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Bundle of Holding’s NaNoWriMo collection is an author’s trove of journaling tabletop RPGs

A PDF is worth a thousand words.
Image: Anna Blackwell

Update: Bundle of Holding has extended the Novel Writing Game Tools offer through NaNoWriMo, ending on November 30th. The original story continues below.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is close on the horizon, and the latest game tools Bundle of Holding offers a sizeable - and discounted - collection of journaling tabletop RPGs that aspiring novelists can use to sharpen their skills ahead of the annual word gauntlet

Dropping about $8 nets you four certifiable bangers in the niche but extremely satisfying genre of solo journaling games, though some of the titles can also be played with a group. As the author of Dicebreaker’s (somewhat outdated) guide on playing RPGs alone, I’ll say that the selection on offer manages to pull both established classics alongside some brilliant lesser known names. Each game approaches its subject matter differently, keeping sessions fresh and allowing writers to sharpen various tools in their narrative kits.

Mousehole Press’s Artefact has the player charting the life of a magical and storied armament as it changes hands and accrues a legacy - either heroic or villainous - across centuries or even millenia. The prompts encourage the player to focus on how the artefact’s use affects its temperament and leaves emotional imprints as indelible as notches in steel.

Wheels recommends even more solo outings in this video of five great RPGs for one person.

Epitaph, created by Marc Hobbs, starts at the end of someone’s life and spends its playtime casting back through their experiences and memories to gradually construct a tableau and thereby better understand who they became at the end of it all. The collaborative storytelling, designed for a group, and freedom to dip back and forth in time steers players towards a more holistic consideration of someone's life, and not merely as chains of cause and effect.

Anna Blackwell’s Apothecaria has become one of those easy recommendations to folks interested in solo RPGs. Robust, charming and easily hackable, this game of stepping in for a village’s missing witch blends daily community work, resource gathering and a larger mystery plot as the player brews potions to cure or treat a bevy of magical ailments. Fans of farming sims will love the expandable and upgradeable facilities, while those more interested in exploring will find plenty of trails towards unknown lands.

Tabletop games and fantasy pair effortlessly for many people, so it’s no surprise that the base bundle contains at least one map-drawing RPG. The collaborative Mappa Imperium sends a group of players to their own respective corners of a map as they use dice rolls to create a world from the ground up - quite literally. Starting with landmasses and climbing through civilisations, factions and conflicts, players will end the session with a world full of plot hooks, adventures and perils baked right in.

Image: Mousehole Press

Those who decide to pay above the bundle’s average (currently sitting at $23.59) will gain access to The Magus, a dice-heavy story of a wizard coming into the grand power from momatoes, the creator of ARC RPG. There’s also Mousehole Press’s Bucket of Bolts, which applies Artefact’s foundational structure to science fiction space ships, and two expansions of Apothecaria from Blackwell and co-designer Shanice Fagan.

The last is Cloven Pine Game’s Back Again from the Broken Lands, which imagines a Fellowship’s journey back home after their grand quest is complete. What did Aragorn, Samwise and the rest of Lord of the Ring’s main cast encounter on the long road back to Rivendell? Designed by Alexi and Leah Sargeant, this RPG gives groups Apocalypse World-esque rules to tell bittersweet and emotionally poignant stories about returning home broken, scarred, exhausted, but ultimately triumphant.

Ten percent of all sales will be donated to NaNoWriMo.org, which offers resources, community and aid to novelists of all stripes as they take part in the annual writing bonanza. Granted, this Bundle of Holding deal is quickly coming to a close as of writing, but everything included can be found online and make for excellent resources - and tasty games for one player or a group - all on their own.

About the Author
Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter

Contributor

Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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