During this time of lockdowns and isolation, it can be incredibly difficult to get a group of friends together to play a good day’s worth of tabletop RPGs. This is where singleplayer-RPGs can help you get that RPG fix when you can’t make it to a game cause you’re stuck at home, and the Sigil System super simple to turn into a singleplayer-RPG.
Over the next few blog posts, we’ll cover some tips, tricks and tools to make playing the Sigil System by yourself easier, but today we’re covering the two golden rules of a singleplayer Sigil game.
Rule 1: The Uncertainty Principle
Playing by yourself means you’ll need to take on the role of both player and GM, but if you’re also the GM then you get to decide what happens in the world around your PC, which leads to the ultimate meta-gaming and defeats the point of being a player.
Enter the Uncertainty Table. Rather than say how things will happen, you can give an event a certain chance or probability and then roll on the table to see if that actually occurs.
For example, if your PC is looking for a target to assassinate, and walks into a tavern, rather than simply declaring that the target is there, you can say what are the chances, the odds, the probability that the target is there. Finding your target in the first tavern you walk into is pretty unlikely, so looking at the Uncertainty Table this leads to a Target Number (TN) of 20. Roll at or below the target number and the event happens. You roll and get a 24, and it looks like your PC will need to keep looking.
Remember that not everything will need to be rolled for. Some things just logically follow one another in sequence, and that keeps the story ticking over. The Uncertainty Table is, as the name implies, for when you are uncertain about an event.
Rule 2: PC-POV
Player Character Point Of View. Since you take on the mantle of both Player and GM, it’s important to keep the meta-gaming at bay. Just like when you are a player in a group-game with a separate GM, you want to be surprised, you want to have that feeling of anticipation at what is about to happen. In most singleplayer-RPGs that rarely happens, but with the Sigil System the goal is to keep the POV on your PC.
If your PC doesn’t know about it, then don’t worry about it. Don’t start focusing on events your PC has no knowledge of, and don’t start worldbuilding for places your PC hasn’t been to yet. When you play the Sigil System in singleplayer, focus only on what your PC knows, and more importantly, can perceive.
For example: if your PC picks up a quest to go slay the dragon up in the mountains in the next kingdom over; don’t worry about dragon, the mountain or even the next kingdom over. Your PC hasn’t gotten there yet, so how would he know what’s going on over there? Let the story evolve naturally from your PC’s POV as he experiences his adventures and campaigns.
For things like ambushes or the like, rather than plan it out, you can refer back to the Uncertainty Table and ask questions like “what are the odds/chances/probability that an ambush would happen right here”. If you pass your roll, then let it happen.
Remember that if your PC doesn’t know about it or can’t perceive it, neither should you.
The PC-POV rule applies also to the mechanics of the Sigil System. Since you only know what your PC knows, you only ever roll for your PC. Playing the Sigil System singeplayer means there are no Opposed Skill Checks, even in combat. You never have to worry about creating the Skill Levels for anyone other than your PC.
If there would be an Opposed Skill Check in a regular game, let only your PC roll and apply the normal Difficulty Modifier from the Sigil System to that roll to simulate the opposition your PC faces. For example: if you get into combat, rather than roll Fight for both your PC and the enemy, you only roll for your PC and apply Difficulty Modifier, in this case a -30, to your PC’s roll because fighting this opponent would be Very Hard.
Bear in mind that an enemy’s Armour’s damage reduction and Weapon’s damage increase would still apply to your rolls just like normal.
That is the quick and brief intro into playing the Sigil System as a singleplayer RPG. Next time we’ll look at how you can handle new NPCs and make them unique, and more importantly, surprising.
In the meantime, if you want to chat with us and other Stormforge fans, come join our Discord server!