Updated: Feb 23, 2022
There are about two weeks left for the Solo But Not Alone 2 Bundle sale, so it felt appropriate to discuss it again here on the blog. For those of you who missed part #1, please go back and read it. If you don't have the time or the spoons for that and you don't know what this bundle is about, Solo But Not Alone 2 is a bundle of solo-oriented or compatible roleplaying & journaling games that have been organized by Cat McDonald of Peach Garden Games to raise money for Jasper's Game Day.
Again, please note my game The Land and The People is a part of this bundle. However, I do not personally profit in any way from it being a part of this game bundle.
Cards in Solo games
Last time, I started discussing the games of the Solo But Not Alone 2 Bundle by looking at three games that focused on the use of storytelling or dice to power the game, but one thing that unites many of the games in this bundle is the use of cards! This time, I will be looking at a number of these instead.
The first of these games I will discuss today is Go Alone by Chris Bissette. This is one of a group of games that exist in the bundle like The Lay of Our Land, Banner, The Story of a Story, and Spellbook that are based around the idea that the player is not playing the role of a person but an Object. While most of the previously mentioned games were based around the purpose-built Lost & Found SRD, Go Alone is based on the Wretched and Alone SRD.
In Go Alone, the Object you play is an artifact, a magical Weapon that has been passed through many hands being found by the current Wielder. What your Weapon wants to do is find some rest and peace, but that means convincing the Wielder to retire from their life of violence before they meet their end or the Weapon is degraded to the point of breaking.
To simulate this journey, this game utilizes standard playing cards for random events, a tumbling block tower to track your degradation, and tokens to track how far along you are on your path to convince your wielder to retire from the adventuring life. The card events not only reference things that happen to your Artifact and your Wielder now, but also past memories that have been dredged up by current events, helping build out the backstory of your Weapon.
I personally found that your chances of success are not very good, so if you try this game, be prepared for an emotional journey. When playing this game, I found myself untimely unsuccessful. However, I came tantalizing close to success before my weapon found itself phased out of reality and my wielder slain on a quest to kill their god.
The second game I will discuss today is Time to Kill by Gila RPGs. The basic premise here is that you are an assassin who finds yourself with time to kill before your contract arrives and then it really is time to kill. In this liminal space, you find yourself reflecting back on previous events in your life. These thoughts effect your mindset and may influence how your instincts drive your actions on the rest of your mission.
You play the game with a six-sided die and a deck of cards. In each Moment (round), you roll the dice, pull that many cards, and then read through the prompts. One card you keep per Moment, reflecting that Moment's impact on your current mindset, which could color how you approach later Moment prompts or the ultimate end of your Mission.
One nice thing about Time to Kill is that it is actually more versatile than it may seem at first glance. Although it has elements that seem to be inspired by things like the John Wick series of movies, Cat McDonald has an Actual Play using this game that takes place in a fantasy setting that you can find here! Spencer also has included several variants on the rules that may effect the flow of play.
No look at cards in solo games would be complete without a look at a Carta SRD game. Aside from my own The Land and The People using the system, a number of others are here as well. One I described previously on the blog is La Bête: A Solo Game by Merlin Magraw where you play a "monster" looking for security and safety in a world that does not understand you. Still others include Gaét Hoth's Sovereign Slayer Solitare where you are trying to slay a king, Avri's 80' - the Eightieth Minute where you are trying to finish out the last little bit of the last football [soccer] match of the season.
An amazing one I wanted to give a little feature is Courage by Catscratcher Studio. Inspired by the Zelda series of games, you play a hero seeking to defeat The Beast! The cards on the board each represent a trial that you must overcome using your stats and some die rolls. The trials come in the categories of Exploration, Combat, Logic, and Emotion.
One thing that makes this one unique in my experience of Carta games is that it has a campaign system. While I have had Carta games that use multiple boards to complete a session, in Courage you complete a series of randomized dungeon boards to complete a full game. Each dungeon (talking about 30 minutes) helps you find the tools you will need to win against The Beast in a final battle at the end.
The final game I will write about today is Cryptkeeper by pancelor. In this game, you play the literal Dungeon Master. The last set of adventurers through broke it, so now you need to go through a reset the system like the medieval fantasy IT boss that you are.
In many ways, this game reminded me of those old arcade dungeon trawl games where you balance your special magical items very carefully. Use the wrong thing at the wrong time and you might need to start all over again!
The Solo But Not Alone 2 Bundle is available on itch.io at https://itch.io/b/1227/solo-but-not-alone-2 and will be active until around early March. It is only $10, but you can certainly give more if you wish. Again, all money earned by the bundle will be going directly to Jasper's Game Day to fund their suicide prevention programs.