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the 9Qs

a fast-play, no-frills solo rpg engine

john ore

www.SoloNexus.blogspot.com

Welcome!
I sincerely hope that the 9Qs will entertain and inspire you!


What are the 9Qs?
Derived from screenwriting techniques, the 9Qs are nine questions that will swiftly guide a solo player through the progressive stages of an adventure in any genre by generating the inspiration needed to create thrilling RPG encounters. Playing through those encounters with any RPG rules system will produce exciting and unexpected results as the solo player alternates between acting as the Game Master and directing the Player Characters.


Why play the 9Qs?
To enjoy a roleplaying game experience when a group isn't available. To test a new RPG system without the need for other players. To design an original adventure to be run later with a group.


What's needed to play?
These rules. The rules and materials for any RPG. A random idea generator. An imagination - the wilder, the better!


What's a random idea generator?
A "random idea generator" is any product or application that produces nonspecic yet evocative words or images which trigger new ideas when combined with the contextual elements of a particular situation. When the 9Qs engine was created, Rory's Story Cubes by The Creativity Hub was the random idea generator rst used to play the game. A short list of suggested random idea generators is provided later in these rules.

Choosing the RPG


First, choose your favorite RPG, and don't worry about its style or level of complexity. Any RPG will work just ne! The 9Qs will NOT replace any of the rules of the game; rather, the 9Qs will give you opportunities to play with as many or as few of those rules as youd like.

Next, select the setting for the adventure. It's strongly recommended that you play in a world that is familiar to you because if the world is not fully realized in your mind, then you're more likely to get "stuck" interpreting the results that the random idea generator produces.

Creating the Player Characters


Use the standard rules of the RPG system youve chosen to create any number of Player Characters, whether it's one lone wolf or an entire team of heroes. In fact, running a party yourself is a great way to generate an adventure that can be played later with a real group.

Finally, the heroes need a way to be bound together so that the 9Qs engine runs smoothly. Although the PCs may have their own personal goals, they should also all share a single heroic motivation, an explicit purpose or philosophy that clearly articulates why they put themselves in mortal danger on a regular basis. The heroic motivation, whether world-specic or classically generic, will become the "target" of the 9Qs.

Identifying the Gaming Goal


When the heroic motivation is determined, the game may begin. The objective is to embrace both roles of GM and player at the appropriate moments as the 9Qs, the random idea generator, and the spontaneous encounters propel the heroes into dangerous and intriguing adventures!

The 9Qs: Questions 1-3


The opening questions quickly establish the conict facing the PCs by adding surprise twists to a hostile element that already exists in the adventure setting.

1. What looming hostility inherent within the setting unexpectedly comes into conict with the heroic motivation, threatening to worsen over time? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire threat selection and then roll a d6 twice for an encounter in which (1-2) an enemy pursues new goals, (3-4) an enemy takes aggressive action against unsuspecting victims, and/or (5-6) an enemy takes aggressive action against the heroes. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threat as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

2. What overtly troubling event remotely tied to the results of Question 1 occurs, conrming that something seriously adverse to the heroic motivation is afoot? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire an unusual event and then roll a d6 twice to express that event in an encounter featuring (1-2) intrigue, (3-4) pursuit, and/or (5-6) combat. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the event as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

3. What elements of the results of Questions 1 and 2 suddenly get twisted in a surprising manner, increasing the danger to the heroic motivation? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire a shocking twist related to the previous encounters and then roll a d6 twice to express that twist in an encounter of (1-2) betrayal, (3-4) revelation, and/or (5-6) combat. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the twist as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

The 9Qs: Questions 4-6


The next three questions allow the heroes to temporarily take charge of the action as they try to gain control of the situation. However, they will soon learn that the threats they face are much worse than they ever expected.

4. How can the ght be brought to the enemy, gaining ground for the heroic motivation? Be the player rst: Choose and declare an act of deance, inltration, pursuit, and/or combat. Be the GM next: Use the random idea generator to inspire an encounter that responds with appropriate resistance to the heroes' declared act by using relevant previous threats. Be the player once more: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.

5. How can any heroic gains from the results of Question 4 suddenly be undermined as new information about the true face/scheme/power of the enemy becomes known? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire an evolution of the threats and then roll a d6 twice for an encounter featuring (1-2) betrayal, (3-4) revelation, and/or (5-6) combat. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

6. How can the adverse results from Questions 4 and 5 be further intensied, forcing the heroes to commit to a do-or-die course of action in accordance with the heroic motivation? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire a worsening of the threats beyond anything that had been conceived before and then roll a d6 twice for an encounter featuring (1-2) intrigue, (3-4) pursuit, and/or (5-6) combat. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to most effectively respond to the severity of the situation as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

The 9Qs: Questions 7-9


The last three questions push the heroes on toward a nal confrontation with the threats that have been besieging their world throughout the adventure. By Question 9, things may never be the same.

7. Where can the heroic motivation be most effectively redeemed? Be the player rst: Choose and declare an act of deance, inltration, pursuit, and/or combat that aims to bring an end to the threats. Be the GM next: Use the random idea generator to inspire an encounter with relevant previous threats committed to preventing the heroes' success. Be the player once more: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats' resistance as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.

8. Where does the nal showdown between the heroes and the enemy take place in relation to the results of Question 7? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire a dramatic nish and then roll a d6 twice for an encounter in which (1-2) the enemy nears completion of its goals, (3-4) the enemy takes aggressive action against unsuspecting victims, and/or (5-6) the enemy takes aggressive action against the heroes, all within the context of the encounters in Questions 1-7. Be the player next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules. Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

9. Where does the world stand after the results of Questions 7 and 8? Be the GM rst: Use the random idea generator to inspire the way the world responds to the nal resolution of the conict between the heroes and the threats. Be the player next: Advance the surviving heroes as per the RPG's rules.

Playing Tips
The 9Qs engine is a generator of possibilities designed to work with any RPG system, but such universality can sometimes lead to uncertainties. It would be impossible to cover every situation that could arise, but here are a few tips that should keep the game moving briskly.

When acting as the GM, take advantage of all that your RPG system has to offer. Let the random idea generator inspire you to create encounters that challenge the power-level and abilities of the heroes while indulging in the richness of the game world and its unique elements. The passage of in-game time between questions is situational, so let the types of encounters and the location of the action determine whether the action associated with the next question should occur immediately after the previous one or if some signicant amount of time ought to pass. When directing the actions of the Player Characters during Questions 4 and 7, take the opportunity to shift the location of forthcoming encounters to new areas of the game world, so long as they complement the narrative thus far. The variety of locales will make the developing threats all the more interesting and enhance the imaginative possibilities derived from the random idea generator. Terminology such as "attack," "pursuit," and "combat" may be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the genre of the RPG. In a fantasy setting with royal court intrigue, an enemy "attack" may be a scandalous rumor that is spread throughout the city to destroy the reputation of a character. In a hard science setting, a heroic "pursuit" may be intense lab work to discover the cure for an alien virus. In a modern horror setting, "combat" may be a supernatural assault against the sanity of a hero rather than a physical battle. Let the setting, genre, and random idea generator inspire the most exciting interpretation. Make the game your own! Not enough questions? Too formulaic? The 9Qs are a well-balanced simulation of an action story, but there are surely plenty of variations that will spin an equally good tale!

Suggested Random Idea Generators


Many random idea generators exist that would work well with the 9Qs. There are published products, freely-accessible websites, and clever techniques for homemade inspiration. Here are a few notable suggestions.

Rory's Story Cubes by The Creativity Hub. These nine six-sided cubes feature evocative images that allow a player to roll his or her way to inspiration instantly. Use one cube for each of the 9Qs and interpret the results literally, guratively, or tangentially. They're terric! Mythic Game Master Emulator by Word Mill Games. This classic in GM-less roleplaying by Tom Pigeon includes Action and Subject charts that can be used on their own with the 9Qs to endlessly generate inspiring combinations of generic words usable in any genre. The Idea Generator by CreativityGames.net. It's a web-based application that can generate a random word or generic image with the click of a mouse. Click more than once to receive any number of combinations of the two. Find it at ideagenerator.creativitygames.net. Idea Generator by The Directors Bureau. An application available on many devices, this tool will generate a combination of three words from default lists that can be easily edited to become a bank of customized, world-specic terms. A very useful product in the right hands! Inspirataur by The Beta Society. If you really want random inspiration, this cheap iPhone app will provide a seemingly non-stop stream of words, pictures, and videos of anything and everything. Just don't get distracted!

Thanks for playing!


Hopefully, the 9Qs will enhance your solo RPG experiences or inspire your preparations for an original group session. Either way, drop me a note at my blog, Solo Nexus, and share your adventures with the rest of us! - John Fiore, March 2012