Monday, January 9, 2023

Eastern Wastes of America: Afterpost

(Read the last chapter here.)

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So that wraps it up for my Post-Apocalyptic experiment (Experiment? Yeah, right!), at least for now. When I began this campaign it was for the purpose of tying out the MicroLite20 system, specifically using one of the post-apocalyptic iterations. Originally, I was only expecting to make three or four posts. The reality?  The first post went up on March 17, 2021 and the campaign officially ended in December of 2022.  That’s a total of 21 months and 14 chapters, my longest campaign yet!

To be fair, I wasn’t focused solely on this one story for those nearly two years. I also posted two full Wretched and Alone games, one audio and one written; a Quill campaign (Halloween ‘21); a Delve playthrough that was posted as a video series; a Whispers in the Walls campaign (Halloween ‘22); and a separate video project unrelated to solo RPGs. Oh, and I also created and published a Hex Flower tool.  Whew!  I’ve been busy.

As I often do after a long campaign, I wanted to make a quick afterpost to offer some insights I had during the playthrough.


As I said above, one of my motivations for this campaign was to try out the OmegaLite20 system, a post-apocalyptic version of MicroLite20.  If you are familiar with DnD 5e you have a good idea of what the MicroLite20 system is like. It is basically a simplified d20 system. At the beginning of this year, in real life, I was asked to join a Dungeons & Dragons group playing 5e. Having played Eastern Wastes for most of the previous year I found it gave me the background I needed to transition into the “more complex” system much easier without excessive explanation by the GM.


This was the oracle tool used for Eastern Wastes. However, to call it just an oracle tool is really selling the system short. There is so much random information on this card, including character traits, sensory input, direction, word combinations, random loot, symbols (that you can define), and more.  You could potentially run an entire solo campaign using just this tool. You don’t even need dice.

The only thing that was lacking a bit in my particular game was the amount of “and/but” modifiers to my oracle responses. However, this may very well be because of how I defined the system. GMA does not have “and/but” responses. It only has an “Exceptional Yes” or an “Exceptional No”. I used these as an “and/but” trigger, randomly determining which modifier to use. Unfortunately, the number of “exceptionals” in the deck is rather low, so I had very few modified results. This could have been remedied by redefining the system. For instance, draw a second card and compare the d8 result. 1-2 is an “and” and 3-4 is a “but.”


For my investigation, I used a modified version of Ricardo Freggi’s Nine Steps and a Bloody Heart. This is a really nice system for running a solo investigation, but it also resulted in one of my biggest regrets of the campaign: what questions would I choose for the investigation?

In NSAABH’s setup, you need to ask three questions that require answering and several possible answers that will be eliminated one-by-one until you are left with the solution. The first two questions were easy: Who killed Alex and what was their motivation?  The last question was a bit trickier.  What was unknown about this scenario that would need to be explained? The best question I came up with was “Why was Ken at the intersection where they found the radio?” My potential answers were he changed his mind about killing her and left her alive; he got lost but eventually found the road; the plan was always to leave her for the animals; or he intentionally left her in an attempt to scare her.  There were several problems with these options.

First of all, unless he was the killer, the reason he was at the intersection was probably irrelevant and didn’t need to be answered at all as the real killer's purpose was still accomplished. The larger problem, however, was that the reasons were not mutually exclusive. This was especially the case with the “got lost” option. Ken had three possible reasons for leaving Alex in the cabin: let the animals kill her, just scare her, or give her a chance to live due to a change of heart (but not save her outright for some reason). Getting lost leaving the cabin could have happened in addition to any of the three. In fact, one of the other three had to be true as well. (Which is what turned out to be the case in Eastern Wastes. The cards revealed he got lost, but for story purposes, I wrote that the plan was to leave her for the animals).

The last thing that made Ken’s question problematic was that, without any witnesses, it would be almost impossible to know which of the four was true. Who would know if he intended to leave her to die or only scare her? Did he change his mind or was it part of the plan? Did he get lost or did he come down the road and just hop back into the woods to take a dump?  I did eventually come up with a partial explanation for this, but during the investigation, I had to dismiss incorrect answers primarily through the speculation of the people who knew Ken instead of with hard facts or information. I still don’t know what a better question would have been, but I do know this one wasn’t that great.


While I have posted several stories written in first person (It’s pretty much the default POV for journaling games), I found this perspective a bit more cumbersome for writing an open-world, multi-character narration of a tabletop RPG. I’m not unhappy with the result. I rather like the story and a few of the themes Alyssa explored. However, it certainly slowed down the process. Instead of just writing what happened, I had to think about how I can present the story from my main character’s point of view and understanding of the situation. To make it feel more like her voice, I had to layer in personal insights into what she was thinking, something that is not always necessary in third person unless it’s something I am intentionally trying to get across. Also, I can do a little more “hand-waving” in third person and quickly skim over unimportant events or conversations where in first there is more of an onus to pay more attention to these things, especially if it was important to Alyssa. All in all, unless I visit this world again, it is probably not a POV I will use for my major campaigns in the future.

And that brings to an end another successful campaign. What’s next for Tev? Well, I believe I will be revisiting my Tunnels and Trolls campaign next and continuing the story of Kage Gordain. However, don’t expect anything in the near future. Just as I had directed much of my leisure time to solo roleplaying over the past couple of years, I am now feeling drawn to my other projects and plan on focusing more on them this next year. I don’t know how much time I’ll have left for this, but I do know I have a lot of games and tools I want to try and more stories to tell, so I’m sure I’ll still be posting, just not as often. If you are interested in my other projects, you can find information about those using the link in the sidebar.

Thanks for reading, and good night.

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