Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This is a recommendation of the iOS app CreativeWriter & a musing rolled in one

Link to app site here:


This will be my last session for SGAM2016 (though still may be able to sneak another one before December comes):

It was an interesting session. Probably the most I've ever done while on mobile, other than the Human Oracle game  @Chris Stieha   and I played (how long ago?). I played in bits throughout the day and all through my train/bus rides (without missing my stops!). The combination of the prompting oracle + This CreativeWriter iOS app for GM output has turned out to be felicitous for me.

The app itself is even more  useful than I thought. It has a "talking robot" key that will create random sentences using the same predictive algorithm that picks words for the virtual keyboard. It's fun and a bit uncanny at times.

 A lot of the random sentences are misses, but if you throw enough of them out there, a lot of the time something comes that makes a sort of sense. It may take some minor editing, but the idea that the engine "wants" to get across is often there, like a diamond in the rough that needs your polishing. That's not even counting the way you could combine disparate sentence fragments to combine into new ideas. It's a bit time consuming, but I find it fun (I like the surprise).

If you read the developers website, they make reference to Dadaist art and automatic writing (e.g. Naked Lunch) as inspiration.

While I used  the prompting oracle, I ended up ignoring the prompts, so that essentially, the oracle was just rejecting or accepting stuff at random (since the output had no relation to the prompts). I'm fine with that, because the iOS app does so much to lead my input.

Why not follow the prompts? I'm not sure if the act of working to get coherent ideas from the CreativeWriter app distracted me from that, or what. It may be that consciously trying to tilt output towards what the prompt said felt like I was leading the iOS app instead of letting it lead me. After all if the top word choices or random sentences contradicted a prompt, why would I force the output to fit the prompt? That's how I feel anyway.

There are still many times (maybe most) where you have to take a bit of control (like when the context of a random sentence suggested the identity of someone), so following the prompt might be a fallback to the iOS app suggestions.

Definitely will be experimenting more. Maybe tying more random sentences until something fits with the prompt. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Solo Gaming Appreciation Month 2016: Trollbabe actual play

I don't get to play a lot lately, unfortunately, but this is my way of doing my part for Solo Gaming Appreciation 2016 (#SGAM2016). Hopefully, more scenes to come in the remaining days of November, and if not, December.

I'm playing Trollbabe, which system I like for its simplicity. If you are not familiar with the game setting, you are basically playing half troll/half human women in an Icelandic/Nordic/Celtic/Baltic kind of setting. It's a pop culture mishmash that draws from Norse sagas, fantasy literature and underground comics (I'm paraphrasing Ron Edwards intro). 

I don't know much about any of that, so forgive me any inconsistencies (like, for example, placing an Inn inside a castle's walls, when I probably was imagining a walled city). Forgive me any retcons too. 

I've used the following Prompting Oracle that I whipped up a few days ago (also for #SGAM2016): ... count.html I only used it for decision points, so the text is light on description. Images were in my head and I did not feel like writing descriptive text. It's probably more fun to fill in the gaps with your own images, anyway. 

Character stats

Trollbabes are big women (at least 6'6" in height), "with a build to match. No little aerobicized butts allowed." (quoting R.E. and paraphrasing again). They are easily the match of the strongest human and their strength ranges up from that point. They are more athletic than the most athletic human as well. 

Greta's Number is 8, which means 1-7 to use Fight(Unarmed), 8-10 to use Social (Fun) , and 9-10 to do Magic (Human Magic)

Hair Color & Style: Think big 80's hair metal band hair. Strawberry Blonde.
Horns Size/Shape: Curved like a ram's, thick, light in color. Norse runes are carved on them, like one would ink tatoos in one's body. They probably say something equivalent to "Badass Mofo"

That's it.


Kragg Keep is a castle fortress near the sea populated by humans (of course). The lands surrounding it belong to a Lord Ingald. It is a typical castle with typical countryside surrounding it. 

This is where Greta is heading. 

This year, the harvest has not been good, as can be seen in the failed grain crops around the country side. There is worry in the peasant's faces. They look at her with some curiosity and fear as she hikes past them. 

The lord's soldiers come to question what her business is here and to run her off. They draw their swords and ask, "What is your business in Kragg Keep, stranger?"

"No particular business. I'm just passing through."

The leader eyes her suspiciously, paying particular attention to her horns (trollbabes always have horns). "I'm afraid not. It were better for you to bypass this place." 

I declare a conflict, per Trollbabe's rules
Goal: To convince the guards to let her in Kragg Keep. 

(Greta's Number is 8, which means 1-7 (Unarmed) to use Fight, 8-10 to use Social (Fun) , and 9-10 to do Magic (Human magic))

I declare that the conflict is Social. 


Won by a hair.

She looks up at her horns as if saying "Oh, that?". "I can promise you I'll be on my best behavior. " Then, mustering the saddest face she can: "I'm hungry and tired. You wouldn't let a defenseless girl head out back on the trail like that, would you?" 

The leader looks towards his companions as if looking for input and all he gets are shrugs. Sighing, he tells Greta: "Very well. However, you must leave at sun up tomorrow." Then he frowns and scolds her, "It isn't wise for a woman should not be travelling alone around the woods." 

This annoys Greta a bit, but she did go for the defenseless damsel act. She forces an apologetic smile and a curtsy. 

The leader offers her to hop on one of the other guard's horse. 

"Joss will give you a ride to the local inn. He will also make sure you leave when the sun is up."

With that, the remaining guards depart, leaving Joss and Greta behind. 

"I guess it's just you and me, mr Joss" says Greta, accepting Joss' hand as he courteously helps her get on. He seems as guarded as his companions. 

He replies politely but firmly: "The Lands End Inn is not far. I will escort you out of Kragg Keep at early sunup."

--- END SCENE---

Short, but fun. Future scenes will continue here:

Principles (from #writingwithdice)

Scene 2 is here:

Scene 3

Scene 4:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Experimental Oracle 2

Next thing your character...

Expects to happen:

Hopes actually happens:

Is afraid might happen:


Active Bonus:

What's happened so far:

(Just for fun) Alternative timelines:

Next thing your character...

Expected to happen:

Hoped would actually happen:

Was afraid might happen:

Experimental Oracle

Most Plausible...


Best Case Scenario:

Worst Case Scenario:


Active Bonus:

What's happened so far:

(Just for fun) Alternative timelines:

Most Plausible...


Best Case Timeline:

Worst Case Timeline:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Alternate Event Table for Oracles like Mythic, etc. I based this on a word cloud of the cyberpunk novel Halo by Tom Maddox (for those who read Mirrorshades, it's the same universe as Snake Eyes; novel link here:

It doesn't have any particular cyberpunk flavor, because it's just a bunch of words without context, but I think it naturally leans towards the modern at least. Hope it's useful to someone.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What would a "Lumpley Principle" for Solo RP look like?

I think I've arrived at a provisional definition of Solo RPGs, along the lines of the Lumpley Principle (see definition of LP at

System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which a person commits to (settles on) imagined events during play.

The underlined part is my modification. I'm not sure yet if the best word is "commit" or "settle", so I leave both for now.

Does it matter? Who knows. I'm hoping it tells me or someone something about solo RPGs that takes their design somewhere interesting. Definitely puts the emphasis on how a player settles on what action "really happened" in play. You know, the stuff you report in your actual plays or that makes it into your write ups (if you write).

See some ongoing discussions here:


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#WritingWithDice: Reframing the act of solo roleplaying

This is an implementation of something I've been musing and working on for a long while. It's built to provide a structure around writing fiction during those parts of a game when you are not engaging with creative aids (oracles, idea generators, etc).

I'm looking for playtesters, so I'm putting this out there as an open source thing. The google doc to the text is at this #WritingWithDice link.

If you have a chance to give it a test drive, let me know how you like it. If you happen to have G+ or Twitter, I'd like to request that you use the tag #WritingWithDice  in your post, if you don't mind. :-)  Just makes it easier for me to search feedback.