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The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Shane F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2021 16:47:47

I discovered solo role playing was a 'thing' at the start of the pandemic and have purchased and used many books on the subject. Ironically this was one of the first and I failed to appreciate it until I used lots of others. Over time I discovered I was using the tables in this book in preference to others. Now I pretty much use this system as my default solo story engine and only add in other elements when required.

One thing I would say though, the solo element seems to be an afterthought and is not explained in a detailed way. I overlooked it and spent a while using other solutions until I recognised how good this really was.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
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The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Andy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2020 11:10:58

Anybody interested in a fill in the correct trope storylines woven for you with a perhaps a bit of guidence or veto power to keep things in line for fresh stories would be crazy not to purchase this book. I believe is the definitive work on such. No personal expositoy essays on broad subjects or lists of life changes you need to do, just tables and ways to make this stuff come to life in your imagination. I have almost all the gmless systems I can gather so Ive had a lot to compare to, this is the best. Every chapter of this book can be used to make your games or stories or background fill in feel incredible and yet grounded. Pick it up, its worth itself at any price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/07/2018 18:32:18

I'm always on the lookout for tools to give me fresh inspiration in creating adventures. This is a decent tool. Is it better than other such tools? Hard to say.

Things you might like:

  • It's system-neutral.
  • It includes genre-specific charts for fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. The Covetous Poet blog adds free superhero and mystery charts. The Kickstarter page adds a free spy genre.
  • The genre-specific charts have lots of entries (but see my other remarks farther down). Opposition table: dozens. Motivations (for your antagonist): 100+. Themes: a few hundred. Complications: 100+. Locations: 200+. Plot devices: a few hundred.
  • There are a few genre-independent tables (events, challenges, etc.). These figure into the plot creation process. They can also be helpful if you're inclined to provide your own genre-specific details, using these genre-neutral tables to tie them together.
  • It walks you through using the tables to create a three-act structure.
  • It discusses alternative structures (though in less detail), such as a one-act structure that could work in a single session, or formats combining short-term and long-term stories.
  • It includes an answer oracle for solo play. You could also use it for GMless play or as a GM aid.
  • If you like the Action + Thing model for inspiration, each genre has such tables.
  • You might find the Location chapter helpful. It offers a few paragraphs each on a dozen or so location types - the sorts of people you'd find there, what happens there routinely, etc. If you need great detail, this chapter won't be enough for you, but you might find a high-level overview helpful.

Things you might not like:

  • The tables don't help you apply motifs across tables. For example, if you want to tie everything to a certain terrain type, or a particular mood, or a particular type of opponent, you're on your own. (To me, any advice to "just keep rerolling" indicates a design flaw in the tables.)
  • Similarly, the tables don't tie into each other. For example, your Theme might be Man vs Nature, but none of the other tables make use of your chosen theme. It's completely on you to figure out how your theme affects anything else. Again, either pick without rolling or you're stuck with the "just keep rerolling" approach.
  • The answer oracle is a basic yes/no oracle at a few levels of probability, with a chance for an Interruption roll. If you want something more nuanced, you'll want another solo engine.
  • If you're not easily inspired by Action + Thing rolls, these tables might be problematic for you. They're not terribly orthogonal. For example, many of the actions are applicable to people, places, OR things, while many of the Thing rolls are also people, places, OR things. Many combinations won't make much sense. Ambush Ambush? ("Ambush" is on both tables) Estimate Chef? Befriend ID Card? The more you wind up rerolling, the more the tables have wasted your time instead of helping you.
  • The PDF isn't bookmarked or cross-referenced. The table of contents isn't linked.
  • While having lots of table entries can seem like a good thing at first, there are potential problems too. You want the difference between one entry and another to be significant, as in "Wow, that completely changes things." Take taverns on the Fantasy Locations table, for example. When there are several entries that are different terms for the same thing or something only slightly different, you've cluttered the table, not improved it. A nice clean table would combine entries that don't add much separately.
  • The distinctions between some of the tables gets blurry. There's overlap among Complications, Plot Devices, Interruptions, Events, and Challenges. This reduces variety (because of the overlaps), creates conflicts (when tables contradict each other), and adds to the chore (because you could bounce from table to table if you're trying to shake things up but you keep rerolling until you find an outcome you like).
  • The Adventure Creator's "how not to railroad" material seems a little thin. Railroading is a risk of any plot creation method, if you force the PCs into a particular plotline no matter what they do. You can prepare extra scenes to cover various possibilities, and then use or adapt the ones you need during play, but I still think the document could have included more material on how to strike a good balance between plotted events and player agency.
  • The Character Companion chapter is nothing new, just the usual list of system-agnostic traits you'd find in any of a zillion other character trait generators.
  • The project's blog archive says the last posting was July 2014 - no updates in four years, so apparently there's no new content in the works.
  • The blog site's Bonus Materials / New Adventure Sheets entry has no content. You could instead print the blank sheets at the end of the document and write on them. I'm not aware of any form-fillable PDF versions, Word templates, or the like.
  • The document could use a trip through a spell-checker.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2016 20:40:05

I find this book two parts to be quite enjoyable.

The first Part, the Adventure Creator has sparked my imagination in countless ways, and even if I don't follow every direction or roll presented to me in the book, it always adds something interesting to whichever story I am thinking about and helps me spice it up. It also helped me with pacing and has finally allowed me to create one-shots that end on time.

The Solo GM Guidebook is also pretty interesting, though I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wants a heavy ruleset to simulate a GM, in this guide you are the GM, and I think it is important to note that it is not a rules system, but a guide, meaning that if you don't like something then you don't have to do it, and at the same time if you want to add something then it won't break any balance, because as the GM you will be doing the balancing as you play.

I do recommend this second part for someone who easily comes up with roleplaying situations all the time but doesn't know how to present them to the players, or comes up with things that are perhaps not suitable for party play (Like a story centered around a single hero).

I recommend the first part of this book to anyone who sometimes feel like they need a little spark to feed their creativity to come up with great stories (I mean it, I followed some simple steps, and before I even was done with the rolls I was supposed to do, I was already weaving a story in my mind). Experienced adventure writers may find something of interest here because of the great pool of ideas that can easily spark one's imagination and help one come up with things they would have never thought of. There are also some story chart packs available for this book if you visit the website or the kickstarter updates page, as well as Word documents of some sheets you may need (that way you don't need to print anything, just convert to PDF and carry your adventures in a phone or tablet)

As a plus, I enjoy writing one adventure using the first part, and then take it for a "test drive" using the solo play guidelines to see if what I came up with is any fun to play at all, and since this is system-less I can "run" it in different systems to see which one fits the adventure better.

Overall, I like this book, and I recommend it to any GM out there, specially ones just starting out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Damian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2015 14:05:18

The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook has more meat to it than some generic/free/brainstorming random adventure creation/solo RPG tools one may find online. This book is not half finished and it is all in one for adventure creation (plot structure, goals, events, NPCs, and Yes/No answer oracle). The author is not ambiguous- it is a structured guide for genres, like fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, or a blank one. There are social reaction tables and extensive NPC creation which replaces UNE. It could be argued that the charts, oracle, and random events/challenges could replace Mythic.

The charts are extensive, and there are a couple of new charts on the creator's Kickstarter page, including Super Hero, Spy. and Mystery genres. Based on the quality of this book, I would have thought that the community would be larger online, and the author would be more active.

There are plenty of examples and walkthroughs in the this book- it is well worth the money. In addition to the charts, my main takeaway with this system is the Act/Scene structure, and the all-in-one nature (you don't need anything else to design or run solo, although I'm sure you will. hahah)

Only negative: no bookmarks, so a lot to scroll through.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Dan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2015 11:15:51

I am not one to give a high rating to everything that I buy, but I like this product very much.

A lot of thought has been given to how an adventure can be structured, most of which should be useful to anyone designing their own adventures. This product gives me helpful guidance as I develop a raw idea into a satisfying adventure, and if I need some extra filler, the random tables offer a wealth of idea seeds.

I never use any product exactly as it is written, and this Adventure Creator makes it easy for the GM who likes to pick and choose what parts s/he will use -- or even put the pieces together in an entirely different way. At the same time, this Adventure Creator offers more specific help than I have seen in other GM aids. This is step by step guidance, not vague generalities.

I don't play "solo" adventures, but I expect that this product will also work very well for that. This product does assume that the GM will actually be creating adventures, so it may be less useful for those rare campaigns (extreme "sandbox" and/or extreme Narrativist) in which no preparatory adventure creation takes place.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Tim S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2015 07:48:49

I love writing adventures but I'll admit that sometimes it sucks waiting for inspiration to strike. (And when it does, there's never a piece of paper around to jot down that inspirational nugget of a concept.) That's why I'm THRILLED with The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook. This amazing guide basically inspires you with adventure concepts you may not have otherwise considered as well as walks you through designing and writing an entire three-act scenario, each broken into multiple scenes to challenge your PCs. There have been other "GM workbooks" released before, but this particular product has really struck a chord with me, and I'm getting a ton of use out of it in the short time I've had it. (The book can also be used as a "solo GM" supplement, much like the Mythic GM Emulator, but for purposes of this review, I'm just going to focus on the Adventure Creator side of the book.)

The Guidebook uses that old standby -- the series of random tables -- to generate inspirational "prompts" to guide you as you create. Using the sheets provided, you roll on a series of "Story Charts", fill in the blanks, then use your imagination to connect the dots and see where the plot leads you. The sheer number of results that could come up are astounding, as most of the tables use a d1000. (There aren't actually 1000 entries, but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of plot twists, places, things, and actions that could arise.) Frank Lee, the book's author and creator, has provided tables for fantasy adventure creation, sci fi adventure creation, and horror adventure creation. According to the Kickstarter page that launched this book, a superhero set of tables is in the works.

Frank encourages the adventure designer to work in a three-act format, guiding you through this process. After initially fleshing out the overarching theme and behind-the-scenes machinations of your Big Bad, as well as the series of events that bring the PCs into the scenario, you begin to work on the three acts of your adventure. In Act 1, the PCs begin poking around, meeting NPCs and generally determining the course of the adventure. In Act 2, challenges begin to surface and the PCs begin to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. In Act 3, the PCs reach the goal of the adventure and solve the mystery, fight the good fight, or otherwise reach the end of the game. (I'm super-simplifying the system for purposes of the review, but it really does work well.) If you don't want to create an adventure in three acts, the Guidebook explains how to create a One or Two Act adventure (for convention games or one-nighters), a Modular Act adventure (one part of a bigger multi-scenario picture, i.e., an adventure path), and a TV adventure (four scenes, one after the next, leading the PCs down the path, and everything's wrapped up nice and neat at the end -- or as I call it, "the railroad".).

At my blog The Savage AfterWorld, I used The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook to create a Cryptworld adventure from scratch, posting the rolls and worksheets, and letting readers follow along and watch as a scenario took shape into a fully formed adventure : http://savageafterworld.blogspot.com/search/label/Let%27s%20Make%20A%20Module



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by JAN C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2014 01:45:03

Have found this on BGG and I hope it can help me in playing all my RPG's solo.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
by Ranjith E. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2014 03:43:37

Please note that this review is structured from bad to good.

Things I Disliked:

The biggest problem I have is with the claim of a "Solo GM Guidebook". In my eyes, this should go a little bit beyond "just play both GM and player(s) and use a little bit of randomness as you see fit." The advice and instructions for solitaire play are rather vague and leave the player more or less at the same situation as if they picked their favourite RPG and used its random encounters to liven up a published adventure module. Granted, there are some nice additional random tables but in the end, the entire project runs contrary to the core approach of a pre-planned, strongly structured adventure. The suggested dealing with hidden information clearly illustrates this, as it struggles to combine both the pre-planned nature with an openness. In the end, there is a suggested mechanism that either requires an extreme vagueness, lots of additional work, or, at its worst, a contradictory story.

Personally, I think that the approach taken is simply not compatible with the idea of solitaire play as the approach itself requires deleting or minimizing hidden information - which on the other hand is a crucial part for solitaire play.

Another thing I noticed was the rather weak importance of the acts and scenes. Yes, they do structure the adventure and they structure the information required and provided, but beyond that, they are not mechanically relevant. This becomes clear when looking at the difference between one act and three act structures. A one act is basically not different from a three act, just that it has fewer scenes. This then makes me wonder why to call it a different structure at all.

Finally, while the random tables are large, they are also rather specific. While this can be useful for getting inspiration, having all tables so detailed leads to a lot of contradictions. While this can be inspiring, it can also be rather frustrating, especially if you really want to use the system as a support tool in a world/genre you don't feel too much at home in and thus want to get the most input inspiration out of the tables (including the optional items).

Things I Liked

The structuring of adventure design is an interesting idea and may be inspiring at times. Raising awareness of the interconnectiveness of the narration is definitely a plus.

The plot device table is probably my favourite table - it is very detailed, and gives a lot of good inspiration that can usually be integrated rather well into your design. Personally, I think that this table should stay that way while some of the other tables might be better off with a little less detail.

My Thoughts

As a tool for solo gaming, I don't think it is recommendable, and I have doubts whether its approach can be used for that kind of gaming. For designing multiplayer adventures, it can be very inspirational, however, you probably get the most out of it if using it with an RPG/setting you are really familiar with as that in turn allows you to handle contradictory results.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Hey Ranjith, Thank you for trying my book, and I\'m sorry it\'s not what you were after. But I appreciate that you at least gave it a fair and thought out review based on your experiences with it. Even among us solo roleplayers there are a lot of personality types and tastes, and I knew it wouldn\'t suit everyone, I myself created the system because I was unhappy with the solo products available even though some are quite popular. The solo system is designed to be very open and freeform, but in an effort to not tell you what to do, I recognize sometimes it may provide too little direction for some players. I think everybody who is into solo roleplaying is bound to be pretty creative on some level, but the book is aimed more at the kind of player who enjoys making up a story as they go, and the authorial challenge that goes along with that. And it\'s a legitimate point that if that\'s not what you really want out of your solo roleplaying games then you might not enjoy the system as provided in the book. Again, thanks for taking the time to try it and giving it a fair critique, -Frank
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