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Meet the Publisher: Geek Gamers

Geek Gamers is the host of Geek Gamers, a leading YouTube channel focusing on solo RPG, game design, and board games. She is also co-founder of 90th Street Productions, a book publisher of RPG supplements. I wanted to interview her thanks to the dramatic increase in popularity of solo gaming over the past few years. She was kind enough to respond to my questions.

Question: How did you get involved in solo roleplaying, and what about it made you develop it into such a passion? What's your favorite *part* of the experience; is there anything that really surprises you that emerges through play?

Answer: Solo RPG mixes together two of my favorite things: storytelling and gaming. I'd been playing board games and reading RPG rule sets for decades, since I was a child, and rolling up characters. Sometimes I'd try to put the characters into a story I made, either using elements from a rule set (which was basically just D&D at that time), or even into other books I was reading such as adventure or mystery novels. In the 1980s, it was hard for a girl to find a welcoming RPG group, so I improvised. I suppose you could say that this was the beginning of my solo roleplaying.

Fast forward to early 2017, when I had a board game YouTube channel and posted a video on one of my favorite childhood games, James Bond Assault! (1986). This wargame recreates scenes from the assault on the secret volcano rocket base in the 007 movie You Only Live Twice. The game rules suggest to players that they incorporate elements from the James Bond RPG (1983) into the board game itself. Few specific guidelines are included for doing this, but I demonstrated how it could be done in that video. That became my first "solo RPG" video, and I believe it to be one of the very first solo RPG vids ever on YouTube.

I received a lot of interest and questions from viewers about what I was doing in that video and in response began to create videos that took explicitly macro approaches to the topic. For example, I posted a series of videos on how to create your own solo RPG adventure where I talked about general elements of solo RPG, etc. I also posted videos on developing themes and storytelling and other big-picture solo RPG topics such as running NPCs in solo play (more on those below). Viewers' responses made it clear that there was a lot of interest, and so very little information about it. So I just kept making videos in response to the interest and once I started posting these videos, I realized there were so many avenues to explore.

In 2020, I expended my RPG message to book publishing when I co-founded (with a graphic designer) 90th Street Productions. Our first book, Wanderings: A d88 Gothic Roll & Read Table, easily enables readers to roll on excerpts from classic gothic fiction (primarily from the 1700s and 1800s) to generate character backstories, session settings, events, or whatever they can imagine. It's designed to be used by "regular" GMs who are looking for tableside random inspiration (or even GM prep), as well as the RPG soloist. I foresee many more book publications for solo RPGers. I have so many ideas but just need to find the time.

Q: What are some of your favorite systems to use for solo role-play, and what do you think is the

*best* system to use?

A: I'll answer the second question first: I don't think there is a "best" system. I believe any RPG rule set can be soloed, though some have higher barriers to entry than others. There are designers who have written rules specifically with the intention of supporting solo (or coop) play.

Perhaps the best known of this ilk is Ironsworn by Shawn Tomkin (2018). Scarlet Heroes by Kevin

Crawford (2016) was designed to be played with a GM and a single PC, but the book also offers support for solo play in the form of oracles and random tables that enable one person to generate randomized settings and encounters. Its mechanics will be familiar to players of RPGs, more so than those of Ironsworn, with its narrative-based interpretive rolls.

My go-to recommendations for soloists, however, are "lighter" rule sets. I like Maze Rats by Ben Milton (2016) because it is a sandbox toolkit with lots of random tables and very simple mechanics, allowing freedom to interpret and develop stories. Knave (2020) also by Ben Milton is another great choice, as is Into the Odd by Chris McDowall (2015, a revision coming soon).

Q: You've recently written a book, the Solo Game Master's Guide, available through Modiphius. Can

you talk a bit about the process of writing the book? I'm curious especially to hear how your

YouTube channel and the book played off each other; I see them as two very different mediums in

how they convey information, and I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this.