Have You Played Any Solo TTRPGs?

Over the past year or so, have been seeing people mention solo role-playing game experiences. Up until very recently I have ignored the topic entirely. As someone who was born an only child and is a bit of an introvert by nature, TTRPGs have always been the one part of my life where I have specifically craved social interaction.

Ironsworn by Shawn Tomkin will likely be my starting point.

To be honest, I have not even experimented with virtual tabletop gaming. It just doesn’t seem appealing to me. I think VTTs are wonderful. I am sure they have brought many more people to the hobby and provided access to games for many who would not be able to partake. It is just that to me, gaming is all about having a bunch of people over, sitting down and rolling dice.

Even my decision to write this blog was largely out of the desire to interact with people and share. The process of reading someone’s comments or posting my own thoughts on someone else’s post is enjoyable to me. It is just very pleasant to interact with a community like this.

All of that aside, I have been unable to escape the topic of solo games. This post is my white flag of surrender. I am going to dip a toe in and see what it is all about.

My History With “Solo Games”

Encyclopedia Brown.

I have written previously about how I came to discover role-playing games. While I have never actually played a solo TTRPG, I guess you could say that my first experience with some type of solo game would have been with the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol.

These children’s mysteries focused on a boy detective in a contemporary setting, solving local crimes. Hints would be provided throughout the book and then the reader would attempt to solve the mystery by the end of the book. These were a bit juvenile for me by the time I discovered them, but the concept was very interesting.

Dungeon of Dread.

My first genre specific solo game book came in 1982 with Dungeon of Dread by Rose Estes. Released by TSR Hobbies, this was part of their new “Endless Quest” line of paperbacks. To my recollection, the Endless Quest line was preceded by and similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books by Bantam Books.

Written in the second person, these stories followed a pattern of providing the reader with options as to how to continue after a number of pages. Each option would direct the reader to flip to a specific page within the book, where the story would continue. This process would continue until you ultimately arrive a one of numerous endings to the story.


The following year, while browsing a downtown bookstore, I landed a copy of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. This first book in the famed “Fighting Fantasy” series, this built on the “choose a path” idea by adding actual die rolls, which further simulated playing a TTRPG. From there I recall exploring the Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! series, which built on the Fighting Fantasy series by allowing players to take on the role of either warrior or a wizard.

By the time I was done with these, I was in my mid-teens and my interest in these types of books was waning. It was another 10 years or so before the grind of real life pulled me away from RPGs altogether but in terms of any type of solo gameplay, that was it for me.

Current State of Things

It has been about 10 years now since I have made my way back to the TTRPG hobby. Since that time, I have tinkered with a number of new systems, as well as more old ones than I would have expected. As I mentioned previously, I have been aware of actual solo games being “a thing” for a few years now. However, in the past couple months I have really started to take the idea seriously.

In my ignorance I had assumed that these solo games would not amount to much more than more of what I had experienced in the 80s. However, with the more I read, it becomes clear that it is possible to weave creative tales with these systems. I have decided to investigate a bit deeper and see what I can learn.

I am most likely to start with Ironsworn by Shawn Tomkin. It seems to be the title that crosses my path more frequently than any other. In addition, the few interactions I have had with people who have played the system have been very positive. However, the purpose of this post was to reach out to the folks I interact with the most on here and see what you might be able to suggest.

Have you played any solo TTRPGs? If so, which ones and what were your experiences? Do you have any suggestions to share with someone who is just starting to explore this part of the hobby? I am really starting from square one here, so I would appreciate any input that you might be able to provide.

That is all for now. I hope you have a great week. Good gaming!

8 thoughts on “Have You Played Any Solo TTRPGs?

  1. I’ve played some decent solo board games (Chainsaw Warrior way back when I still recall with fondness) and I’ve got a couple of solo journaling games still to play. Meanwhile, I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown way more than those choose your own quests books (still enjoyed those too, but those mini mysteries were great and still seem to provide solutions for those youtube impossible mysteries videos). As far as solo RPG mechanics seem to go, video games seem to have cornered that market.

    I am reminded that I really ought to dig out those books of storage and hand off to the next generation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve actually gotten a ton of solo TTRPGs in bundles over on Itch.io. At first, I regarded them with suspicion — what are these weird things? Aren’t they just writing with extra steps? And, yeah, if you’re very cynical about them, they are.

    But at the same time, they are so much more. Most solo TTRPGs are meant to be played in a single session of a couple of hours with nothing but a set of dice, pen(cil)s, paper, and potentially playing or tarot cards. The rules of the game fit within a few pages. Yet the dice and the cards ensure a unique story every time, and each game has its own setup.

    You go on a completely different journey every session. You get attached to your characters and the worlds you create. It’s so incredible to just be with yourself and really spend some time just to focus and have fun.

    I should really make more time for it. I always tell myself I should do it once a week, but I never do. But I remember the sessions I’ve done fondly.

    I highly recommebd checking out Itch.io for solo TTRPGs, see what strikes your fancy. There’s anything from slice of life to downright horror to games that help you deal with grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write.

      I’ve got a bit of a rough path with work this past month but intend to keep exploring the subject once things let up.

      I’ve really enjoyed the little bit of time that I’ve tinkered with Ironsworn so far.

      Liked by 1 person

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