Really Short Version
You've either dreamt of playing pen-and-paper RPGs solo, have tried to do so and found it frustrating and unsatisfying, or are blessed with an abundance of free time and friends whose schedules sync with yours.
This project will help with all but the latter situation. :)
What is This Project?
This project grew out of a stretch goal proposed as part of the FlexTale Encounter Generator (FTEG) effort. Put simply, it's a set of rules, tools, templates, and other resources that can be used to run ANY pen-and-paper RPG as a solitary individual, without a gaming group.
Will it do everything that a traditional gaming group of 3-8 people, each with their own vision, sense of humor, creativity, and a dedicated Games/Dungeon Master make possible?
Nope. But it will help approximate that to such an extent that you might discover that you don't mind. :)
What Will This Project Produce?
Three things, as of this writing:
- The FlexTale Encounter Generator Solo Adventuring Toolkit (FTEG SAT).
- The Solo Play Character Compendium (Solo CC).
- The Warscale Unit Bestiary (WUB).
You'll get a copy of the FTEG SAT, a full-color PDF and hardcover book that contains rules and resources to enable single-player use of ANY pen-and-paper RPG system. Examples will be provided in Pathfinder and 5E contexts, but the work and approaches are applicable to any system. Should be ~200 pages.
The Solo CC is a set of pregenerated characters in Pathfinder and 5E rules formats engineered to represent a full-featured, flexible, adventuring party, ready to play for those who wish to take the OPMC approach to solo play (see Scope & Approaches, below). Likely to be ~64 pages.
The WUB is a listing of war-scale units of monsters, with statistics that allow you to use more than 1,200 kinds of monsters for those taking the Warscale Abstraction approach to solo play. I'd say between 200-400 pages.
Anyone pledging at even the $5 level gets full-color PDFs of ALL THREE.
Solo Play: The Problem
Pen-and-paper roleplaying games are fantastic. Except when there's nobody to play with.
People move, grow apart, or simply grow up... at least, a little bit. What used to be easy becomes difficult, or outright impossible. Virtual tabletops, Skype, and other online tools have mitigated this to some extent, but for many of us, it can remain extremely challenging to find a gaming group... or even to find the synched-up time to play!
Solo pen-and-paper RPG gaming is hardly a new concept. There are numerous attempts to solve this problem, to varying degrees of success. One can point to hundreds of video games that are an attempt to do this, too. Although one can easily argue the merits of truly excellent video games, I have always found it to be, at best, a well-done echo of the pen-and-paper feel.
The very best RPG video game is simply not the same as the feel of rolling dice, and the smell of a pencil. Of breaking open rulebooks and hearing that creak, the flip of the pages.
Nearly all existing solutions rely upon one of two approaches: 1) create a new rules system specifically around solo play, or 2) create an intentionally solo-play adventure for an existing rules system.
Each of these has its place, and can be hugely rewarding on its own.
Each also has its limitations.
Dedicated Solo-Play Rules Systems
Brand-new rules systems require adaptation and investment by the player to fully grasp them, can be limited and simple, and by definition prevent the use of every existing product and adventure already published.
I applaud any attempt to make a rules system that simulates, echoes, or otherwise approximates the traditional, in-person pen-and-paper experience.
Dedicated Solo-Play Adventures
Nothing against these: I cut my teeth on the red-box D&D solo adventure. I still remember many aspects of that adventure. I also remember that it had enough "railroaded" elements to not confuse me, but still enough dynamicness to open my eyes to what tabletop RPGs could truly make possible.
The reality is that dedicated solo-play adventures for existing rules systems may succeed, but are often stopgap, railroaded/linear, and again, prevent the use of other published products.
The Solo-Play Holy Grail
The holy grail of solo RPG play, however, is quite different: Create a toolkit that allows you to solo-play EXISTING adventures, with EXISTING rules systems.
That's what this project is all about.
The FTEG SAT
That's FlexTale Encounter Generator, Solo-Rules Toolkit. Eesh, what a mouthful.
The FTEG SAT includes rules, templates, examples, and other resources to enable solo play using a variety of approaches (see Scope & Approaches, below). It's at the core of playing solo in my vision, and all you need to get started and do so, in any rules system you like.
The Solo CC
The Solo Play Character Compendium is a set of pregenerated characters in Pathfinder and 5E rules formats engineered to represent a full-featured, flexible, adventuring party, ready to play for those who wish to take the OPMC approach to solo play (see Scope & Approaches, below).
You're free to ignore all of these and just roll up your own, but for those looking to get started quickly, this book is a valuable resource; the PCs involved are designed to represent a wide array of the abilities you'll need to face a variety of challenges.
Useful as an accelerant to either One-Player-One-Character (OPOC), or One-Player-Many-Character (OPMC), solo play approaches.
The Warscale Unit Bestiary is a listing of war-scale units of monsters, with statistics that allow you to use more than 1,200 kinds of monsters for those taking the Warscale Abstraction approach to solo play.
Basically, it takes every monster that is in Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm and maps it to a Warscale frame of mind.
Only useful in the context of Warscale Abstraction solo play, of course... but quite invaluable for that.
Scope & Approaches
I've been thinking about, and designing, this concept for, oh, like 30 years now. I've researched quite a bit of what's out there in terms of options, approaches, and
And I've come up with a few different ways to tackle the problem. The FTEG SAT will include rules to support ALL of these approaches.
- One Player, One Character (OPOC)
- One Player, Many Characters (OPMC)
- Warscale Abstraction
- RTS Abstraction
Let's talk through those one at a time.
OPOC: One Player, One Character
The simplest approach: you as a single player create and use one character. It's easy, because it's exactly what you do as a traditional player; you have a single PC.
The challenge is that if you have only one PC, he/she/it had better be quite versatile, to handle all the different sorts of challenges that may be awaiting you!
OPMC: One Player, Many Characters
Perhaps obviously, you roll up and use more than one PC, say 2-6 of them. This is pretty much what happens when you play most RPG video games; you have a party of heroes.
You play the role of the evil forces, and deploy traps, challenges, and monsters to thwart an onslaught of do-gooder PCs controlled by AI. Think Dungeon Keeper, for those of us who were playing games in 1997. :)
Most pen-and-paper RPGs are run at the character level. With Warscale Abstraction, you as a single player operate at a higher level: think units of orcs rather than a single half-orc PC. You can still work out individual conflicts at the more granular level, using existing rules mechanics, but the abstracted game here has its own rules.
Here we get into territory that is really quite removed from the traditional RPG experience. Gather resources, build a city, populate it with people and creatures, and defend it against invasion, all the while expanding and exploring with your armies.
Other Products & Companions
This project is only one piece of a number of gaming tools intended to support a dynamic, immersive gaming experience. Infinium Game Studio has several books, both published and in process, that integrate with the FTEG SAT.
To address the requests of several backers, pledge levels have been added that let you scoop these up at a discount as part of your FTEG SAT pledge.
Each of these books, like the FTEG SAT, is designed to work fully and entirely on its own. However, each has also been designed to work with one or more of the other products, in any combination.
- FlexTale Encounter Generator (FTEG): The Core Book, Version 1.0 is published, and provides dozens of tables and tools to generate dynamic encounters, treasure, traps, and more. Version 2.0 will extend these tools to full-featured quest generation and beyond. It's a supremely ambitious effort to make any DM/GM, of any experience level, able to dynamically create an interesting and challenge-appropriate adventure with zero preparation and some dice rolls. This approach already powers Dark Obelisk 2: The Mondarian Elective, a massive, 1,500-page adventure that automatically scales to a wide range of difficulty levels.
- FTEG Context Books: There are 19 of these planned, to be released alongside the Western Realm Gazetteer, hopefully later this year. Each applies the concepts of the FTEG core book to a specific environment: Desert, Forest, etc. One of them, the Book of Names, is a different beast: it includes thousands of names and name components to quickly generate names and titles for NPCs, factions, cities, buildings, regions, and more.
- Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm: This six-volume hardcover work comprises ~1,200 monsters, each with quadded statblocks--four complete statblocks for each monster to make each usable across a variety of levels of difficulty and PC level. The largest bestiary project ever conceived, it is due to publish later this year as well.
- Monsters of Aquilae: 50+ custom monsters, unique to the campaign setting of Aquilae.
- Incarnae of Aquilae: 25+ additional custom monsters. Incarnae are halfway between a golem and an elemental: physical manifestations of abstract concepts, such as Regret or Lust.
As with most other aspects of Kickstarter work, Stretch Goals in particular are generally made even more awesome via backer suggestions and feedback. So please feel free to make suggestions!
Quick notes/caveats for Context Books beyond the ones already planned coming into this campaign in the fantasy genre:
- These would be pursued AFTER the existing ones. So you're looking at a bit of a lead time beyond when the FTEG SAT will be published.
- All those already entitled to "FTEG Context Books" (either via this campaign or an earlier one) will receive PDFs of newly-unlocked Context Books for free as well.
- Those entitled to at-cost print codes for "FTEG Context Books" (again, either as a part of a pledge for this campaign, or an earlier one) will receive an at-cost print code for any new Context Books as well.
- As most FTEG Context Books reproduce much of content of the FTEG Core book, and then tweak probabilities as contextually appropriate, Context Books outside the fantasy genre will be necessarily limited in scope. They'll still have lots of useful tables to drive plot, treasure, encounters, etc., but the results will tend to be more generalized. E.g., "a small group of armed guard drones" instead of "3d6 giant wasps".
With that out of the way, here are some Stretch Goals:
- UNLOCKED! $3,000: New FTEG Context Book: Modern. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of d20 Modern. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $4,000: New FTEG Context Book: Sci-Fi. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of Starfinder. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $5,000: Full Warscale Rulebook. Spawns the concept of Warscale into its own book, most likely full-color softcover. Warscale will contain rules for adapting monsters and militant NPCs into Warscale units, creating your own units, point-buying for comparative challenge... and, ironically for a campaign dedicated to enabling solo play, multiplayer Warscale rules. Note that the FTEG SAT itself will still contain a boiled-down rendition of these rules. Dedicated and expanded Warscale rulebook will likely be a $5 add-on PDF, $20 softcover.
- UNLOCKED! $6,000: New FTEG Context Book: Post-Apocalypse. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of Fallout. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $7,000: New FTEG Context Book: Mythos. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of Call of Cthulhu. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $8,500: New FTEG Context Book: Cyberpunk. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, etc. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $10,000: Hexcrawl Tookit. A separate book, a FREE PDF to all backers, and a $25 hardcover Add-On. This extraordinarily useful toolkit and rules resource guides GMs through the art and fun of running a hexcrawl-based campaign, in whole or in part. Rules, resources, tidbits, and tools for GMs of ANY campaign world or setting, whether you're using hex-gridded maps or not! Links directly in to the Western Realm Gazetteer and other Realm Books, and the FTEG, but also immensely valuable on its own. The Hexcrawl Toolkit can be used with any RPG gaming campaign in any rules system, with specific examples in Pathfinder and 5E rules. It's usable as part of solo play, or in a traditional gaming group context. This 100-300 page full-color PDF / hardcover compiles nearly three decades of gaming experience and pulls the best of house rules and various rule systems to bring a streamlined, yet richly flexible, overland gaming experience. May involve a follow-up Kickstarter to imbue additional content. To be produced following the FTEG SAT.
- UNLOCKED! $11,000: New FTEG Context Book: Steampunk. A new FTEG Context Book, with tables in the vein of Iron Kingdoms etc. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- UNLOCKED! $12,000: New FTEG Context Book: Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers. A new FTEG Context Book. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
- $13,000: New FTEG Context Book: Fantasy Battlefield. A new FTEG Context Book for PCs in an active battlefield. Free PDF for all backers of this campaign.
These will be available via BackerKit survey following the campaign. Prices are estimated and may change, particularly if content changes via Stretch Goals.
You'll be able to add these on at that time, but if you know you want one or more, you can simply add them to your KS pledge value now.
Prices are as planned; they may tweak slightly by the time I send the BK survey.
- FTEG Core Hardcover: You'll get the current, published PDF immediately, and you'll get a hardcover version shipped to you as part of fulfillment of FTEG SAT. $35.
- Warscale Unit Bestiary: full-color hardcover: $30. A PDF is already included in nearly all pledge levels.
- Solo Character Compendium: full-color hardcopy: $20. A PDF is already included in nearly all pledge levels.
- FTEG Context Books: There are now 21 of these. You can grab them a la carte as Add-Ons. $5 each PDF, $15 for PDF and at-cost print code.
- Character Compendium 1 (Pathfinder only): $20 PDF, $35 hardcover.
- Character Compendium 2 (Pathfinder only): $20 PDF, $35 hardcover.
- Artifacts & Artifice, Volume 1: $20 PDF, $40 hardcover.
- Artifacts & Artifice, Volume 2: $20 PDF, $40 hardcover.
- Villainous Compendium: $20 PDF, $40 hardcover.
- Dark Obelisk 1: Berinncorte (Adventure Book and Dramatis Personae & Bestiary book): $40 PDF, $90 hardcovers
- Dark Obelisk: Berinncorte Basecamp (Adventure Book): $30 PDF, $60 hardcover
- Dark Obelisk 2: The Mondarian Elective (Adventure Book & Players' Guide): $45 PDFs, $80 hardcover (AB) and softcover (PG)
Indie RPG work like this is a passion of mine, a hobby. A very successful hobby, one that I'm fortunate to be able to share with many hundreds of backers and customers.
But I'm just one person, with a full-time job, and three kids. My ability to estimate my throughput is... not terrific. On the upside, however, my ability to estimate what I will output is also not great, but I err on the side of OVER producing. My books typically end up being MUCH larger than originally conceived, to the point where I usually lose money on hardcopy pledges as a result.
So, net/net, it's the simple, honest truth that I take longer than expected to produce. But I tend to produce a lot more than expected.
I have an entire bookshelf of published work, and have delivered successfully on many kickstarters already, to the general pleasure of those backers who report their feedback.
I try to be as transparent as possible about where I am, what I'm working on, and what that means. Nearly all backers tend to be okay with that, so long as there's progress. For some backers, that's unacceptable. As a back of hundreds of indie RPG Kickstarter projects myself, I can appreciate both perspectives: I myself want to give project owners all the time they feel they need to produce what they are passionate about, but I am sometimes wary of the risks involved in a project not materializing.
So: If you are a backer who is very time-sensitive to their rewards, I encourage you to take a more "wait and see" approach to this project. I would rather have you not back, than back, and then be disappointed.
I dedicate, quite literally, every single spare minute I have in my life beyond my job and family to this work. So I can absolutely promise that I will deliver. When, however... that is more of a question mark.
Risks and challenges
The major risk is time: IGS is almost entirely a one-man shop, and that one man has three young children and a full-time day job. I devote literally every spare minute of downtime to IGS, and to making our products the absolute best, most impressive, and most valuable/usable books I can conceive of, but that devotion to quality amidst other demands takes time.
I will deliver. And I hope you agree that it will be more than worth the wait and pledge dollar. But my estimates as to when are just that: estimates. If you're comfortable with getting what I try to make world-class indie RPG books for a significant discount, and don't mind waiting a bit, then please consider pledging, supporting, and helping to make the results even more awesome!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)