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Solo Tabletop RPG review: Anamnesis

Anamnesis is a tarot-based journaling game that creates a vehicle to explore a character’s life. While the game hands you the keys, there are a multitude of insightful surprises on the road. 

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Anamnesis is a solo journaling game where you “play as an individual who has woken up with memory loss.” The character players inhabit doesn’t know their origins, location, or interests. Prompts and a deck of tarot cards serve as tools to discover the character’s past and what they care about.

The TTRPG Anamnesis on a deck of cards

A digital copy of Anamnesis will run you $8 USD while a physical copy is $14 USD. The game was written by Samantha Leigh with Blinking Birch Games. It’s 23 pages with thoughtful white space where it feels meditative. There are no overt content warnings, but you may journal about serious topics. The safety section provides some guidelines for handling discomfort. 

I first came across Anamnesis thanks to the wonderful folks over at the Planet Arcana podcast. (If you enjoy audio dramas or Dungeons and Dragons actual plays, I beg you to give them a listen. Stellar stuff.) I didn’t have a tarot deck for the longest time, so it took me a while to finally pick it up. I’m so glad I finally did.

All you need to play is a  tarot deck and a way to record your thoughts.

Tarot cards set up to start the solo tarot journaling RPG, Anamnesis

Anamnesis is a game that trusts you completely, allowing you to form your own interpretations and conclusions from the prompts and the cards you draw. The mechanics are simple but can lead to complex outcomes if that’s what player desires interprets from the cards they draw.

How to Unravel the Past

Draw a card from the designated Act deck — there are 5 — and draw a card from the Major Arcana. Using these two cards and the prompts in the game book, you’ll discover some of your character’s lost memories. I made it through all 5 acts in about two hours — I indulged in the writing portion. You can read my journal here.

I actually played Anamnesis by accident. I intended  to play at some point of course, but I picked it up to review how it handled solo gameplay (as research for my own solo game). Well, I might as well set up the deck, I thought, following the instructions for how to break up the acts. Well, I might as well play through an act, fell the next domino. Well, I might as well journal it… 

So I played the game. It was a thorough research session. 

If nothing else, this should prove how simple yet consuming Anamnesis is. While the game is quick, it’s easy to bond with the world that springs up around your character. In fact, I think this TTRPG serves as both an incredible character-building game and a worldbuilding game. Drawing cards is exciting, and fitting them in with the prompts and each other felt natural and empowering. The game grabbed my curiosity and yanked me through a tumultuous yet satisfying arc of discovery and an attempt at redemption.

I won’t give away the concluding mechanic. Just know that it’s elegant and fulfilling. 

I’ll be Playing Again.

If you’ve come across this game and you enjoy worldbuilding and creating characters, I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy. This gem doesn’t require a lot of space, and it’s adaptable to any kind of world you want to create. I opted to explore a futuristic colony on a drifting space cruiser and nothing felt out of place.

Review at a Glance

ContentThere isn’t a lot of content here in the traditional sense, but there is a lot of room to breathe your own, and this game inspires it.
Rules difficultyThe rules are extremely simple and easy to remember.
AccessibilityThere is an audiobook version! While there is no epub, the pdf is selectable and easily printer friendly.
Time commitmentI spent about 2 hours settling into my character and writing. This game can run a lot longer or shorter depending on your journaling practices.
PriceYou can get the digital edition for $8 or a print copy for $14.
Final thoughtsThis is a great tool to meet a character, explore a world, or all of the above. Don’t sleep on this solo TTRPG.

Do you know of other tabletop RPGs that guide you through character creation as the game itself? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


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