Best Journaling RPGs (To Play On Your Own)

Best Journaling RPGs (To Play On Your Own)

Playing RPGs solo has become a rich and diverse gaming niche experiencing constant growth.

You can go off in your own tale of D&D 5e sleuthing in Wolves of Langston like the many who backed it on Kickstarter, emulate a game master for any game with the Mythic GME, expand a dwarven settlement and… write journals?!

That’s right! solo gaming and writing have a lot in common with writing fiction. Many players of traditional RPGs write campaign diaries or supplementary fiction for their games. Both solo roleplaying and writing are ways to create stories in your imagination. Journaling games unite the two by making the process of playing the game generate a narrative artifact in the form of a journal. Below are a few of the most celebrated ones.

Thousand Year Old Vampire

Tim Hutching’s award-winning masterpiece can be played over the course of a few hours or a few weeks. In it, you play the role of someone born mortal in the distant past, who becomes a vampire and outlives everything that defined their life before that. This one has a heavy focus on storytelling, and you are challenged as a player to come up with good narrative solutions to the situations the prompts you roll for generate in your character’s life. There are no checks to make, people and things come and go, and the result is a deeply personal experience. 

For a good example of play, check out Tim Denee’s novelized and illustrated playthrough An Account of the Lengthy Existence and Numerous Experiences of Ambrose Blackhouse, Vampire, With Special Attention to Those Years in Which He Walked Upon This Earth Tho Dead.

The Wretched 

An indie-darling, this is a bleak game about being a lone survivor in a spaceship after something inconceivable slaughtered the rest of the crew. It is played with a tower of tumbling blocks, a standard deck of cards, and some type of audio recorder (any means of journaling will technically do, but they aren’t as theme-conforming). It also comes with an original soundtrack.

Most notable about this game, however, is that the creator released a System Reference Document and a license for others to make more games with the same mechanical base, and the result is a whole host of Wretched & Alone games of all sorts. A couple that stand out are The Sealed Library and Lost In The Deep.


Time for something less bleak. This journaling game by DELVE’s Anna Blackwell casts you as a village witch in a cozy fantasy setting that some would describe as Ghibliesque. It is your duty as village witch to care for your community and passersby, and it usually means treating ailments of a fantastical nature. To produce suitable remedies you’ll need to traverse the surrounding lands and come face to face with whatever dangers and wonders await. 

This game’s success has spawned numerous supplements, and it only requires a standard deck of cards and a way to write down your journals, resulting in your witch’s personal stories through which a reader can come to know her and the setting of High Rannoc.

Gentleman Bandit

After tragical vampires, grim sci-fi survivors, and wholesome witches here’s a game where you play the eponymous gentleman bandit, leaving bodies and poems in your wake. This one might be the most challenging in terms of the writing it has you produce as you play: for each body left in your wake, you write a 13-line poem—each line’s parameters dictated by a draw from a standard deck of cards (Jokers included). 

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