Any good single-player pen-and-paper games?
March 14, 2008 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good single-player pen-and-paper games?

I'm interested in pen-and-paper games that can be played by a single player. I'm interested mainly in RPG type games that are somewhat epic in nature (I have no idea if they exist for a single player), but I'm open to other options as well. Oh, and they should be fun. Thanks!
posted by SpacemanStix to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would love to see what answers people provide here. See, the reason rpgs work, is because you are creating a story on the fly, with other people, who are also creating a story on the fly. To have an epic story, and to have you involved, the story needs to incorporate your decisions. Without that, you're just reading a story.

So, to have something that incorporates your decisions, and is built for one person, you have only two choices: Something which explicitly limits your choices, and lets you choose which path to take, but supplies the story based on those simple choices. That means you're looking at Choose Your Own Adventure books. You won't find something better.

Alternatively, you're looking at some kind game where your decisions/goals are basically constrained, but there are choices in achieving those goals. That leads you to video games, which aren't pen and paper, or maybe some kind of board game. The Lord of the Rings game is built for cooperative play. Maybe you could be all players at once. Or maybe there are other games like that out there.

But otherwise, no, you can't get an epic story that you're involved in, unless there's some method of incorporating your involvement. (Alternatively, you could just write your own story. That's 100% involvement by you.)
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2008


Given adventure gamebooks a shot? Not sure if the links still work, but there's a bunch on home of the underdogs. Other than that, I think that particular niche has pretty much taken the leap to electronic form.
posted by juv3nal at 4:11 PM on March 14, 2008


Fighting Fantasy?
posted by Drexen at 4:13 PM on March 14, 2008


To address kingjoeshmoe's point about Choose Your Own Adventure: well the gamebooks are basically Choose Your Own Adventure, but they do have the addition of stats and dicerolling for task/combat resolution so you get something more of an RPG flavor to them.
posted by juv3nal at 4:15 PM on March 14, 2008


B-17 was fun and solitaire. I don't remember if it was "epic", though.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:15 PM on March 14, 2008


I though the Lone Wolf books books were pretty great when I was twelve. No idea if they hold up, but there seems to be a cult following.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 4:15 PM on March 14, 2008


That would be "thought the Lone Wolf books..." Only one books.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 4:17 PM on March 14, 2008


BTW, the lone wolf series is playable online through a web UI. As are some amateur Fighting Fantasy style ones. I heartily recommend Cthulhu-ish one.
posted by juv3nal at 4:19 PM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thanks everyone. Those are exactly the kinds of games I'm wondering about.

I've played a lot of computer RPG's over the years, but never got into the pen and paper ones. I feel like I'd like to experience part of my childhood that was missed, although I don't have time for large get togethers on the weekend.

Also, it doesn't have to be an RPG type game necessarily, although I prefer that kind of thing. I'm curious about different (non-card) solitaire type games that would be played on paper, and engaging. I'm not ruling out the need for dice or other game pieces. Anything that's overly mathematical though or with too many rules probably wouldn't keep my attention.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2008


SpacemanStix: I almost asked this exact question a month ago. I hate meetings too. It's either pen/paper games [anything else will raise suspicion] or chew my arm out.

I like my arm.
posted by special-k at 4:56 PM on March 14, 2008


The first thing I thought of was Lone Wolf as well. Those can be fun. Be sure to make photo copies of your player grid though.

I know this doesn't answer your question, but have you considered just buying a PSP, DS, or GBA with some RPG video games to play?
posted by nickerbocker at 4:59 PM on March 14, 2008


I'm not an expert here, but I think that for something to be a game you almost always need at least one of: interaction/competition between multiple players, a physically challenging task, or [pseudo]randomization of game variables. These factors can be separated from the "playing' of the game in space and time, though. For example, in a choose-your-own-adventure book, or in a chess puzzle, the author and the reader are both "players" but they play at different times. You could certainly use your alone-time to write a role-playing scenario to be played later. Alternatively, you could play a game that someone else has written for you, like these. They're board games though, not pen and paper.
posted by agentofselection at 5:44 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Barbarian Prince is a solitaire rpg-style game from the early '80s. Not much in the way of character generation, but it's a bit more robust than a choose-your-own-adventure book. This game is free for download from the rights holder.

And while I've never played them, there's also the SoloQuest series from KenzerCo. Here's a demo (PDF).
posted by iwhitney at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2008


Chainsaw Warrior by Games Workshop was a really cool one-player only game, with a rather Doom-like vibe to it (zombies, gateways to hell, biomechanical monsters, chainsaws) and 2000ad style art. Getting ahold of a copy without missing peices might be hard though.

Woohoo! Someones done an online version of it.
posted by Artw at 9:08 PM on March 14, 2008


I know this doesn't answer your question, but have you considered just buying a PSP, DS, or GBA with some RPG video games to play?

Oh yes, I play quite a few of these. I've been interested lately though in old school stuff that you can play with physical objects. Something fun about the tangible nature of dice, pen on paper, etc.

Chainsaw Warrior by Games Workshop

Wow, that looks seriously fun.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:25 PM on March 14, 2008


Woohoo! Someones done an online version of it.

The horrible, horrible interface and all the pop-ups kind of strip it of the fun of the original though :(
posted by Artw at 9:30 PM on March 14, 2008


Heres waht the complete setup looks like.
posted by Artw at 9:35 PM on March 14, 2008


You could print up some go problems to keep in your notebook for covert reference.
posted by ctmf at 10:43 PM on March 14, 2008


You've got some good RPG suggestions. If you want to branch out, try PocketCiv -- a free solo Civilization-style pen-and-paper game.
posted by Yogurt at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2008


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