the wonder of role-playing games: reviews, solo rpgs, old-school & narrative games

23 Mar 2017

Friday Grab Bag: Free Gaming Material and Thoughts About the Role of the GM in Solo Play

# Links A free starter adventure for Pits & Perils by Aaron Gustwiller: **[The Forgotten Tower](**. Need some monsters for D&D 5e? RJ Grady has converted 100+ monsters from the Rules Cyclopedia to 5e. **[Ex Cyclopedia](** _(aff)_ is PWYW. And here is a free **[5e Generic Monsters Matrix](**. Dolmenwood is a Celtic-style OSR setting detailed in the [Wormskin zines]( _(aff)_. You can now get a free primer called **[Welcome to Dolmenwood](**. There is also a PWYW supplement for [Swords & Wizardry Light]( **[Pocket Creatures Vol. 1](** _(aff)_. Three new creatures for your game. **[Sword Breaker Issue No. 2 - The Hollow Fingers](** _(aff)_ is a PWYW fanzine for [Dungeon World]( **[To the Temple of Doom! To Defeat the Ancient Evil](** is a short, light story-game of adventure archeologists and their exploits. Inspired by such great works as Indiana Jones and the Mummy. No prep, rotating GM, short play. # Misc Ray Otus will be holding a Hangout discussion for his [patreons]( I am invited to be a guest and we will talk about playing Dungeon World solo. We are in the midsts of scheduling the Google Hangout. # What Is the Role of the GM in Solo Role-Playing? I’ve been thinking about that in the last few days and I don’t have an answer yet. First, we need to understand what a role-playing game is, what the players do and what the Game Master (GM) does. Let’s steal some definitions from [The Angry GM]( > A role-playing game is a game in which players take on the role of fictional characters in a hypothetical universe. The players attempt to make the decisions that they feel their characters would make if they were real and if their universe were real. Those decisions are based on the characters’ motivations and the game’s goals. The results of those decisions are played out and new decisions are made. Ultimately, an RPG is about choice and consequence. The players make choices for their characters and then deal with the consequences. And goals provide benchmarks for success and failure. So, that’s what an RPG is and what the players do. Then the GM is the one responsible for facilitating this experience - at least in traditional games. We’re not talking about story-games where we might have a rotating GM. In solo gaming, we use GM Emulators. But in some way, these falls short. Because no engine can replace a human Game Master. The mechanics of a GM Emulator force the solo player to steer the game into a direction he might not have chosen himself. At its core, the engine provides abstract mechanisms for what a real GM _could_ do. It offers a framework for interpreting game events, for building the game, for NPCs and NPC reactions, etc. Yet it fails to stand on its own, it always needs interpretation by a human. What does “Mythic Event Meaning: Intolerance Exotic Suffering” even mean? So, is that really a “GM Emulator” at all? I often switch hats. As a solo player, I make decisions like a player in a normal game. Then I need to put on my GM hat, use my solo engine and come up with interpretations on what the solo engine tells me. Then I switch back to player mode. I have no conclusion here.