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Motif Story Engine (Solo and GM-Lite Roleplaying Toolkit)
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Motif Story Engine (Solo and GM-Lite Roleplaying Toolkit)


Now a DriveThruRPG Gold Best Seller!!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! <3

  • This Engine is a system I would describe as a true "Ask the GM" system. --- DTRPG Review
  • [I]f this is what the future of solo looks like, it is very promising indeed. --- /r/Solo_Roleplaying comment
  • Motif Story Engine is a solo play oracle, an add-on solo RPG system.
    • It provides a dice system and guidance for playing most existing RPGs alone and in small groups without a formal game moderator.
  • Enjoy your favorite roleplaying games alone! 
    • Play RPGs without the need for game moderator to handle the rules and generate the world. The dice oracle answers questions you would normally ask your GM.
  • Skip the heavy lifting of prep and jump right in! 
    • Whether you are playing alone or in a small "GM-lite" group, MSE helps minimize the setup. The world and plotlines organically evolve as the oracle reveals the world.

This is a complete ashcan release. 

Patches and play guidance will be expanded over time. 
MSE was originally designed to enable quick pickup play games and fast evolving stories. 

The Motif Story Engine is a modular GM and narrator emulator:

  • Use a simple backbone of 3d6 rolls.
  • Mix and match options to tailor your experience and add depth to results.
    • Use as many or as few as suits you. All options are optional.
  • Ask questions just as you would ask a game moderator or storyteller.
  • Simple results and lists that drive your story without getting in the way.
  • Extensible, easily hacked and reskinned for a variety of genres and play styles.

Motif Story Engine provides a robust engine that includes:

  • The use of three standard six-sided dice for the main oracle
  • Guidance for adding twists & turns to your games, bringing an element of surprise
  • A patch for introducing escalating tension in your adventure
  • A patch for bringing increasing chaos and weirdness to the tale

Additional features:

  • Options for different third die effects & results ("flavor die")
  • A mission clock system, representing the limited time and high pressure of sensitive quests
  • A momentum system patch, providing a boost or greater obstacles as your momentum waxes and wanes
  • A prompt system for NPCs, using thought and behavior guidelines to make them easier to emulate in solo and quick play games
  • A prompt system for world events, to generate random events and challenges to provide new hooks and story inspiration

Prior Update:

  • Several expansions of advice and guidance
  • Updated Twists & Turns Patch
  • Assorted clarifications
  • Brand new Mysteries Patch.

Latest Update:

  • HUGE update with 50% more new content! (Page count jumping from 77 to 109!)
  • New flavor examples.
  • Brand new patch for generating rumor seeds.
  • Greatly expanded guidance and examples.
  • General revisions and tuning.

Part of the Motif Game Framework

A series of toolkits that enable GM-less, GM-lite "no prep", and solo roleplaying. They are modular and easily hackable. They are also game agnostic! Use them to enable GM-less and solo play with your favorite games. 

Highlighted Runs On Motif releases:

This is a "backer" type edition.
Purchasers of this version will receive
all future PDF updates to this title
at no additional cost. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (4)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Alvin G April 23, 2021 3:13 pm UTC
The latest update filled a lot of holes that made the previous version seem lacking. Thank you for putting in more examples and the addition to the simplified second die.
Customer avatar
Peter C April 24, 2021 2:48 am UTC
Thank you! We are doing our best to listen to feedback. This major update is directly based on what we heard were requests and needs. We are working on similar updates for the rest of the Motif engines. If there is anything else missing or another title you'd like to see updated, visit our website at and go to Bugs & Requests under Products.
Customer avatar
Robert H March 28, 2021 6:59 pm UTC
I really like this system,but the rules seem so open ended, that I am not sure which way to go yet.
I know this may be a feature to some,not a bug, but as I am new to the solo rpg thing,some solid, actual, in- use examples in the book would go such a long way to help a newbie to better understand how to incorporate them into an enjoyable experience.
I have also purchased the World engine and Character engine, but these both seem like outlines, with very little direction.
I have searched all around, looking for discussions, videos, or any other guidance on how to better utilize what is there, and only found a couple of really short examples, written by individuals who are obviously well versed in solo play, but not meant for beginners.
If you update these rules,please think about adding some play examples,especially with the modules.
I love what I have read, and it seems better than other oracles I have tried, but I am having trouble interpreting the rolls into anything useful or...See more
Customer avatar
Peter C April 24, 2021 2:42 am UTC
The newest update with expanded guidance and examples may help!
Customer avatar
Alex N March 23, 2021 5:40 pm UTC
Excellent work on this!

(Hey I wonder if version 0.3 and 0.4 is not just a typo in the update. The cover art for 0.4 is also seemingly a mockup prototype looking thing and not the nice art cover that is the thumbnail for this listing here at DTRPG.)
Customer avatar
van C February 18, 2021 8:43 pm UTC
how many pages in motif story engine?
Customer avatar
Peter C April 24, 2021 2:42 am UTC
It was 77, but now with the latest update it is 109!
Customer avatar
Kai Z January 17, 2021 10:52 pm UTC
The full size preview isn't working.
Customer avatar
Lee S February 14, 2021 6:02 pm UTC
Still not working.
Customer avatar
Peter C April 24, 2021 2:41 am UTC
Should be functional now.
Customer avatar
Piotr S January 04, 2021 11:27 am UTC
in files v4 is the same as v3? can you update it?
Customer avatar
Ria O February 27, 2021 5:42 pm UTC
0.4 says 0.3 on the cover but it has more pages, so I think that they have updated it.
Customer avatar
Peter C August 31, 2020 11:15 pm UTC
New revision! Twists & Turns Patch retuned. All new complete Mysteries Patch.
Customer avatar
Dawid N September 05, 2020 1:45 pm UTC
New version still has v0.3 on front cover
Just letting you know :)
Customer avatar
Alvin G October 18, 2020 7:32 am UTC
Just noticed that too. Has it been updated or is that a typo?
Customer avatar
Davy L December 12, 2020 12:39 am UTC
That's definitely a typo, the document has been correctly updated as per the mention here above in the description (under section "Latest Update")
Customer avatar
Ovy O August 03, 2020 9:32 pm UTC
How would one patch the system so that the character can influence a roll, via abilities or actions?
Customer avatar
Peter C August 06, 2020 5:08 am UTC
Generally, this would be handled using your RPG system, as it handles actions. However, there is a companion game engine being released soon.
Customer avatar
Ovy O August 06, 2020 1:59 pm UTC
You have one gorgeous thing there, Peter. As you can see from my review. I ask about mechanics because I am currently running a Tunnels and Trolls game online (you are most welcome to join). My adventurers are in this blasted crater that's messing with their minds. So I proposed to your oracle "Are there encounters about?" I get a (meh) 4. So I wanted to nudge the oracle a bit. Would this be solved by twists and turns?
Customer avatar
Michael R July 27, 2020 7:37 pm UTC
I like the system so far in my reading, but am also confused about which file to use. There are 2 engine files with one being the original and v2 along with one labeled "digest" at the end. I get the two versioned files, but the digest has different wording and more than twice as many pages. It seems to be spread out more with less page formatting. It's labeled .3. Do I just need to follow the newest main version as you update them, or is there more to be found by using the digest?

Customer avatar
Peter C August 06, 2020 5:09 am UTC
I have changed around the files and zipped up the old ones to prevent any confusion. Sorry for making it unclear!
Customer avatar
Michael R August 15, 2020 8:57 pm UTC
Thanks for the update Peter, that makes it much clearer! I am assuming that I can use the 4 page printout at a session and still be valid with the updates in the longer rulebook.
Customer avatar
Joseph M July 15, 2020 5:55 am UTC
Bought this yesterday and thought "Man this sure could use some kind of reference for all of these tables and patches."

Today, you released just that in four short pages I can print out and add to my Solo Play binder. Thank you for anticipating what I wanted before I could even ask for it.

For those wondering about how this holds up, I'd say this system is wonderful even at a glance. I've found Mythic too wordy and requires far too much setup. Gamemasters Apprentice is wonderful for prompts and cards, but the actual questions can be very broad and unhelpful at times. As such, I frequently found myself trying to use both in this weird combination that took me out of my game. This combines the best parts of Mythic and GMA, then makes it easily digestible. The main PDF even includes starting guides for players brand new to Solo Roleplaying. I seriously wish I had this a year ago when I first started solo roleplaying.

With this on sale, you'd honestly be remiss to not...See more
Customer avatar
Peter C August 06, 2020 5:10 am UTC
Thank you so much for the kind words.
Customer avatar
Jose E May 09, 2021 10:11 pm UTC
I just picked up the engine and looking at the V6 version but can't find this condensed reference sheet anywhere. It doesn't seem to be showing up as a separate download either? Am I just missing something?
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File Last Updated:
April 22, 2021
This title was added to our catalog on June 01, 2020.