Pen & Paper Games
Twelve Years is a game by Max Moon Games. It is a solo+ rpg with no game master and can be played cooperatively, competitively or parallel. The premise of the game is that the Lich King at the Sunken Castle awakens and awaits his coronation. If he is not crowned, he and his minions will leave the castle to destroy the world. Players create a party of 4 adventurers who’s goal is to find the crown and crown the Lich King so he returns to his slumber. The journey might not be easy, as along the way they will have various encounters, some good and some not. They will also delve into dangerous dungeons in search of the crown and loot.
There is both hexploring and delving and everything is randomly generated with dice rolls. Time is tracked in years but only if your entire party dies or you are lost in the fae. When your entire party dies, a year passes and you create a whole new party that will set out to put the Lich King back to sleep. If 12 years pass then the Lich King leaves his castle and destroys the world.
There is combat in the game. The combat is more of a chaotic brawl then turn by turn encounter. Only a single dice is rolled to determine the party’s attack, defense, enemy’s attack and defense. The party attacks as one group but they will receive damage individually and the one receiving damage is chosen at random.
To play the game you only need the Twelve Years zine, 4-sided, 6-sided, 8-sided, 10-sided and 12-sided dice, a pen/pencil, paper, party sheet, hexploring sheet, delving sheet, and quick play sheet. The play, hexploring, delving and quick play sheets can be downloaded from the Max Moon Games website. I didn’t use the delving sheet as I used my own grid paper. I went all out with my hexploring sheet but that’s obviously not necessary.
I really enjoyed my first playthrough. I liked the story, the encounters and creating the maps. It was a fun few hours. My party seemed to do well on the way to the castle but things did get dire once there. One character died but thankfully I had a mushroom of rejuvenation which was able to resurrect her.
Below you can view the maps I created and read my party’s adventure as told by the storytelling bard, Menos.
This is the map I created while hexploring. I used Prismacolor colored pencils and Faber Castel Pitt Pens.
Here are the maps I created for the two dungeons the party went in and the castle. I just used Faber Castel Pitt Pens.
Have you heard the tale of the last adventurers to head to the castle? No. Well let me tell you. It is said they all met at The Fire Dragon Inn. None of them knew each other and all were from various parts of the world and like so many others they were determined to stop the Lich King. Would they succeed? Nobody knew. These adventurers had no tales that followed them. They were unknowns. But unlike so many others they didn’t seem interested in fame or fortune. They genuinely just wanted to stop the Lich King because it was the right thing to do. We only knew their names because the giant Wanda was a talker. There was Claudia the hermit, Samantha the rogue and Victoriana the fae folk. They set out for the Sunken Castle without much fanfare and without many people even noticing. The stories say they fought many creatures like a treachery of ravens, poisonous toads, giant beetles, zombies and more. They emptied a couple of dungeons and they helped a few lost nobles and traveling merchants. They also gained members; another rogue by the name of Sarah and a fae folk named Lela. The famous dragonhunter, Gerhardus Zauber even said he met them and joined them for a bit before heading back to dragon hunting. They eventually found a crown while helping a walking, talking tree and some tree folk. With a crown in hand they headed for the castle. When they reached the castle it is said they thought they were ready but maybe they should have gotten a little more experience before heading in as it is believed one or two died but were brought back to life by magic. But in the end it all worked out and they were able to crown the Lich King and put him back to sleep. They returned to the inn to rest up and by morning they had all gone their separate ways. - Menos the Storytelling Bard
“I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness.”H.P. Lovecraft
Hotel Lovecraft by Oliver McNeil is an interactive horror storytelling game based on H.P. Lovecraft’s weird and macabre tales. I love horror so I was really looking forward to playing this and the soundscapes sounded interesting. The book contains cards you can cut out and fold to use for the rooms but if you are like me and don’t want to do that you can find a printable file of the cards as well as the story log/character sheet and map on the Storymaster’s Tales website.
The rules, character creation and setup are easy. To play you just need the book, envelopes with the floor numbers written on them, the room cards or small pieces of papers with the room numbers on them, a token to keep track of your location, the map if you’d like to use it, the story log/character sheet, paper to take notes, something to write with, four & six-sided dice or dice app and a phone or computer if you wish to listen to the soundscapes.
You start out the game not knowing who you are, how you got to the hotel or who your host is. All you know is you are on the top floor of a hotel in Massachusetts and if you wish to leave you must play your host’s game. Your host tells you that all you need to do is reach the ground floor and then you could leave but we all know in horror nothing is that easy. He also tells you that he will allow the lift to take you to the next floor but only after you visit at least a certain number of rooms. The number of rooms needed depends on how many players. The hotel is eerie and creepy as the rooms are anything but ordinary since they are based on Lovecraft’s stories. In Act Two you have to roll a six-sided die to determine your objective for leaving. Which adds a challenge to the game. My character’s objective was to find someway to die as the only way for her to leave the hotel was to have zero health. Unfortunately as my character progressed through the hotel she started losing her grip on reality and shortly after reaching the 2nd floor she became insane.
I really enjoyed the game despite failing to leave the hotel. The story and atmosphere kept me engaged. The only thing I had a slight issue with was the soundscapes. Not the soundscapes themselves but how to get them. The qr code in the book sends you to a soundcloud playlist. So when you need a particular soundscape you have to scroll through the list to find it; which can take you out of the game for a few seconds. I think if there was an app where you could just enter the number to get the soundscape you needed it would make it quicker and better or even qr codes on each room page that takes you to the soundscape. But as I said its just a slight issue and won’t stop me from playing the game again.
One thing I noticed when getting the links for this game is that there is now a new version. Both versions are available for purchase and currently the newer version is cheaper. The one I purchased was released in July of last year and can be purchased here. The new version came out in January of this year and can be purchased here. Per the creator, Oliver McNeil, the new version has a new cover, doesn’t have cards only maps and is in black and white.
I definitely plan on playing this game again in the future as well as trying out some of the other games in the Storymaster’s Tales series.
[Updated, 11:46pm, 02/23/2022] – With Information given by the creator on the new version of Hotel Lovecraft.
The Broken Cask by Derek A. Kamal is a solo innkeeping roleplaying game. You create an inn, its innkeeper, hire staff, upgrade rooms, send heroes or mercenaries on adventures, earn gold and hopefully if you want have your inn become legendary.
The book is laid out well and the rules are easy to follow. Its a fun, rules light and relaxing game. However if you are looking for something with lots of combat this isn’t it. Combat is solved by either a success or failure of one roll like everything else in the game. The game uses tables for everything, which means you will be flipping pages a lot. I added tabs to make it easier to get to the tables. One thing I noticed was that the story thread table is missing from the current book. However you can go to the Shoreless Skies Publishing website and download it, as well as get some rules clarifications and the Innkeeper log for free.
The game is played in sessions. At the start of each session you roll to determine the season, weather, mood, story thread and behind the scenes event. Once that is done you can then do upgrades, train staff, go to the market, send adventurers on a quest, do events at the inn like fulfill orders, clean, garden, etc. I played 2 or 3 sessions throughout my first day and a session or two each of the other times I played; for a total of 6 sessions. There is no real end to the game so you can play as many sessions as you’d like. I played until my inn had reached legendary status, had all the upgrades and felt like quite an established inn. I did mine in a somewhat journaling style. However I completely forgot to include the story thread in all my sessions. Hopefully in the next playthrough I will remember.
I do think that this game could be used to create an inn that you can then include in a larger role playing game. It could be an inn that your players will visit frequently or an inn they pass through for a quest, etc. If I find the right game I plan on doing that with either the inn I created with this playthrough or a future playthrough or maybe even create an inn specifically for the game.
Below is a “newspaper article” about the inn I created.
Mirstone no longer unknown, Thanks to Local Inn
By Polly Bellgrew
The Blue Gargoyle Inn is the place to be when visiting Mirstone or even if you’re a local. Yes, Mirstone is in the middle of nowhere and most people up until recently hadn’t heard of it but the Blue Gargoyle Inn has made it into quite the popular place thanks to its innkeeper, Calista of the Isles. She is a retired adventurer who inherited the place from her uncle and has really given the place life.
Her uncle had let the place deteriorate and eventually just gave up on it. But when Calista inherited the inn she immediately started fixing it up and over time upgraded it. The inn has luxurious rooms, feasting halls, a fancy kitchen, its own brewery and armory. She even added stables so the horses of those passing through or staying at the inn could be taken care of. The main staff even have excellent quarters.
There is also a beautiful living garden. Guests are welcomed to sit and enjoy the beauty as long as they are respectful. Besides beautiful flowers and plants they also grow some of their own vegetables to use for their dishes. Whatever they don’t grow they purchase from local farmers.
Calista loves creatives and is constantly hosting events like poetry night, open mic night, concerts and conventions. Most local festivals are now hosted at the inn.
Calista loves to help the locals as well. The inn has a large trader’s stand which helps the locals sell their goods and they even host job fairs to help the folks of Mirstone and nearby towns find jobs.
Many people travel from afar to enjoy the meals made by their cook Kelfi Goldbrow. His creamy butternut squash soup and the roast duck are spectacular. Though the best dish is the corn pierogies with quail. I don’t know how he takes a simple dish and makes it so amazing.
They also go there for the drinks created by their brewer Ezri the Swift. His most famous creation is “The Winston”. A drink made of wild honey mead steeped in over ripe cherries. Another famous drink of his is “The Strange Adventurer” named after a local girl who was becoming quite the adventurer and hanging out with all manner of strange folk. It has a sweet and a slightly spicy taste. No one but Ezri knows how this one is made.
So if you are in the area or even if you aren’t, stop by the inn, you won’t regret it. You will have good drinks, good food and great company. Oh and remember to give Fang the ocelot a few head scritches while you are there. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.
The Village of the Living Dolls is an adventure for Alone Against Fear and is created by Anna Pashchenko and Andrea Sfiligoi. After the events in Alone Against Fear your character finds out their uncle is missing and volunteers to find him. Their search leads them to the town of Harrowood which has been cursed.
There are two differences in this adventure from the base game. The first is that the map of the town is already created and the second one is that you have to track time. Also on both the map and the timeline there are numbers. These numbers are for specific events. When you reach a number you must read the corresponding event first before doing anything else. I didn’t bother looking for a printable map or timeline and just created my own. If you wish to use them the links will be down below.
I think I enjoyed this adventure more than the original as the story seemed to keep me more engaged. It helped that all the monsters made sense with the story. There were dolls, toys like rubber dinosaurs and plush, as well as monsters made out of candy. I enjoyed learning about the town and how it became what it currently is, as I made my way through it looking for Uncle Phil.
My character Sam encountered vampire unicorn plush, rubber dinosaurs, an earless plush hare, a giant baby made out of sugar and candy and dolls. So many dolls. She even had a doll that followed her around until the end. She escaped a house filled with human teeth floating in gum but unfortunately lost her shoes there. She was cocooned in another house by rubber caterpillars and snakes. She managed to escape her cocoon and even found something very useful. She eventually found her uncle and managed to set him and many other people free from the curse.
Besides this adventure there is also a second adventure called The Coming of the Dark Templars which I have not played yet but I hope to play in the next few weeks.
If you have trouble finding a printable timeline, you can download and use the one I created by clicking here or on the image.
Alone Against Fear by Andrea Sfiligoi is a pen & paper survival horror solo game. You create a character and explore a town filled with monsters. All you need to play the game is the book, a pen/pencil, 2 six sided dice, paper or a notebook to keep notes, the character sheet and either a copy of the map template or another way to create the map, like grid paper. The main mission is to close 7 hell gates but there are 6 other missions you can do while closing the hell gates. You can learn skills by using experience or finding books. As you explore the town you create a map of the areas you have visited. If your character dies you can create a new one to continue the game. There are a lot of monsters/bad guys. There are serial killers, witches, demons, undead, possessed, beasts, mutants, aliens, ghosts, living dolls, zombies and vampires.
The book is a little disorganized but it was still understandable. I added tabs to make it easier to find things. I also created my own character sheet as the one file I found online was small and blurry when enlarged. I wanted to be creative with the map by drawing the buildings, etc but unfortunately my hands at the time were really hurting so I was unable to do that. I enjoyed the game, although I think there should have been less monsters. Some, like the mutants and aliens also seemed out of place. They kind of took me out of the story whenever I got them because they didn’t feel like they belonged. They and maybe some of the others should have been saved for other adventures.
My character Samantha, Sam for short managed to survive the entire game. Since she didn’t seem very lucky it took long to locate all 7 hell gates but she did do all the available quests before closing the final hell gate. The only quest she was unable to do was one given by a priest to get the mask of Walrus the Clown; as she was unable to find any info on how to locate him. The only thing she found was his joke book and his name written in graffiti on an abandoned train’s wall. Samantha thought this town had way too many gun shops and churches.
There are currently two more adventures for Alone Against Fear. The first is called The Village of the Living Dolls which I have already played and my write up on it should be up next week and the second one is called The Coming of the Dark Templars which I have not played yet.
If you have trouble finding a printable character sheet, you can download and use the one I created by clicking here or on the image. I also made the character sheet fillable so if you don’t want to print it or cant, you can still use it.
Your character can volunteer at the High Rannoc Shelter for Familiars and complete tasks for the familiars. If they complete all the tasks they earn the familiars trust and can use their ability. Your character can also adopt a familiar as long as they have earned their trust.
Before releasing the expansion she asked if people wanted to memorialize past pets as familiars. I decided to submit one of my first pets that I had as an adult.
I had two ferrets; Misty & Lilith aka “The Inseparable Duo”. They did everything together, play, eat, sleep, steal things, cause mischief, etc. Both had a lot of energy. Constantly running around, jumping and climbing. They were like cats on catnip all the time. Lilith got her name because she attacked her sister and gave her a permanent limp. So we thought she was going to be a little trouble maker. That didn’t turn out to be the case. She was actually quite calm. We think she only attacked her sister because of the stress of being in a new environment. Misty was named because she had a silver coat. As she aged though it turned white. Misty turned out to be the most mischievous of the two. Misty was the leader and Lilith always followed. When they were out of their cage, they loved running around and exploring and looking for things to steal and hide in their favorite hiding spots; under the futon, under our bed or in their cage. They would steal anything they could easily move like keychains, pens, bottle caps, small plush. They would even try to steal large plush toys that were way bigger than them. Though they usually wouldn’t get very far.
Sadly Lilith developed a tumor on the top of her head. It developed insanely quickly. Vet said due to her age and with how fast the tumor was growing that it was best to not do surgery and to take her home and that we would know when it was time. Eventually her quality of life declined and we took her to get euthanized. When we came back Misty went crazy looking for her sister and was never the same. She became very depressed, wouldn’t leave her cage and if we brought her out she’d just go back in, and barely played. About a month or so later she stopped eating and was barely moving so we immediately took her to the vet. It turned out she had tumors inside her abdomen and due to her age and how bad she was it was recommended we euthanize her. We went with the vets recommendation. I don’t know if there is an afterlife but if there is I hope they are happy together causing mischief.
I felt bad choosing between the two so I sent her both and told her, she could pick whichever she wanted. But instead of picking just one of them she came up with an awesome idea to include both while still only taking up one slot. Basically they would be a single familiar bonded together. Misty would be a ghost ferret that would lead Lilith into mischief.
Besides my ferrets, there are also cats, dogs, a rat, a spider, a chinchilla and more. I think it was really nice of her to let some of us memorialize our past pets in her game. I can’t wait to try the expansion.
Notes: * A harpy is a mythological creature that is half-human, half-bird. The harpies in my story are humanoid with wings, clawed feet and clawed hands. They can fly fast and many choose to be in the delivery services. The postal harpies wear a light grey uniform with the Postal Harpies Express logo.
My name is Zoey Blackwood. I am a half elf witch from Willowvale and the eldest of 3 sisters. I have recently finished my apprenticeship.
I have always enjoyed helping people and animals. Besides helping, I also enjoy nature, painting, reading and exploring.
Notes: * I started my journal on Winter, Week 11 to create a prologue but I still started the actual game on Spring, Week 1. * On the first entry, after the sentence "I of course happily agreed." It should start "She said she would teach me.." I accidentally missed the first two words and didn't notice it till much later and was unable to fix it. * The rainbow trees in The Iridescent Forest are based on rainbow eucalyptus trees. Unfortunately I forgot to use my references so they don't actually look like them. It would not have been possible to fix them so I just left them alone. * The letter from Aunt Meriam is almost entirely word for word from the Apothecaria book. Only the last few sentences were changed to fit my story.