I almost titled this article with something like 'playing by yourself,' but that didn't sound right.
Well, the now famous dissolution of my RPG group has got me to thinking. There was a time when all of my gaming (instead of just most) was either solo or with my kids. I was really happy when I found a stable RPG group nearby, as it let me get what I thought I was missing from my Solo gaming, namely adult camaraderie. Now that I am not quite on purpose a solo gamer, I realize that I honestly didn't need other gamers that much.
That sounds horrible, so let me qualify it a little bit.
PROS for Solo Gaming:
- Play what you want. This is a big deal for me, since I can pretty rapidly swing from wanting a Dark Age skirmish game to a Mass Effect style d20 RPG featuring everyone's favorite space viking Bjorn.
- Play when you want. Again, I have a full time job, and kids. A lot of my gaming is done late at night, weekends, lunch breaks. A solo game is where and when you want it.
- No need for competitive builds. I actually started thinking about this because of JF from Solo Nexus (sadly defunct now). I can build scenarios with no regard for power level, as I am playing both sides. No one is going to get hurt feelings because they got stomped playing the Americans at The Alamo. This ties in a little bit with point #1, above, but essentially, I can run a force that isn't 'optimized' to win, because there simply isn't 'winning' in most of my game. On the flip side, there's not much 'losing,' either.
CONS for Solo Gaming:
- Integrity. It is sometimes difficult to not 'fudge' things the way you want them to go when you are playing by yourself. With experience, this is mitigated by setting ground rules for what you will or will not allow in certain rules situations. Like, will I let me character die, or will I give them a deus ex machina? I've done both, and either way works, as long as you stick to it.
- Inspiration. There are times when Solo Gaming where the lack of other players' excitement can mean you run out of momentum. Are you a thermostat or a thermometer? If you need other people to be excited to get excited yourself, solo gaming may not be for you. On the other hand, if you can get enthused about letting your imagination run wild and seeing how Roman Legionnaires versus Zulus would play out, this is not much of a problem.
And there you have it. My long overdue thesis on why I love solo gaming so much more than gaming with other people. It always helps to write this stuff down, as it crystallizes things for me. Happy gaming!