A scout mission gone awry

Reflections on my first solo play adventure


When I first heard about solo playing I was very skeptical. I decided to try it out nevertheless and my first two attempts were a disaster.

In my first try, I tried to play without the use of an Oracle, but by being the GM and emulating the character. Didn’t work out, and my character was slaughtered by a critical hit that severed his knee in the first round of combat in the first scene.

Second try, I used BOLD to set up a story, and started using an Oracle to set up the scene, but quickly I got lost in questions that made no sense and abandoned it.

Both of these were set in an agnostic fantasy setting, and herein lies the first two problems I had to solve. I needed to have some meta knowledge of the setting my character lived in, and also knowledge of the game mechanics so that I won’t be losing a lot of time.

So I chose Star Wars D6. I know the setting. I’ve watched the movies and several of the animated series episodes. It’s also a huge universe, so I could mix canon stuff with things I made on the fly through the Oracle. Secondly I have the physical books in my collection from my TTRPG days. No more going back and forth in pdf files trying to browse to the page I want.

In retrospect, those two were excellent choices that helped drive my play forward.

I created a scout character. I chose a scout because he is prone to solo adventuring, and I wouldn’t have to think a lot about an adventure hook. So without a second thought I used a name generator until I got something I liked and off we go.

Here I made a mistake. I didn’t spend some time to create some proper background for Roy. Yes, he wants to explore and he wants to make a name of himself. That’s very shallow. It caused me a few headaches down the road where I wasn’t sure how Roy would react. So he acted how I would act.

I tried to fix it later by using BOLD for a backstory, but still I have a gap there. For the future I intend to use some random roll based on Septimus and OpenD6 chargen which has several traits that will have both roleplaying and game mechanics impact. Lesson learned.

First play session in, and I have a very bad roll in astrogation. Which destroyed Roy’s ship and has him evacuate in a hurry to survive.

That was great! At the moment I couldn’t see it, but a story module could have been designed that way and it happened in game!

The cinematic nature of WEG Star Wars D6 payed out. Roy’s adventure turned oh so different because of this starting event.

Third or fourth session in, I realize that Roy won’t get far all alone. He needs assistance. I managed to bring that to him through the Oracle and UNE and bring out Luca, who would become a secondary PC-NPC later on. Balancing is important.

Here’s how I started mixing up Oracle rolls and game mechanics. Whenever there is a game mechanic rule about something, it takes precedence. Otherwise I ask The Oracle. Pretty much how the GM would arbitrate. So Roy managed to persuade Luca to help him. Why? I assume that in the end it was Lucas nature rather than the promise of a vague unknown reward.

A topic that came along many times was the combat maps. Theater of the mind vs grid map. I tried both, but since I don’t have a dedicated board or something similar, I went with theater of the mind. It also resolved faster. When soloing theater of the mind also has no misunderstandings. In the future I want to bring out my legos and try such a visualization.

Now a long journey begins. With the duo jumping back and forth between systems trying to get the information on those data cores. At some point I got frustrated. I think it’s one of those moments where a GM railroads the players back into the adventure.

I couldn’t see the big picture of how interesting this was. Thankfully the fellow lone wolves who read on my story pointed it out, and I stuck with it, and a couple sessions later, the data cores are unlocked, and the duo, accompanied by Kuna heads off to the mysterious coordinates.

Looking back, I see that all this struggle gave the adventure depth. It has a prologue, main theme, and we’re heading to the revelation and epilogue. Another lesson learned. Never abandon the story, there are always hooks.

Somewhere around here I decided to play around a bit with the game system. No matter how cinematic, for reasons I explained elsewhere, the addition and target numbers slowed down the pace when playing. I switched to a homebrew D6 Legends with pips success resolution mechanic and never looked back. It’s easy, fast has narrative determination if desired and success levels so that I can tell how well the character did.

Now heading to the end one of the hardest things I had to tackle was metagaming. I haven’t solved the issue yet, but I have identified several cases where it happened, and I intend to write down some rules on how to avoid it.

In several of my sessions I knew things my character didn’t. I fixed those cases but still, it either stole some of the surprise elements or made me feel like I was cheating, when I disregarded them to go with the story and Oracle flow.

I also made a couple mistakes and had to trace back and delete a paragraph or two and catch the story again from there. So another rule I follow is that unless it’s written down in the cleaned up form (e.g posted here) if I made a serious mistake I can scratch it and restart from there.

There were a couple sessions where I noticed my errors afterwards, and the consequences were dire, with the team wounded and losing their starship, but in fairness I stuck with it.

In one of my sessions, just when I thought the team would be handed over to the Imperials, I had a player moment. I thought of something my character would do based on what he knows, which was a solution to the problem! This was very important to me as it gave me the thrill of playing the game instead of narrating or making rolls to see how well I did.

20 sessions in, and when the dramatic outcome of saving the Amalsi didn’t occur, I knew I had to wrap things up.

At first, I took focus away and just wrote a short epilogue on how they went to Aros and lay low.

It just didn’t feel right. So I split it up and step by step, I played the epilogue, which gave me the closure I wanted, and some extra plot hooks.

It feels much more fair and complete now.

Another thing I learned was how to focus in and out. That’s another advantage of the D6 system. The skills can be for a quick action (sneaking past a guard) or a long term series of actions (sneaking through the wilderness). It assisted me when doing the repairs on the Dragonfly and in the epilogue when I wanted to wrap things up. I could have scenes with Luca meeting up the black market contacts and the data forgers, but that could have sidelined to new adventures and I didn’t want that at the time.

Another challenge is bookkeeping. I am not great at organizing notes. I have printed the base character sheets but I don’t update them regularly. So I use a combination of paper copy and electronic notes.

The most serious issue here is keeping track of credits and resources. In game I resorted to asking The Oracle if my character had a desired item. Much as a player would ask his GM. I am underway to using something similar to OpenD6 Funds attribute. Will see how it plays out in the future.

I closed the adventure at a point with several plot hooks. We have Kuna with major cybernetic enhancements and a Sith artifact. Deng, a pirate captain scouring through the system, the fleet footed Kimby running away from Lligon Tuk and the Empire bringing it’s wrath down to the Amal moon. When I catch up I intend to use BOLD waylays to see what happened in the downtime.

All in all, it was a very fun experience. I will be keeping the D6 Legends homebrew for my next games, unless I want to try something else explicitly.

I have some new solo styles I want to try out so I am hitting pause on Roy and Luca, to catch up on them again later.

Brief summary of story


Our protagonist, Roy was assigned a Scout mission from his corporate employer. He set off with his ship to explore, but a disaster happened in hyperspace and he was stranded in unknown hostile territory.

There he met with Luca, an old smuggler who agreed to help him in return of a share of the reward on whatever they find. Luca flies the Red Rancor, an Ghtroc light freighter.

They recover the Nav data cores but they’re locked and encrypted and they set off trying to find a hacker.

They meet with Kimby, one of Luca’s contacts, but she disappears at the first hint of trouble as she is being hunted down.

Then they find another hacker, named Kuna, but they can’t afford to pay him, so they do a cargo run to gather the necessary credits.

When they return, the station where the hacker resides is under pirate blockade, and they have to mediate between the pirates and the station command to get to their objective.

They succeed, joined by Kuna who cracks the security of the Nav data cores and jump to their destination.

There they find a frozen moon, and their first contact is with Imperial forces. Despite their small strength, probably due to the fact that this was an Imperial scout force, in the second skirmish with the protagonists, they ambush them, and the Red Rancor is destroyed.

The team is captured by the locals, the Amalsi who intend to exchange them to the Empire in return for some of their own.

They manage to escape and reach the frozen cavern of the abandoned ruins of an ancient Amalsi city under the glacier.

There they learn the story of the moon, how an evil wizard who landed there terraformed the planet in his attempts to mine out some crystals.

They fight off some beasts and manage to find the wizards starship. They bring it back to operation and fly out of the city.

The team then assaults the Imperial outpost and obliterates it. The Amalsi join in the attack, but when they meet with our protagonists later, there is an incident with Kuna and the team had to escape with their hides intact.

Finally they reach back civilized space and Kuna goes his own way, taking one of the wizards artifacts that he found as his share.

Review of tools and systems


WEG Star Wars D6:

The core rulebook and setting I played the adventure. I will definitely be returning to it.

Pros: Low amount of crunch, Skill and in-game mechanics descriptions for most situations, NPC stats easy to eye-ball, Easy Wounds system with quick resolution.

Cons: Target numbers hard to choose fairly, Adding up dice pools can slow down solo play, Combat can become stale shootouts, Rules can be missing at places.

Additional books used: Galaxy Guide to Scouts, Pirates and Privateers, Tales of the Jedi Companion.

D6 Legends Homebrew

Homebrew rules to solve some issues I face. I will be keeping it and evolving it as I play more.

Pros: Can be used with D6 systems without conversions, Fast success result resolution.

Cons: Can’t be used in 100% of the cases, resulting in regression to the original D6 system

MUNE

Light, few page oracle with fast resolution and low bookkeeping.

Pros: Easy, Fast, Intuitive

Cons: The ‘buts’ can be difficult to narrate all times, regressing to simple Yes/No

UNE

Universal NPC emulator. Worked great for the cases I turned to it.

Pros: NPC on the fly, NPC backstory

Cons: The result may not fit the NPC.

BOLD

Book of Legends and deeds. What I loved about it is how easily it helped unleash a story when I was still learning my first baby steps in soloing.

Pros: Produces great backstories. Can fill in in-between mission gaps.

Cons: Can be difficult to combine the different story parts.

GMA from beta Alone release bundle

Had to print it out to use it, but it was worth the effort. It has great potential and is a quick assist at hand without having to search my online bookmarks for tools.

Pros: No need for dice, no need for online portents, tailor-made for rpgs, solves multiple issues with one card.

Cons: I don’t have the entire deck 😀

donjon

This site has a ton of resources from fantasy to cyberpunk to scifi. It’s my go to resource when I want something generated. I only head elsewhere if I don’t find what I need.

Pros: Generators for almost every need

Cons: Some generators enhance metagaming (System generators)

Simplenote

A cross platform note taking app that I use as an intermediary from paper to publishing.

Pros: Cross platform (web, windows, Linux, iOS, Android), Note sharing, Markdown, publishing, export function.

Cons: There are no folders so browsing can be a hard.

Many thanks to the wonderful solo rpg community for all the knowledge sharing and support. It’s what inspired me to get on this endeavor.