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For those of us who find ourselves inspired to do a bit of writing, whether for a small story or a full epic series, sometimes a little bit of inspiration can go a long way. You might find yourself stumped for where to go next, what your characters should be doing to advance their goals, or just want to get a more vivid view of the world around them. Writers of all stripes occasionally need inspiration, and luckily there are lots of ways in which to find it. Tabletop roleplaying games, especially those that allow you to play solo, can really be a way to get a new perspective on your world and put your in new situations that lead to some truly wonderful and creative experiences.

 

What are Solo Tabletop Roleplaying Games?

When most people think of a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG), the name “Dungeons & Dragons” likely comes to mind. While this is certainly the most famous (and arguably most popular) game out there, there are truly countless amazing games in this genre.

At their heart, TTRPGs operate by allowing the player to step into the shoes of a fictional character and present them with challenges. These games usually grant the player access to fantastical powers, abilities, and equipment that allow them to rise to the role of a hero (or villain) in new ways.

Where these games are typically played within a group, with one player acting as the Dungeon Master or Game Master (the term for the leader of the group changes based on the actual game being played) and the rest as an adventuring party, solo TTRPGs give you the tools to play these games on your own.

Playing games like these on your own can take a bit of creativity and imagination, as well as a dedication to not ‘cheating’ (whatever that means in the context of a game you’re truly playing on your own). When you don’t have a Game Master putting challenges in front of you and fellow players helping to advance the narrative with you, it can be a bit daunting and loose. However, frame these experiences in the right way (and pair them with the right game) and the results can be truly inspiring.

 

Solo TTRPGs for Writers

With the vast number of games that are out in the world, finding some that writers can pick up and use for the kinds of worldbuilding and inspiration they might need can be a challenge. There are even resources that allow you to take traditionally group-focused games like Dungeons and Dragons and play them entirely on your own.

A bit of terminology, TTRPGs often are referred to as either games or systems. Games are often fully fleshed out, with worlds and adventures ready to go. Systems are the underpinnings of these games, often exposed to allow players and creators to build entirely new worlds and experiences using these tools.

I’ve found one main system that have caught my eye from a writing perspective, as well as one that I created myself out of my own worldbuilding process, both detailed below.

 

Mythic Game Master Emulator

Where many solo games will put you into a world or situations that the creator has crafted specifically for that experience, some systems aim to allow you to simply play any adventure and let the system attempt to fill the role of a game master. Mythic’s Game Master Emulator (GME) by Word Mill is one such system, and one that is pretty well known and established.

Rather than being a game in and of itself, this GME can really be paired with almost any system. Want to play Pathfinder on your own? Mythic’s GME can help you do that. Dungeons and Dragons? That too!

In reality, this GME acts as a pseudo-GM in that it will help to shape the experiences of a solo player and drive some of the randomness or realistic behavior of a world that would normally be handled by a person in the role of a GM.

 

One of the main tools that the GME uses is called the Fate Chart, a custom system that allows you to ask it simple yes/no questions about the world and people around your character and receive interesting results. By taking the game’s current level of chaos into account, some of the results to your yes/no questions can be truly surprising.

As a writer, you can use Game Master Emulators like Mythic to enter the action of your stories directly. By exploring this action through the use of the GME’s tools, your characters may meet and overcome new challenges in ways you hadn’t expected or even considered, offering some new ideas and inspiration.

It’s worth noting that Mythic has their own TTRPG system as well, detailed in Mythic Role Playing. This game allows you to play within other game systems or by using their own rules.

 

Journey

Where Mythic focuses on taking on the role of a Game Master so you can play in a fully formed game on your own, I created Journey with an entirely different goal in mind. Rather than playing in an action-packed world and meeting challenges with might or guile, Journey allows you to step into the shoes of someone on the ground in your world, observing and experiencing that world through their eyes directly.

This game experience was built specifically to help writers and other creatives gain new perspectives on their own worlds, finding inspiration and new ideas by examining the points of interest they might find there.

In Journey you’ll define the form you’ll take in the world, the scope of the world in which you are exploring, and then, using a six-sided die and a standard deck of playing cards, begin to explore. This happens by way of finding Waypoints, notable points of interest in whatever scale or scope you have chosen to explore, and then digging in by examining individual Aspects of that Waypoint.

 

The scale of world you wish to explore in Journey can be as large as a galaxy or as small as a single bedroom. By finding new Waypoints and their Aspects, you’ll unearth new ideas and concepts that you might never have stopped to see before, able to take that back to your creative projects (or simply enjoy them without having to write them into your world).

Journey was born from my own worldbuilding process, visualizing the world around you in new ways to make discoveries and enjoy your world, and so far people have found it to be valuable! If you’re wanting some new inspiration, you can learn more about it here on the Graycastle Press website, or find it on Amazon or DriveThruRPG.

 

Final Thoughts

In reality, any discoveries you might make while playing through a solo TTRPG may or may not fit the narrative of whatever creative piece you’re working on. Just because you found a Waypoint in Journey or fought a dragon using Mythic doesn’t mean either of those things have to become a part of your world. But you will find new perspectives and ideas through these processes you might not otherwise.

Exploring your own worlds can just be a purely enjoyable experience, whether or not it inspires new ideas that make it into your writing. At the very least you might have a different view of the people, places, and things in your worlds, and that can be a lot of fun on its own!

Call for Comments

Solo TTRPGs and You

Have you found any other solo tabletop roleplaying games that have helped you gain new inspiration as a writer? What about non-solo games?

Sound off in the comments below!

Luke Miller

Luke Miller

Luke Miller is a writer, game designer, and software developer who lives in sunny California with his fiance Roman and their two corgis, Luna and Sol. He has had a lifelong passion for fantasy and science fiction and has recently discovered a love for tabletop roleplaying games.

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