Seems to me you can’t be a magic-user without also being a little crazy. Getting excited about a bunch of obscure books in the privacy of her study, poring over countless obscure bits of lore, looking unwashed and unkempt… If I didn’t know any better, I might think Wizard was some kind of gamer.


I’ve used this example before, but I think it’s still relevant here. The engine that drives my character-building is the feedback loop between rules and flavor. They inspire and feed into one another. My thinking tends to run like so:

“OK. I want to play an occultist. He needs special objects to focus his powers. What if one of them was a weapon? Cool, I’ll go with transmutation and choose… What haven’t I used before? Bardiche looks cool. Maybe he can be a traveling executioner. Cool! So with all those dead people in his past, he probably has some ties to necromancy. Maybe this ‘necromantic servant’ power calls upon the spirits of the people he’s beheaded? Neat! OK then, what kind of object do you need for necromancy? This ‘ferryman’s slug’ sacred implement sounds interesting. How did my guy meet the boatman on the river of death then…?”

That’s great fun for me, watching rules cascade into story and back into rules again. It’s also an aspect of that titular “lonely fun” in today’s comic.

The reddit post that got me thinking about this subject lives over here, and it’s honestly worth a read. But for our TLDR purposes, lonely fun can be defined as all the enjoyment you get from gaming that doesn’t take place at the gaming table. We’re talking about the session prep; the character creation; the world building and feat perusal and and spell selection. If you’ve ever spent hours reading through the magic chapter and trying to imagine whether you’re “more of a lighting guy or a fire guy,” then you know what this biz feels like. This is a largely invisible part of gaming, since all of these things are solo endeavors. It’s also a concept driven by notions of the “toyetic.”

Another fine piece of terminology, toyetic is exactly what it sounds like: having the quality of a toy. Imagine your inner little-kid-gamer with books strewn across the floor. That kid is imagining a badass barbarian, but they’re using written description of rage powers and subclasses rather than He-Man action figures. This is one of the basic pleasures of “crunchy systems.” They give you “enough stuff” to play with, and that toyetic quality seems to emerge from snapping all those wonderful rules-Legos together.

And that in turn got me thinking… What would a “non-crunchy toyetic system” look like? Are there fiction-first titles out there that provide all the “stuff” you need to imagine and play in your spare time? I’m intrigued enough by this question that I’d actually like to make it our discussion for today. So hit me with your best shot! What are your favorite systems for providing hours upon hours of lonely fun, and would any of them be considered “non-crunch?”


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