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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Waldman

Spotlight: Indie Solo TTRPGs

Updated: Mar 4, 2023


It has definitely been a little while since I last did any kind of TTRPG Spotlight (my previous articles on Indie Horror TTRPGs and the Tiny Tome are the last I wrote), and this time around I thought I would focus on TTRPGs that you can play by yourself! I am of course talking about the Solo genre, and the indie scene is absolutely rife with them! There are SO MANY to choose from - I'm definitely going to have to do another article on these in the future!


The best thing about Solo TTRPGs is that you can really be in charge of your own experience and advance at your own pace! You don't have to worry about what your fellow players are doing, or whether you understand certain mechanics quickly. You just pick up a game that sounds interesting to you, follow the prompts, and away you go! Solo games as a rule require very little set-up also, and a vast majority of them are journalling games, meaning you will be spending most of gameplay documenting your experience in some meaningful way and creating a record of your game for you to keep! I found a good majority of my recommendations on itch.io if you were after a good starting point!

 

Apothecaria (Anna Blackwell)

Apothecaria is a solo journalling RPG in which you take the role of a village witch creating potions for the unfortunate villagers, adventurers, and monsters that come to you for help. The potions you create and the stories that unfold come together to create a beautiful journal that is unique and personal to you.


Fill pages with drawings of ingredients, stories of run-ins with thieving fairies and sleeping giants, and recipes for the potions you have created to keep you right in the future.


I won't ever stop immediately recommending Anna Blackwell's Apothecaria if anyone ever asks me for a fun solo journalling experience! It was my first ever one and I adored it, so much so that I even reviewed it here. You don't need much more than a deck of cards, a journal, and pen! If, like me, you have fantasised about being the local, reclusive green witch who wows everyone with her amazing potions and also makes them slightly uncomfortable with her eccentric behaviour then this game is for you! Since its release, Anna has created expansions for the game - Tinker's Troubles, Shimmersnow Valley, and The Wild Highlands. She's also teamed up with Stout Stoat to create Apawthecaria, a crossover between Apothecaria and Scurry! In fact, Anna has created an absolute ton of games, a lot of which are solo play, and I highly recommend checking them all out!


PRICE: £9

 

Corny Groń (Nerd Sirens)

Instead of exploring a dungeon, Corny Groń - "Peak Black" in Podhale dialect - is all about exploring mountain wilderness and weirdness. The game embodies the atmosphere of folk tales about outlaws and knaves from Polish mountains, their culture, and art.


As well as the game itself, Corny Groń can be used as a setting / point-crawl map generator for other games, including tabletop roleplaying games. You can also create a map for your games during your own solo roleplaying experience! So, my fellow highlander. Get your ciupaga - the path to the Peak Black is not for any ordinary folk - and start your journey to become harnaś. Just try not to get shot by some dirty bandit, fall from a crag, be mauled by bear, or lose your soul after meeting the Milord in the meantime.


This is a game I played pretty recently, and absolutely fell in love with. Why? Because it is simple in its execution, does a great job of 'generating an adventure' if the mood strikes you for one, and speaks to the part of me that loves folklore. Corny Grón is atmospheric and a little spooky, serving as a dungeon crawl of sorts through the mystical mountains of Poland. You will need something on which you can draw a map, a writing implement, a pool of d4 and d6. That's it. Then you just roll up your character's starting equipment and your first location, and away you go. This is very much a game in the traditional sense - there's less of a sense of attachment as you will probably die quite often, but despite this it still felt like a lot of fun each time I played! I would definitely recommend checking out Nerd Sirens's other games and supplements too, each with a horror twist.


PRICE: Pay What You Want

 

Colostle (Nich Angell)

Colostle is a rulebook and setting for an adventure in the impossible roomlands of the Colostle, a castle so huge that whole continents, oceans, and mountain ranges sit within its rooms.


Use a standard deck of playing cards and check your draws against prompts and rules in the book to see what you discover on your adventures, and then write of your exploits and legend in a journal!


Still in the mood for an epic adventure? Well check this Solo Journalling RPG out! My favourite thing about it is the really cool setting, and the artwork that accompanies it! But beyond that, Colostle provides a really fun, unique experience that will keep you entertained for a while! You only need a deck of cards, a journal, and a pen! It was funded through Kickstarter, and there is currently an Oceans and Battlements module found within the core rule book, as well as an expansion titled The Roomlands which can now be pre-ordered! There are also extra, optional rules that allow this to be played with two players, which gives this game a lot of flexibility!


PRICE: £6

 

Her Odyssey (S. Kaiya J.)

Her Odyssey is a solo journaling RPG about a wanderer trying to return home - or find a new home. Built on Caltrop Core, this game allows you to build a rich world, create a character backstory, explore an ongoing adventure, or all three at once - with nothing more than a deck of standard playing cards and a handful of d4s.


Meant to be played by a single player at a slow, contemplative pace, Her Odyssey can be completed in a few hours - or it can become a daily ritual, allowing you to take a metaphorical journey alongside your wanderer for up to two months per playthrough.


It is probably clear to most why a title like Her Odyssey would appeal to me, and upon getting hold of this game I was not disappointed! This game serves not only as a solo game in which you chronicle an epic adventure, but also one that allows you to do so with some introspection. Each prompt is drawn with the view that you might want to sit with it for the day before recording it in the evening. I actually found this a really fun way to play a game like this, and that my storytelling was stronger for it!You only need a handful of d4s, a deck of cards, a journal, and a pen. I'd strongly recommend checking out Kaiya's other games too - she's exceptionally talented and likes to theme her work around myths and storytelling!


PRICE: Pay What You Want

 

The Were-Curse (Orpheus Press)

The Were-Curse is played solo as a journaling game chronicling your experience as a Hunter who has been afflicted by a curse, and in turn has become one of the Hunted. Gameplay is centred around utilizing a Tarot deck and a six sided die, alongside prompts and a journey exploring how the curse affects you. (If you do not have a Tarot deck, instructions are included for substituting a standard deck of playing cards.)


In addition, the Were-Curse is a legacy game: When you have completed your journal, you are encouraged to pass it on to a friend, and invite them to continue the story with a journal of their own!


This is yet another solo journalling game that I enjoyed immensely and previously reviewed on this blog, and so it seemed silly not to mention it! The Were-Curse takes the player on a journey, in which they are transforming from a human hunter into a horrible, savage beast. Documenting that journey is an absolute ton of fun - there is an inevitability about the end that you try desperately to avoid anyway, the legacy tool is especially interesting as it turns the game into something more than a solo journalling experience, and the overall design is very well thought out. You need only a deck of tarot cards (though these can be substituted with normal playing cards), a d6, a journal, and a pen. Orpheus Press have come up with some really impressive content, I'd thoroughly recommend checking them out!


PRICE: $3.95

 

Anamnesis (Samantha Leigh)

Anamnesis is a solo journaling RPG about self-discovery, reflection, and identity.


You play as an individual who has woken up with memory loss. You do not remember who you are, where you are, or what you care about. As you draw tarot cards, you fill the blank spaces of your past and learn more about your present.

All that is needed to play is a deck of tarot cards and a way to record your thoughts.


The premise of Anamnesis drew me to back it quite a while ago, and I'm very glad that I did! It is a well thought-out exercise in character building, deeply reflective in nature, and contains imaginative prompts that are vague enough to really let the imagination fly. Very little preparation is needed - just a deck of tarot cards, a journal, and a pen. The premise of waking up and remembering nothing about who you are, and then undergoing a journey of self-discovery is such a simple one too, yet I think its done really well here! I'd certainly recommend checking out Sam's other games too!


PRICE: $8

 

Secrets Of The Vibrant Isle (NerdBurger Games)

Secrets of the Vibrant Isle is a solo, tabletop, roleplaying game where you portray a character shipwrecked on a fantastical island. As you play the game, you'll scavenge the shipwreck, protect your camp, improve yourself, and explore many dozens of the island's beautiful wonders and dark corners. And you'll meet the island's inhabitants.


The island is a mystical place that only allows those it deems worthy to stay. Your character has a limited time to discover all they can, befriend the inhabitants, and prove they are worthy to remain on the Vibrant Isle.


I've always been a big fan of resource gathering and exploration games, and Secrets Of The Vibrant Isle gives me that in spades! It has a few more requirements to it than some of the other choices on this list - a character sheet, a pool of d10s, something to potentially make maps with, a journal, and a pen - as it is a slightly more in depth game. But this level of detail is something I crave in a gameplay experience sometimes, and it does it very well! You will certainly never get to play out the same story twice! NerdBurger Games also recently wrapped up their Kickstarter for Secrets Of The Vibrant Sea, which is set in the same world and will soon be available for purchase! They have a whole host of other games too, check them out!


PRICE: $14.99

 

The Sealed Library (Sealed Library)

You are the sole surviving librarian of the greatest library in history. It sits in the centre of culture for an ancient land, now fallen to invaders. They pillage and raze. The library has been barricaded and you are under siege. What important texts can you move down into the vaults and seal away forever before the barricade breaks? What will future generations discover inside the Sealed Library?


You are hungry, you are scared, you are desperate. The fate of the combined knowledge of generations is in your hands. You know the chances you will see the outside world again are slim, but this is bigger than you. The Sealed Library is a game about the preservation of knowledge and the lengths we will go to in order to preserve things that are bigger than us.


I couldn't really write a list of solo TTRPGs without including something that used the Wretched & Alone system could I? If some of the suggestions above perhaps feel a little too low-stakes, then I thoroughly recommend The Sealed Library to up the ante! In order to play, you will need a tumbling block tower (yes, you read that correctly), a deck of cards, a d6, a journal, and a pen. Then prepare yourself for an emotional, adrenaline-filled journey of despair as you attempt to save as much knowledge as possible before invaders break into your library and kill you where you stand. Also, check out some of Sealed Library's other bits and bobs, they've got some excellent resources and games available!


PRICE: $8

 

Having now come to the end of THIS list, I know for sure I'm going to have to make future lists of recommendations because I have SO MANY! Games that you can play by yourself offer a truly unique experience, and I think everyone should try it at least once!


Do you have any favourite solo RPGs? I'd love to hear - let me know!

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2 comentários


Matthew Gravelyn
Matthew Gravelyn
22 de jun. de 2022

Absolutely wonderful list; I've played several of these and highly recommend them as well.

Curtir
Katrina Waldman
Katrina Waldman
23 de jun. de 2022
Respondendo a

I'm so glad you loved the list! I'm definitely going to have to do part two in the future!

Curtir
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