Setting Solo Goals

As obvious as this sounds, I just realised why most of my solo roleplaying games don’t grow legs and get finished: they lack a clear goal.

Catching up on some old Angry GM posts, I was bludgeoned in the face with the obviousness of the idea. Of course, obvious never is (to anyone else) and so maybe I should be kinder to myself. Here’s a quotation:

The adventure you’re building is the game. And games need goals. Goals give the players context for their decisions. If they don’t know what they’re trying to do, they can’t make useful choices and they can’t work together.

The Angry GM, Angry’s Double Impossible Adventure Checklist (Apr 24, 2020)

That hit the nail on the head for me: when I am solo playing, I often face this sense of not having a clue what it is my character is trying to do. The most successful game started with a character trying to survive a police raid and escape the building, getting to a place of safety. My most recent game had the character charging into a Goblin-invaded village to recover artefacts. Those games worked because there was a clear goal.

Here’s the learning: set your character a clear, unambiguous goal up-front. Something simple works fine. Angry’s advice is to have them “verb the noun”. For example, escape the police or recover the artefact. Simple.

This simple idea has completely reinvigorated my solo roleplaying (again) because it clearly shows me how to fix the biggest problem I didn’t realise I had. Set a clear goal. Verb the noun. From that, it’s easy to imagine the opposition and run the scenario.

Game on!

One comment

  1. ‘Verb that noun’ u mean.

    It’s very good point tho.
    Generally good life advice, not limited to RPGs at all.
    Without goals we drift aimlessly and lack the drive and conviction to see things through. Thus leaving us prone to flounder, misstep and give up.
    Goals give our actions meaning… but our goals must have meaning to us/our characters also, otherwise they cannot provide that drive I mentioned.
    We cannot build conviction where the foundations are weak… the whole mental construct will collapse.

    That has been my experience in life all too often.
    No goals, or only weak ones; leading to distraction, failure, lost impetus. Without knowing what I want n building a strategy of how to get there, I have essentially gone nowhere and been led by others my whole life.

    Liked by 1 person

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