In working on a solo game, I’m solving for the fact that they become repetitive to play because the mechanics often do not vary. The Fallout series of video game RPGs embeds small ”mini-games” that you must complete to hack terminals and pick locks...they are not tremendously fun, but they do break up the flow of the game.
Toward that end, here are a collection of different dice games that can be used in a larger, solo RPG experience.
Represents: solving a scientific problem, or another abstract deduction task
Rules: Roll 4d6, and use any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division on the numbers (in any order) so that the result adds up to 23.
It is pretty easy to get to 23. It might be possible to make the task harder or easier by increasing or decreasing the target number to another prime, but I am having a hard time testing or measuring this.
Source: Dice Games Properly Explained. Reiner Knizia, Blue Terrier Press, 2010, p. 23.
Represents: lock picking
It is possible to change the target value (±100, ±50, ±10) and this definitely changes the difficulty of the task. Character skill can be used to adjust the target number.
Source: Utopia Engine by Nick Hayes, 2011.
Rules: The player must select a weapon which provides a pool of black (melee) and/or red (ranged) dice. For example, a pistol might provide
RR (two red dice) while a sword might provide
RB (one red and one black die).
An opponent is described by a list of target numbers, again in red or black (e.g. a gang might be
B1 B2 R3 while a military drone might be
R4 R4 R4 R4).
The player rolls their dice pool, and then uses the results to cross numbers off the list of target numbers. One die can be used to strike one target number when the values match. Red dice can match red or black numbers, while black dice can only match black numbers.
If the player matches at least one number, they then roll their die pool again and repeat the process. If they match no target numbers, they must remove one die from their dice pool, and then re-roll and continue matching.
If all target numbers are eliminated, the player wins without taking damage.
If the last die in the die pool is eliminated, the player takes damage equal to the value of all the target numbers that were not crossed off during combat. If the player dies, they have lost, otherwise they have won (despite the damage) and the game continues.
Some modification ideas for this system (written after the list of dice):
1x indicates the weapon is consumed with use. After it is used, it is removed from the player’s inventory, and another weapon must be selected. Note that the rules do not normally allow for changing weapons, even if the player has other weapons in their inventory.
.45 might indicate that an ammo resource must be discarded in order to select the weapon for combat. For example, a pistol
RR .45 could not be used unless the player had a “.45 ammo” item to discard.
A Some weapons might eliminate all numbers they match, simulating area damage.
Source: Alx Dark.