Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Planning Dicember 2022

 Ah, Dicember.

Last year was the first time I officially observed Dicember. Unofficially, I’ve probably been observing it for years. I’d just never heard of it :)

Here’s the idea: in celebration of dice games, you play different dice games. There are three different levels of the challenge: play fifteen different dice games: play thirty-one different games, play a different dice game every day of the month. 

Last year, I did the third level, playing a different dice game every day. And it honestly ended up not always being fun. One day, when I was traveling, I played a solitaire game of Shut the Box to fulfill rhe challenge. And that was clearly playing just to play.

More than that, I found myself holding off playing games so they could serve as a slot in a later day. I suppose I could have just not counted plays before the designated day but that seemed dirty pool.

One idea I had contemplated last year was doing the fifteen dice game challenge but making them all new-to-me  games. I mean, I could theoretically do that with Roll and Write games alone. But I think that would just result in grinding through games and not really enjoying learning them. 

In other words, creating too many restrictions for myself stopped letting me have fun. And that’s a big reason why I game in the first place.

I will observe Dicember again but I’m not going to try to play a different dice game each day. I’ll just see how many different dice games I play. It’s safe to say it will be at least fifteen :)

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Swamp You Die In and other interesting places

 LI came across The Swamp You Die In by finding a hack of it called A Light, Reflected.

Out of all the journaling games I’ve tried in honor of NaNoWriMo, Swamp and its hacks are the shortest in  form and the most guided. It’s also very simple, albeit not the simplest. 

Basically, Swamp consists of six tables. Roll a die,consult the table you’re on, respond to that prompt. It can easily be only one sentence. And the theme is literally what the title tells you.

To be brutally honest, the prompts tend to be pretty specific compared to other journaling game I’ve played. You can easily add wiggle room but Swamp honestly hold your hand a lot.

The original game is laid out as a comic strip, with each prompt as its own panel. While that doesn’t actually affect the mechanics, it does add a nice bit of flavor to the experience.

The game also instructs you to not look ahead and not read the prompts you roll. So far, I have followed those rules so I still have some actual replay value. 

That also means, unlike every other journaling game I’ve written about, I won’t post any of the play throught since that would spoil the game for others.

Okay, when I first approached Swamp, I found it too simple. However, the ability to pound out a game when I didn’t have time for a longer journaling game ended up being nice. Yeah; eventually I’ll see all the prompts but I’ll get in a few plays before then.

What really strikes me about Swamp is that I think it has real potential to work in the classroom. At first I thought I might be too simple. Then I remembered some students need more structure for creative writing than others.

Of course, I’ll have to change the theme from dying in a swamp!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Princess With A Cursed Sword play through

 Princess With a Cursed Sword Play Through 

(Apologies for wildly inconsistent verb tenses)

What does her gown signify?

The gown is actually the uniform of her school. It is a prim, dark blue dress with a white hem that is now stained

Why are her feet bare?

She gave her shoes to a beggar in her way to the ruins. They pinched her feet anyway.

What does her Sword want?

Her Sword wants to devour knowledge and memories.

What are her pronouns?

She and her. 

The story begins as she comes to the ruins.

Card 1 - The Devil

As she walks through the gate, the princess finds herself inside what looks to have been a great library. Surely that means that learning was once important to this place.

But the roof and ceiling are altogether gone. Years of rain and snow and sun have ruined the burnt remnants of the Mubarak. Despite it all, the air is still full of the stench of ashes and smoke.

All around her, in the midst of the silence, the princess hears voices rise. It was the ghosts of all the murdered books, like a legion of demons.

She closed her eyes and thought of all the hours she had spent in the academy’s library. She thought of the rows of books in their rows of shelves. She thought of how every book had its place, one part of a single pattern.

Two coins - one head

In her mind, the princess took each ghost of a book and put it in its place. As she did so, their voices fell quiet. But when she put the last book in place, she heard a sharp crack.

The world suddenly had lines all across. The princess took off her glasses and saw that the lenses had cracked.

Card 2 - The Moon

The princess came across a deep, wide pool that was formed in the shape of a perfect circle. Of course it was artificial. You didn’t build something around a pond. 

She doubted it had originally been a pool. Rain had filled iit.

She stared down into the water and saw tiny silver fish swimming .

Card 3 - King of Cups

It is a shadow but not a shadow. It sits on a throne that is made of moss and broken rocks and glowing vines.

It is a memory and it hungers for more memories. It hungers to turn the princess into nothing but a memory. 

Cold sweat coating her brow, she swings the sword that hisses and mutters of its own hunger.

Two coins - two heads

The sword hungered for memories and knowledge. The thing was nothing but that. All that remained on the ruined throne was a bunt outline.

In her hand, the sword somehow had a gloating, satisfied feel. And she could no longer remember her grandmother’s eyes.

Card 4 - Five of Wands

The door was made of a wood so dark that it was almost black. It was far taller than her. If it wasn’t for the bright door handle, she might well have missed the door in the dark.

When she grasped the handle, it grasped her back. Long bronze teeth grow out of the handle, prepared to bite down on her hand.

The sword in her other hand, the hand that could not release it, muttered in bored tones. The door was not knowledge and held no interest for it.

One coin - head

Desperately, she pulled away. The teeth tore at her hand and arm. She fell to the ground, free but blood dripped down her arm.

And the door swung open.

Card 5 - Page of Pentacles

At first, the princess throught it was a person. Than a statute. But, in fact, it was machine in the shape of a person.

It was made of silver and crystal and glass. It was beautiful and in the shape of a young man. 

And clearly and permanently broken.

Card 6 ~ The Sun

The princess had lost count of the stairs she had walked up and she was very good at counting. Around and around the stairs went up the ivory tower until she reached the roof and the sky above.

And the burning eyes of the gods stared down at her.

One coin - heads

The princess refused to bow her head. They were not her gods. There was a flash of darkness, as if the gods had blinked. She found herself in a gallery, far from the tower.

And she knew the gods were still watching.

Card 7 - The Magician

The princess knew that the tomb was what she had been searching for. It was in between two tall  structures, almost as if the tomb itself was a canyon.

‘It is time,’ she said. Her feet were sore and bleeding. The arm and hand that were forced to hold the sword aches.

And the sword hissed and muttered. Black smoke rose from it.

‘No,’ the princess said. 

And her hand opened. The sword fell. Fell into the darkness of the tomb. She did not hear it land.

And the memory of the lullaby her mother had used to sing her to sleep was gone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Princess With A Cursed Sword - good stuff

One journaling game that I found more than one reference to Princess With A Cursed Sword. So, after trying out a some very obscure games (and journaling games are already obscure), I knew I had to try Princess.

Short version: I liked it. 

The game is a classic example of Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You are writing the story of a princess who has to cope with a cursed sword. The princess has come to some ruins to try and get rid of the sword.

In addition to writing materials, you will need a tarot deck (honestly, one where the minor arcana is illustrated) and two coins that have distinct heads and tails.

Set up consists of answering a few questions to define the princess and the sword (which includes why is she barefoot and what pronouns to use) Then you move to scenes.

Shuffle the tarot deck. Each suit has a general theme with different options and you also use the picture on the card to develop the scene.

A scene doesn’t have to have conflict. If you decide for it to have conflict, you flip one or two coins and the number of heads determines the level of success. No heads, failure and the princess barely survives. One head, barely succeeds but with great cost. Two, almost inhuman success. And you only use two coins if the princess’s past has prepared her OR if she uses the cursed sword.

You decide which card the game ends on and you decide if she is able to successfully give up the sword or not.

Okay. What makes Princess work as a journaling game? It has a neat theme, which is a good start. But honestly, it’s the Tarot deck that actually give the game so much potential. And that’s simply because it’s 78 possible prompts that can be interpreted multiple ways.

I have played games where the prompts are so vague that they just be ‘write something’ and games where I felt like I was told precisely what to write. Princess is a comfortable balance between the two. It has a lot of potential for one page of rules. I’d like to try it again using Piranesi (either the book by Susana Clarke or the actual artist) or Gormenghast (even though I’ve never finished even the first book) as inspirations.

That said, it isn’t a game I’d use in the classroom since I don’t think I could get away with a Tarot deck in that setting.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Wreck This Journal is permission to be creative

I’m going to take a quick break from writing about journaling RPGs to comment on Wreck This Journal.

Which means I’m still writing about journals. I did not expect to be this on brand for NaNoWriMo for what’s looking to be the entire month of November.

Our son has been asking for a Wreck This Journal for literally months and we finally caved and got him on of the many different versions.

Wreck This Journal is a paradox. It’s a set of very specific instructions for thinking out of the box.

It’s a book where each page or two has instructions on what you should do to that page. And it’s safe to ssay that they will cause some damage to the page in the process and quite likely the rest of the book while you are at it. 

There are what must be a couple hundred prompts in this book. One of the ones that has stuck with me is making a stain catalog.

Perhaps it’s less out of the box thinking and more open permission to destroy something.

We were afraid that our son would get bored with it or ignore the instructions and just use the journal as a sketch book. Instead, he has spent hours either following the instructions or doing his own interpretation of them. (He wasn’t going to mail the journal so he drew a picture of mailing it)

I have heard that Wreck This Journal is about giving you permission to make mistakes and messes. To embrace them. I don’t think that’s the only interpretation but it’s one I can see working for our son.

Honestly, I can see buying him a Wreck This Journal as an annual event.

Friday, November 18, 2022

House Spirit Play Through

 House Spirit play through 

The house is ancient, very old. But I am more ancient still. More ancient by far. The vein of rock that lies beneath the house was my birth place and my home.

I do not have a name for myself but humans would call me kobold. My skin, when I choose to have skin, is mottled yellow. My arms are longer than my legs and very strong. My eyes are like coals and my smile has many teeth.

But humans, they cannot see me. That is my choice and their own as well.

The house is old, with tall ceilings and narrow doors and many, many shadows. The Shafers, they have lived in the house for generations. They think they have been here for a long time. But they have not been here as long as I have.

There is the ancient great grandmother who needs two canes to walk over the uneven floor. I remember when she was a mewling toddler. There is her grandson, who works in the mines, and his wife who came from another town. And their daughter, who thinks the house is haunted. I do not say she is wrong.

Roll 1 = 3

The Shafers have hired a traveling man to repair the home. He is not from these lands. It is an insult to me and the stones to have him pass over the threshold.

That night, as he lay asleep in the back room, I breathed into his lungs. I filled his lungs with grave dust. He would not live out the week.

As for the Shafers, I filled their shoes with rocks so they would stumble.

Roll 2 = 2

The Shafers brought in a holy man to drive me out of their home. Not that they truly knew me or my nature. Only that something was affecting their lives.

The holy man was a fat charlatan and fraud, who merely mumbled the words people expected to hear. I did not deign to appear to him. I merely let him know my presence. That was enough to turn his hair white and make him a gibbering madman.

And the Shafers were reminded of me and my power.

Roll 3 =  2

The Shafers lived in sullen fear. The house had been their place for generations. On some level, they had always known me but for generations, they could pretend that they did not. But they had borough on my ill will.

No milk could remain sweet under this roof. Salt lost its favor and would no longer preserve meat. Shadows would grow long for no reason. 

They knew me.

Roll 4 = 1

The great grandmother died in the night. It was through no action of my own. It was her own mortality and her time.

But as she breathed her last, the old woman turned and her eyes were upon me. And she said:

“I have always seen you’

Roll 5 = 6

They pour libations of salt and iron filings in the corners of rooms for me. The Shafers hung out a wind chime on the front porch made of iron.

For their consideration, I straightened the roof of the home and I ensured that the father was safe in the mines.

Roll 6 = 4

Some days only exist for time to pass. Some days are only there so there is a space between now and then.

I am older than the hills. I have always known days like this and I remember to treasure them.

Roll 7 = 1

The daughter has chosen to leave. She is doing so without telling her parents. They will not leave the house. For them, it is too much of their world. But my presence is too much for her.

I do not say she is wrong.

With her, the Shafers will end, at least as far as I am concerned. The line, if it continues, will be somewhere else. Someone else’s concern. The house will fall. Houses have fallen before over my land. Houses will rise again.

As she left, she stumbled on a stone. It was gold. One last gift.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

I like minimalism but House Spirit is too little

House Spirit is a journaling RPG where you play the role of some sort of household fairy. It’s also a game that fits on a post card.

Setup consists of describing your spirit and the family they live with. After that, you roll one six sided die to determine the nature of each scene.

There are four possible outcomes: the family makes you happy, you and the family are neutral, the family displeases you or a family member leaves or dies. 

You can also choose to have the family try and have an exorcism if things have been going badly. If you are playing with someone else, they can bring in a guest to the household.

The game ends when you drive the family out, everyone dies or there is a happy coexistence.

House Spirit is the simplest journaling game I’ve tried and I’m hard pressed to think of how you would make a simpler one.

And that’s where my issues with the game come from.

Completely random events makes it hard to develop a story. While you can make the choice to have an exorcism scene but beyond that, you can’t develop or heighten the story. Heck, if you keep rolling fours, you are going to keep haveing scenes where nothing happens.

More than that, the prompts are so limited and vague that, unless you are comfortably familiar with the concept of household spirits and have an idea of what you want to write, they aren’t helpful. Having instructions that just say write a story might actually be more structured.

All of that said, I had fun with the game. I’m even thinking about playing it again at some point. But I went in with an idea of what I wanted to write and what kind of story structure would be. I think someone going in cold would not be satisfied with House Spirit.

I ask myself with every journaling game how it would work in the classroom. House Spirit would not do well.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Play Though of Dave ex Machina

 Dave Ex Machina play through 10-31-22

Who am I?

Dave, of course.

What are Dave’s knacks?

Rearranging frozen pizza toppings
Playing ping pong with my non-dominant hand
Using the remote control with my eyes closed

What do I have on me?
Empty glasses case

What’s the deal?
It’s like Star Wars meets Pride and Prejudice Meets Gundam

Everyone is a Wookiee but they are living in Jane Austin’s England. And there are giant  gundum battle mechs all over the place. No one knows where they came from but there they are.

What’s the job?
I have been summoned to kill Lady Gorchunku’s prize rose bush.

What stands in Dave’s way?
Unseen Force - pesky poodles made out of magnetic waves
Adverse weather - it’s a sharknado but the sharks breath flames!
Wild creatures - the McWookies! They’re Wookiees… but they’re Scottish!


I was right in the middle my weekly watching of the Back to the Future trilogy  when I felt myself getting pulled through a vortex of time, space and extra planar energies. When I could actually see again, I was standing in the middle of a pentagram.

A big furry woman with fangs and an elaborate dress with lots of lace stood before me. ‘EROOONK” she said to me.

‘You, you want me to kill some lady’s rose bush?’


Man, some people take garden parties really, really seriously.

So, anyway. This place was wild. Everyone, except the kids, were like a foot taller than me, totally covered in fur and wearing really fancy duds. Oh and there were giant robot space ships standing around.

And there was this big mental countdown clock in my head. I had 19 ghurries to smash that rose bush. Otherwise, I’d never see pepperoni pizza or Back to the Future ever again.

And I’ve got this mental compass thing going on is. I don’t know which way is north, if there is a north here. No, I know which way that rose bush is.

Anyway, I was making my way to wherever that rose bush was, walking around a giant robot space ship, when my internal compass went wild. I couldn’t tell where the rose bush was. When I closed my eyes and tried to find the magic arrow behind my eyelids, I saw… fluffy poodles.

Clearly, I was dealing with poodles made out of magnetic waves.

Well, I know that poodles can be pesky but they also can be particular. I had to distract them and nothing distracts dogs like snacks.

Just like an automobile has a repair kit, I found spare giant robot spaceship parts. Had lots of nuts and bolts, which I figured magnetic poodles would love. But I had to sort it all out. Well, I can sort a frozen supreme pizza irnto six slices with one topping each. So, I had this.

17 - 15 = 2

1 ghurry

Well, they liked the snacks but their magmatic waves still messed up my internal compass.

So. I put a wooden bucket on my  head to block them and walk away from them.

15-12 = 3

2 ghurry

And I just walked in circles because I had a bucket on my head and I couldn’t see anything.

Fine. I’m going to talk to the poodles and ask them to leave me alone. And I will take my time and give lots of reasons to leave me along.

12-5 = 7

The poodles listened to my argument, discussed among themselves and agreed my case had merit. Then went their way. I got my mental compass back and I went on my way.

3.5 ghurry

And that’s when the sharknado showed up. It’s like a tornado. Only with sharks. And the sharks were breathing fire.

I ran screaming.

10-9 = 1

Turns out that whatever force brought me to this crazy world protects me. I grew back that leg and my spleen in seconds. But not dying didn’t help get away.

4.5 ghurry

Okay. Time to see what Elizabethan Wookie sewers are like. The fire-breathing sharknado can’t follow me there! I’ll take my time. Pick out a good looking manhole. (Wookie hole?)

12-7 = 5

Hey, Elizabethan Wookie sewers are pretty nice. Really good stonework. Plenty of headroom. Fire proof. Don’t want to think about what Wookies eat, though.

6 ghurry 

Downside of Elizabethan Wookie sewers, I ran into the McWookies. Kilts. Tam o’ Shatners. Claymores bigger than me. Murderous attitudes. 

Time for me to sing the Proclaimers biggest hits.

14-16 = -2

Turns out the Proclaimers and Wookies don’t mix. I’m just lucky I could regrow both my arms. Well, if music doesn’t work, alcohol will. Got to get the McWookies to the nearest bar and drinks for the house!

7 ghurry

12-8 = 4

Okay. Since I don’t have any money, time to sneak out of the bar. Slowly and carefully. 

13-7 = 6

8.5 ghurry

I’d better kill that rose bush and bamf back home before the bar owner finds me!

You know what would definitely kill that rose bush? A sharknado full of fire breathing sharks. By a total cosmic coincidence, that sharknado was still looking for me.

Good bye rose bush. Good bye garden. Good bye manor house. Good bye neighborhood and nearby forest.

And good bye me.

I need to watch Marty in the bad timeline and eat some pizza.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Embracing your inner Dave

In the journaling RPG Dave ex Machina, you are an ordinary muggle named Dave who was accidentally summoned instead of a demon or some kind of other supernatural being. You’re still stuck doing whatever act you were summoned for and you only have a limited time to do it. 

Dave ex Machina shot to the top of my list of journaling on the basis of concept alone.

Character creation and world creation are fairly easy. You assign some trivial skills, none of which can be combat-based, to Dave, along with some random item. You build a world by mashing three different works together. Figure out what Dave has to do (which is implied to always be assassination) and roll up some random challenges.

You have 19 time units (you decide what kind of time units) to complete the job. Journaling, you describe the challenges Dave encounters and how he tries to deal with them. 

Conflict resolution is simple. Roll 3d6. Decide if that roll is Dave’s or his opposition. Roll three more dice. If Dave exceeds the opposition roll by more than three, he succeeds. If he is over by less than three, it’s basically null. Failure is failure unless you fail so spectacularly that Dave succeeds. Every action costs time. 

The two things I like about Dave Ex Machina are the core concept, which is hilarious, and the world building. The X meets Y meets Z method of world building isn’t complex or deep but lends itself to quickly making something fun and silly.

What I don’t like is the conflict resolution and the time limit.

While, honestly, the game includes ways of mitigating luck (honestly to the point where failure isn’t likely), the randomness feels counter to the rest of the structure of the game. And I would rather have a ‘yes but’ result rather a null result.

The time counter is actually a bigger problem. If you have one roll resolve each scene, you’ll never run out of time. If you make conflicts more granular, then you’ll never have enough time.

That said, the mechanics of a journaling game aren’t the point. They are simply prompts, giving direction and focus to your writing. What matters is what you write.

From that viewpoint, Dave ex Machina was successful for me. I had fun and I was inspired to write. However, I think there is plenty of room for improvements. 

A question I have to ask ‘Will it work for someone who doesn’t write all the time as a hobby?’ And, as much fun as I had, I think the answer has to be no.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Timothy Zahn in and out of Star Wars

During a recent conversation about the Star Wars expanded universe novels (which I think are now called legends), I commented on how I have only read the first three Zahn novels that helped start the line. (Yes, I know there are older non-movie books and other media but that trilogy is what started it’s own publishing imprint)

I commented how there have to be a lot of readers who think of Timothy Zahn as a Star Wars author. I then corrected myself and said that they thought of him as THE Star Wars author.

Why this amuses me so much is because the only reason I read the Thrawn trilogy was that I had already enjoyed so much of Timothy Zahn’s writing. He was the draw for me.

Most of my Zahn reading was in the 80s and early 90s. I am still amused that his Blackcollar books were ninjas in space before ninjas became a mainstay in pop culture (Thank you, Turtles!) and Cobra thoughtfully deconstructed super soldiers before deconstruction was cool.

But my entry point  with Zahn  was actually his novella Cascade Point. It’s the one that won the Hugo in 1983. (Nebula award winners make me think but Hugo award winners entertain me)

Unlike a fair bit of Zahn’s output, Cascade Point isn’t military science fiction or space opera (yes, I know there’s a lot of overlap between those two genres) Instead, it’s about what amounts to an industrial accident on a tramp freighter. If it had been written twenty years later, you could have called it Firefly Only Legal.

While Cascade Point had some fascinating visuals, particularly an infinite wall of diffeeent versions of the person observing, the character driven elements are what stuck with me. And what made me look for more Zahn.

Zahn is good at finding the intersection of the human element with the fantastic element. I may not have read a lot of his Star Wars work but I’m glad it’s there for those who have.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Play Though of the Artefact (got the spelling right this time)

 The Artefact - play through 10-27-22

I was forged by the high priest of Leng. He wore a purple robe. His beard with intricately  braided and ran down his chest. He wore no rings on his hands. He used no fire or anvil. Instead, he pulled me fully formed from a well of moonlight and sorrow on the nights of the brightest stars.

My rude form hid my true power and potential to the unknowing eye. To those without insight or wonder, I looked like nothing more than a rough iron rod, bent in the middle, seeming to have no use, even as a simple tool.

I was rough. I was proud. I was secretive.


My first keeper was a callow noble youth. His father, knowing that the had no worth of his own and would need a mighty boon to survive, bought me from the temple with a coin from a dead man’s mouth, a memory of a lost summer day and a promise that he could never keep.

The boy had no idea what my potential was. He was embarrassed by my crude form, despite the fact that he could win any battle against even the most dire foe with me. He longed for the gloss of gold and jewels, not the power of life and death I offered.

A foolish popinjay, he took to wearing a sword that was more gilt than steel, a sword he never learned to use for I could win all of his battles. But, in his pride, he forgot that.

Could I have saved him from that wretched urchin who stabbed in the kidney and left him dead in a ditch, naked with no purse and no blade? Of course I could have. But why would I have bothered? 

I do not remember his name and nor does anyone else.

And with his death, I lost my pride and became cruel.


For a full span of the seasons, I lay in that ditch. Rain, snow and wind. They meant nothing to me. Then, one morning, a farmer picked me up.

His name was Jules. His hands were as rough as my iron. He had thought to mend a fence with me but as he picked me up and turned me over, his eyes could see I was not mundane. The eyes that could tell the weather at a glance or the difference  between a sick cow and a recalcitrant one could see that the lines of my form were impossible ones.
The callow youth that first wielded me only knew that I could break apart anything. Jules could see that I did not break. I created distance . And if that distance was in the middle of a living creature, they would die.

But Jules did not use me for death. Instead, he used me to plow fields in a single breath. For distance meant nothing to me. A warrior close at hand or an entire field, they are all the same. And Jules was willing to aid his neighbors and so all prospered. 

But the nobles of the land, they could see no friendship or prosperity. They only saw farmers who they could tax without ending, whose lives they could despoil for their own pleasure.

Jules could have used me to end them, to shatter their manor houses and their families. But he chose not to. Instead, he created  a span of a hundred miles between their farms and the nobles’ manor houses. 

And he left me in the middle.

Thus I gained a name: Path Breaker

And my cruelty gave way to peace.


Full moon after full moon passed above me. Grass and brambles grew over me. I looked like part of the land. Ten years passed.

Then, I was cut free. 

John Malcom had been told of me by a prophet. He knew where to look for me in the wilderness. He knew my name and my nature.

He was a proud man and a stern man. He was a leader of men who led with iron fast conviction. And he brought me back to war.

His greatest battle was against his own brother. With my power to change distance, John Malcom literally controlled the battle field. Hills and valleys, rivers and forests, all moved and changed. Neither man or the land will ever forget that battle. 

But John Malcom eventually learned that the people that he fought for were not what he thought they were. In fact, he was unknowingly the general for the Cult of Yig. When he learned of this, he fell to a cup of poisoned wine.

The cult feared me and buried me in the cellar of one of their temples, hoping I would be forgotten.

But I was not.

Iron rusts. I grew red and even more rough than before. Eventually, I was dragged up by slaves of the cult and they used me to fix a wagon. Their masters knew me but they did not.

Thus, after centuries, I saw the world again.


Ah, Captain Apollo Heartsblade. A scoundrel and a pirate. His men destroyed the wagon but, from the wreckage, he knew me for what I am.

Although his crimes were many, in his heart, he and his men were explorers. They sailed the ocean in the hopes of finding new lands and new treasures. Even now, their journals and maps and charts are wonders. Yet, they never could find enough treasure to forsake their pirate life.

Until Captain Apollo used me to cut away the distance across the ocean. In that manner, he and his men found Krys-Tacis, child of Yig and keeper of a vast horde. The great sea serpent fell to my power and its wealth was theirs.

Apollo never used me again. Instead, he hung my bent shape in his quarters, never to forget me but never to be at ease with me either.

All of my Keepers viewed me as an item of good or evil. But, in truth, the good and the evil was ever their own.

I was only power.


An age of reason came. Artifacts and ancient mysteries had no place in a world where people desperately long for dull answers. I was passed from museum to museum, my name remembered but no one dared test my power.

Shippers broke me, something that could not have happened in ages past. I was welded back together. Iron pulled from the moon and sorrows connected with solder.

But not everyone had given up on mysteries. The cult of Yig remembered me.  Now lost and desperate in a world that cared not for magic and mysticism, they stole me away.

They had made pipe dreams to end the world, the world they no longer fit. Perhaps bring the moon to the Earth. Perhaps to divide the globe itself.

Could I have done it? Perhaps. Distance has power for distance is simply another word for space.

But they were mad fool and I had not forgotten John Malcom. So I created distance within them and the cult was no more.

And now I am but rust and memories. 

And that is enough.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Artifact and where journaling and gaming meet

After revisiting and playing some games of Alone Among the Stars, I decided to look into seeing if there were any other journaling games out there. I mean, I’ve played De Peofundis so I l know they exist.

I went on and found over six hundred games that were tagged physical games and journaling. Was not expecting that.

I really wonder if journaling as a game format took off during Covid.

Playing journaling games is a sometimes activity for me. I have looked at far more than I’ll probably ever play. And quite a few of the ones I looked at are probably only good for a few plays. (Which is fine since I’m more looking for singular writing experiences)

The first game I ended up trying was the first edition of The Artifact by Jack Harrison. It’s a game where you play a magical item over the course of several owners. Which is actually an idea I’ve already seen in John Wick’s Wield.

The Artifact is a lot simpler. You pick to either be a weapon, a shield or a musical instrument. After that, you answer questions and respond to prompts until the magical items inevitable end.

Each major beat of the game is a keeper and the overall structure is broken down into three periods: Newly Forged, A Time of Glory and the Ruination. As you might imagine, things get darker and grimmer as you go on.

Time is a fun mechanic. In between keepers, you turn off the lights at sit in silence. The time can range from five seconds to six minutes. The longer times have neglect and decay factored into them.

My first play through was fun. I tried to subvert the concept a little bit by having the weapon basically be a magic wand and the second keeper move the story in a more redemptive direction. Since I wrote the whole thing down (you know, since I was playing it), I’ll post that on its own.

The biggest drawback to the Artifact, at least in the first edition, is that the number of prompts were very limited. Three keepers per time period and four tables with six prompts each. You never reuse prompts and I was feeling a bit limited even in my one play.

That said, I had enough fun that getting the second edition is actually tempting. And, quite frankly I could write my own tables of prompts.

I know that journaling games are getting extra attention since November is NaNoWriMo month. So, I’m going to try and play at least a couple other journaling games this month.