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Not Disappointed

My Golden Rule of solo roleplaying:

Don’t let a roll (or any other game rule/mechanic) make you disappointed or anxious.

If you feel that a test roll, or an oracle roll, or any other game rule or mechanic, could make you disappointed or anxious, don’t make the roll (or follow the rule/mechanic). Instead, just go with the result that you feel you enjoy, appreciate, like. That includes (but is not limited to) arbitrarily choosing, without rolling, a preferred result from the ones listed as the roll/rule results.

If you already rolled your dice/applied the rule, and the result makes you disappointed or anxious, ignore that roll/rule. Either roll again (repeating until not disappointed nor anxious!), or ignore it completely, and instead go with a result that you feel you enjoy, appreciate, like. This also applies to results you made “long ago” in the past. You can and should change them if you discover they make you disappointed or anxious. (This is called “retconning”, and is done all the time in movies, books, and other fiction.)

As a corollary, only roll if you feel like you’ll enjoy the result, whatever it will be. That’s your cue on when to roll the dice - if you want to add some chaos, and you feel you will not be disappointed by it. Still, if you do feel ok when making the roll/applying the rule, and yet you still discover you got disappointed by the result, ignore that roll/rule (see the paragraph above).

The reason of all of this is simple: if you will allow rolls that make you disappointed or anxious, you will become disappointed and anxious of your whole experience of playing the game, and you will stop playing it. You will have bad mental associations of the game - associations of disappointment and anxiety. And those assocations will make you not want to play the game. This outcome is useless and pointless. The point is for you to enjoy the game. So, as was said at the beginning of this article: don’t let a roll (or any other game mechanic) make you disappointed or anxious. Apply all the time and with impunity.

If you are afraid that this is cheating: your whole narrative is cheating. In real world, there is no faster-than-light travel in space. In real world, there are no dragons, and they wouldn’t be able to fly. You cannot perfectly simulate real world in your narrative, so you’re always cheating in it. And that is totally ok. That’s why it is not called reality simulation, but A Story. A Story does not have to be realistic. It’s much nicer when it’s enjoyable instead.

(Writing this text was triggered by the wording I encountered in a post in r/Solo_Roleplaying - thanks! It also takes into account what I learned from watching The Bad Spot podcast’s Actual Plays of Ironsworn: Starforged, and from my own bad and good experiences playing Starforged. Another resource that I heartily recommend, is to watch “7 Approaches to Journaling in Solo Roleplaying Games”, by Man Alone. This video was transformative to me, in how it helped me “overcome the hump” in solo roleplaying, loosening some anxiousness that I “must do it some specific way” that I had in my mind beforehand.)

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🌿 budding — contents of this article got classified among maturing works that I have spent considerable time and energy cultivating but have not finished. They are teenagers who have outgrown their seedling status and may someday grow into ripe.
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