Monday, October 19, 2020

Alone Among the Stars actually works

 I recently stumbled upon Alone Among the Stars and its myriad of hacks completely by accident. I’d been looking into more conventional solitaire card games. In fact, I’m still wading through all the variations and pondering the whole matter. You use a deck of cards and a die to come up with the inspiration to describe planets that you are exploring.

Alone Among the Stars is on the seriously soft end of the solitaire RPG spectrum. On the hard side, you have the tightl structure of game books that strictly restrict your choices. On the soft side, you have basically guidelines to write fiction or a meditation exercise. The solitaire version of De Profundis consists of keeping a diary of Lovecraftian horror that hopefully isn’t actually happening to you.

Alone Among the Stars Has you take the role of a solitaire explorer in outer space. For each planet you choose to explore, you role a die to see how many cards you lie down. You then use the dice and charts to give you some rough inspiration on what you find. And thus you create a journal of exploration.

Okay. The games consists of three tables that you use to create writing guidelines. That’s it. Which is probably why there have been so many hacks of it. That’s a really, really simple framework to work with.

But... Alone Among the Stars gives you just enough structure to work with that you really do have a framework to work with. And it is open enough that the replay value is just limited to your creativity and imagination. 

I honestly wasn’t sure how well it would work. Alone Among the Stars didn’t seem like much of a step beyond just telling you to go write a story, have fun. But when I actually tried it, I found it did give me enough guidance to work as a structured writing game.

I then recommended it to some friends... and they quickly began playing it as well.

I honestly think Alone Among the Stars gives enough guidance AND flexibility that it can work for a lot of people. You can spend pages on one card or just a couple sentences and both are perfectly valid. 

I didn’t think Alone Among the Stars would be good but it is.

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