Author – Not Writing Games (@NotWritingGames)
Where to Buy – https://notwriting.itch.io/schisms-and-sacrilege or, while it’s available, you can buy this as part of the Solo But Not Alone #2 bundle here – https://itch.io/b/1227/solo-but-not-alone-2
When I mention to some of my TTRPG friends that I have a soft spot for solo games, I get a surprising amount of pushback. It’s okay to pretend you are a demon-slaying paladin when you’ve got a group of likeminded folks around you but to doing it on your own? Now that’s just sad! Thankfully, this view is slowly fading away as solo games become more pervasive in the hobby…but what if you’re trying to introduce one of your holdout friends to the joys of solo TTRPGs? Don’t worry! There is a wonderful solo RPG masquerading as a world building technique that every DM (and despicable solo RPG player) should know about called Schisms and Sacrilege.
Schisms and Sacrilege by Not Writing Games fosters the creation of a religion and tracks its growth and progress from inception to “present day “, whatever that means for your game world. The religion evolves over five chapters, each of which is further divided into four subsections. Players can choose which of these four subsections their religion will experience every time they progress to a new age/level.
For example, when players are ready to birth their religion into the world, they can decide (or roll to decide) if their religion is the result of war, stagnation, occupation, or prophecy. Each option comes with a number of questions players can contemplate as they flesh out the belief system. If the religion came about as a result of war and conquest, players are asked to consider who the combatants are, who gives the first sermons, which side of the conflict holds this belief, and what symbol the worshippers use.
As play progresses, the religion grows, shrinks, or splits as it shapes and is shaped by the world around it. Cults and sects can form and eventually overtake the original religion. Foreign lands can adapt the religion and change worship to better fit their own traditions. Councils can be held to determine which holy book is followed and how to best spread the word throughout the world. At the end of the process, players will have a complete, usable religion to drop into their TTRPG world, full of NPCs, centuries of history, holy places, beliefs, etc.
I think one of the reasons the game works so well is that it mirrors how real-world religions grow and change. For example, using the stages and options presented in this game, you can perfectly map how modern Christianity developed directly from ancient Judaism. This is truly a wonderful tool if you are looking to create religions in your world that have enough weight and depth to foster a sense of verisimilitude. And more importantly, it’s fun!
Whether you are looking for an interesting thought exercise, a fun solo TTRPG experience, or a means of creating believable religions for your campaign world, Schisms and Sacrilege is a game worthy of a space on your shelf. Or hard drive. Or altar? Ok that last one might be a bit too far.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. If you’re looking for another fantastic solo RPG that creates usable stuff for your TTRPG campaign, check out our review of Sigils in the Dark.