Author – Kestrel Rae (@KestrelRae)
Where to Buy – https://kestrelrae.itch.io/village-witch
All of the solo tabletop roleplaying games I’ve reviewed for this blog have had stakes of some sort. Sometimes the stakes were represented by a rapidly destabilizing block tower or the gradual depletion of resources needed to continue the story. Village Witch is not like that and, at first, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the leisurely, unpressured feel of the game. After all, would there be any drama if there wasn’t some chance of failure? And without this drama, would the story I came up with be worth telling at all?
In Village Witch, players take on the roll of a recently trained witch setting off to find a village that will become their home for the rest of their lives. They will spend at least one season in a village and, at the end of that season, decide if they’ll move on, stay for another full season, or settle in that village permanently, thus triggering the end of the game.
The setting for each village is randomized by a d6 and journal entries are gently guided by 26 broad prompts chosen via random card draw. Players decide for themselves how many cards to draw and how to incorporate the guidance provided into their story. That’s essentially the entire game: arriving at a village, drawing any number of cards you desire, telling however long of a story you’d like, and then choosing to put down roots or try your luck at the next village on your list.
And it all works so well. When I started playing Village Witch, I wasn’t really in the mood to be challenged or to test my luck. I wanted nothing more than to tell a gentle story about a young witch trying to find their way in the world, and this game provided me exactly that. There was no pressure to tell a certain kind of story or to push on, risking everything to overcome great obstacles or defeat powerful foes. There’s no problem with games like that, mind you. I love some Wretched and Alone hacks, after all, and they can be (and should be?) very stressful at times.
Sometimes, though…sometimes I don’t need to be challenged. Sometimes I just need to write about Linden Greenbough and his season in Shoreheaven.
The story I created was quiet, personal, and allowed me to explore some important, intimate questions without interference. Without interference, yes, but not without subtle, elegant influence provided by the writing prompts.
Village Witch is cozy. It’s nice, simple, and warm. It’s a cup of tea in game form. It’s a nap on the couch on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s wonderful. Life is full of challenges and stressors, and most games reflect that in one way or another. But life can also be peaceful, quiet, and still highly rewarding. I haven’t found another game that has invoked those feelings better than this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Linden and I have an appointment we must keep in Glasprey’s Mill.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. I did once own a variety of pentacle necklaces in my youth so perhaps I’ve always been a bit predisposed to all things witchy. I guess you could say I’ve always found this sort of thing…charming? Get it? I know. I am so sorry.