Welcome to Booting Up Cyberpunk Solo Pt 2!
If you missed part one of our series, please check it out here.
Now that we have chosen a system for our Cyberpunk Solo game, we need to look for supplements. Some books provide a lot of support so that a basic oracle is all that is needed in order to keep your game moving. Others were built for the sort of directed group play that doesn’t lend well to playing solo. A game offering a multitude of random tables will be your friend, no matter what genre you’re playing. But if you have chosen one of the games that only offers rules for group play, do not fear! There is an incredible (Pay What You Want, please support our indie designers) resource that will provide a huge amount of play material.
Augmented Reality really brings everything but the oracle to your solo game. You will find tables for generating your city blocks, descriptions of city scenes, NPC generators, mission generators, and what motivations are behind that exec’s actions. Shockingly, the author allows you to pay what you want for it. Deals don’t get better than that, especially for a must-have item for solo player or cyberpunk GM alike. Please do remember that this book took a lot of effort to put together so please support the author. You can also pick up the PLUS edition (also PWYW) that includes additional tables and generators.
Dark Streets and Darker Secrets
Dark Streets and Darker Secrets is not a cyberpunk game. Rather, it brings urban fantasy and horror to the table… as well as tables for constructing your city. Cyberpunk games largely take place in dark and grungy cities and this book can help create them. It also doesn’t hurt that it can bring some supernatural horror to the cyberpunk genre, which I feel really cranks up the tension and drama. Vampire corpos, a cultist motorcycle gang, and possessed holo hardware all bring a new twist for your runner to deal with.
There are numerous other supplements out there, free and otherwise. Augmented Reality brings what you need though, both to start and as your solo cyberpunk collection grows.
Picking a Wrapper
Now you need to find that GM emulator that will enhance your cyberpunk experience. Fantasy is obviously the largest genre in our hobby so you don’t want to be stuck just having to make do. Luckily there are some good emulators out there that can handle your important GM delegation needs that truly are either system and genre neutral or offer materials for multiple genres.
GEMulator comes to you with a price tag of Pay What You Want. Again please support the author as this book contains far more than a complex oracle. This system helps you determine how long of a story you’re looking to tell, track story threads and important NPC’s, comes with a wealth of genre-neutral tables, and generally helps you run your game solo. The author gives a lot of attention to story structure, giving your game better flow rather than just being a jumble of random events.
Plot/Scene/Game Unfolding Machine
This series of short books from JeansenVaars contains fantastic oracle tables and methods of solo play that are less complicated than a lot of other wrapper systems. Most of this author’s work comes Pay What You Want, so you can feel free to try them out but please do remember to support good work like this. Each book focuses on different aspects of the game that need emulation. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in one, try another. You will find lots of oracles here as well as advice on how to organize your game and resolve your scenes.
Mythic Game Master Emulator 2nd Edition
The 2nd Edition of the Mythic Game Master Emulator brings many improvements over the original. This system has always been willing to grow and shift. The Mythic Magazine series offers a huge amount of new rules and techniques expanding on the original rules and their variations. The 2nd Edition collects many of those techniques into a hefty 230 page volume. This is also the only wrapper rule set on the list that has a defined price. However, Mythic brings a wealth of good practices and tables that will guide your solo experience. The Mythic’s author has also taken some cues from other systems as there is now a quest tracking system similar to Ironsworn’s. If you’re on a budget, this one can wait but is definitely worth it otherwise.
The spark tables included in the wrapper systems above generate concepts that can be used for various interpretive tasks. If you need to know what form a random event takes, what a device does, or what a characters motivation is then you should use a spark table. The only issue with the spark tables in GEMulator or Mythic is that they are still meant to be generic. The creators wanted to have their product apply to any genre that might be played. As well they should. However, when you want a specific kind of game, you need specific tools.
Enter Ken Wickham and his Grammar Fuel series. When playing cyberpunk solo, having a table of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs taken from cyberpunk literature changes everything. Now if you need a character motivation, it will have that cyberpunk flavor. These tables generate quests, describe people or objects, and generally compose random parts of your story by rolling on the table and composing the results into a sentence.
Putting It All Together
Now that you have plenty of material to work with, you still need to get everything rolling. How do you start? What are you going to do? What if it feels weird? These are all valid questions and in the next part of the series, I’m going to start my own solo game using some of these materials. I will do it as a narrative but will describe both how I envision the events in my game as well as what I rolled on what tables. If there are awkward parts, I’ll describe them and let you know that maybe I had to take a break and spend 20 minutes thinking about what that spark table result meant.
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Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for the next in the series!