Three Days Of Solo

For the past three days, I have committed myself to playing solo for at least one hour and the plan is to keep that up throughout this entire week of holiday. It’s been a revelation of joy so far and I find myself highly motivated to continue. I thought it might be interesting to jot down my thoughts on why.

First of all, what am I doing? Following the failures of many months (nay, years!) of solo gaming, I came to the key conclusion last week that I am bringing far too much baggage and expectation to the table. Inspired by both “Tale of The Manticore” and “Legend of The Bones” – both of which run using B/X D&D and play with a completely open world – I decided to try my hand at turning up with fewer expectations.

Character sheets, GME Deck, laptop for Campaign Logger, rules, and dice.

On Saturday, I sat down with the 1980 Basic Roleplaying booklet and played through an encounter between three randomly created characters – rolled up using the simple rules in that resource – and a creature suggested in the final scenario provided. Inspired by an earlier example, I decided the action would take place at “Crag’s Ruin”.

From there, I felt that the rules were a little too bare-bones so I grabbed out the Basic Roleplaying powered “Magic World” supplement and converted the characters to those slightly more detailed rules. Although I don’t much like the “Magic World” setting nor the magic system, it was easy to port the rules into my own world idea. With slightly more fleshed out characters, I was excited to return to the adventure.

Two things are helping me to feel excited and motivated to keep playing after three days: I’m enjoying the inherent “purposelessness” of the play and I am much more relaxed about the way in which I am playing.

The first point arises from Brown’s theory of play. For me, the degree to which we play with apparent purposelessness is a key factor in how we experience that play. Among all the other properties of play, removing all other motives – such as learning a system, practicing combats, or having a particular story that I want to tell – helped me discover that the play is richer.

This in turn is helping me to feel a lot less self-conscious about the solo play experience. Tapping into the nice simple rules from BRP and using the easy-to-grok GM Emulator Deck from Mythic, all the stress or self-conscious worry about the quality of play has drained away. Ironically enough, I’ve discovered that it’s just as important to have nothing to prove – especially to yourself – as anything else.

I’ve stopped trying to be clever or original with my world. I’m just leaning into the classic fantasy tropes and allowing my inner player rise up to the surface. It’s very early days but I am nonetheless excited because three days in a row is probably a record for me. Because it’s voluntary and there’s the maximum of improvisational possibility, I’m finding myself more strongly attracted to play.

Here’s hoping that I can keep the momentum going throughout the whole week off work.

Game on!

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