affecting much of

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the much of the game and the game feeling.

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And Mirror Lock did a wonderful job with how they designed that game.

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Now another very popular system, another very popular system is

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gonna be powered by the Apocalypse.

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Now, powered by the Apocalypse is wonderful for narrative driven

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games when you actually wanna use dice and you want your dice to

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help determine those outcomes.

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And with these Powered by the Apocalypse Games, There is no,

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there is no real fail state.

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Like you, yes, you can take harm and yes, your character can get to a

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point where they are hurt and their health quote unquote, goes below zero,

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but that doesn't like end the game.

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That just ends what you're able to do at that moment.

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So, These fail mechanics really help out with failing forward because as

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you, as you hit these fails, you're still provided opportunities for

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progression and for bouncing back.

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And even if you take harm, that just imposes some negative stats on

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you and you're able to keep going and you're able to keep playing.

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Powered by the Apocalypse also ended up inspiring one of the most

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popular solo game systems out there.

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And that is going to be Irons sworn and Star Forged.

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And Star Forge is just irons sworn in space.

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And I hesitate to say that Irons sworn is powered by the apocalypse.

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It uses very similar systems and mechanics to that, but

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. It does have a, it does have probably

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because with iron sworn all of your stuff, you're rolling your role and then

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you roll what's called challenge dice.

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So you're gonna roll a D 10 and then you're gonna roll a challenge

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dice for another D 10 correction.

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You're gonna roll two challenge dice which are also D 10 s, and if your

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roles beat those challenge dice, If your rolls beat those challenge dice, then

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you get some wonderful opportunities for success and growth and marking

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progress on your progress track.

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And the progress track is the best part of the Ironsworn system because every

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time you do something, you create a progress track and that progress track is

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going to have a certain strength to it.

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And based on how hard that progress track is, is you know

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how many boxes you get to tick.

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So once everything's all said and done, when you want to try and resolve that

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quest that you're on, you roll your challenge dice against your progress

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track and just like your other stuff like, just like your other challenges that

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you had to do in order to make progress.

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If you beat one challenge dice, you get a mixed success, and that means

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that, yeah, you succeed, but it's not gonna be the way that you wanted.

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And there's gonna be some consequences.

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But if you beat both dice, then that's a complete success.

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Everything goes on.

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All hunky dory, like and then, If you fail to beat either of those dice, then that is

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a complete failure and you don't succeed.

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And now you have to find another way forward and you need to pivot and

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find another way around that issue.

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So iron sworn really great with that.

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And then the other thing about iron sworn is that the creator, Shawn Tomkin did such

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a wonderful job with writing the book.

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Writing the books for those and he provides so many tables in there

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to help generate and spark ideas.

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The action and theme tables are very well thought out and very well

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executed, and there are just some great ways to, great ways to use that.

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And there's a while you can play Iron Sworn with a group it.

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Like it is designed for solo play, like it is very solo conscious in

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it's designed, so irons worn, makes for a great solo play system, but at

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the end of the day, whatever system you choose kind of doesn't matter.

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It's like the things that are gonna come into play is what you are

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looking for and what you enjoy.

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You know, any D 20 based system is gonna be very swingy.

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You have a lot of opportunity for great success and great failure,

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whereas something like powered by the apocalypse or iron sworn, most of

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where you're gonna live is in mixed success, and the gameplay is all about.

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How you pivot and handle that mixed success and put yourself in a position

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so that you get that complete success and that's how you move forward.

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You know, versus games like wretched and alone, where you do have that instant

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fail mechanic, which is running out of dice, or that block tower falling.

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So there are plenty of options out there, and there are plenty

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of ways to approach solo and just find a way that works for you.

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All right?

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Again, it's solo.

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You're playing by yourself.

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You got nobody else around.

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All right?

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All you have is some dice.

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A notebook to jot down how your session went and you know, a

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deck of cards and some prompts.

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All right?

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And it's all about finding your personal enjoyment and what you wanna do, and

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finding a system that will help compliment what type of game you're trying to play.

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All right.

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I would not recommend a D 20 base game for something investigative.

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That swing is way too big.

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And it's just gonna be really disappointing because you're gonna

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keep running into the situations where, Oh, I failed this check and

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now I, now this path is blocked off and I can't get the clues that I need.

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I wouldn't necessarily recommend wretched and alone for some type of

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investigative type game because you know that instant fail mechanic.

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Is going to be highly unsatisfying because oh, yeah, you know, the

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investigation's cruising along.

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I'm making some good progress.

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I'm close to finding things out and, oh, nope, my tower fell over.

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I guess I lose.

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All right.

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Powered by the Apocalypse Works great for that because you have the mixed success.

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You have f failing forward.

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You have the ability to pivot and redirect and find other ways around it.

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All right?

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But D 20 systems are gonna work great for things where you want.

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That swing.

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You want those epic highs and those low lows.

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It's great for that epic fantasy feel.

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It's great for that grim dark feel because yeah, a couple bad

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rolls and your character dies.

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That fits grim dark very well.

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You know, couple poor decisions on the character's part or on a character's part

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in a grim dark world, and they are dead.

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On the other hand, the epic fantasy of, Hey, I've had some great roles.

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I've stacked my modifiers, I've built my character well, and I can take on armies.

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And that's a very powerful feel.

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And if you want something, if you want something a little more horror based,

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a little more tension based, then wretched and alone, great for that.

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Pull out that block tower.

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Just see how, like see how you respond to having to, like knowing you have

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to make a move knowing you have to make that move and you have to pull

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that block out and not knowing if that tower's gonna stay up or not.

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So lot of great options for solo games.

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Lot of great opportunities for solo games and again.

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A fun hobby.

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If you're not involved in it.

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If you've just been listening to me talk about games highly recommend

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that you grab one dive on in.

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There are some great easy games in here.

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Pilgrimage of the Sunguard.

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Great easy game to start off with not really based on any system.

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It captures a great vibe to it and, you know, excellent opportunity to

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have a small self-contained thing.

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Again, as the crow flies, great for a first time game, lovely, cozy feel to it.

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And Carta is a very easy system to pick up and use.

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So at the end of the day, find what you want, like figure out what type

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of genre you wanna play, figure out what type of gameplay that you're

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looking for, and then find a system.

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We'll compliment that and then hop onto itch, hop onto drive

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through and check 'em out.

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Like check out those systems because somebody has written a game that

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falls in line with that somebody has written a game that will be very

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close to what you're looking for.

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And then if you're looking for more outside of the box stuff, then there

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are also games that do that as well.

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All right.

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We've already talked about as we've already talked about pilgrimage.

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Of the Sunguard.

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You also got grimoire, which use, which is a wonderfully unique system.

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So there are plenty of, plenty of options, plenty of great things that you can do.

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And you know, if you get lost, if you're confused, if you have questions, well

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then go ahead and drop me a comment.

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Let me know.

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Cause.

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After all.

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Part of why I do this, the main reason why I do this is to share

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with you all these games so that you can find something you wanna play.

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And I am absolutely here to help.

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And if you need that help, well then make sure you listen to the closing

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tag because my socials are in there.

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But I've been steel stash.

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This is lonely tt rpg.

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And remember, I'm must stash y'all to stay.

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And as a quick aside, this is probably gonna be the last one for a while.

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Again, I'm moving, I have to take a little bit of a break.

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So we are gonna be on hiatus for a couple weeks unless I finish my new game and

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do a surprise episode with poor sound recording because I'm losing my stuff.

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But who knows?

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We'll see.

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Just stay tuned and worst case scenario, I'll see you all

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again in a couple of weeks.