Smell the fresh pines, listen to the chattering birds and breathe in deeply the rain-soaked, moss-covered woods. Gather ‘round the forest, as I tell you the story of Sapling Soul!Sapling Soul is a solo TTRPG by Logan of Breathing Stories. What drew me in to this game was its tagline- “There is as much danger as there is beauty.” Before I even got to the content, I was impressed that for every copy sold, the creator makes a community copy available for anyone interested to play who is unable to afford it. I really like this concept, as it puts the community at the forefront and still allows the creator to get paid! The PDF is 17 pages long and includes some gorgeous wooded vistas!
In order to play you will need a copy of the PDF, two dice (one six sided and one twenty sided) and something with which to take notes. Using the dice, players will generate scores for three attributes, namely Empathy, Nurture and Unknowable. In addition, they will be used to keep track of Trust, a measure of how the forest responds to your actions. Each thread of the story involves two rolls, the first to see if you pass or fail the encounter and the second for the results. These results can then be used for journaling prompts, if you are choosing to write down your full experience.
While playing the game is straightforward, the actual execution is surprisingly difficult. Your stats are generated with the six sided die, but you are pitting that number against a random role of the twenty sided. I started the game with fourteen points in Empathy, nine in Nurture and eight points in Unknowable. With what turned out to be such low scores, I failed every single encounter I faced. I seriously wish I rolled that many 20s in my Dungeons and Dragons sessions!
I am intentionally not displaying my journal in this review, as I think this could spoil a lot of content within the game I would prefer you see for yourself. If you are a little extra like me, I recommend turning on some forest meditation sounds and lighting a pine scented candle. It was a very relaxing way to fully invest myself in the fight to save the forest!
Ultimately, I did not “win” Sapling Soul in the traditional sense, but I did enjoy the time I spent playing through! When I last checked, there were a handful of community copies left. With the directions and expectations so well written, I think this is a great starting point for those who are just getting started with solo TTRPGs.
*Photo Credit: Variant Berry
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