Join the Dark Side


After having played many adventures as detectives you would like to experience how you feel in the part of the culprit trying to escape the capture?

Now you can with the newest version of Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart (NSAABH) that you find here.
NSAABH allows you to create investigative adventures for solo rpg but you can also use the system to play a standard RPG with a GM or GM-less.

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A Talk with an NPC, a solo example


How to play a long and interactive dialogue with an NPC in a solo RPG scene?

This is one example.

dice rolls:
oracle: FU table from FU
word randomizer:

GENRE: standard fantasy

PC: Zaldorr (generic warrior with a broken spear, hunted by the devilmonkeys, needs a job)

NPC: Yktan (silk merchant of Lost Port, bald and fat, streetwise)

PLACE: Yktan’s office
I have no other idea about the setting and no plot
Let’s start talking with Yktran.

Zaldorr bows awkwardly in front of the merchant and asks for a moment to discuss a deal.

Is Yktran well disposed? NO AND 

The merchant beckons to his bodyguard to drive the warrior

Zaldor resists and says, “I was told that Yktran has a nose for a good deal but I was wrong”

is Yktran intrigued? YES BUT not impressed

Yktran: “you’re not wrong but you do not look to offer me anything interesting”

Zaldor has been guarding the caravan before? NO
Zaldor has experience of the sea? YES AND he commanded a trireme at war

Zaldor: “I can take one of your carracks in every port of the four kingdoms, without any losses”

is Yktran impressed? NO.
random word = handkerchief

Yktran: “really? Big words for a warrior with a broken spear and wearing only rags, I would not trust you to transport a single one of my handkerchiefs of the worst spidersilk”

random words = juice + prison

Zaldor: “I’ve not been lucky in the South but before I commanded a trireme at the Battle of Bloody Captor”

Yktran knows the battle? YES
Yktran you impressed? YES
random word = cocktail

Yktran (to a servant): “Take us to drink, quick!”
Yktran: “An epic victory against the Necromancer’s fleet, if what you say is true it might be worth listening to what you offer me”
Zaldor: “Myself. You will not find a ship captain most skilled and at a lower price than me”

Yktran needs a captain? NO
random word = warehouse
Yktran needs to protect his warehouse? NO

Yktran: “hmmmm … my carracks are far away, my warehouses are empty at the time, I’m waiting for the arrival of a new load of silk tapestries not earlier than 2 months”

random word = graffiti

While the servant returned with a tray of drinks, the merchant makes a pause for reflection
Yktran: “You’ve never been to the Painted Tower?”

was Zaldor there before? NO BUT

Zaldor: “I’m new in town but I’ve heard something about it from some fishermen at the pier”

random word = tyre (LOL)

Yktran: “It is the home of Gytu, The Tired Wizard”

does Yktran want to hire Zalkor for a dirty job? NO
Yktran friends with Gytu? YES AND they are brothers
random word = pilot

Yktran: “The honorable Gytu is studying an old portolan and needs someone who is familiar with the charts to decipher it, you have experience as a pilot?”

did Zaldor work as a ship’s pilot? YES BUT only as an apprentice for a short time
(I decide to lie)

Zaldor: “I’m a skilled pilot, I can read any map and set a course blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back, sir !!”

Does Yktran totally believe the warrior? (Unlikely -2) NO
Does Yktran get angry? YES BUT doesnt let him see
random word = shoes

Yktran: “Very well then. I’ll write a letter in your favor for dear Gytu but first we have to give thanks to the gods, come with me”
Yktran leads Zaldor  into a shrine dedicated to the worship of the 123 idols of Zxwoo, he bows and whispers to Zaldor: “Take off your shoes before you enter and pray with me”

Does Zaldor note that Yktran did not believe him? NO AND thinks the merchant is charmed by his words

Zaldor follows the merchant 

Is Yktran after (1d6) five minutes asking something? NO
random word = spit (!)
random word = tax

Yktran softly begins to invoke the wrath of Zxwhoo against the tax collectors of the city, the ritual forces Zaldor to pray for (1d6) 2 hours,
the merchant is sure that the gods will punish his enemies and also they teach Zaldor to hold his tongue in front of a silk merchant.

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NSAABH: Skin-doll Hunter

lego spinner

This is another scenario for a NSAABH (Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart) investigative solo adventure, to play you need a suitable RPG system of your choice. It’s obviously inspired by Philip Dick’s “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” novel , Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner movie and the videogame Blade Runner (1997).

You can download NSAABH here

Scenario: “In a cyberpunk metropolis genetically engineered creatures usually called ‘skin-dolls’ are produced as workers for space stations. Recently a group of rebel skin-dolls tried to kill Herbert Capek, Managing Director of the main clone manufacturing corporation. You are an agent of the Police Special Clone Hunting Unit and you have a list of the names of four skin-dolls, prevent their criminal plan and ‘retire’ them…”


  • (Clubs) : Who is the leader of the rebel clones? Where is he/she hiding?
  • (Diamonds) : What they want to accomplish?
  • (Spades): Which special system they want to use?

Clubs: Who is the leader of the rebel clones? (Where is he/she hiding?)
1) Zelda, stripper (Blue Snake Bar)
2) Sergei, metalworker (his hotel room)
3) Anne, nurse (Valis Hospital)
4) Roy, soldier (Isidore Tower rooftop)
5) Roy, soldier (Zelda’s apartment)

Diamonds:  : What they want to accomplish?
1) Killing Capek for revenge
2) Kidnapping Capek
3) Destroying the clone project
4) Killing every skin-doll hunter
5) Creating an undergound organization to help fugitive clones


Spades: Which special system they want to use?
1) Gas bombs
2) Dr. Chen’s help
3) Deadly clone animals
4) Hacking software
5) Global blackout

1) Skin-doll Hunter Santiago wounded
2) Dr. Chen murdered
3) Someone breaks into your apartment

Mr Maybe: Skin-doll Hunter Santiago

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My Dice Tower: Picts & Sieges


(Picts vs Late Romans)

Some of you might ignore what is a the dice tower: it’s a game tool to roll dices in
an efficient and amusing way, a dice tower is a miniature hollowed tower with a couple or more deflectors inside , the dice falls from the top inside the tower, bounces on the deflectors and comes out of an opening at the bottom.
In the world of board games and rpg these towers have spread in recent years, but the idea comes from far away.
It seems that everything started in 1985 when archaeologists found in a roman villa in germany a metallic object, a dice tower of the 4th century AD, it was apparently a gift for the owner of the villa (probably the commander of a legion stationed on the empire frontier).

(the roman dice tower)

This tower was pierced with a a latin inscription:


The Picts are defeated.
The enemy is destroyed.
Play in safety!
Use it and live luckily/happily.)

This beautiful item also had 3 bells which ring when the dices come out of the lower opening.
An awesome artifact indeed.
In short, I decided to build my dice tower because … it’s fun.


(The inside of a Dice Tower)

I was thinking of making it in plywood and for that reason I first decided to make a cardboard prototype.
I started to use this prototype and I found it good and for now I did not feel the need for anything else.
And here the siege comes into play, in a sense.
I found in the house a perfect element for my tower:

The empty box of a “Zampone” (tipical italian pork sausage enveloped in a hollowed out pig’s trotter) eaten at New Year’s Eve and retained for future modeling projects,
it is made of plasticized cardboard of the right size.


(an example of a Zampone package)

I made three oblique cuts on it and inserted the cartboard deflectors (You have to be careful to leave enough distance to the dices to move from one deflector to the other), I cut also the front opening and then I covered the entire body of the tower with gray colored duct tape to increase its solidity.

And the siege? A legend says that the Zampone was created in 1510 during the long siege of the town Mirandola by the troops of Pope Julius II.
The besieged citizens to better survive the difficulties and to prevent the pigs that had been fattened up with such care from falling into the hands of the papal soldiers, ground the meat and stuffed it into the paw skin.



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Zathrum designer’s notes


Everything started when I got the idea of playing Sword & Backpack RPG in solo mode using Bivius.
S&B uses 1d20 so it was perfectly natural to use a d20 as the B.R.O. in Bivius.
I’ve been thinking that 1d20 has many faces 😀 and I could use this fact to create a more detailed oracle (Bivius has only the Rule # 8 for a binary Y/N answer).

The most natural thing for me was to convert The FU oracle (a d6 table) in a d20 version but with many more variations. I thought of a very famous d20 oracle toy, ( but its answers were not suitable for an rpg: too vague or inconclusive. A quick Google search led me to a list of English conditionals.
I took some that seemed fit (if, while, unless…) and added other ones.
However, I wanted an oracle that was not too rigid in the answers, but adaptable to the situation.
For this I have inserted the conditional in parenthesis as a simple suggestion after the Yes / No responses, if not fit you simply ignore it and use the basic Y / N response.
Now I had a very detailed oracle for questions to be answered during the game, I had Bivius for the rest and S&B as the starting point.

But Bivius is a complete RPG (it has standard RPG rules plus an integrated solo engine), I had seen that the d20 had great potential for the variety of possible outcomes with only one roll.
I then thought of creating a real self-contained Game Master Engine (GME) but still compatible with Bivius and S&B, What could be the other indispensable tables?
To create the story I liked the Bivius system of the two options but having 1d20 available instead of a binary random generator I could also vary the chances of the two options as other games had done. I’m a roleplayer of d6s and d10s games, I’m used to thinking about the odds in terms of percentiles, real-world probabilities are measured in this way as well.
Calculating the odds between two options by rolling dices of different type or using a dice pool is not for me, I wanted a simpler but precise system, a way to calculate the odds in percentiles, roll one d20 and get immediately the selected option.

Each number of a d20 has a 5% probability, it was a great way to calculate the odds that an option would take place. The other option would have occurred otherwise.

To get a simple but complete system other than the oracle and the option selector, I only needed two more things : a scene generator and a NPC generator. With four d20 tables there is enough to run a solo RPG adventure.
I used Zathrum in some short adventures and it all went well!


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It’s Free!


I’ve created a new page listing free online products, broken down by category: Solo RPGs and Solo Engines, Free RPGs, Random Generators, etc.

it’s HERE


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NSAABH: Ripley and HAL


This is a scenario for a NSAABH (Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart) investigative solo adventure, to play you need a suitable RPG system (Traveller, FATE, etc.)

You can download NSAABH here


Scenario: “You are one of the 5 crewmembers of the space tanker Boatswain, the ship AI awakens the crew from cryo-stasis. The ship is in quarantine, the AI states there are traces of alien DNA on board. The nearest base is too far to receive a distress signal and no other ship is in range. Hand scanners don’t reveal anything relevant but the computer takes full control of the ship and turns off the life systems. Wearing your spacesuits you and your crewmates have 3 hours of life support to save your life”


  • (Clubs) Why the computer has gone crazy?
  • (Diamonds) How can you take back control of your ship?
  • (Spades)Where is the only place to do it?
Clubs Diamonds Spades
1) Hacked by a rival corporation 1) Destroy the computer database 1) Ship’s Safeboat
2) Short circuit 2) Convince the AI the biohazard is over 2) Engine Room
3) Accidentally infected by a crewmeber videogame 3) Isolate the AI and activate the auxiliary computer 3) Infirmary
4) Sabotaged by crewmember #3 4) Override the quarantine protocols 4) Main Bridge
5) A dangerous alien is destroying circuits with an acid slime. 5) Overload the AI imput channels and force a reboot of the system 5) Cryogenic Chamber

Surprise List
1) The AI sings the song “Daisy Bell” every 5 minutes
2) Crewmember #3 is a malfuctioning android and kills crewmember #4
3) Artificial gravity disabled

Mr Wrong: crewmember #1
Mr Maybe: crewmember #2

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A new kid in town



While I’m completing a sourcebook for Bivius, on the weekend I wrote this solo system, it’s called ZATHRUM and uses 1d20. It’s free and you can download it here.
Unlike many other players I played mostly RPGs with d6s or d100s, now I can not wait to use Zathrum together with Sword & Backpack, a simple OSR game that intrigues me and also offers free adventures

One d20 to rule them all …

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Bivius Pulp: Chapter Two



Hallo folks! Sorry for the delay, I had very little time to write and translate this chapter, I’m trying to imitate the stereotyped characters and the flat dialogue of movie serials of the 30’s and 40′. I plan to continue the series until the end of the 12 chapters, it will take a lot of time but I’m enjoying myself to follow these first moves of the story.What are those metal boxes? What is Siefer doing? I have deliberately kept some elements of the story undefined because I want to discover them little by little.

you can read the previous chapter here

Chapter 2 : AT DANGER’S CALL

In the previous Episode:
It’s 1936. The men of the secret organization Dark Ring commit crimes to get hold of mysterious metal boxes. Aboard the Zeppelin “HERREIHOFFEN”, Comet Telamon and his sidekick Vernon try to stop them, but in the fight Comet  is pushed out of the airship falling down without a parachute.

Scene 0): Cliffhanger Solution:
A movie serial hero always survives a Cliffhanger, so why doing a test?
Because if the hero passes the test, he can saves himself from danger in a heroic and spectacular way
but if he fails then the Cliffhanger solution will be more mundane and less satisfactory for the audience (eg Deus Ex Machina).
In a Movie Serial the solution was fast therefore I will solve the Cliffhanger with a test with Pulp Hero stat vs Low Level Threat (contest between unequals).
Now the solution.
[Option A: Comet reaches the thug who has parachuted, fights and lands with him, detail: the villain is killed with his own knife]
[Option B: Comet managed at the last moment to cling to the edge of the cargohold door, detail: torn jacket]
[1d6 roll = 6 ie Option A] success, nice 🙂

Comet is falling to the ground but he manages to keep calm, he sees under him the waiter’s parachute opens
then the hero reaches the agent of the Dark Ring and grabs him by the straps.
They fight in air, the ground is fast approaching, the heavy tries to hit Comet with the knife, but the hero deflects the blow to the attacker and kills him.
The two land in a cornfield. Comet is unscathed and looks over him the giant airboat that slowly flies away.

Few quick questions:
[Quick Question: “This second metal box has been lost during the fight?”]
[1d6 roll = 1, NO]
[Quick Question: “Is the box locked?”]
[1d6 roll = 6, YES]
[Quick Question: “Have the two heavies on the airship been arrested?”]
[1d6 roll = 3, NO]

Comet searches the corpse and collects the box then he goes to a nearby farm to call the authorities.
Meanwhile on the airship, Vernon, though injured, had immobilized the two robbers and raised the alarm. The captain of the LZ 411 HERREIHOFFEN reports the emergency to the police by radio. But it’s too late, the two agents of the Dark Ring have ingested the poison hidden in dental capsules to avoid being questioned.

Scene 1)
[Option A: Telamon is warned by Police Chief Osborne that one of his ships was attacked, detail: Telamon is doing something unusual]
[Option B: Farris delivers the first metal box, detail: someone is horribly punished]
B.R.O. establishes what happens
[1d6 roll = 3 ie Option B]
I have to find out where Farris and his accomplices go
[Option A: a luxurious villa in the hills, detail: it has a large stable]
[Option B: an abandoned  textile factory, detail: a floor of the building is full of mannequins]
[1d6 roll = 3 again, ie Option B]

A black Studebaker Dictator, carrying two men, stops in front of the rusty gate of a ruined factory, after a moment the four-door sedan is swallowed by the ground. A hydraulic platform gently deposited it in an underground road, the car continues into the tunnel while the platform goes back to its place in the driveway. After a few minutes, in an office under the factory, the chrome box is placed on a desk by Farris huge hands.

[Quick Question: “Does Farris hand the box to the master-villain Seifer?”]
[1d6 roll = 4 ie YES]


(Cornelius Seifer)

photo credit: twm1340 Bela Lugosi via photopin (license)

On the other side of the table a man of narrow shoulders and deep voice sits in the shadows, he pulls a key from his pocket and opens the box. With a sinister smile he checks the content: “Well done, my friend …Have you encountered obstacles?”
Farris: “Everything went smoothly, boss. I only had to eliminate two meddlers. This weapon is great”

What kind of weapon Farris used?
[Option A: poison dart pistol, detail: it’s a quick draw sleeve gun]
[Option B: electric zap pistol, detail: Flash Gordon style]
[1d6 roll = 2 ie A]

With a movement the giant assassin triggers the mechanism in his right sleeve and a small dart gun instantly appears in his hand.
A weapon silent and dangerous as a hidden cobra.
Seifers penetrating eyes reveal his impatience: “I’m glad to hear it, but now follow me, we have to finish a job.”
They go into another room where a man is tied to a chair.

Who is the poor fellow?
[Option A: the agent responsible for the failed operation on the Zeppelin, detail: he was beaten up]
[Option B: a kidnapped scientist, detail: he is very old and scared]
[1d6 roll = 4 ie A]
I have to find out what kind of horrible punishment Seifers want to give to him
[Option A: trapdoor over a vat of acid, detail: the acid is a green liquid solvent]
[Option B: the infamous giant pendulum, detail: the victim is tied to a medical examination table]
[1d6 roll = 6 ie A]

Seifers: “Repeat once again what happened on the airship!”
The beaten up man: “Our agents were on board…. and the box was retrieved….. then they were assaulted. The police reported that all three are dead….. It was not my fault, sir!”
Seifers: “And the box? the box???”
“I… I…don’t know, I think the police did not have it… the attackers must have taken it! Please, sir… I can find them and retrieve the box”
Seifers: “Too late my friend, you’ve bought tickets to the airship, you are compromised and you will be eliminated!”

The evil mastermind lowers a metal switch on the wall and a trapdor opens above the chair of the prisoner.
The man falls in a vat of solvent used to dye fabrics. His screams last for less than a minute while his body rapidly vanishes in the green boiling acid.
Seifers closes the trap door and orders Farris: “Find the missing box, there is no time to request a new one!”

Scene 2)
[Option A: in Telamon’s  apartment, Kathy visits Vernon & Comet , details: the witness contacted Kathy. Chief Osborne has the metal box]
[Option B: In the labs of Bright Comet Enterprises, Comet analyzes the metal box, detail: the lock is uncommon]
B.R.O. establishes what happens
[1d6 roll =  4 ie Option A]

In the apartment on the ninety-ninth floor of Telamon Building, Vernon comes out of his room trudging on crutches.
he has a bandaged leg because of the deep knife wound he received. Comet and his girlfriend Kathy are sitting at the fireplace, Comet asks: “How do you feel, Vernon?”
“The leg still hurts but I have nothing that will not heal in a couple of days. Hallo Kathy”
“Hallo, Vernon” the beautiful blonde smiles
Vernon: “Do we know what’s in the box?”
Comet: “Not yet, the forensic police is still working, it seems that the lock is a booby-trap”
Vernon: “Now what? we wait?”
Kathy: “Not necessarily, I came here because I received a strange phone call to the office. A witness said he saw the man who killed  the two sailors of the EMPRESS and stole the other metal box. I have to go to the port to meet the witness at Joe’s Diner”
Comet: “I come with you, Kathy. Vernon you stay here and rest.”
Vernon: “But…”
Comet: “Someone has to be here just in case… Bye”

Scene 3) Cliffhanger

[Option A: The appointment is at a diner near the pier, when Comet and Kathy arrive the witness is killed by a stranger who then shoots the protagonists, detail: the stranger is wearing a gas mask ][Option B: Comet is driving his roadster to the port with Kathy when a truck tries to send the car off the road, detail: nightime and the road is on the hills]
B.R.O. establishes what happens
[1d6 roll =  1 ie Option B]
The powerful engine of Duesemberg SSJ roadster murmurs in the night when Comet looks in the rearview mirror and says to Kathy: “Someone is following us”. A big truck is approaching curve after curve, the road is downhill and winds through the hills.
Kathy says: “he is reaching us!”
Comet pushes the accelerator, the car runs fast but from the truck a gloved hand points a gun and shoots several times. One of the rear tires of the white roadster explodes and Comet can not steer in time!!!


Useful Links :

Names randomly generated in various ways including this online generator:
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
Posted in Bivius, Bivius Pulp, Solo RPG, Comet Telamon, Pulp, Senza categoria, Solo RPG | 2 Comments



Hi folks, Happy Thanksgiving Day!

I’m translating the second episode of Comet Telamon, meanwhile I have updated the files in the download page here. I also created the table shown above (included in the new version of Bivius Companion).

What do you think? Is it cryptic enough?

It is a symbolic and deliberately ‘weird’ version of the Bivius Table:

O = Even, I = Odd,

Up Arrow = High, Down Arrow = Low,

A = Option A, B= Option B,

Y = Yes, N = No .

If you want to use it as a tattoo, send me a photo, lmao.


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