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.

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