Caught in The Rain is the new game that I am developing and it is my attempt at solving the difficulty of playing a mystery roleplaying game as a solo player. Whether it is group play or solo play, the general consensus is mystery campaigns or adventures in roleplaying games are challenging or time-consuming to run. I seek to fix that, for solo players, with Caught in the rain by using a deck of cards (shocking). This is an early version of Caught in the Rain and I have a few areas of focus for the next few iterations, but I hope to share this with the community in the hopes of receiving some feedback!
What are mystery roleplaying games?
A mystery roleplaying game is a game in which people take on roles in the narrative to uncover the truth behind something that is not understood. It’s a mystery combined with a roleplaying game. Whether you are running/playing a mystery-focused roleplaying game or another roleplaying game with a mystery adventure, the general approach is the same: The players find some nuggets of information (clues) to help them find a conclusion (uncover the truth behind the mystery).
The reason for the difficulty in running these games is multifaceted:
- Predetermined plots or outcomes undermine the collaborative nature of roleplaying games.
- Missing information or misinterpretation may result in frustration or an inability to drive the narrative towards a meaningful conclusion.
- Creating a mystery can require more initial planning than other types of campaigns.
There have been several solutions to some of these problems in the past such as:
- Brindlewood Bay’s approach to mysteries being a collaboratively built endeavour in which the GM creates a master list of some clues and the players can attempt to solve the mystery with whatever information they have, weaving the narrative together to do so.
- The three clue rule by the Alexandrian to provide a helpful map of connections and contingencies when planning and running a mystery.
But these solutions might not quite fit the solo player’s games because it requires a bit of knowing to start with and… They don’t use playing cards which is why I have decided to create Caught in the Rain.
How does Caught in the Rain help solo players?
Caught in the Rain helps solo players play a mystery roleplaying game by using a single deck of cards to govern clues and truths, some tracks and dice to add some randomness to the game and inspire narrative, and some pressures and dangers to add some drama.
Clues and truths are the heart of the mystery.
The deck of playing cards is split into two decks:
- A clue deck composed of all A to 10 cards of each suit plus the two jokers.
- A truth deck composed of all face cards.
At the start of the game, you will draw three cards from the truth deck and set them aside without looking at them. These are the cards you will have to guess correctly when you solve the mystery to win the game.
In play, you will draw cards from the clue deck and play them to the play area to create sets of cards with matching numbers. Each unique number represents a distinct clue in the narrative. As you add more cards to these sets, the better things will be when you try to solve the mystery. The better these sets, the more truth cards you can draw in the game.
When you solve the mystery, hopefully you will have some of the truth cards drawn which will help you have a better guess at the hidden truth cards you set aside at the start of the game.
Tracks and dice determine when scenes are finished.
To govern the collection of clues and help to weave a narrative, you will play Caught in the Rain through a series of scenes. Each scene is represented by a track that you will fill as you roll dice. You can fill the tracks quickly by acting fast and rolling two dice at the cost of introducing threats or overfilling the tracks, or you can take it slow and steady and roll one dice at the expense of time.
When you fill a track, the scene is over and you can gain a clue to add to your play area! Fun!
Dangers apply mechanical pressure on the player.
There are various elements to constrain you as you play, and add a sense of urgency and drama. Predominantly this is represented by the danger level – the higher this number is, the worse your outcomes will be. It is a little similar to the danger rating in GOLEM, my solo fantasy roleplaying game.
Various elements in the game can increase the danger level such as neglecting your character’s obligations between investigative scenes or if there are threats present in a scene. If the danger level becomes too high, you might even lose the game and fail to uncover the mystery!
How can you play and where can you provide feedback?
You can play this early version of Caught in the Rain by downloading the most recent version below:
If you would like to provide feedback, you can contact me at:
- Comment on this post below!
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BardicInquiry
- Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/InteriorCake
- Mastodon: https://dice.camp/@BardicInquiry
- Or email: email@example.com
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