A new bundle of wholesome indie RPGs is offering a remedy to the bloodthirsty battles of many traditional roleplaying experiences.
The Cozy and Caring Collection brings together eight games that forgo violence and combat in favour of gameplay focused on connecting with others, exploring the world, caring for animals and interacting in ways beyond sticking everyone you meet with a sword.
Jay Dragon’s Wanderhome puts players in the paws and whatnot of animal folk travelling across a pastoral landscape inspired by series such as Redwall and the films of Studio Ghibli. The GM-agnostic experience - meaning that all the players can direct and contribute to the narrative and world-building - centres on the players’ interaction with other inhabitants of the land of Hæth as they help out with everyday tasks and aid the local communities.
Single-player journalling game Apothecaria comes from Anna Blackwell, who describes it as a blend of Stardew Valley, Theme Hospital and Ghibli. In the solo RPG, players’ witches brew up potions to cure various maladies of the local villagers while dealing with random events from a deck of cards. First, though, they must track down the necessary ingredients and concoct a suitable recipe - all recorded in the player’s journal. (You can read Chase’s chat with Anna about the making of Apothecaria here.)
The Mending Circle from bundle organiser Martin Nerurkar also features helpful witches, as exactly three players work together to heal the mysterious emotional wound of someone in need by participating in a ritual together. The GM-less RPG has the players narrate their discovery of the underlying cause of the metaphorical pain and the process of healing required to help them overcome it.
Tamsin Bloom’s Healer similarly explores the process of healing others, as the titular character controlled by a solo player travels across a fantasy land generated by a deck of tarot cards. As the player discovers places and people in the world, they record their experiences in a journal.
Badger & Coyote casts its two players as the titular creatures, who must work together to survive in the wild. Complicating that task is the restriction on communication between the animals, with the players only able to narrate their actions and the surrounding world. By using the coyote’s playful aptitude for guiding the badger and the badger’s focused knack for foraging, the pair must attempt to make the most of their differences.
Inspired by wholesome video games such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley is Cozy Town, Rae Nedjadi’s collaborative city-building game that tasks a group of players with outlining their tranquil metropolis, its inhabitants and the events that take place over the course of a year. Drawing from the gameplay of Avery Alder’s A Quiet Year, Cozy Town has players draw cards and answer a series of questions to create the game’s narrative.
Outside of the urban sprawl is Under Hill, By Water, an OSR-like RPG that is maybe best described as being like The Lord of the Rings if Bilbo and Frodo never left the Shire. Centred on the peaceful (but not necessarily dull) lives of halflings, the RPG finds drama in growing vegetables, tending to livestock and throwing parties over epic adventures, slaying dragons or destroying magical rings.
For those who prefer to take their existing game of D&D to more peaceful realms, 5E setting guide Bolarius offers airships, skywhales and rolling fields in a post-apocalyptic world of peaceful fizzling-out rather than dystopian chaos.
All together, the eight games in the Cozy and Caring Collection are estimated to be worth $95, with the bundle’s minimum asking price half that cost at $47.50.
The bundle will be available from June 1st - National Say Something Nice Day, apparently - until June 18th.