Lords Help Me, I’ve Discovered Journaling RPGs

by ryankl

Okay, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole, and I don’t ever want to come out. It started with this, and I wrote it for the ‘Perhaps You’d Care To Sample’ section of my newsletter:

LOST IN THE DEEP – is a solo rpg game/booklet where you write your diary of the final dwarf lost in some mines and unable to get out. But it’s also still a game with a block tower, and 52 playing cards, and a table of events. It looks like such a cool way to lose a week. It’s got me absolutely dying to try and write a solo writing/rpg.”

But between that paragraph a few days ago, and now, I’ve fallen down a deep rabbit hole of solo, and specifically journaling/writing, role playing games.

I’ve long loved solo games. I grew up on Fighting Fantasy books, I used to read the cards out of Trivial Pursuit on my own, making a little column graph out of how many correct answers I could get out of 6, I recently fell in love with the DEEP SPACE D-6 solo board game.

Realistically, I don’t know how I’ve not fallen into this before. Considering I got into D&D over the past few years, but I acknowledge that finding time to sync up with mates and energy to get out can make it difficult, this looks like the perfect blend of a lot of these things, plus it’s just creative writing superfuel.

Okay, to explain, for those who might not know…

A solo RPG game is one where you have a little scenario and a rule set and some prompts and then you craft an adventure on your own. I like the ones where it’s specifically built for you to journal.

It’ll give you a character – like the last dwarf in a dungeon, or a trucker on a long haul ride in 1983, whatever – and then you craft their adventure, sometimes over hours or even months, using prompts found in the resource.

It’s usually like a small zine, or pdf, and you roll a die on different tables, or sometimes even draw from a 52 deck of cards, and then you write out what happens in those situations. The result is this written artefact that sounds amazing. There are also map making ones, and you can also sometimes just play them verbally, with a group even, and make it up on the fly.

But I like the writing ones, because you can really take your time, you get into your character’s head. You make something beautiful.

Naturally, I want more time so I can “play” all of them. But I also want to use them in class, so I’m thinking ahead for educational benefits. The ability to get students writing amazing prose pieces, or finding other ways to structure such stories: evidence boxes, image blended slidedecks, Flipgrid diary videos.

Some of my favourite ones I’ve found include the following scenarios: building the history of a weapon, exploring different planets on your space ship, inheriting a haunted house, living with your retired mech technology.

And, really, the sky is the limit for situations you could concoct, and ways you could explore them. To go through some of them sounds fun, to make my own sounds awesome, to take students through some sounds inspiring, to get students making their own sounds like the future.

All I can think of is taking a small notebook and dedicating it to one of these RPGs and then just building a library, or a class resource.

I need more notebooks.