The Solo 6 (and the Solo 8, below!)

solo 6.jpgOne classic trick that I use for collaborative play is something I call the “Solo 6.”  I call it that for two reasons: firstly because it involves rolling just a single d6, and secondly because I initially encountered it as a technique for solo gaming.

It’s really, really simple.  Basically, whenever you need to have something about the world determined for you, and you’ve got no better system for determining it, just pose an appropriate question, and then roll a d6 to determine what the answer is.

(Appropriate questions might include: “Is the person we’re searching for really here?” “Does the purse I’ve just stolen contain any money?” “Is the weather today good for traveling?” – whatever you like, really.)

The Solo 6

Roll 1d (Need a die roller?)  The answer to your question is…

  1. Yes, and…       (i.e. an emphatic “yes”, with something more added)
  2. Yes
  3. Yes, but…        (i.e. a qualified “yes”)
  4. No, but…         (i.e. a qualified “no”)
  5. No
  6. No, and…         (i.e. an emphatic “no”, with something more added)

I was dubious about this method at first – it seems so stupidly simplistic.  Everything has a 50/50 chance of working?  Really?  Haven’t we moved beyond this?!?

But having tried it out over a fairly long period now, I can say that I’m repeatedly amazed at how unbelievably generative the Solo 6 keeps proving to be, when used appropriately.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

Of course it’s trivially easy to game the system: you can just keep asking “Does a random NPC come and give me a million dollars?”, or whatever, and then roll until you get a “yes”.  But that’s obviously cheating yourself out of fun – and if that’s the sort of thing you’re tempted to do, then GM-less gaming ain’t for you.

Tricks of the Trade

I find that there are two tricks to getting good narrative results out of a Solo 6.

Trick 1: Use it sparingly.  It’s so swingy that if you use it too often, the plot arc ends up with way too many sharp turns.

Trick 2: As far as possible, pose your questions in such a way as to make the 50/50 odds kind of reasonable.  No asking “Does the code to the safe just happen to be pinned to its front door?”  Instead, it’s better to begin by asking something like “Is the safe tough to crack?”  Then, if you happen to roll a 6, (“No, emphatically not!”) then you might wonder why it’s so easy to crack, and ask “Is the code pinned to the front door?”, and roll again.)  Doing it this way will give you much better results.

The Solo 6 – it only seems silly until you try it!

And a later addition… The Solo 8!

After using the Solo 6 for quite a few years, I started to experiment with a D8 instead, because I wanted more plain “Yes” and “No” answers.  This is the table I use:

Roll 1d8 (Need a die roller?)

  1. Yes, and…       (i.e. an emphatic “yes”, with something extra added to take it further, make it bigger, louder, more so)
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Yes, but…        (i.e. a qualified “yes”)
  5. No, but…         (i.e. a qualified “no”)
  6. No
  7. No
  8. No, and…         (i.e. an emphatic “no”, with something extra added to take it further away from what you proposed)
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