It’s been a while since we checked in on Alchemist and Abercrombie. It’s good to see that they’re getting along a bit better these days. Of course, when you’re literally the same person, it’s hard to stay mad for long. Welcome to the Zen of solo wargaming.

While it’s no secret that I love squad-based tactical play with RPG elements, it never occurred to me to give solo gaming a shot. That changed when my wargaming buddies decided to branch out and try some new systems.

I’m a relative newcomer to this corner of the hobby, so I can’t claim to be an authority here. But from an outsider’s perspective, it had always truck me as bizarre. My conception of GAMING writ large had always been about social and collaborative experiences. That’s so core to my own hobby practices that (judgy elitist alert) I’d always considered those lone wolf weirdos modding game systems to accommodate single-player experiences to be missing the point. Then, just a few weeks ago, I encountered Five Parsecs From Home.

The experience is all about randomly-generated sci-fi crews, emergent narrative, and a simple antagonist AI. Finding out that my procedurally generated starship of misfits were half rich artists and half local bumpkins gave rise to all manner of fantastic narrative moments. I could picture these snobby Core System jerks rolling up to some backwater planet to paint its “rustic charm” in watercolor. They’d hire a couple of local hillbilly alien guides, the local guides would try to swindle them for all they’re worth, and Bob’s your uncle we’ve got an Odd Couple premise for galaxy-spanning sci-fi hijinks.

While the story you tell yourself is fun to discover, it’s the random tables that give fuel to the imagination. All those d100 tropes and items and character backgrounds make for an elaborate tapestry of intersecting story beats. And while I was none too pleased to find my captain eaten by Starship Trooper bugs while trying to heist her senior project back from the Alpha Centauri Academy of Arts, it was all manner of fun to imagine who steps in to fill that power gap.

Extensive note-taking and between-session bookkeeping compliment a streamlined series of random missions, and the result falls somewhere between Firefly and Farscape. In short, it was a novel gaming experience, and one that I’d have missed if my buddies hadn’t convinced me to put aside my preconceptions.

And so, for today’s discussion, what do you say we talk about this slightly esoteric corner of GAMING? Have you ever tried a solo game? What was the system, and how was the experience? Tell us all about your own one-hero-versus-the-world gaming sessions down in the comments!


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