[Solo-ish play] Audience participation?

edited December 2016 in Story Games
I know not a lot of people are into solo rpging, but I was wondering if this might be interesting nonetheless.

I was thinking that solo play could be made more fun if you somehow involved an audience (assuming people would even bother to read the ap reports). The main style of solo play currently involves asking questions to an “oracle”, which is basically a more sophisticated version of throwing dice and deciding if something is true or not. I recently tried treating the oracle as if it was an audience listening to my character tell of her adventure. That was reasonably more immersive than the usual way of asking an oracle out of character, even though there’s basically no difference except in stance.

Well, wouldn’t it be even more fun to ask an actual audience? For example, “"Would you believe me that a whale fell out of the sky and killed my pursuer?"” Then someone would answer you yes or no. I’m not sure if the promise of having an influence on how an adventure goes would be enough incentive for most people to bother. I know I would, but that’s just me.

The game that most closely comes to mind is Baron Munchasen.Universalis too. Not sure if there are others that might do something like this and are geared towards written interaction.


  • Are you familiar with the Doomed Pilgrim?
  • edited December 2016
    No...the google hits I see bring up the Sundered Land.

    Edit: Ah, I remember this but on G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111023399555426942490/posts/V2fbaxtnb3J. I didn't know this had originated in Vincent's blog.

    I thought of mine as something different, but it really is a different flavor of the same thing. Thanks!
  • I've actually created a solo game with a mostly passive audience, now that I think of it. It's a secondary play mode in my weird Fellows of the Julenius Archive hiking larp-thing. When played solo it's basically about visiting a place with a notebook, making notes, and then writing up an expedition log or even holding a little seminar for other people later on about your experiences.

    On the basis of that experience, I think that while I do not really believe in solo roleplaying, the audience element brings the exercise really close to something like that. Whether it's really roleplaying or not, it's sort of interesting, and if I didn't have a happy hobby life full of other things to do, I could see myself doing more of that sort of thing :D

    Note, by the way, that it's pretty important for something like this whether "audience" means simply the expectation of being viewed, or if the audience has an active participation role in the game. I think that the latter is basically just roleplaying with a somewhat peculiar role distribution, so not nearly as radical as "true" solo play where you do not interact with the audience. Of course, in practice the line can be blurry, depending on how exactly the game is set up.
  • @Eero_Tuovinen

    That's where it gets kind of interesting, conceptually speaking. If it's an rpg when the audience is basically limited to saying "yes" (that's true) or "no" (that's not true), then there's basically no real difference between that and asking the dice in lieu of an audience. That is, except for the cognitive element of knowing a self-aware being is reading and participating in your stuff, even though they can only say 'yay' or 'nay'.

    Thanks for the link to your game!
  • edited December 2016
    Rich Rogers (@orklord) over on G+ is using small polls to ask the audience about the fate of NPCs when bad things happen to them at the end of an session. He's running a group, but the audience feedback thing in neat. The problem in the case of solo play is that a question might come up mid-session and it could take a while to generate audience feedback. Perhaps if you did something at the end of a gaming session, it might make things move smoother.
  • @zircher

    Yeah, that could be an issue, and it could vary depending on the popularity of the person/game. I would hope that having the opportunity to influence the direction of a story would be inherently interesting, but I guess there's no guarantee of that.
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