RPG Solitaire Challenge: 3 Dice

Here is my entry for the RPG Solitaire Challenge. I chose the Build a Better Choose-Your-Adventure theme. Hope y’all like it!

Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks are wonderful things. They contain little paragraphs scattered across the pages in a seemingly chaotic order, each one ending with a set of choices and numbers which take you flicking through the book to the next paragraph in your personal journey through the book.

Which got me thinking. What happens if you make those numbers actually mean something? What if they replaced the paragraphs themselves? And what if you made them random? What would a solitaire game like that be like?


3 Dice

A CYOA solitaire game using just 3 dice and no gamebook

3 six-sided dice (preferably of different colours) and an imagination. If you don’t have 3 six-sided dice roll one three times. If you don’t have an imagination borrow one from a passing imaginary stranger.

Basic rules
Roll each dice in turn to generate your BODY, MIND and SPIRIT attributes.

  • BODY reflects your physical prowess and ranges from BODY 1 (a child or weakling) or 6 (Muscle-bound!)
  • MIND is your intelligence and raw cunning. Ranges from MIND 1 (a fool) to MIND 6 (Genius or particularly cunning Rogue)
  • SPIRIT is your talent with magic. SPIRIT 1 shows little or no talent while SPIRIT 6 reflects your years of magical training and awesome natural awareness of the arcane world.

Create your first location by rolling the 3 dice (one for each column) and consulting the table below.

Result Location Monster Reward
1 Long corridor None None
2 Small room Goblins Healing potion – +2 to one reduced attribute, or +1 to two
3 Large room Orcs Magic Sword – +1 to all BODY attacks
4 Natural cavern Ogres Tome of Enlightenment – +1 to all MIND attacks
5 Temple Giants Spell Scroll – +3 to one single SPIRIT attack
6 Large Hall Dragon! Map Fragment – make two rolls and select one

If the location contains monsters, select one of your attributes to roll against. If you roll LESS THAN your attribute (or a 1) you have scored a hit. Turn the Monster die to show the next lower number. When the die reaches zero, the monsters are dead and you can claim the Reward! If you rolled HIGHER OR EQUAL TO the attribute die they hit you – reduce the attribute you selected by one.

If one of your attributes reaches 0 you are at -1 to all attacks using the other two stats due to injury/panic/loss of faith. If two reach 0 you’re at -2 with your one remaining attribute. When all three attributes reach 0, you’re dead. Sorry about that.

All Rewards are cumulative. For example, if your hero already has a Magic Sword (granting +1 to BODY attacks) and finds another, it is a better Magic Sword, granting +2 to BODY attacks.

Your character can flee any Encounter, but this reduces all three attributes by 1. Running away is for cowards, not heroes!

If you won the Encounter (or the location was empty) total the 3 room dice. This is your Experience Reward. Your hero moves deeper into the Dungeon. Roll 3 Dice for the next location, and move on.

When your Experience Reward reaches 50 you have reached the end of the adventure. Restore your attributes back to their starting values and gain +1 to one attribute of your choosing.

You’re ready for your next Adventure.


Example of Play
Sir Borys is a Noble Knight with BODY 4, MIND 3, SPIRIT 3. He is strong in arm, sure of himself and in the Holy Relic he wears on a chain around his neck. He carefully walks down the Dungeon steps into….

A Natural Cavern containing a small group of Orcs arguing over a Healing Potion (result: 4,3,2). Sir Borys charges in, his sword held high and rolls against his BODY, hitting with a 2! The Monster die turns from a 3 to a 2 as one of them gurgles and falls to the floor. On the next round he isn’t so lucky, rolling a 5 and one of the Orcs lands a decent hit with his Club. Sir Borys is down to BODY 3. Switching tactics, Sir Borys spies a pit trap in the corner and lures one of the Orcs right into it (rolls against MIND 3 and gets a 1). That Orc is trapped and out of the game, leaving one remaining Orc. Our hero swings his sword, and the Orc’s head bounces into the pit trap to join his friend (BODY 3, rolls a 2).

Sir Borys gladly swigs the Healing Potion (restoring his BODY back to 4), we jot down his Experience Reward (4+3+2 = 9) and he presses onward.

The rough passageway twists, leading him to a Small Room where a brace of Goblins are sleeping. Hanging on the wall is a Magic Sword emitting a faint blue glow (result: 2,2,3). Sir Borys shouts out “Praise the High Father!” and the glow brightens, instantly incinerating one of the Goblins before he can even awake (SPIRIT 3, rolls 2). The Goblins are down to 1 on their Monster die already, and most likely not long for this world….

Options and Variations
Creating new adventures is as simple as making a fresh table with new Locations, Monsters and Rewards. For this example I chose pretty generic D&D style monsters but you could easily tie them to a theme or plotline. You could also cross into other genres or draw from classical Mythology. Here’s a handful of examples:

Science Fiction
Locations = Planets, Gas Giants, Asteroid Belts, etc
Monsters = Aliens, Smugglers, Borg…
Rewards = Ship Upgrades: Shields, Beam Lasers, Hyperdrive…

Locations = Island chains, whirlpools, swamps, etc
Monsters = Pirates, Zombies, Kraken…
Rewards = New ship, provisions, better crew…

Zombie Horror
Locations = Mall, Park, Houses, Warehouse, etc
Monsters = Zombies, Big Zombies, Zombie Dogs, Zombie Mallrats….
Rewards = Shotgun, Double-barrelled Shotgun, Tinned food….

If you want to extend the in-game variety, use dice other than d6. A d12-based set of tables would keep you busy for hours!

Now’s it’s over to you. This is a first rough draft, nothing more. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, criticism, improvements and input!

24 Comments on “RPG Solitaire Challenge: 3 Dice”

  1. That reminds me. I remember I had a Choose your own adventure style book that was Xmen. Not only did you get to play the same book as several different characters, but you also ended up tracking hitpoints through the book.

  2. Neat! I wonder, how do the attributes make a difference? Do you have to say how you used the different aspects of yourself to win through each round? Or do the monsters attack you using ways that call up on your different abilities? I like that an attribute go up at the end of an an adventure.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Emily.

      The different attributes are there for 70% fluff, 30% game reasons. A character with a high BODY stat is going to be different in the minds eye to one with a high SPIRIT stat, for example. As with any form of character generation (no matter how simple) there needs to be something that you can infer a character from; having the three stats provides that.

      Mechanically, the stats are also differentiated through the way that the Rewards work. That was pretty fun to work out. As it stands in this draft, you could improve your BODY by gaining a Magic Sword, or your MIND with a Tome of Enlightenment. They both effectively work the same way, adding 1 (or more – it’s cumulative) to the relevent stat. The kicker is the Spell Scroll which adds +3 to one single SPIRIT attack. That’s the big blasty powerful spell that stands a chance against the Dragon.

      That my attempt at simulating Fighters and Rogues (who are mechanically evently matched) and the Wizard who is weaker overall but able to cast extremely powerful spells when the need arises. Only further playtesting will see if it works :)

      In the next draft I’ll be working out how to wrap this into an adventure with a more satisfying endgame than “reach 50 Experience Reward points”. That should be up later this week.

      Thanks, all!

  3. This sounds like fun. I want to hack through a dungeon now. You know, with generated stats that change during conflicts and equipment, a little character sheet might make things easier while playing…

  4. Played a round of this last night (well, two, actually, but my first character rolled dragons as his first two monsters and got eaten) and it’s really fun. The only obvious ‘problem’ I noticed was that it’s very easy for a character to become omnipotent without scaling up the dice as the character advances. After one adventure, my character’s got a BODY of 5 and a Magic Sword +1, so if I get another sword, hey presto! I can’t lose.

    Again, though, if I were to scale up the dice as my character grew, this probably wouldn’t be a problem. Having an effective BODY of 7 is crazy if you’re rolling d6’s, but it’s a lot less scary if used with a d10 or d12. All you would have to do when adding a bigger die is make up an appendix to the Location/Monster/Treasure table you were already using and continue as normal.

    1. Many thanks for the playtest. Much appreciated.

      How did I miss the potential for Magic Sword abuse?! I need to fix that asap. In the next draft (which should be up this weekend) I’ll specify that a 6 is always a miss (and therefore a hit for the other guy). Having a high BODY is stilla good thing as it provides a damage buffer.

      For example, if you have BODY 8 then you miss on a 6. If you miss, you’re BODY 7 then you still only miss on a 6.

      Thanks again!

      1. I had the opposite experience of King Mudkip. I played a few rounds and I repeatedly got my butt **kicked**. Only once did I get close to getting 50xp. …then I met the dragon.

        In any case, I had a problem at the bottom end too. When your attribute all get down to 1, you’re hosed. If you roll anything other than a one, your game is over at that point, because the other attributes are at -1 (assuming you don’t have compensatory magic).

        …and it’s not like you’re going to have one ATT down to a 0 while another ATT is still at a 5. If one ATT drops below another, you’re naturally going to switch to the higher one to increase your chances of surviving the encounter. Most likely, when one ATT reaches 0, your other ATTs are at 1 as well.

        1. You could fix that by doing the opposite of what was mentioned above. Where a 6 is an automatic miss, a 1 could be an automatic hit, like a crit.

  5. “The different attributes are there for 70% fluff, 30% game reasons. A character with a high BODY stat is going to be different in the minds eye to one with a high SPIRIT stat, for example. ”

    That’s a wonderful reason. Such a powerful thing, that fluff!

  6. First, i really like the idea, simple and it works!

    now I just want to share 2 ideas…

    i) instead of the automatic -1/-1/-1 for fleeing, why not use a MIND roll instead. Nothing loosed on a success (you cunningly got away without a scratch) and on a fail the -1/-1/-1 (you got away with a scratch, one less *clever* ideia, and a bit scared). That will make clever chararacters a bit more roguelike.

    ii) End the game with killing dragon (or whatever final boss): fleeing won’t work forever, first characters can’t probably do it on the start, and the map fragment will probably help finding it if you’re too “lucky”.

    About the first one, it kind of makes MIND a bit better than BODY, so one could also take out tome of enlightment or something.

    iii) every 3 rounds or something roll from SPECIAL D6 table :) (so long for 3dice…)

    1- n/a
    2- enemy unaware! = free fleeing or a free first attack without penaly for missing (a sleeping dragon… uff! )
    3- ambushed! = no fleeing before the first attack, where there won’t be benefit for hitting (you’re on defense!)
    4- swarmed! = roll for a second monster (there were two dragons after all!!! Or a band of orcs and goblins). you get -2/-2/-2 for fleeing
    5- treasure! = roll twice for a reward
    6- who built a shop here? = you can trade 10*Reward XP for items (for example 20 for a potion and 50 for a spell scroll)

    Good luck with the challenge!

  7. My attempt at playing this ended up with a nice drawn out (if slightly nonsensical) map and series of encounters on an index card.

    Though this game was made for the CYOA challenge, I see a lot of potential for 21st Century (the coding idea above) or sharing (the maps/cards/character sheets)

    Fun little game!

  8. I found I died to much! I added ( for my fighter char ) a armor attribute, roll a d6 and this was his armor, I subtracted 1 for every failed roll throughout the adventure, after depleting this value, I then started taking away from the other attributes. A wizard could have a force shield attribute, a thief hide on shadows and so on, other than that excellent idea, look forward to the next draft!

  9. You can have classes in this one too. Choose one class and go with it.

    Cleric: 6 is not an automatic fail against undead, and you can heal 2 points of Body or Mind for 1 point of Spirit anytime. To be a Cleric you need at least Spirit =4. If your Spirit becomes 3 or less, you can not use your Cleric abilities any more.

    Warrior: For 1 mind or Spirit point your Sword Bonus adds to your damage. To be a warrior you have to have at least BODY=4. When your Body falls under this level you loose your Warrior ability.

    Paladin: is a Warrior Cleric. You have to have all your current stats at 6 or higher to to be a Paladin. As soon as any of your stats falls under 6 you have to fall back to be either a Warrior or a Cleric. You can advance to be a Paladin when your base attributes reach all 6.

    Rogue: You start your attack with a Hiding check. This is a Spirit roll. If it is successful you can attack using any of your 3 stats and if you miss you don’t get damaged. Next turn you have to check again. Once you fail your Hiding check (this is not a hit, your Spirit will not decrease) you are not hiding any more, so you just fall back to the normal game play.

    Ranger: Same as rogue, but this guy starts his turns withs a Tactical Check which is a Mind roll. As long as it is successful you keep your opponents at bay with your arrows, you move out of their range while keeping them inside your range. Once you miss your Tactical check they closed in, you lost your ranged advantage, you continue the game with the standard rules.

    Warlock: You can double pump your Spirit (like in Risus). At the end of the turn you willingly take a number of damage, but for now you can add twice this number to your spirit… If your Spirit is 3, and you double pump by 2, it will increase to 3+4=7 temporarily, but t the end of the turn it decreases to 1.

    Warlord: like warlock, but you can double pump your Body.

    Wizard: Just like Warlock, except that you can double pump your Mind.

    Illusionist: At the start of the fight you can cast an illusion: this is a score of 1d6. First your illusion will loose points instead of you when you are hit. Some monsters like dragons and elves are immune to illusions.

    Barbarian: You can not attack using your mind, but spell casting monsters like dragons attack your mind if you have rolled an odd number, and you are immune to such attacks.

    Now could someone coma up with races, new weapons and higher level monsters too?

    Monster’s level could be a bonus to your rolls. In the first dungeon everyone is level 0. Later the monsters will be higher level, lets say at the 3rd dungeon you explore, they are level 3, so you have to add 3 to the dice you roll. And of course a natural 6 is always a hit on the character. Reminds me to the flash game: Monsters Den.

  10. OK, here is the next level for ya. Here the monsters are higher level, so you add +1 to the d6 you roll.
    This takes part in a forest.

    Roll #____# Location #____# Monster #____# Reward
    1 #____# Rocky Valley #____# Ogre Shaman: you have to fight the spirits of the location (location dice) instead of him. You can not use your BODY to do so. #____# Holy Symbol: +1 to Spirit
    2 #____# Clearing #____# Goblins Harassing Travelers #____# Leather Armor (saves on 3 of a kind rolled on 3 dice)
    3 # Under an Oak tree #____# Extra Ugly Half Ogar Half Ork #____# Chain Mail (saves on a straight: 3 consecutive numbers rolled on 3 dice)
    4 #____# On the side of a little spring #____# Troll Teens Playing Chicken #____# Greatsowrd: double damage on the attack roll of 1
    5 #____# at the side of a lake #____# Water Orc Warband #____# Spell Scroll: heal body to max. Usable once.
    6 #____# At an abandoned graveyard #____# Uruk-Hai War Chief. To kill him fight first the Location dice (this is his troops), then the Reward dice (this is his bodyguards), and then the monster itself #____# Plate: saves on a pair rolled on 3 dice.

  11. Lotsa playtest on the weekend.
    1) When creating the character roll until you get the total between 10 and 15. Allocate those dice between your stats.
    2) Monster #4 and #5: roll 2 dice to attack and the higher (the worse for you) counts.
    For monster #3 roll 3 dice and the highest counts.
    3) At some times parrying might be possible, and a 3 dice game is very nice to do so. The attack roll is the first die. If it is a hit on you roll 2 more die and if one is larger than the hit die, the other is smaller, you parried the hit. Of course this can be done only after you have found your first sword.
    4) Start with 3 characters. They split up (stupid! stupid!) and they go to different rooms, but when one of them dies an other one is always close enough to hear it, rush in (too late!) and continue with the (hopefully wounded) monster.

  12. Is there a newer Version of this? There were mentions of this in the Comments, but I won’t find it?

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