Death means leaving behind family in mourning, words unspoken and, well… boxes of stuff now bereft of context or meaning. New solo journaling RPG Why the F*** Did They Keep This? explores the process of rifling through the belongings of a recently deceased loved one and attempting to suss out whether each is a treasured item or simply misplaced trash.
The creation of designer Travis D. Hill, Why the F*** Did They Keep This? only requires a single player with a few six-sided dice and something to record their thoughts. The game’s rules and prompts are printed on 18 double-sided cards that come packaged in a smallish tuckbox, and more instructions will be printed inside the box itself.
Play begins by deciding who exactly has died and what they mean to you. Family is a malleable term, and the type of bond shared between you and the owner will give texture to every interaction. Are you rediscovering the life of an estranged parent for the first time, or are these items steeped in the familiarity of a life spent at an intimate proximity? You also choose how long the game will run by selecting the amount of cards to draw, each with a different category on the front.
The items look like they run the gamut of regular degular detritus - book hordes, old newspapers, stacks of family photos - to the more eclectic, such as an insect collection. The back of each card is printed with two columns of adjectives, and the player will pick two words from that list by rolling dice. This gives the results quite a bit of variance between playthroughs. For example, you might end up with a curly but awe-inspiring stack of books and choose to write about the seemingly deliberate disregard with which your departed friend read through dog-eared and bent first edition paperbacks collected from their time in a society of bibliophiles. All of that wear, they were fond of saying, is how they showed love - imprinting themselves on the pages and cover.
Hill describes Why the F*** Did They Keep This? as a mechanically “dead simple” game that rewards as much as players are willing to invest. Solo journaling games are an interesting genre that can be used as a writing exercise or tool for becoming more comfortable creating your own stories, characters and connections in other tabletop RPGs. The small size and relatively light rules makes this game an easy thing to pick up and play for 30 or so minutes before returning to the shelf.
Why the F*** Did They Keep This? is crowdfunding on Indiegogo through May 27th to create a digital, printable copy of the game along with a run of physical tuckboxes. Backers can pick up either for $5 (£3.99) and $12 (£9.57), respectively. Shipping is expected to begin in July of this year.