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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Solo Role Playing IS GM'ing


So, I guess I’m not done harping about the thought experiment. I just feel like it’s confirming some obvious things, while at the same time opening me to new perspectives on this thing of ours we call “solo roleplaying”.

One obvious thing that it has driven home in a way that feels final is the fact that if you try to solo roleplay outside of the CYOA or the most basic random dungeon/hexcrawling experience(or with games that don’t require much content creation as you’re taking on a player role), you’ll have no choice but to assume the GM mantle. There is no such thing as truly emulating a GM. Each time you ask a question, and each time you interpret a pair of keywords, you are in fact assuming GM duties. The only thing the dice mechanic we call an “emulator” is doing is ratifying or denying the output that you came up with when you assumed the creative duties of the GM as you were imagining possible states of the imaginary world outside of controlling your PC.

This is pretty obvious, and many of us have touched upon it before. I still insisted in looking for ways to actually have an experience that was less like assuming those GM duties.

A simple suggestion I’ve heard that could provide a more fun experience:

1. Switch the roles, you be the GM, and use the solo engine to provide player responses. The amount of possibilities for logical player responses are going to be more constrained than for the GM, so it shouldn’t be too onerous to always roll a dice or use randomness to determine them.

I have never tried this, though, plenty of people have and had a blast. I was really set on having that player experience. I’m going to have to try this now.

A related theme that comes up from all this is: Is GMing in a written only environment “just like writing”? Is GM Prep just like writing? Is “solo roleplaying”, in addition to GM’ing, closer to GM Prep? If so, how can we look upon those activities to make this thing of ours more fun?

How to Host a Dungeon did it. There have to be more ways we can do it. For example, can we gamify gm-prep in the same way? Can this prep then be used to create an artifact like a CYOA, or something Barbarian Prince like?

Finally, +Kenneth Norris ' post hit it right on the nail (linked here) as far as GM Emulator as a term goes. It carries too much baggage and implies you can have a player experience—and to a lot of us that player experience does not involve doing any GM duties at all.

I don’t feel solo roleplaying is a misnomer, at least not yet, but I feel like the fact that you do in fact GM for yourself needs to be highlighted more consciously (at least for me). I feel like I should be going into each session thinking that I’m going to be GM’ing for the most part, probably more than I will be taking on a player role.

Maybe that’s why I unconsciously picked “Dreamer” as a name on my blog, since I’m basically dreaming up the whole world as I try to take on the role of the player, instead of having it dreamed up for me.

I feel like there’s a takeaway from all this rambling, but it’s not clear to me right now. Maybe in another rambling post. Thanks for listening!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like the idea of using a GM emulator as a player emulator instead.


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