My personal renaissance of Pen & Paper games

Old hobbies

An interesting thing that keeps happening to me in the last years, as I am getting older (38 at the time of writing) is that I am returning back to the hobbies I had (or almost had) as a kid or teenager.

I have played a bit of Magic The Gathering, I made some models and dioramas, and I have gotten into micro-electronics (which wasn’t truly my childhood hobby but it was part of my education).

Now I got obsessed with TTRPGs (tabletop role-playing games) or Pen and paper games how I remember them being called in the past. As a teenager, I spent quite some time running and playing a Czech TTRPG game called “Dračí doupě” which was a local D&D clone (an old website in Czech). I had also run several games of Shadowrun and read through a couple of more systems that were available back then.

I believed those times are a long time in the past. I couldn’t imagine I would ever have enough time to actually prepare a traditional TTRPG campaign with all the world-building and story-building I had been doing back in that time. And also, all the old friends I had been playing with are out of reach.


First, I came across Mausritter while some people mentioned the game in an unrelated discussion group. In this game, players play a little sapient mouse going on adventures. It’s still the “sword and sorcery” RPG we know very well from other games but re-flavoured into something quite different.

I bought a copy and convinced my partner and a friend to play it. Since then we have been playing a campaign in The Estate (an official adventure set for Mausritter). We are having a lot of fun that my partner documents in her awesome game diary.


I did what I did with any of the hobbies mentioned above: reading about how to run games, and how to play games. Joined many discords, where I mostly lurk and observe other people talking about TTRPG games. I started buying and reading rules and supplements for various games. I have discovered a very rich and amazing subculture of indie TTRPG games. An amazing world that is full of amazing ideas and games I would love to play.

Mausritter itself is based on Into The Odd and that lead me to other games like Electric Bastionland, Cairn, and Liminal Horror. I bounced into game families like Powered By The Apocalypse (PBtA), and Forged in the Dark (FitD). I collected dozens of PDFs, and quite a few physical books and pledged on many crowd-funded products. I bet they’ll keep coming long after I get bored of the hobby and move on to something else.

Solo play, Ironsworn & Ironsworn: Starforged

One of the very interesting branches of TTRPG games I have discovered is solo games. It sounded like a very odd idea to play a game solo but also a very appealing idea for a socially anxious person who lives in a foreign country and doesn’t speak the local language fluently (yes, me)

I have already published several posts where I capture the story of Valentin Sikorski - a space courier in Ironsworn: Starforged. Ironsworn is the older version in a fantasy setting and I am currently also playing one character in this game. I plan to write a bit more about how I play those games and how my approach develops. It takes some learning and unlearning but it is certainly a very interesting experience.

Apart from that, I played The Wretched - a sci-fi horror journalling game. That was an interesting experience but it didn’t really tick the box of “game” for me. It felt just like a story driven by random prompts without any agency on my side.

There’s also a copy of Thousand Years Old Vampire in the photo above. It’s perhaps the most famous solo journalling game. I am yet to play it, and so far I haven’t figured out who is my vampire going to be at the beginning of the journey. I am looking forward to this one since it seems to have interesting mechanics of memories and experiences where the character forgets important events and people as they go through their life.

I also plan to try solo play with other games. Maybe using Mythic Game Master Emulator

Play by Post

Play by post (PbP) was originally about people playing games via good old letters. Nowadays it usually represents an asynchronous play on internet forums. It’s perhaps the most approachable kind of play because doesn’t require people to be able to participate at the same time or even be present at the same place at the same time. It’s a very specific kind of playing with its positives and negatives.

The game goes of course much slower than normal games. It can not offer as much immersion and it’s really a lot about luck if players and GM stay interested in the game for long enough so something actually happens. I have seen several games which never got past character creation and world-building, some that ended after one scene.

Of all my attempts to join a PbP game only one that survived a significant time is a Mausritter campaign run by an awesome “gamemouster” (link is to their blog post from the time we started playing). This game had quite a rapid tempo at the begging. A lot happened in a short period of time and the players and the GM was very active. Over time it slowed down. It’s not really a problem but there are days when I wonder if it’s getting to stall already or if it’ll pick up again. So far it keeps going and I am still eager to see what happens to the characters.

Online play

Last but not least. Playing via video/voice calls, sometimes using some additional software. It took me some time to find the courage to try to play a game with total strangers on the internet. So far I have had two very nice sessions (Blades in the Dark and Brindlewood Bay) and I am excited to play more.

What next

Play more! Play more solo, play more PbP, play more online. And eventually, find some people in Berlin who would enjoy playing in English and exploring various games. And of course, I am eager to run more games. Be it PbP, online or in the real world. Of course, running games for strangers is way out of my comfort zone so it might take me some time to get there. Playing with strangers is a very good first step, though!

There’s going to be more TTRPG content on this blog. So follow me on Twitter or find your old RSS reader. You can also add me on discord (josefadamcik#0052) if you feel like chatting!