Survival Mode: A narrative solo RPG actual play

Retrogaming 1982
Rebelling in NaNoWriMo - Two Projects, Zero Novels

That’s a mouthful. Let’s break it down.

  • Narrative: It’s formatted like a story – specifically, like serial fiction.
  • Solo RPG: It’s a role-playing game I’m playing my myself
  • Actual Play: I’ll be reporting on what’s going on.

So juggling those definitions around, basically I’m going to be playing a solo game and then formatting what happens as a serial story, posted over on

So what’s the premise?

A group of (more or less) average teenage gamers find themselves drawn into roleplaying scenarios, with no clue as to why they’re there or what’s going on.

On the one hand, this is blatantly an excuse for me to use disparate role-playing materials without needing to worry about how it all fits together.

One the other hand I do actually know what’s going on and how I’m going to work it into the plot, revealed over the course of their adventures.

How it Works

Essentially I’ll be playing the game out using commercial modules and a party of characters. I’ll be mostly serving as GM, and letting the dice decide what choices the “player” characters are making. Their game stats will likewise determine their success and failure.

The challenge, for me, is interpreting the results in a way that makes cohesive sense.

The Protagonists

Our characters are going to be teen gamers who are all part of the same group. That’s our basis. Beyond that, who knows?

We’re generating our characters randomly using the book Casting Call: Heroes Now. It’s a book of random charts and processes used to come up with characters. Generally useful for fleshing out and getting inspiration, we’re using them from the bottom up beyond the few basic foundations.

We roll some bones, and come up with the following characters.

  • Nick Perkins is an artist from a wealthy family, educated in the humanities and interested in attending art school in Europe after graduation.
  • Vera Novak is a Serbian immigrant with a strange and often tragic past, currently attending a tech school. She’s maybe the most physically imposing member of the party, or at least, in the best physical shape.
  • Ashly Najm is a former child star who took a few wrong turns in her past. She’s trying to put her life back in order, and is the newest of our group members to role playing games.
  • Marco Anderson is a true rags to riches story, a refugee that went from street kid to millionaire philanthropist through a series of coincidental and lucky events.
  • Josh Orwell is a suburban white otaku japanophile whose company is tolerated more often than enjoyed.

That’ the deal. If you’re interested in reading it, you can check it out here – I’m aiming to post new episodes Mondays.

Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is a teller of strange stories for stranger people. He collects them, the oddballs. The mystics and fire-spinners, the sages and tricksters. He curates their tales, combines their elements and lets them rattle around inside his rock-tumbler skull until they gleam, then spills them loose onto the page for like-minded readers to enjoy.
Michael Coorlim

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Retrogaming 1982
Rebelling in NaNoWriMo - Two Projects, Zero Novels

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