Gamers logo


Why All of Life is Nothing More Than a Solo Tabletop Roleplaying Game

By Tom BakerPublished about a month ago Updated 27 days ago 8 min read
My life as in incel: Playing table-top role-playing games by myself.

Hey you.

Yeah, you over there.

I got some bad news for you, Sunshine.

You're nothing more than an aggregate of the thoughts and feelings, really the fantasies of your Image of Self. But, guess what? None of that has any tangible reality.

It's a mirage, an illusion. You stare out at the world through a pair of orbs at images that have a sense of three-dimensionality. Everything has color, height, and depth. In the fourth dimension, as Wells' Time Traveler observed, we travel along the pathway of Time. But none of that is real. Quantify it if you can, put a gram of it in a scale if you must; stick it on a shelf in a bottle, and say to yourself, "Self, therein is a measure of cold, hard reality. Maybe I'll sell it on Ebay someday."

Dreams. Visions. Ever-shifting thoughts, feelings, and self-deceptive memories, selectively edited. Your perception of what is is run through the sieve of your conscious awareness, preprogrammed by family, church, school, media, and social mores imposed on you from long ago, in a developmental stage that is like a minefield to circumnavigate, to traverse. You think, "I am this. I have this limitation, this attribute, this poverty or wealth."

You are NOTHING. It's all a program you're running. "Nothing is real. Everything is permitted."

At base, you're a biological entity that needs food, shelter, and care to maintain your physical existence. Everything else is negotiable. It always amuses me when someone says something like, "You NEED to read this book. You NEED to watch this (mostly mindless) television or movie program. You need..." In reality, you don't "need anything"; illusions within illusions.

This is "so important," to your fellow man. This is "truth." We swear it, guvnor. None of it is important. And what, pray tell, constitutes "truth"? Your truth? My truth? The truth proffered by chat shows, talking-head propaganda pundits, politicians, priests, and other assorted whores? No? Well, perhaps then, "truth" as proffered by pop culture? Entertaining enough as a distraction, but, no dice.

Everyone has a gallon of truth they want to sell you, for the right price. They hop up and down as mad as a Hatter if you contravene their "truth," if you fly in the face of their unreason, if you defy the image or edifice of TRUTH erected in their beetling brains. They have an idea of themselves, a swirl of dreaming conjectures, selectively edited, and even false memories, and a deep, deep well of GUILT and SHAME imposed on them by social convention. It is out of this mental stew that they construct a "World" wherein they are playing a role they assume they "are"; but this is nothing but a fleeting fantasy. A human being can be rendered a gibbering, wailing infant through torture, trauma, drugs, or hypnosis. Starvation or fear of death will bring out the animalistic nature. You might, even if you were a bleeding heart, pacifist, or someone committed to non-violence, cut the throat of the nearest man holding on to a sandwich if you found yourself starving on a desert island, staring death in the face, and he wouldn't give it to you.

Truth. Truth. Truth. Everyone is on a search for the truth. "Democracy is best," "Socialism is inevitable," "Give peace a chance," and "We must respect this old, tattered piece of cloth, blowing fruitlessly in the wind."

What, are you some kind of crazy man, not to want to walk with us in our (admittedly flawed) present state? We are, after all, the MAJORITY and, damn it, WE HAVE THE TRUTH.

Nothing is Real

I have currently become engrossed in the world of SOLO tabletop roleplaying games. Not having played traditional Dungeons and Dragons since I was a teenager, I was eager, when I discovered them, to find out just how someone played such a game, which typically requires a "dungeon master" or GM ("game master") to describe, for players all assuming a character or "role", the action as it transpires. The idea that you could simply roll the events of the game, and then write about them, thus taking the GM's role as both player and referee, never had occurred to me before. But I quickly began perusing a wide variety of such games, as well as YouTube videos about them, the more rudimentary I felt the better, and now I have "solo sessions" assisted with table-making and game mechanics by the redoubtable alien intelligence of ChatGPT.

The idea of playing a game with yourself is odd, of course, as you aren't bound by anyone else to follow any rules. You could simply substitute dice rolls for a coin toss if you like (to decide the outcome of battles, etc.), or just sit down and write out the bloody story as it unfolds. But this introduces a sense of randomness as defined by mathematical constraints, which create an invisible "co-author" to the tale or adventure as it unfolds. You question the "Oracle" (a six-sided dice roll typically) and, depending on the "answer" to a yes or no question, you further roll on a table to see what monster you encounter, what treasure you find, if there are any scrolls in the room with spells on them, and so on. (Note: So far I've only played in a fantasy, sword-and-sorcery setting, but this can be adapted and used with ANY setting, be it science fiction, horror, or what-have-you. I am working on both a gothic horror game and a dystopian, "cyberpunk" game called "Glitch." But I haven't gotten around to "playing" in those worlds yet. I also want to play a humor-based game modeled on slapstick silent movies, "Slaptown," as well as a superhero game. All to come. )

You'd be surprised to note how the fantasies prompted by such a game stick in the mind like actual memories. I find myself as I go to sleep "remembering" the scenes from my gaming session as if they actually occurred to me. "I have lived all my lives without number," wrote H.P. Lovecraft in his poem "Nemesis."

I daydream the events in my game, assisted by the unseen hand of random dice rolls, "game mechanics," to immerse me in a world that is partially my own creation, partially imposed on me by chance and mathematical number crunching. But it translates, somehow, into images", memories, as it were. I took on a role. We all take on a role, an ever-shifting patchwork of personal illusions, delusions, beliefs, hang-ups, and selectively edited memories. Our collective delusion of life (in reality, we are simply organisms wandering the blackness around us, our minds registering light and decoding "reality" as electrical impulses sent to the thalamus) is a pervasive dream, no more real than the fantasy RPGs I play by myself.

Everything is Permitted

On Facebook, I obsessively collect pictures of beautiful, glamorous women, mostly Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Adrienne Barbeau, Bettie Page, (as long as she isn't nude), etc. I can't have them, of course, and even if I could, would I want them? Most likely no. It's not the having of them, it's the IMAGE of them, the fantasy. The fantasy. They're all (what we take to be) dead. But in their photographs, they are still young and beautiful, caught for a split second on a photographic emulsion, a trick of light and vision, and then registered and retained in the consciousness as a memory, an idea, a dream of an image. NOT REAL.

When you watch television ("sell-a-vision," as David Icke has so rightly named) you're watching an illusion. Of an illusion. ON an illusion (the box is simply molecules, made up of atoms, made up of quarks, and neutrinos, as pixelated as any digitized image it projects). These are all, arguably, fictional stories, and fantasies, as Willie Munzenberg observed, "All news is lies, and all propaganda is disguised as news." Sitting in my living room, I can't prove that anything I see, hear, or am told is truth by the Official Organs; is, in point of fact, "true." What is "truth"? I ask you once again.

Sitting here, moment to moment, I am in a perfect state of detachment. A state of Oneness. But, swirling in my consciousness, the thoughts, fears, preconceptions, and beliefs that have been inculcated in me by Church, State, school, and propaganda programming play to fear. FEAR. FEAR.

Fear of being ostracized, abandoned; derided. Exiled. Fear of the Unknown. Of Heaven, Hell, of guilt. Shame. They rule by FEAR. They rule by SHAME. They rule by GUILT. They OWN you through lies and repetition of lies. Fundamentally, you're just an entity lost in the darkness you don't perceive because your mind informs you of light, color, height, width, and depth. Sound, smell, and taste are all illusions. You are a being in the Void; you just don't realize it. You take on a role, and you play the role society and circumstance have "assigned" to you. And you accept that role just as assuredly as you accept a role to play in a tabletop fantasy role-playing game, one you're, most definitely, playing solo. But, ask yourself: Who is the Game Master? And when the game is over, do you roll up another character? The Bhagavad Gita says you do, and you return to the game, once more.

"I'd like to think that when I die, I get a chance, another try, to return and live again..." Iron Maiden sang in one of their heavy metal numbers from forty years ago. That may not be a blessing, though. This world is a dark and troubling place, full of murder and death, war and mayhem. Perhaps the alien intelligence of our AI will save us from our own folly and self-destructive stupidity. Perhaps not.

Life on the Earth is often dark and terrible (Schopenhauer would argue it is inherently, irrevocably a place of pain and suffering). Comparatively, crawling through a dungeon battling orcs and dragons is a walk in the park.

"Excelsior!" said the man.

table toprpgadventure games

About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.:

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knockabout a month ago

    "And what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?" (Pilate in "Jesus Christ, Superstar") "Que sera, sera." At this point, I'm not sure I'd want to come back. But what will be will be.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.