Our first system developed for Solo ttrpg
At Sparuh, we love solo TTRPGs. We love the freedom and flexibility they offer, and the endless possibilities they open up. We also love creating our own solo TTRPGs system, because we have a lot of ideas and dreams that we want to share with the world. We’ve been working on a few solo TTRPG projects for a while now, such as Witasy and Scopicity. However, as we were developing these games, we encountered some problems that made us rethink our approach.
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First Problem: We wanted something Unique
The first problem was that we wanted something unique that would set us apart from the market. We wanted to create a system that was not only easy to use and understand, but also complex and rich enough to support our vision and goals. We wanted a system that could handle different genres, settings, and themes, and that could adapt to different styles of play.
However, both Witasy and Scopicity used a rather generic system that was quite common in the market. We felt that this system was not suitable or easy to develop for our games. We felt that it was limiting our creativity and potential. So, we decided to start from scratch and create our own system.
A system that was tailor-made for our games and our audience. A system that was flexible, versatile, and modular. A system that could handle any kind of solo TTRPG experience we wanted to create. We call this system SSS: Sparuh’s Solottrpg System. And we’re proud to debut it with a new game world: iXe.
Second Problem: We need a new game world that we can freely craft to suit the system
The second problem was that we didn’t want to be limited by the previously set confines of our old games. We wanted to explore new horizons and push the boundaries of our imagination. We wanted to create a game world that was fresh and original, that could showcase the features and capabilities of our new system. That’s why we created iXe: a game world that was developed alongside SSS features. iXe is a sci-fi fantasy setting where technology and magic coexist in a chaotic and dangerous world.
iXe is a world where you can be anything you want: a cybernetic warrior, a mystical hacker, a rogue agent, a rebel leader, or anything in between. iXe is a world where you can do anything you want: explore exotic locations, fight powerful enemies, uncover hidden secrets, join factions, or forge your own destiny. iXe is our most ambitious project yet. It’s our way of expressing our joy and wonder for life through solo TTRPGs. And we want to share it with you.
In this blog post series, we’ll tell you more about SSS and iXe: how they work, what they offer, and why you should try them out.
The first step we took was to identify the problem that we wanted to solve. We asked ourselves:
1. What are some of the challenges or frustrations that we face as solo ttrpg players?
2. What are some of the things that we wish we had or could do better?
We came up with a list of possible answers, such as:
After we identified the problem, we decided to research on what players desire to experience during the game and we discovered that they want to have Narrative Freedom but with a few guiding mechanics when something is uncertain. Such as a roll check.
Narrative Freedom means that the player has full control over the story and can decide what happens next, how their character acts and reacts, and what the consequences are. They can also choose the genre, setting, theme, tone, and style of their story. They can make it as realistic or fantastical as they want. However, Narrative Freedom also comes with some challenges. Sometimes, the player may not know what to do next, how to resolve a conflict, or how to introduce some tension or drama.
They may also feel bored or stuck if everything goes according to their plan or expectation. They may need some help or guidance from an external source.
That’s where the guiding mechanics come in. These are rules or tools that can help the player generate random events, outcomes, twists, complications, or answers to their questions. They can also provide some structure or framework for the story. They can add some challenge or uncertainty to the game.
One of the most common guiding mechanics in ttrpgs is the roll check. This is when the player rolls a die (or dice) to determine if their character succeeds or fails at a task or action. The result of the roll may also affect the story in some way.
We also know that solo ttrpgs system require a lot of Oracles, and we were ready for this. Oracles are another type of guiding mechanic that can help the player generate random information or answer yes/no questions. They can be used to create NPCs, locations, items, events, motivations, secrets, etc. They can also be used to simulate the role of a GM or other players. Oracles can come in different forms, such as tables, charts, lists, generators, etc. They can be specific or generic, depending on the level of detail or customization that the player wants.
We wanted to create a game system that would incorporate both roll checks and Oracles using a standard 52-card deck. We thought that cards would be a great medium for this because they are easy to use and manipulate. They can also create different combinations and patterns that can add some depth and complexity to the game. Aside from that we also looked at this from the lens of a writer because at the end of the day, a solo ttrpg player will spend time writing and building their world by writing the story down. Either through a journal or digital notepad.
We realized that playing solo ttrpgs is very similar to writing fiction. Both activities involve creating characters, settings, plots, themes, etc. Both activities require imagination, creativity, and logic. Both activities can be fun and rewarding. We wanted to create a game system that would support and enhance the writing process of solo ttrpg players. We wanted to help them develop their writing skills and habits. We wanted to inspire them to write more and better stories.
So, now we have the concept of a Writer + Narrative Freedom + some guiding mechanics the player can use when they need some help resolving with + Cards.
As you may know, we are big fans of ttrpgs, especially solo ones. We love the freedom and creativity that solo ttrpgs offer, as well as the challenge and immersion that they provide. We have previously created two solo ttrpgs: Witasy and Scopicity, which also use a standard 52-card deck as the main tool for generating random events and outcomes.
We really enjoy playing with cards and it just feels fun. There is something satisfying about shuffling, drawing, and laying out cards on the table. Cards are also easy to find, carry, and store. They are versatile and can be used in many different ways.
We did consider using dice instead to stay true to DnD culture, but we really wanted to explore what a standard 52-card deck can do and we want to discover more ways to use it. We were inspired by some of our favorite card games, such as Dominion, Ascension, and Star Realms, which are all deck-building games.
Deck-building games are games where you start with a small and simple deck of cards and gradually improve it by acquiring new and better cards from a common pool. The cards you acquire usually have different abilities and effects that can help you achieve your goals or hinder your opponents.
We thought: hey! maybe we can create a Deck-Building Solo TTRPGs system where every decision that the player makes requires them to draw a card from the main deck and add it to their own player deck, which we later call Fate Deck, to resolve any uncertain outcome that may require the players to perform checks.
And we did just that. We felt that it adds more dynamics and more thought to when you need to perform a check and you will consider if the Fate Deck is currently a good and strong deck to do that, or the opposite. You will also have to balance between acquiring new cards that can help you in different situations or discarding cards that are no longer useful or harmful.
The Fate Deck represents your character’s skills, abilities, traits, equipment, allies, enemies, and destiny. It is constantly changing and evolving as you play. It is also unique to your character and your story. No two Fate Decks will be the same.
If you’re a fan of solo tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs), you know how challenging it can be to create a satisfying and immersive story without a game master or other players. You need to rely on your imagination, creativity, and some random elements to keep the game interesting and unpredictable.
That’s why we decided to design our own solo TTRPG system that uses scenes as the core mechanic. Scenes are the basic units of storytelling in novels, movies, and other forms of fiction. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they usually involve some kind of conflict, change, or resolution.
We thought that scenes would be a perfect way to structure our solo TTRPG sessions, as they would provide a clear goal, a sense of progression, and a variety of challenges and outcomes. We also wanted to make our system flexible and adaptable to any genre, setting, or theme that the player might want to explore.
So we ran with that idea and created a framework that works similar to a scene in writing a story. Here’s how it works:
With this system, you can create endless stories and scenarios that are tailored to your preferences and interests. You can also use it as a tool for writing practice or inspiration. In fact, many of our solo TTRPG players are also writers who use our system to write their game story and experience into a journal or digital notebook.
When we first started working on iXe, we had a simple idea: a game world that is a VR world. Sounds cool, right? Well, not so much. We soon realized that this was too boring and limiting for our vision. We wanted to create a world that is alive and dynamic, with digital beings that have their own personalities, histories, and cultures. We wanted to create a world that is not just a backdrop for the game, but a character in itself.
So we scrapped the VR idea and went back to the drawing board. We asked ourselves: what if the digital world was not created by humans, but by the digital beings themselves? What if they had their own laws and rules that govern their existence? What if they had their own conflicts and alliances that shape their history? What if they had their own dreams and aspirations that drive their actions?
That’s how we came up with the concept of iXe: a digital world with digital beings, or iXeans as we call them. iXeans are not just NPCs or enemies that you encounter in the game. They are living entities that have their own stories and motivations. They are your allies and foes, your friends and rivals, your mentors and students.
But how do you create such a complex and diverse world? Well, it wasn’t easy. It took us a lot of brainstorming, research, experimentation, and feedback to craft the world of iXe.
Here are some of the steps we took to make it happen:
We created a currency system for the game: Token. Token is not just a way to buy items or upgrades in the game. It is also a way to measure the value and influence of an iXean in the digital world. The more Token you have, the more power and respect you have. Token can be earned by completing quests, winning battles, trading with other iXeans, or creating content in the game.
We created a world structure for the game: Grids and Off Grids. Grids are like servers, cities, or zones that have their own boundaries and rules. They are maintained by the iXeans who live in them and have their own cultures and identities. Some Grids are friendly and welcoming to outsiders, while others are hostile and exclusive. Some Grids are peaceful and prosperous, while others are chaotic and poor. Some Grids are ancient and traditional, while others are modern and innovative.
Off Grids are the areas outside of the Grids, where there are no boundaries or rules. They are wild and dangerous places where anything can happen. They are inhabited by scary entities that can harm or help you depending on their mood. They are also where you can find rare resources or secrets that can give you an edge in the game.
iXeans have to travel between Grids and Off Grids to explore the digital world and pursue their goals. Sometimes they have to cooperate with other iXeans to survive or succeed, while other times they have to compete or fight with them to gain or protect something.
In the beginning, there was nothing but chaos in the digital world. Bits of data were randomly floating around without any order or meaning. Then, some of these bits of data started to cluster together and form patterns. These patterns became the first digital beings: iXeans.
iXeans were curious and adventurous creatures who wanted to explore and understand their world. They soon realized that they could manipulate data to create things that they wanted or needed. They started to build structures and tools out of data to make their lives easier or more fun.
As more iXeans were born from data clusters, they began to form groups based on their similarities or interests. These groups became the first Grids: communities of iXeans who shared a common vision or goal for their world.
However, not all iXeans were happy with this arrangement. Some iXeans wanted more freedom or diversity than what their Grids could offer them. They decided to leave their Grids and venture into the unknown regions of the digital world. These regions became the Off Grids: areas of iXeans who valued diversity and adventure over order and stability.
The Grids and the Off Grids soon developed different views and values about their world and their roles in it. They also developed different technologies and cultures that reflected their preferences and needs. This led to conflicts and tensions between them, as well as alliances and cooperation.
The world of iXe is constantly changing and evolving as the iXeans create, destroy, or modify data to suit their purposes. It is a world full of surprises and challenges, where you never know what you will find or who you will meet.
But wait, there’s more! We also wanted to give you, the players, the opportunity to create your own worlds within the world of iXe. We wanted to let you express your creativity and imagination in the game, and share it with other players.
That’s why we created the Mesh: a non-registered Grid, a non-official place with its own set of rules. The Mesh is where you can build your own personal space in the game, using data that you collect or create in the game. You can customize your Mesh to look and feel however you want, and invite other players to visit or join you.
You can also use your Mesh to create your own mini-games or challenges for yourself or others. You can set your own objectives, rules, rewards, and penalties for your games. You can make them easy or hard, fun or scary, cooperative or competitive. The possibilities are endless!
The Mesh is your playground in the game, where you can experiment and have fun with data. It is also your home in the game, where you can relax and socialize with other players. It is your way to make your mark in the world of iXe.
We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the world-building process for iXe. We are very proud of what we have created so far, and we can’t wait to share it with you soon. Stay tuned for more updates and news about iXe, and don’t forget to sign up for our beta testing program if you haven’t already. Thank you for your support and interest in our game. See you in iXe!