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Autumn Bells

Across the land, scholars have long debated the most important ways to measure time.

The Waygardners follow the duo-lunar cycle and The Partnership has always run on the calendar set forth by the Kilana Sisterhood.

Students far and wide, however, know that the year starts in Autumn and ends in Summer.

In this solo tabletop roleplaying game, you are a teacher at a prestigious wizarding school.

Answer journal prompts to build your life as a teaching wizard.

You’ll have one prompt for each season for four different years of your teaching career: Year 1, Year 5, Year 30, and Year 100.

– Description from game author

Game Description

Autumn Bells is a journaling game where a pack of cards is used to generate a story.

It is the story of your life as a teaching wizard over a 100-year period. Instead of writing about every year, the prompts allow you to write about years 1, 5, 30, and 100.

For each of the years you write about, the cards tell a story of the four seasons in the year.

It uses:

  • A pack of playing cards (jokers removes)
  • A way to write or record journals

Unlike Wretched and Alone games that rely on a falling tower to end the story, Autumn Bells uses a predefined number of cards to complete the story arc.

You start the game by shuffling the deck. Needing only 16 cards from a pack of 52 cards means that every game is unique.

Setting the Scene

Before starting the game, you will deal out four cards to determine your background, the age of your students, the school mascot, and your magical field of expertise.

How to Play

Once you finish setting the scene, the remaining cards are split by suit and each suit is reshuffled individually.

For each year of the game, deal out a row of 4 face down cards.

The first card in each row will come from the spade pile. The next card is a club, the third is a diamond, and the final card in each row is a heart.

By the time you finish, you will have four rows of four cards.

Each row represents a year in your teaching career. The first row will be for year 1, the next row is for year 5, the next is year 30, and the final row is year 100.

The columns represent the seasons within the year.

Starting in the top left corner, turn over a card, and lookup the prompt in the tables.

Take time to think about the prompt and make your journal for the year and season.

The Card Prompts

Each of the 52 cards have a unique prompt that relates to the face value, and the suit it belongs to.

Spades – Autumn. The promise of the new school year.

Clubs – Winter. Long, cold months where light and warmth are treasured.

Diamonds – Spring. The outside world waking up disrupts the routine of school.

Hearts – Summer. Time to reflect on the past year, recharge your reserves, and get ready for the next year.

Note: I don't post actual prompts in my reviews. This is to protect the IP of the designer. You will need to buy the game to read the actual prompts.

The Ending

After completing the Summer of year 100, its time to write your epilogue.

Based on the cards that are dealt throughout the game, you will find out what type of celebration you had at your retirement, and what life is like when you stop teaching.

How is it different

Its the first card driven game I’ve seen that is made up of four years of four seasons. (There may be others out there)

This gives the story a predetermined length, and a predetermined set of years to write about. I imagine this system could easily transpose into other themes of life.

Overall Impression

I really like journaling games and the idea of writing about four eras in a wizards life appeals to me.

The prompts in the game are full of drama, reflection, and action. The epilogue is a nice touch too.

Instead of having a single prompt for each year, the game uses four cards to represent the four seasons of a single year.

I feel like the system needs to be written up as a SRD.

I can imagine games being written about the life of a SAS soldier, starting at boot camp, doing peace keeping, going to war, and working through to retirement.

Or the life of a fighter pilot as they work their way from flight school, through the military, into commercial flying, and then to retirement.

The ideas are endless.


How to get the Game

Autumn Bells is written by Jared Mason