Author – Will Lentz (@the_gamenomicon)
Where to Buy – https://gamenomicon.itch.io/the-date or, while it’s available, you can buy this as part of the Solo But Not Alone #2 bundle here – https://itch.io/b/1227/solo-but-not-alone-2
Introducing romance in your TTRPG sessions is fraught with pitfalls. Is everyone onboard with listening to hot character-on-character action? How much description is too much? Is it fair to make your poor DM roleplay whichever NPC the lecherous player set their eyes on this session?
And, just like dating, there’s a simple solution to all of these issues: Don’t bother with other people at all and take care of your urges on your own!
Sometimes, though, your imagination alone isn’t enough to get you through and you need something to prompt those romantic feelings. Well don’t worry, because the good folks over at Gamenomicon created the solo RPG The Date to help with that exact situation!
The Date is a one-page game in which your character plays through their first date with someone. As you play, you’ll roll a d20 to determine what happens in each “moment” of the date and if the date is going well as a result. As the moments pass, your level of “Crush” can change, and if it ever reaches 0, the date is a complete disaster. If your Crush exceeds 6, however, a 2nd date is definitely in the cards.
Since this is a one-page RPG, the game leaves it to the player to decide all the particulars of the date without any suggestions from the game. You want to play through an awkward blind date at an Applebee’s in Gary, Indiana? Go for it. Want to set your date in an underground kink club with the quiet guy from HR? The world’s your oyster!
Sometimes so much freedom can be limiting in its own way but I can’t fault the author for setting out to create a one-page RPG and achieving that goal. And because the author has no idea what sort of date the players will decide on, the d20 list of moment prompts has to be very carefully balanced. On one side, you need the prompts to be vague enough to fit just about any date/scenario possible. Opposing that, you need them to have enough substance to inspire creativity in the reader, otherwise why bother having them at all? Happily, the prompts are fantastic and dance right down the middle of the two extremes.
This game shares its base system (the Second Guess System) with another Gamenomicon game, One White Eye. One White Eye is a horror game in which the player’s character is imprisoned and longing to escape. It makes perfect sense that the system works so well for a dating game, too, at least for anyone who’s been stuck on a purgatorial date before. The system itself feels like a simplified version of the Wretched & Alone system, and I hope that reads like the compliment I intended it to be. Maybe “simplified” is wrong here. Instead, I should say “streamlined”, because it’s fully capable of telling compelling, complete stories even though it uses a d20 to generate prompts rather than a deck of cards and a Jenga tower. I hope people pick up the Second Guess System SRD and run with it because the it has a lot of potential, and The Date is definitely evidence of that.
So grab a copy of The Date, pour yourself a glass of wine, and put on the Luther Vandross because who needs other people when you can entertain yourself?
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. I plan on reviewing more solo RPGs for the next few months in an effort to bring more attention to the amazing Solo But Not Alone #2 bundle on itch.io. I hope you’ll stick around and consider supporting an amazing charity that’s doing a lot of good work to help prevent suicides.