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.

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