Monday, March 13, 2017

Game Review: SCRAWL, a Solo Game Play Engine from Stuart Lloyd

Beowulf Kills Grendel's Mother - John Henry Frederick Bacon, 1910

I've been a role-player since late 1978. In the first few years I was in high school, so I was never at a loss for players, but after graduation available players dried up. It became a serious chore to find, teach, and game with new players. Often there were months, then years, without finding other players. Ask any player that hasn't been able to scratch their gaming itch in awhile, it sucks. And the few options there were for solo play weren't very appealing, so the idea of gaming alone was soon forgotten.

Recently I came across Stuart Lloyd's solo game playing engine, SCRAWL (short for Solo Crawl). The game mechanics were simple and straight forward, the tables and layout were clear and linear, and there was plenty of support material to help flesh things out so that you weren't left with a few pages of endless cramped charts and a handful dice to roll for each and every action. SCRAWL is a limitless sandbox for an adventurer to wander through. Not unlike the early computer ASCII based dungeon crawl game, Rogue, where the player followed a grid, and encountered random events and monsters, SCRAWL allows a player to wander through a classic hex-crawl, using dice and their own imagination to discover what's discovered next.

SCRAWL allows a player to make up their own adventures, and play them out through random events tied together by their pre-decided plot-line. It's not just endless rolls on random tables, wandering from room to room, mindlessly collecting treasure tallies on a sheet. The solo games follow the player's internal logic and story-line, offering uncertainty and surprises to keep it fun and exciting. And unlike many previous game offerings, SCRAWL, allows players to adventure in dungeons, wilderness, ruins, towns, and cities. Its options are only limited by your imagination.

I strongly suggest that when you buy the initial SCRAWL rulebook, which is basically only a simple stand-along game system, that you purchase one of the additional adventures or add-ons. By themselves, the basic SCRAWL game isn't solo friendly. The books are PWYW (Pay What You Want), so you can buy them rather affordably. Yes, you could download the entire game and supplements free, but Stuart really did a good amount of work putting this all together and supporting his efforts isn't too much to ask. 

You can purchase SCRAWL on sites like RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.


  1. Many thanks for the great review, Gerald! I will keep you updated with improvements to SCRAWL!

    1. You're welcome. My wife and I have enjoyed playing together without having to sharing DM duties.