While I was looking for two person Powered by the Apocalypse games, I came across the free Ironsworn RPG, which can be played solo, cooperatively (a group sans GM) or “guided” (a GM with one or more players).
Tonight, I polled some Discord servers I was in because I was hoping to find someone who wanted to make characters and play around with the system, but I couldn’t find anyone! So I think this is a great place to chronicle my solo Ironsworn game.
So far, it looks like a really interesting system. The basic mechanic of Apocalypse World and similar Powered by the Apocalypse games is: roll 2d6 and add your relevant stat. If you get a 10+, it’s a hit and you succeed. A 7-9 is a weak hit, where you succeed but you might pay a cost, make a hard choice or suffer a complication. A 6 or less is a miss, and in most PbtA games, you don’t accomplish what you set out to do and the Master of Ceremonies (the GM role) gets to make a move that will make life more difficult and more interesting for you.
In Ironsworn, you roll 1d6, add your relevant stat and any bonuses, and you roll two Challenge dice, 2 10-sided dice. Basically the Challenge dice set the difficulty for your success. Your 1d6 roll plus your bonuses has to beat the number on at least one of the Challenge dice to succeed - that’s a weak hit. If your total result beats both the Challenge dice, that’s a strong hit.
If you roll a match on the Challenge dice, interesting complications are supposed to result. Ironsworn has an Oracle system if you don’t have a GM (if you’re playing solo or cooperatively with friends), which entails rolling on some percentile tables and then figuring out a good interpretation of the results that accord with your established fiction.
The other interesting mechanic is Momentum. Different moves (PbtA jargon for bits of rules triggered by your collective narration of what’s happening) might add to your current Momentum. You can burn your current Momentum to auto-succeed vs. a Challenge die that’s less than your current Momentum. So if your current Momentum is 6, and you roll a 5 and an 8 on the Challenge dice, you can burn Momentum to get a weak hit, since your current Momentum of 6 is higher than the 5 on one of the Challenge dice. If you burn Momentum it resets, and you have to build it up again.
There are some other interesting bits of design, like Progress Tracks, which can track how many Bonds you have with people around you in the game, or how you are doing pursuing various objectives or quests. It’s a lot more abstract and less granular than D&D, but really suitable for fast-moving games and solo games especially, where you can elegantly embroider any results you get, like Philip K Dick writing The Man in the High Castle while referencing the I Ching.
Not quite sure how best to keep track of my character sheet so I can keep posting it here with updates, maybe I’ll try different things until I figure out the best solution. Also if anyone else wants to create a character and jump in please join me. You can download the whole rulebook from the link at the top of this post…the basics of the game are in the first 20 pages, and the character creation section is next after that.