Creative Writing with Dice and Pen: Using Solo RPGs As a Writing Prompt Generator

By. Brandon Lang

As someone who adores roleplaying games, I cannot help but try and persuade people to try one when the opportunity arises. They are fantastic sources of cooperative storytelling that allow one to exercise their imagination and creativity, all the while being limited to chaotic probability in the form of clicky-clacky dice. With roleplaying games increasing in popularity and the realization that scheduling a time and date to play a game is nearly impossible, Solo-TTRPGs have gained some traction in the tabletop roleplaying game community. Solo RPGs are roleplaying games that can be played by a single person. No need to gather a group of people. All you need is you, yourself, and… you? (Couldn’t think of a third word for me, myself, and I).

            Why am I talking about solo roleplaying games on a website that focuses on creative writing and not roleplaying games? Well, I want to pitch a piece of advice that I think is pretty awesome to the Bolo Tie community and whoever else reads this post.

Here is that advice: If you are interested in creative writing in any way, I highly suggest looking into solo RPGs.        

            The reason why I promote solo RRPGs to creative writers is that they provide fun and engaging writing prompts that string together a story that you aren’t the sole creator of. Randomization also helps create these stories and, in my opinion, that is what sets them apart from other writing prompts. Solo RPGs are writing prompts that allow the player/writer to not completely know the story, as randomization determines what happens to the character, and you determine how it happens. It does this by giving several writing prompts one after another, and you don’t get the next writing prompt until you finish your current writing prompt. This allows you to take the role of the writer and the role of a reader. Since you don’t know what is going to happen to the character next, you are there alongside them wondering what they will have to endure next. Whether it will be some good fortune that they desperately need or whether it’s more bad luck. After realizing what the character encounters next, you’ll have to put your writer’s hat on and be the one to dictate how that event unfolds. What does that good fortune look like or how hard do you want that bad luck to impact the character? This mystery of what will happen next makes solo RPGs so engaging as writing prompts, as there is a curiosity about what will happen next.

            At the end of the day, solo RPGs are games, and because of that, they make their writing prompts feel more like a game. A game that helps exercise one’s creative writing and imagination when it comes to storytelling. Their engagement allows this exercise in writing to not feel like homework or a chore simply because it’s just a game.

            If you made it this far, thanks for showing up, but in all seriousness, I truly hope that I have sparked some interest in you about solo RPGs and how they can help creative writers when it comes to practicing with writing prompts. If you are interested in trying a solo RPG for a writing prompt but don’t really know what to look for, here are some recommendations:

Princess With a Cursed Sword

A solo RPG where you write about a princess exploring what’s left of the time-stained ruins to return a cursed sword that is slowly corrupting the princess. Imagine Sleeping Beauty, except Aurora is cursed with a sword and has to deal with that problem herself.   

A figure stands in an ancient ruin, bare feet on crumbling stone. Her gown far too fine, her sword much too dark. At a princess’ coming of age ceremony, an uninvited guest gifted her a sword, then vanished, laughing, into smoke. She cannot put it down until she finds the place it came from. So she has come.

Alone Among the Stars

            Do you like space? Do you like the idea of exploring space? Well, Alone Among the Stars might be for you. In this solo RPG, your writing prompts will be about encountering planets as you slowly create a captain’s log of what occurred on those planets.

You are a solitary adventurer, hopping from planet to planet exploring. Each world has unique features for you to discover and record.

On Poetic Tides

            Don’t feel like writing fiction or just generally more of a poetry person? Don’t worry I got you with this solo RPG that solely focuses on writing a poem based on prompts from a deck of cards.

On Poetic Tides charges you, oh brave (but perhaps not-so-wise) seafarer, with creating a poem fully from scratch using 20 cards from a standard deck, a pen, and some paper.

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