Solo Game Master’s Guide

Just received my physical copy of the Solo Game Master’s Guide by Geek Gamers, published by Modiphius. Having read the .PDF from cover to cover, I can say that this is a useful tool for any soloist. My view is that it contains several good ideas that are generally applicable to the regular GM too.

I’ve read a lot of solo roleplaying material. Most of it is either highly derivative of Mythic or very limited in what it can teach you. What this book offers is a selection of approaches which have helped me unlock several aspects of solo play that troubled me.

Firstly, the advice that “Everything is playing” resonated with me deeply:

If you are getting involved with an RPG rule set in any way, you are playing.

Solo GMG, page 14

“Play emotion, no mechanics” also touched a nerve and opened my mind to some very interesting ideas. I loved this passage from the book:

Story hangs on emotion. The more emotion, the more story. Story is emotion. When sessions fail, it’s because they don’t draw you in. If you don’t want to know what happens next—if you are not wondering about that question—you will find yourself at a standstill. This is true whether you are a GM running a table of players or a GM working solo.

Solo GMG, page 21

A third helpful tool was something more prosaic but very clearly stated: the idea that you need four RPG resources to play an effective solo game:

  1. Generative resources
  2. Suggestive resources
  3. Restrictive resources
  4. A rubric

There are many more useful ideas and tips throughout the book. I found “How to start with no rule set” and “How to read really big rule sets” highly valuable chapters which have inspired actual play over the past few days.

All-in-all it’s a pretty loose work but it does contain serious gems. The main criticism is that it recommends a pretty freeform approach that doesn’t always mesh with my playstyle, plus there are just a few too many highly detailed examples for my taste. That said, a newbie soloist will find much to explore here.

Game on!

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