Let’s get all the sniggering jokes about playing with myself (aka, wanking in some of the more civilised dialects of English) done and dusted before I launch the blog. I could have been subtle and titled this post Coming soon, but that would be rude, and disingenuous since I know not when my first session will commence.
Yes, I confess, I wank with dice – or in other words I enjoy playing solo table-top roleplaying games. I’ve written fantasy stories since I was a teenager, and about five years ago I got kind of serious about publishing them. But despite being a fan of Fighting Fantasy and TSR novels in 90s, I only had the chance to play TTRPGs comparatively later in life. So late in fact that my attempts to really delve into this amazing hobby were well and truly scuttled by the pandemic – and being a relatively introverted adult trying to form friendships in my middle years. I have played with groups – both in person and in groups – but they’ve all folded for one reason or another, and I don’t have the energy or charisma to join another.
So, playing solo… yes, it’s really just another form of writing, which I already do in spades as a novelist and technical writer. But what I enjoy about it is the element of randomness the dice bring to the narrative, and the improvisation that would otherwise bugger up one’s well-laid three-act structure and character arcs.
Letting dice, random tables and oracles, influence a story is rather liberating. Random elements force you out of your comfort zone, and eliminate the droll cliches genre writers tend to fall back on when taking a cheap shortcut. The art (or purgatory) of novel writing can enslave you to a plot or character, forcing you to make decisions that often break logic merely to keep things moving to where you want them to go. By contrast, imagine a dice roll inadvertently killing the protagonist. Unfathomable in novels, but when adapting a lethal OSR-style game to writing a story, murdering your own characters is rather amusing.
And that’s where I’ll leave this first masturbatory post. Lonely Table Games is about whimsy and fun – scratching a creative itch where the stakes aren’t particularly high, and I can explore this unusual hobby, and experiment without breaking my books.