Friday, September 15, 2017

Robot Solo Gaming - A Cry For Help!

Hey all, Counterfett here with my semi-annual request for reader input.


I have been bitten by a weird desire for something to solo game. It's actually been a while, but I got some inspiration from a couple of weird places that while not directly related, I saw at similar times, which then linked to something older, and gave me a fun idea for a campaign. I'm just hazy on the details. But anyway, here's what happened.

  1. Xcom 2 - War of the Chosen. In the expansion for the strategy video game Xcom 2, there are units called 'Sparks' which are essentially humanoid robots that you can send on missions instead of human soldiers. I use the term humanoid loosely, as these are blocky robots, that while having two arms and two legs, are hulking and do not look the least bit like people. Sort of like Bastion from Overwatch. I thought, "Hey, it would be neat to play a tabletop game centered on robotic heroes instead of actual people. That way, if they die when I'm solo gaming, it won't be as heartbreaking, since they're robots and not 'real' characters." Robot warfighters would be, by design, replaceable.
  2. Destiny 2. In the forthcoming sequel for the MMO Destiny, it is revealed that the number at the end of the names for EXO characters (i.e. Cayde6), indicate how many times the unit has suffered a final death. I thought "Hey, if my characters are robots, rather than having them be disposable, I can simply replace them with another iteration of themselves. This means I can be lazy and not even have to roll a new character!" This led to...
  3. Paranoia. That's right, Paranoia baby! In Paranoia, the player characters are all clones, and when a clone unit dies, they are replaced by a numbered duplicate of themselves which is functionally identical, but only has memories up to the last 'backup.' I forget the mechanic exactly, but I think there was an XP penalty or some such. So this isn't even a new idea, really. A fairly successful RPG already had this mechanic, and it worked well enough that people thought it was innovative and fun.
The problems I am running into, however, with this, are as follows.
  1. Robots. I don't know what I want to use for miniatures. Since I got the idea from enjoying Sparks so much, I want them to look like that. Except, honestly, there are not many good, inexpensive miniature options out there for that type of robot. My initial plan is to use LEGO figures until a more ideal solution presents itself, as I have tons of robot heads from the LEGO movie sets, and it's easy to customize weapon and gear loadouts with minifigs.
  2. Game. How the heck do I want to play this? A simple game is best, since I will be playing primarily by myself. Free would be better still, since I have less than no money to spend on this. I would like record keeping to be minimal, as I want to focus on fun rather than minutiae, but I also want each robot to be its own character and play differently. 
  3. Enemies. What to have my robot warriors fight? In Xcom (and Destiny, for that matter), the enemies are aliens. Should I go that route? It seems to offer the most options in terms of generic options that are immediately available. Ideally, I'd like to have something that can come in swarms, as having a handful of powerful robots mow down swarms of lesser foes sounds more cathartic than grinding myself against formidable adversaries. This is for soda and pretzel relaxation gaming after all, though I'm less adamant on that point than the earlier ones. If a good case can be made for tackling a single big enemy, I think I could be convinced.
Wow, look at those lists. You know how I love a well numbered presentation, right? Well, let me know what you think in the comments. I want to get moving on this. I spoke with Mrs. Fett about this earlier, and she had some great ideas, but I'll probably get to that in another post.

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