The designers behind two recent indie tabletop RPGs are banding together to create Apawthecaria: A Poulticepounder Adventure, a solo journaling game wherein animal pouticiers (think village doctors or apothecaries) journey throughout a fictional Scottish forest to treat any and all they encounter. The game launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce both a physical and digital edition.
The original Apothecaria launched earlier this year, a Zinequest 3 project from designer Anna Blackwell that asks players to create potions and ointments from gathered ingredients to treat the hamlet of High Rannoc and its fantastical inhabitants. The other part of this concoction - quick-paced RPG Scurry! - comes from Dungeons on a Dime’s Brian Tyrrell and was another Zinequest 3 entry. In it, player-controlled animals set off on dangerous journeys that play out over the course of one session.
The team believe Apawthecaria will be “greater than the sum of its parts”, combining deck-based mechanics and journaling with an adventure structure set in a post-human world. Players need only a deck of standard playing cards and something to record their thoughts. The rest is explained through prompts chosen from drawing cards and tables in the book.
The pace and destination of each expedition can be modulated by the player - perhaps their animal must deliver a rare ingredient to the other side of the Bristly Woods by month’s end, they might be embarking on their first quest beyond home and mean to savour it fully. Regardless, Apawthecaria will pepper the path with encounters both helpful and otherwise. The world is full of other beasts, and not all will be willing to stop for a friendly chat. It seems as though violence and death is not what the designers want to embrace in their game, but that doesn’t mean conflict won’t crop up in a different form.
As a poulticier, the player will ply their healing arts in exchange for food, shelter and supplies. This means foraging ingredients from the wild environments surrounding and running through the forest. A job performed well might increase the overall reputation of the Poulticepounders, unlocking new tools and more challenges across all characters and playthroughs.
Those who have played Apothecaria will recognise much of what its coyly named successor asks of participants. The journal entries are open-ended and can support as much, or as little, fiction as wanted. Recipes can be recorded with illuminated script and accompanying sketches, like a field journal, or be hastily scratched in the margins of a busy notebook already full of observations and minutiae. Half the joy of solo journaling games is discovering thoughtful expression through a character.
Apawthecaria’s Kickstarter campaign will run through October 29th, where Blackwell and Tyrrell hope to fund both a digital and physical edition of the game. Backers can secure a copy for £8 and £15, respectively, which is estimated to ship in April 2022.