Edit: Link to post describing the RPG Tax: http://games.nightstaff.net/2018/04/01/rpg-tax/ . In short, it’s a resolution to immediately read and comment on new RPG products that I buy or otherwise acquire.
What is it?
Of the Woods: Lonely Games of Imagination is a collection of lonely games curated by Brie Sheldon. “Lonely games” consist of some scene-setting text, then a series of questions to develop the situation. By answering the questions, you create a story.
How did it get my attention?
I follow Brie Sheldon on G+, so I saw the initial announcement when it was released. More recently, there was a thread about small games where someone brought it up.
Why did I actually buy it?
The recent thread reminded me that I meant to check it out, it was only $5 with proceeds going to The Trevor Project, and I’m trying to support more niche creators. I also keep thinking about doing more solo roleplaying, and this looked like a nice bite-sized way to get started.
What are my first impressions?
Haunting. Evocative. The prose snippets and questions sketch a setting and situation with only a handful of words. Some games resonated with me more than others. Hollow by Kimberly Lam is my current favorite. The games are ordered so they flow together. The last two, I Believe by Chris Bennett and Home Again by Adam McConnaughey, each add an extra mechanic.
What are my second and/or post-play impressions?
The questions about relationships and the first-person viewpoint made the game feel unexpectedly personal. I’m not sure about sharing the story that mentions a mother with my real mother, for example. I think if I paused after reading the initial text and before answering the questions to form an idea of my character, I would have a stronger alibi in place and less emotional bleed-through. But the power of the games comes from that personal place.
Also, I want to write one now.
- A wishing well with a dragon statue on top
- A viewing point with a breathtaking vista of the scenery
- Some hot springs
- An abandoned, overgrown cottage
- A well-maintained shrine to a local deity or spirit
- An abandoned shrine to a forgotten deity
- A slow, shallow part of the nearby river or stream where you can bathe or wash things
- A good fishing spot
- A local farm or ranch with food to sell
- A dragon statue with a walking stick and bowls holding a few other travel items. You can take some or leave items for other travelers.
- Broken pillars that belonged to an ancient building
- An abandoned orchard. If you search it, you can find some ripe fruit (food) and some overripe fruit (alcohol).
Travelers En Route (d12):
- A merchant who specializes in fine foods. You can buy delicious food from them to eat today, as if you were in town.
- A weather forecaster. You can get a forecast from them.
- A courier who can take messages
- An itinerant priest(ess). You can ask for a blessing or advice. They appreciate donations.
- A storyteller who will trade a tale for a tale.
- A mapper. They’ll share part of their map with you and will be happy to see yours.
- They tell you about a business opportunity (e.g. shortage or surplus) in a nearby town
- Someone else on Journey. They offer to trade souvenirs with you (trade Specialty Goods of the same size for each other)
- A rancher driving a herd of pack or riding animals to sell. You can buy one from them for 10% cheaper than normal.
- An artisan. If they have the same type of item, they will trade you a new one for a broken one plus the repair cost. They also sell repair kits.
- They’re carrying a grandfather clock to the next town. They’re worried about rain and will buy an umbrella if you have one.
- They’re transporting a lot of stuffed animals in a variety of sizes. They can sell you one now, or you can commission one to pick up the next time you meet.
- They’re taking a break (see Travelers En Route)
- The straps on their sandals or backpack broke and they’re trying to fix them. Maybe you can help?
- They twisted an ankle and need help getting to the next town
- They’re lost and trying to figure out how to get to [different town]
- Their pack animal got stuck in some mud
- A performer or troupe of performers, rehearsing
- An artist painting the scenery
- A farmer whose wagon wheel broke or came off
- A hunter checking their traps
- A healer tending to another traveller
- A noble in a carriage taking a break. If you can entertain them, they’ll let you ride with them to the next town.
- A dowser looking for water to build a well
When I run Blades in the Dark, I like to have clocks for everything. So I made a sheet with a lot of blank clocks, with markings to help you make 6-, 8-, and 12-clocks.
Clocks sheet v1
Then a few weeks ago, someone on G+ requested a faction worksheet with clocks, so I figured I’d make one of those too.
Faction sheet v1
A while back, Rob Donoghue posted about a game you should play to become better at GMing. Created by HipBone games, it’s inspired by the Glass Bead Game that Hermann Hesse wrote about in his book, Magister Ludi.
In the basic game, two players take turn placing ideas on the board. Whenever they place an idea, they need to state connections between the idea they just placed, and any other ideas connected to that space. Whoever comes up with the most total connections wins.
Played solo, it’s a neat exercise in divergent thinking. But I always hit a block when deciding what to fill each space with. To turn it into a pure divergent thinking exercise, I created a randomizer that fills each space with an icon from Game Icons. I also added the ability to set a seed in the URL, so if you find an interesting layout, you can share it around. Every time you randomize, it updates the URL.
Try the Glass Bead Randomizer here