Would you look at that? Gunslinger managed to make new friends! Unless my eyes deceive me, however, one of them isn’t new to the comic. One can only hope that Orbert remains safe in the company of Handbook-World’s loneliest marksman.  And by the same token, one can only wonder where Gunslinger acquired the googly eyes.

(Note to self: Googly Glass Eyes. This pair of comically oversize novelty eyeballs allow you to project your vision as per the find familiar spell. The may have one or both eyes active at once, surveilling up to two different locations at the same time. However, if you use both eyes in this way you become blind with regard to your own senses.)

OK. With the fires of invention safely doused, what do you say we get around to today’s actual topic? I am talking of course about solo RPGs. And this is some brand spanking new territory for yours truly.

I’ve recently backed my first Solo RPG on BackerKit. It’s a hot little number called Wreck This Deck, and I’ve been having a blast binding eldritch entities in playing cards. Of course, given my practice of bringing a journal to IRL players to sketch them, I’ve adapted the game somewhat to my own ends. Rather than catching demons, I’m applying a bit of homebrew to capture Philadelphia’s genius loci instead. For me it’s become a tool for exploring my new city. And that retheming led me to a realization.

In my benighted past, I’d heard of solo RPGs and thought, “Structured journaling? Why not just write a novel?” But in the practice lives the craft. In the same way that I’ve used places to inspire writing, these games use carefully engineered prompts to scaffold creativity.

One of my literary heroes once said, “My idea of hell is a blank sheet of paper. Or a blank screen. And me, staring at it, unable to think of a single thing worth saying, a single character that people could believe in, a single story that hasn’t been told before. Staring at a blank sheet of paper. Forever.” But when you’ve got a solid prompt to kickstart your imagination, you need not fear hell. You’re not going from literal-nothing to entire-new-universe. You’re taking a seed and watching it grow through your own weird, idiosyncratic, twisting pathways until it becomes into your very own Yggdrasill. (Or Realmbreaker if you’re a giant nerd.)

And best of all? Because you’re the one in charge of your own storytelling experience, you can bend rules or break them or make up your own. Nobody else gets a say. Surprising as it was, the freedom I felt reflavoring Wreck This Deck was revelatory.

That’s why, for today’s discussion, I’d like to try a writing exercise. I’ll ask you the same question I just asked my  first crop of “Writing For Gaming” undergrad students. If you were to reflavor my favorite binding-demons-in-cards game, rebranding it as a binding-____-in-cards game, what goes in the blank? Impress us with your homebrew down in the comments! And add on your hot takes on solo gaming while you’re at it!


THIS COMIC SUCKS! IT NEEDS MORE [INSERT OPINION HERE] Is your favorite class missing from the Handbook of Heroes? Maybe you want to see more dragonborn or aarakocra? Then check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. You’ll become part of the monthly vote to see which elements get featured in the comic next!