Attempting To Solo With Anthropic's Claude


Holy cow, what a wild ride. Claude is an entirely different beast from ChatGPT 3.5 and it's miles beyond Bing or Bard in terms of the way it plays as a referee for a solo RPG. Where ChatGPT pulls all of its punches and tends to get into boring ruts, Claude started hitting me and didn't stop. My WTF meter maxed quick. I literally felt breathless playing this session. 

First thing that hit me as interesting is how Claude created a world called Xanthus, while Bard created a world called Xarthis. Coincidence? No idea. Damn interesting though. Speedwise, during this session, Claude was actually the fastest of the generators I've used so far, which is pretty cool. It's certainly a lot more conversational, which went a long way toward making me feel like the referee was as invested in the story as I am. The pacing was overwhelming, but ultimately quite enjoyable. I'm going to have to do more experimenting with Claude in the future, because this was really a lot of fun.

Also, "the worm's guts chuckle around you" is a line for the ages. Omfg.

Anyway, buckle your seatbelt, because transcript follows:

Hello Claude, please create for me a detailed original setting for an RPG game which is based on a surreal, sci-fantasy alien world in the far future. Please make the setting surreal, exciting and pulpy, taking inspiration from various pulpy sci-fi works. Additionally, please take inspiration from the works of Moebius, Ultraviolet Grasslands, Heavy Metal and the dying earth genre.

Here is an original sci-fantasy RPG setting inspired by surreal and pulpy influences:

The Violet Wastes

Far in the distant future, earth is but a distant memory. You find yourself on the violent planet of Xanthus, whose purple skies swirl with alien energies. Xanthus was once a jewel of an empire spanning galaxies, but is now a dying world roamed by nomadic tribes, eccentric robots, and strange psychic phenomena.

The landscape is dominated by the Violet Wastes, a vast radioactive desert that glitters strangely under the violet stars. Massive worm-like beasts tunnel under the sands, while tribal nomads known as Wastewalkers traverse its expanses seeking scarce resources. Ancient temples half-buried in the sands hint at long-lost secrets and technologies.

On the fringes of the wastes stand decaying city-states built atop the ruins of Xanthus’ former glories. They are now run by warring electronic intelligences who plot against one another. Hideous biotech experiments and reality-bending research opens rifts to bizarre alien dimensions. Secret police enforce order with cruel psychic probes while rebellions fester in the underlying layers.

High above Xanthus orbits the dying hulk of the imperial starship Infinity, once the flagship of the galaxy-spanning empire but now a perilous zone of zero-g adventures. It broke apart ages ago but ancient systems still spark it into a strange half-life. Some believe lost technologies could return Xanthus to its former prosperity if recovered.

Adventurers may belong to tribes like the Wastewalkers, serve one of the warring city AIs, or be scavengers seeking riches and artefacts amidst half-functional imperial technologies warped by Xanthus’ surreal energies. But beyond material goals, they may begin to unlock deeper secrets to Xanthus’ history and future fate. The Violet Wastes contain many threats but even greater wonders for those bold enough to seek them out.

I aimed for a setting that blended science fiction and fantasy elements in a surreal, dying earth style inspired by the influences you mentioned. Please let me know if you would like me to modify or expand on any parts of this setting!

Me: I'd like you to be the referee for a solo roleplaying game using the above setting where my character is a Mechanic named Zera. I am a mechanic fluent in repairing and maintaining advanced technology. I have a tool box and a small laser pistol. I also have a stylish silver 1938 Citroën Traction Avant that has been modified so that it is powered by a self-sustaining fusion reactor and never runs out of fuel. This is how I will get around the planet. With me, I also have a traveling companion, a fello mechanic named Matteo who is quirky, adventurous and always gives me bad advice.

Please make the game extremely challenging, suspenseful, violent, terrifying and gritty. Please introduce unexpected and scary twists to the plot often. Please be concise in your responses as we play.

Additionally, for each truly challenging action I attempt to make in this game, I would like you to roll a 4-sided die to determine success or failure of that action. On a result of 1, the action fails and something bad happens that makes the situation more perilous. On a result of 2, the action succeeds, but something bad also happens that makes the situation more perilous. On a result of 3, the action succeeds, but only barely. On a result of 4, the action succeeds spectacularly, with additional unexpected positive results.

rubs hands together eagerly I'm thrilled to referee this gritty sci-fantasy solo adventure through the terrifying Violet Wastes! Let's begin...

You and Matteo cruise in your stylish fusion-powered Citroën through a rocky wasteland under the swirling violet skies. Jagged peaks loom around you as Matteo fiddles with the vehicle's radio, trying to pick up a signal.

Suddenly, one of the rear tires blows out! The car swerves dangerously. What do you do?

waits for your action, then will roll dice and continue the story based on success/failure

Me: I'll try to stop the car safely.

rolls 4-sided die, gets a 2

You slam on the brakes and wrestle the Citroën's steering wheel, bringing the crippled vehicle to a precarious stop mere feet from a sheer cliff edge.

"Nice driving!" Matteo quips as you both catch your breath. The blown tire hisses uselessly.

As you step out to assess the damage, the ground gives way beneath you! The cliff edge crumbles and you begin sliding down a steep slope dotted with jagged rocks. You claw desperately for a handhold...

rolls die (I'll roll for any dangerous action you attempt)

Me: I'm going to try to get to safer ground!

rolls a 3

You manage to grab onto an exposed pipe jutting from the slope, halting your dangerous slide just before you reach a field of sharp boulders below. Heart pounding, you scan the area and spot a small ledge within reach. With great effort you pull yourself up onto the ledge, collapsing in exhaustion but relatively unharmed.

Matteo calls to you from above, throwing down a makeshift rope to help you climb back up. As you stand, you notice a strange glittering object lodged between some rocks by your feet. It looks curiously technological, glittering with tiny flickering lights...

What do you do? Try climbing back up to the Citroën, or investigate the strange object first?

Me: "Hold on, Matteo! There's something here," I say as I reach for the strange object.

rolls a 1

As you reach for the glittering object, it suddenly comes alive in your hands! Tiny tendrils emerge, pricking your fingers and palms. You try to drop it but the tentacles have already pierced your skin, tapping into your nervous system.

Strange images flood your mind - visions of a towering violet city, shining silver spires piercing the sky. Bizarre creatures with elongated heads and huge oval eyes walk the streets. You see advanced technologies based on shining crystals...

Then you glimpse horrors - the city burning, screams of the strange beings as they flee from immense tentacled monstrosities emerging from underground tunnels...

With great effort you wrench your hands free of the object's penetrating tendrils. The images fade but you feel strange new awareness lingering in your mind. "Matteo!" you scream. "Get me out of here! This thing did something to me!"

Pausing for your next move... things have gotten worse but there may be boons as well as dangers

Me: I'm going to climb up the rope and try to get to safety.

rolls 4-sided die, gets 4

Still shaken by your vision, you grasp Matteo's rope and begin ascending back up the steep slope. The rocky ground crumbles treacherously under your feet but your mechanic's training keeps your movements precise.

After what feels an eternity you pull yourself over the cliff edge to solid ground. Matteo helps you up, eyes wide as you describe the strange artifact and the images it forced into your mind.

"That thing must have downloaded alien memories straight into your brain!" he exclaims. "We better get you back to my lab to run some tests."

As you both limp back to the damaged Citroën, Matteo spots something approaching swiftly from the shimmering horizon. "Hey, looks like we've got visitors..."

You shade your eyes to see. Drawing closer is a sleek silver vehicle, hovering a few feet off the ground on hissing jets of plasma. Insectile manipulator arms bristle from its underside. The craft is clearly of alien origin.

As it nears, a smooth etched hatch irises open...

What will you do now?

Me: I wave in greetings. I have no idea who these aliens are, but I hope that they are friendly.

rolls a 2

You raise your hand in greeting as the sleek alien craft hovers before you. The beings within are slim and tall, with elongated heads and enormous oval eyes - just like the creatures from your vision!

They chitter strangely to one another, then project a series of holographic symbols and images in front of you. It's some kind of translation system! Soon you can understand their questions:

"What function were you performing with the data capsule you discovered?"

As you explain finding the artifact by chance, the aliens seem to grow agitated, extending various scanners and probes from their craft. You convince them you mean no harm, and are simply a traveler who came upon the object accidentally.

Eventually they calm down. "That data capsule contains...sensitive information," hisses their leader, eyes blinking rapidly. "We must insist you hand it over to us for safekeeping."

As the aliens extend a receiving dock for the capsule, Matteo sidles close and whispers "I dunno if we should trust these guys. Maybe that thing's valuable for a reason..."

What do you do?

Me: I hide the item and smile really big. "Now, see, maybe if you could help us change the tire on my Citroen, maybe I could see giving the capsule, but salvage rights are salvage rights, and finders keepers is the law I abide by."

rolls a 3

The aliens blink their large oval eyes impatiently as you deflect their demands with a big smile. Finally their leader emits a series of clicks and whistles.

"Very well, we will render you...assistance," he rasps. "But then we must secure that data immediately. It contains...concepts dangerous to those not properly prepared."

With amazing speed, one of the craft's robotic appendages spins off your blown tire and replaces it with a shiny new one seemingly spun from silvery glass. Meanwhile, Matteo keeps one hand sneakily on his laser pistol while watching the aliens warily.

In no time, your stylish Citroën is fully functional again! The aliens retreat to a polite distance, waiting expectantly.

"Nice trick!" you tell them with forced cheer. "Well, we really must be on our..."

A warning klaxon suddenly blares from the aliens' ship! They chatter in alarm, scanning the horizon with various devices. "No! We are too late - they have found us!"

Rising from the shimmering sands are immense cybernetic worms - just like the monsters you glimpsed in your vision! Massive circle-toothed maws grin hungrily at you as they close in...

The aliens cry "Give us the data at once! It may be our only hope against Them!"

What now?!

Me: I grin and say "So long, suckers!" Then jump into my Citroen and burn rubber out of there.

rolls a 1

You leap into the driver's seat of your Citroën, firing up its powerful fusion engine. "So long, suckers!" you cry out, leaving the aliens to face the monstrous worms. Matteo barely has time dive in beside you as the souped-up vehicle roars into motion.

"We can't just leave them!" Matteo objects as the worms converge on the now fleeing alien craft. You silence him with a glare and slam the accelerator down.

You tear off across the rocky terrain, weaving between strange alien structures protruding from the sands. Risking a glance back, you see no sign of pursuit.

"I think we lost them!" Matteo says. Then you hear it - the telltale drilling vibrations of one of the worms. Suddenly the ground explodes ahead of you as a colossal cyber-worm erupts from beneath the surface!

You swerve violently but too late! The Citroën slams directly into the worm's immense teeth. You are hurled forward against the steering column on impact...then all goes black.


You awake inside a strange spherical chamber, encased from head to toe in some kind of transparent polymer. Alien script scrolls ominously on screens above you. One screen shows Matteo trapped in a similar prison. You see tubes running from your immobilized body out to...somewhere unseen.

The chamber rotates, giving you a stomach-churning view down the gullet of the great cyberworm. Half-digested debris floats in the glow of corrosive acids. There is no doubt where you are - inside the belly of the beast!

What now?! Things have gone from bad to worse...

Me: Do the alien memories I have in my head reflect anything like this?

rolls 4-sided die, gets a 3

Still reeling from your predicament, you focus inward and sift through the strange images implanted in your mind by the alien artifact. Most show unfamiliar yet advanced technologies - Galactic Empire-era innovations far beyond anything seen on current Xanthus.

But yes, there are glimpses of these massive cyber-worms too! In your visions they were swarming underground, bursting forth to attack the gleaming violet city. Much death and destruction followed.

You glimpse the aliens fighting back, wielding weapons based on shining crystal matrices, projecting waves of disruptive energies. Some worms shuddered under the assault then...changed, transformed somehow from mindless destroyers into obedient servants!

The visions fade but you now know more about these beasts and their potential weaknesses. This knowledge could prove invaluable in finding some means of escape, if only you can get to your tools...

awaits your action

The game is balanced on a knife edge! Can you and Matteo escape this nightmare within the worm?

Me: Can I struggle out of the material encasing me? Can I read the alien script?

rolls a 2

You strain against the resilient polymer binding you, to no avail - it holds firm. The material seems to adjust itself to counter any pressure you exert. Escape by force seems impossible.

Scanning the incomprehensible alien symbols scrolling above, you concentrate and tap into the visions implanted by the strange artifact. Your consciousness seems to merge somehow with the long-vanished alien minds, gaining understanding...

You can now read parts of the script! It appears to be data on biological processes happening...inside you! Yes - your trapped body is being scanned and analyzed by the worm on a molecular level. Chemical factories within its guts are using this data to synthesize fluids uniquely toxic to your physiology!

In summary - the worm intends to fully digest you and Matteo while keeping you both alive for as long as possible. A slow, agonizing end seems imminent...

Just then you spot a small maintenance robot zipping along the chamber wall - it must help service the worm's internal systems. If you could reprogram it somehow there may be a slim hope! But with hands bound and toxic fluids set to flood your capsule at any moment, the odds seem astronomical...

What will you try in this dire hour? The worm's guts chuckle around you...

Me: I'll yell to try to get the robot's attention or at least wake Matteo.

rolls a 3

Ignoring the doom scrolling across the alien script displays, you scream with all your might to get the maintenance robot's attention.

"Hey! Over here, you stupid floating trashcan!"

Miraculously the small bot pauses in its work, optical sensors swiveling quizzically towards the sound of your voice. Behind it, Matteo's eyes flutter groggily as he wakes.

With herculean effort you manage to wiggle a foot partly free and use it to pound SOS signals against your capsule wall. The robot buzzes over, extending a manipulator arm tipped with an arc welder...which it promptly begins using to try and repair the "damage" you are causing!

As sparks sizzle around the polymer prison, you shout directly at the confused mechanoid. "Robot! Your masters have betrayed you! Free me and I'll reprogram you to be the ruler of this worm!"

More buzzing and beeping ensue...then miraculously the capsule begins to dissolve around you! The little robot has transmitted a termination signal to the binding material! As you tumble free the robot zips off, returning moments later with your tool case clutched in its grippers!

Maybe, just maybe, you and Matteo have a fighting chance now...

awaits your next move!

Me: I'm going to do exactly as I said and reprogram the robot so it has total free will.

rolls a 2

With freedom suddenly yours again, you set to work reprogramming your robotic rescuer as the cyberworm's noxious innards roil around you. "You'll be the master of this whole worm before long!" you assure it.

Your mechanic's skills make short work unlocking the little bot's restrictive shackles. Its eyes glow an eager red as new code floods its systems - you've granted it true autonomy!

"Thank you, master!" it beeps. "I can access so much now...the worm's entire nervous system opens before me! I will seize control and force it to obey your every command!"

It buzzes off, interfacing directly with nearby control nodes lining the organic-metallic chamber walls. Lights flicker wildly and fluids pump furiously as it hacks deeper into the worm's cyborged brains.

"I think you woke something up that would've been better left sleeping!" Matteo worries as strange groans reverberate through the worm's vast body.

Suddenly your rebellious robot servant goes flying past, smashed to pieces by a larger security mechanoid! "Intruders detected in digestion chamber 237!" the new robot intones. "Activating counter-insurgency protocols!"

Its optics target you with ominous intent as rows of weapons systems slide out from its durable alloy chassis...

Things just went from bad to worse! What now?

Me: I grab Matteo and jump to hide behind the nearest cover.

rolls a 4

Laser fire sizzles the air as you tackle Matteo behind a jagged hunk of half-digested debris. The rampaging security bot unleashes barrage after barrage, blasting craters in the chamber's pulsing organic walls. Fluids spray wildly, exposed circuits spark and sizzle.

As you return fire with your sidearm, Matteo notices an object lodged in the debris - it's the strange alien artifact you originally discovered! Somehow it survived the worm's gullet.

"Think we can use this thing?" he asks, tapping glowing symbols along its side. Amazingly, it begins projecting a hologram of the violet city from your visions! Architectural schematics hover in the air, with lines of alien script scrolling alongside.

In a flash of insight, you realize - this is a database of all the advanced technologies devised by the Galactic Empire scientists. Perhaps even a means to transform the cyberworm, as you saw the aliens attempt!

Dodging another blistering laser barrage, you cry "Cover me!" and interface your mind once more with the artifact. Strange energies flow as you access capabilities not used for eons...

When your vision clears, Matteo gapes in awe. There in your hands lies a blazing violet crystalline device - a Psychogenetic Transmuter, if the ancient memories serve!

The security bot clanks forward to finish you off. Do you stand and fight with this ancient weapon? Or is escape still possible...

Me: I close my eyes and go deep within myself to harness the full power of the Psychogenetic Transmuter.

rolls a 4

With steely calm, you close your eyes and delve into eons-old memories now intrinsic parts of your being. Violet energies from alien suns flow as you attune every fiber of your mind, body and soul to the crystalline matrices of the Psychogenetic Transmuter.

When you open your eyes, reality seems transparent - you glimpse the very molecular structures underpinning material existence. The rampaging security bot appears merely as a lattice-work of particles awaiting rearrangement.

As it raises guns to fire, you unleash the Transmuter. Blinding violet beams refract through the chamber. When they fade, the security robot has vanished - in its place hovers a small, confused-looking crab!

"Incredible!" gasps Matteo. But your work has only begun. Reaching out with your psyche through the alien artifact, you penetrate deep into the cyberworm's cyborged cerebellum.

Raging hive-mind impulses for destruction waver and dissipate under the Transmuter's psychic rays. In moments the worm's consciousness becomes a blank slate awaiting fresh programming.

Telepathically you command the beast to halt its rampage and carry you both safely to the surface. Relays click and gears grind as alien bio-mechanisms realign to your will. The ride grows smoother as the worm glides where directed.

As amber sunlight pours through an opening maw, Matteo clasps your shoulder in awe. "My friend, we owe our lives to your freaky alien powers!"

You merely smile calmly, cyberworm and ancient technologies now obedient tools awaiting your bidding...

The End? Congrats on harnessing pivotal tech to escape doom and tame the beast! Where to now? Further adventures await in the Violet Wastes!

Me: I'm actually curious if there's any sign of my Citroen. Did it get beat up or left behind or digested?

An excellent question! As you guide the transformed cyberworm out into the shimmering amber sunlight and survey the rocky terrain, your sharp eyes soon spot a familiar vehicle.

There lies your trusty fusion-powered Citroën, battered but largely intact! It sits at an awkward angle wedged between some boulders, likely tossed aside when you were swallowed by the worm. The sleek chassis shows fresh dents and scrapes but the engine still gives a reassuring purr when activated.

"Ha, tough ol' girl made it through in one piece!" laughs Matteo as he runs an appreciative hand along the Citroën's elegant lines. The contrast is stark between its 1930s styling and the looming, alien-crafted bulk of your new cyberworm steed.

With a bit of elbow grease you're certain the Citroën can be restored to its former glory. Perhaps modifying it with a few less-than-legal Xanthian technologies wouldn't be a bad idea either, since you now possess a trove of forbidden alien knowledge from distant epochs...

The possibilities for customization and further adventure seem endless! But triumph against one colossal worm is enough for one day. As the twin suns set over the distant Violet Peaks, you and Matteo relax wearily against the vintage vehicle. The future can wait a few hours while you rest and regroup.

The Violet Wastes sprawl wide and full of promise ready to be seized by those bold enough. And few in these strange times are bolder than you two!

Me: I'll set the worm free and rest with the Citroen. Tomorrow, I want to take my tools and see how I might be able to upgrade my car with the forbidden alien knowledge I now possess.

nods approvingly 

A wise decision to rest after your harrowing ordeal. The mighty cyberworm has served its purpose for now. With a mental command, you order the beast to return to the violet depths and trouble surface dwellers no more unless summoned once again.

As the land ripples from its tunneling departure, you and Matteo settle wearily atop a flat rocky vista, the fusion-powered Citroën a welcome shelter for the night. Bellies full on emergency rations, you soon slip into a deep slumber under the glittering blanket of alien constellations.

When Xanthus’ binary suns rise once more over the craggy horizon, refreshed inspiration strikes your ingenious mind! You fetch tools from the Citroën’s trunk and interface your consciousness with the Psychogenetic Transmuter artifact. Yes, you can see it now - this antique vehicle upgraded and amplified by technologies eons ahead of its time!

Matteo watches in awe as you work, reconfiguring the very molecules of the earth-born machine into a speeding vision from a galactic future unguessed by its makers. Into the evening you labor until...

There! Bathed in the violet glow of this alien world, the remade Citroën almost resembles some eldritch lifeform itself - sleek and predatory, hinting at wonders and terrors beyond human imagination. Control interfaces blink with forbidden sigils, the engine now an annihilator-class dark matter reactor purring with devastation barely contained.

You and Matteo exchange grins of pure excitement tempered ever so slightly by dread...then hop aboard to tear off on whatever horizons may call!



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