Solo RPG Campaigns for the Cepheus Engine is an interesting solo play product designed for the Cepheus Engine or any Traveller-like RPG, but one could really use it for most any RPG given a little tweaking. This is what I love about OGL gaming, you get so many cool and different ideas and new concepts out here your mind is blown once you do a little digging.
This is also why nostalgia is an inherently regressive force, if all we do is put older games on pedestals and worship them like idols, we become afraid to change them, improve them, and try new things. Endless reprints of older games where they are judged to be "how faithful they are" to older editions does not create an incentive to streamline, improve, or try new things.
M2E Traveller and D&D 5 ultimately are nostalgia plays, but they strike a good balance between keeping things how they were, and improving things that obviously needed to be improved. Basic Fantasy is also another game that says "we are keeping the OSR feeling" but simplifies a lot of the concepts to more modern concepts, and that works very well.
To me, Cepheus Engine and Labyrinth Lord are a lot alike, they work towards compatibility and creating an OGL base from which new things can be created. And thus, Solo RPG Campaigns for the Cepheus Engine has been created to fill a niche, how does one person play these inherently social games?
Solo: Solo Play?Solo creates a lightweight structure around the host game's rules, and presents a method of advancing story-lines for a group of characters. Once person plays as a group of characters, a complete party, so this puts an emphasis on having a rules system where characters are simple and ultimately disposable. I would not play this in a game system took 4 hours to generate each party member, so having lightweight characters is a huge plus. I could play this with a retro-clone such as Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, or even Mutant Future if I wish.
Group ConflictsThink of the group dynamic here as "characters in the cast of a movie" such as Alien, The Thing, a war movie, or any other film where the action focuses around a group of characters working together to solve various problems and work towards a goal. Inter-group conflicts based on personalities and relationships in a huge thing here, and Solo provides a system for creating and managing these conflicts, and handling them during play.
This is an interesting choice, since it tells the solo player "you are not fully in control of the party" and generates those interpersonal conflicts for the team during play. So instead of 4-6 players creating the inter-party dramatic moments, the system does that and the player needs to imagine, resolve, and deal with the consequences.
Plans and Outcomes
Do the Rules Still Matter?
Where is the Roleplaying?
You need to turn on the ship's reactor, but evil bug aliens infest that deck of your ship. You make a plan, bust in with a force of marines in the front door and attract attention, while two technicians sneak in the back of the deck through the air shafts. Risky plan, but it has a good element of deception and distraction. The potential for accidental death and destruction is high.
You succeed, but the consequences say you lose a random member of the plan. Maybe one of the technicians is ambushed by a stray bug in the airshaft in a heroic last stand to distract the bugs and let the other technician complete the repair. You make up the middle and "roleplay" what happened inside the event.
And two options present themselves after, either clear out the bugs, or proceed towards the falling space station in the gas giant's gravity for a rescue...As you may see from the example, the characters in Solo should be disposable, like the members of a horror or action movie cast, since they are ultimately resources used to tell a story. Depending on the risks taken, you could and possibly will lose characters during a game.
Can I Sill...Play?This is an interesting question. Can you still...play? I mean, break down and play out a combat, make individual skill rolls, and use the rules as they were intended to be used? For me, I would say yes. If you really want to have a starship battle "on the board" and you want to play that out, I say go for it and used the results of that action to cover the pass/fail and potentially the consequences phases of the Solo system.
If there are no meaningful consequences, like your ship escapes unscathed, I may still say "roll for them anyways" to figure out if something unexpected happens. If your ship takes a ton of damage - that is the consequence - but you may still roll if a good consequence is called for as well. I would replace a negative consequence with the heavy damage though, as you don't want to double-up on a bad situation already with a second ruling just because the dice say so.