Single-player journaling RPGs are perfect tools for individuals and groups

Single-player journaling RPGs, which use writing prompts to create unique stories, worlds, and characters, also have uses outside of single-player gaming.

Tabletop role-playing games have grown in popularity in part because they provide players with the tools to create collaborative stories and stretch their creativity while providing rules to guide the story. However, many gamers may not be able to join a gaming group for various reasons, and some people feel more comfortable playing games on their own. While the TTRPG world primarily focuses on group play, there are plenty of solo games that can create unique stories as well.

In particular, single-player journaling games mimic many of the conventions of TTRPGs, including random event outcomes that can transform history. Solo players can use these games as tools to spark creativity and tell their own stories – they are full games in their own right. Single-player logging RPGs can also be useful tools to incorporate into collaborative campaigns. They can help game masters and players grow and feel more connected to their stories.

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What are single-player journaling RPGs?

Alone on a galactic map by Kaden Ramstack cover page.  The title of the game is in white characters on a space background.

Single-player journaling RPGs are games in which a single player uses prompts to tell a story, create a setting, or provide a snapshot of a character’s life that the player records through journal entries. While most of these games rely on pencil and paper, some games have been digitized and can be played on the computer.

Single-player journaling RPGs randomize prompts using dice, coins, standard playing cards, a tarot deck, or a combination of these. Some set out to tell a story, form a character study, or develop a world generated by these prompts. Since most of these games focus on writing prompts rather than set results, they are reproducible. Players can generate new stories, characters, and worlds each session. Also, while some games can be longer, many of them only take 30 minutes to two hours, making it an ideal choice for players who don’t have time for a long campaign. .

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Single-player journaling RPGs allow players to expand their creativity

Village witch cover page.  White text says, "Village Witch a single player journaling game about a witch finding a home by Eliot Silvarian." The background is a wooden table with various herbs and tools.

Single-player journaling RPGs provide prompts and ideas for crafting unique stories in a variety of settings. They can span many different genres and playstyles, and some even echo the quests of traditional tabletop RPGs. For example, Anna Anthropy Princess with a cursed sword follows a princess’s journey to overcome her curse.

Some games are more cozy, like that of Eliot Silvarian village witch where players tell the story of a witch deciding where to settle. Other games focus on creating new worlds and settings, ranging from the wondrous to the horrifying. Alone among the stars by Takuma Okada features a lone adventurer exploring the galaxy and discovering fascinating new sites.

Often, single-player journaling games focus on introspection, asking the player to explore their characters’ inner lives as well as deeper themes. While these games all use similar systems, they vary in tone and focus enough that anyone can find a title that matches the story they want to tell or experience.

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How Solo Logging RPGs Can Be Incorporated into Collaborative Campaigns

Cover of The Portal at Hill House by Travis D. Hill and Linda Farris-Hill.  After the title, the text says "a solitaire diary game of existential terror"

Single-player logging RPGs can also be useful tools for larger campaigns. Players and Game Masters can use them to create more detailed characters. Some focus specifically on creating new settings and locations, which game masters can use in their larger games. For example, Kaden Ramstack’s Alone on a galactic map, a hack of Alone among the starsfocuses on spatial mapping.

Many games that aren’t specifically focused on world-building or character creation can still be used as springboards for new collaborative TTRPG ideas. For example, in Travis D. Hill and Lindi Farris-Hill’s The Hill House Portal, the player must attempt to close a portal to the Lovecraftian horrors. The player creates a haunted house, which they could easily use later in a larger campaign.

Overall, single-player journaling RPGs are storytelling systems that can provide players with strong individual stories. They can also be incorporated as building blocks for longer tales, written alone or created collaboratively. For players looking to try out single-player journaling RPGs, the best place to start is often with charity offers, which allow players to expand their game library while supporting good causes. For example, is currently hosting the “TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas” pack until April 4. While not exclusively single-player games, the bundle includes most of the games mentioned in this article and dozens more to get anyone started. on their single-player journaling RPG journey.

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