SOL rule-book design
The Sol team and its publishing arm (Ithoughtitoldyouguysiwasbusy) are a not-for-profit venture. Thanks to 140+ backers we’ve surpassed our original goal; this means a larger print run, and free postage to all our backers. But it is also an opportunity to add more to the Sol world.
From the very beginning we’d always planned to encourage other gamers to extend the Sol world. Thanks to all of you we can support this earlier than expected.
We are already in contact with RPG enthusiasts (some of whom have been test playing Sol for many months) who are eager to write modules (adventures). Your additional funding will go toward printing, binding and distributing these modules.
Once again, thanks for all your support.
Player testimonials for Sol
‘Sol stands out among games I have played... the rules were hidden in the background so I could concentrate on the story.’ Ryan G, play tester.
‘I wish I had learnt to play RPGs using Sol. It asks for a higher level of alertness and imagination than other games I have played... like Numenera on steroids.’ Miguel R
‘Sol doesn’t feel like anything else I have played, it’s original in a really great way.’ Ryan G, play tester.
‘I really liked the maths behind the Sol dar task system ... based on probability theory, is really easy to use, but gives a good range of outcomes. The magic system is excellent, it was awesome fun making up my own spells! Everything happened quickly and in a realistic way... lots more storytelling and less time reading rules.’ Vincent H, play tester.
‘A gritty post apocalyptic setting that can lend itself as easily to sci-fi as it does to high fantasy.’ Tim B, play tester
‘... if you want your games to be cinema-fast, free from rules lawyering and excessive fluff, then Sol is for you.’ Kirk H, play tester
Sol is a unique tabletop role-playing experience. Many role-playing games draw on medieval fantasy to create their worlds and playing environment. To differentiate themselves from this huge choice, these games have developed rule systems with increasing depth, complexity that have, in the end, only served to throttle the player's freedoms and imagination. Sol turns this trend on its head: it sheds the unnecessary kilos providing the player with a sleek yet powerful game system that once again allows the player's imagination to rule supreme.
Sol has a single rulebook that covers both game mechanics and discusses the world of Sol. Players are encouraged to use their imaginations; if you can think of a plausible reaction to a scenario you can try it. Want to transmute a moose into a million stinging wasps? The game mechanics will allow for that scenario. What Sol brings to the table is a new world and a game system that dispenses with complex die rolling. The game is played with a few standard six-sided die and character sheet delivering on its slogan, less rolling, more role-playing.
Q&A with our game tester Kirk Hone
Kirk Hone, Chief Game tester for Sol, discusses what Sol brings to the RPG table.
Having spoken with Phil over many years about his vision and design philosophy for what would become Sol, and mindful of his demonstrated competence as an artist, publisher and writer, I was fairly confident that he could pull off something special once he put pen to paper. I’ll discuss the things I most enjoy about the game in a way that (hopefully) also addresses the second half of the question:
1. All in-game tasks are resolved using a small number of easily-applied resolution matrices.
I have played and game mastered all kinds of games and figure I have probably run the gamut of ‘crunch’ in game systems. I have to say, as I get older (and maybe crabbier), I am increasingly disillusioned with high-crunch game systems. Even with the common table rule of ‘GM makes a call on something they/we don’t immediately know, and we’ll check up on it after the game’, the several gaming groups I play with find that the pace and narrative integrity of our game sessions, and hence the quality of the gaming experience itself, is frequently undermined by the need to slow or break play so people can browse rulebooks for advice on resolving even rudimentary tasks. Of course there are many that enjoy rules-heavy gaming, and this is not a criticism of those people. It’s just that I’m not one of them. I want a 30-second ingame encounter to be played out quickly, to feel like it all happened in the blink of an eye, to make me as a person have to think and act quickly and sometimes rashly, just as the character in the encounter would so often have to. To me the essence of roleplaying is fast gameplay and thinking on your feet. Sol encourages this in spades by keeping the action moving.
2. The book is informative without being proscriptive.
I have played all sorts of games and I will no doubt continue to play many of them through their countless revisions and expansions in years to come. But these days I enjoy them mostly as a social occasion, to see friends and talk a bit of crap about the happenings during our time apart. The gameplay itself is generally entertaining, but I personally don’t feel the need to be spoon fed a detailed written description of every element of the game, in fact I prefer the imaginative minds present to come up with that stuff, and the game master to apply and moderate these ideas as well as their own. Rules in Sol provide the essentials and nothing more. Task resolution, protagonist (‘character’) class information, spell and equipment entries are intentionally brief so that protagonists can be created quickly (by way of example, our play test groups created their protagonists from scratch on their first reading of the book in less than 30 minutes) and players and adjudicators can personalise the details. All of this permits players and game masters to be truly free to create their own unique game experience and, importantly, to spend their time playing the game rather than wading through rules. Sol is unlimited in its capacity to promote and accommodate creativity by those at the table (just take a look at the magic system, for example) and few other game systems I have played do it so effectively.
The world of Sol is presented in a similar manner. There are no exhaustive descriptions of society and its members, just a general overview of society and examination of some possible core themes to pursue in your own campaign. How you engage with these, or if you engage with them at all, is left to you and your imagination, and every game is different to the last.
3. I still get to roll dice!
For many gamers rolling dice is an inseparable part of tabletop roleplaying games. I am definitely one of those people (or maybe I have an unrealised gambling problem). I just can’t do without the uncertainty that dice bring to the game, for me it’s a big part of the fun.
Sol’s motto ‘less rolling, more role-playing’ is not a statement that dice are unimportant to the game, far from it. By design or accident many other RPGs see players roll dice first and then respond to the roll by describing the action they have undertaken, games become based on numbers, players become consumed by the numbers on their character sheet, and roleplay becomes a secondary concern. Sol’s simple rules emphasise that dice rolls are applied and moderated according to a protagonists actions, thus the link between roleplay and results is clearly emphasised.
The dice system in Sol is simple and dice pools remain modest throughout a protagonists career. Dice pools still increase as a protagonist develops, but in manageable sizes so they can be calculated and their effects described quickly, thus maintaining game momentum and verisimilitude.
4. Sol’s combat and damage model makes players think and collaborate in a way many other game systems tacitly discourage.
Although Sol easily accommodates dungeon-crawl type adventures and gameplay, hack and slash gaming it isn’t. Debilitation by wound level adds a potent hazard and level of unpredictability that simply doesn’t exist in the biggest RPGs. Modest and fixed health pools, combined with the way attacks are resolved and damage interpreted, means that few combats are risk-free.
Sol is best seen as a team sport, where players have individual strengths but are not so well-rounded that they are capable of negotiating encounters without the expertise of others in their team. This model differs from some other popular RPGs, which see characters initially reliant on their combined talents but evolve in a way that allows them to become increasingly independent of one another and capable of achieving astounding, virtually superhuman, solo feats. In my experience, the individualisation of play at higher levels in these systems is often at the cost of party cohesion and sense of common purpose.
5. The book is comparatively inexpensive, highly portable, well organised and easily navigated.
Everything you need to play Sol is contained in a single 160-page rulebook. There are no plans to graduate into multiple releases, petitioning players to part with ever more of their hard earned. The hardcopy book is roughly the shape of a business-size envelope, and even as adjudicator I can fit all of my gaming materials for Sol into small shoebox.
In terms of cost, ensuring the book fits into a business envelope creates significant savings in shipping, especially international shipping, compared to traditional-size RPG books, and we pass these savings on. We aren’t out to make money on Sol, we just love the idea of creating something special and sharing it with as many people as we can, which means having a great product and selling for as little as possible.
Phil’s experience as a book designer and publisher come through in the layout of Sol. Essential reference matrices are compiled on a handy and durable fold-out page which is an extension of the book cover. The book is only as wordy as it needs to be; I was able to read the entire final book in a short sitting. The book table of contents and index are both well and efficiently organised. Playtest groups had no issues navigating the book quickly during encounters and combat.
In closing, there is no doubt that Sol appeals to a certain kind of audience and gamer. If you enjoy simulation-level, compendious rulesets then Sol may seem too bare for your liking. However, if you want your games to be cinema-fast, free from rules lawyering and excessive fluff, then Sol is for you. The game is simple to learn, characters are easy to generate, the rules are highly adaptable and intuitive, and it is all contained in one well-designed pocket-size book that I can leave in my car glovebox and which costs about as much as a diner meal.
SOL Character Classes
A Sister is guided by the practice of curative methods for both the physical and non-physical aspects of Solians - primarily, assisting immortality of the non-physical aspect of Solians. (Typically sisters are female, however some males are unlawfully trained as sisters).
A Deem is trained for combat with a unique sword known as an Assay. Only having completed his training, fathered a child, and receiving the title Deem, is he worthy to serve a Sister. (Typically deems are male, however some females are unlawfully trained as deems).
Master Ballistics are educated in the methodical knowledge of physics and chemistry to construct various explosives.
Galdr are trained in the art of cantation. An imprecise discipline practiced by many Solians - conquered by few. Those who succeed have access to an unmatched source of manipulation.
The Sol Team
Phil Day (author) has been involved in illustration, design, and publication of books for more than twenty years. During which time he has continued to enjoy various forms of games (taking the Guinness World Record for the arcade video game Galaga in 2009). His first introduction to a tabletop RPG was the D&D Basic 'red box' rules. The simple elegance of these rules was his inspiration for Sol.
Phil Stamatellis (editor) is currently studying writing at the University of Canberra; has had a piece of short fiction published by Canberra journal Burley and a book review for online literary journal Verity La. His first book, Growing up Cafe, will be published in 2015. Phil has always had a love for games, both tabletop and computer. His current distractions include Dark Souls (1 &2) and Shadows of Mordor.
Kirk Hone (chief game tester) is a school teacher with a keen interest in history and literature. He discovered role-playing games as a young boy and has continued playing them for 30 years. Kirk has played across virtually all genres and dice systems and most enjoys fantasy, sci-fi and contemporary post-apocalyptic settings. Kirk is also a keen MMORPG, FPS and Flight Sim player.
Risks and challenges
The only potential obstacle to our project (once successfully funded) is the rise of printing costs. However, due to the technical advances made in digital printing over the past ten years, the cost of printing has been reduced enormously. Therefore, the cost of printing is unlikely to rise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)