Skip to content
If you like Solo "board games", visit our sister site

Home » SRD (System Ref Docs) » Following the LEADS SRD

Following the LEADS SRD

LEADS is based on Nicolas Ronvel’s After the Accident RPG solo journaling game.

Just like the acronym suggests, these games tend to have leads to follow in the game.

The LEADS system is heavily influenced by the Wretched & Alone system designed by Matt Saunders and Chris Bissette.

Even though it doesn’t use a tower, it still consists of a series of prompts that are drawn from a pack of playing cards.

LEAD’s games don’t have a goal to achieve, or a challenge to overcome. Instead, you use the prompts you draw to tell a story in the best way possible.

In the game After the Accident, you use the prompts to tell the story of a victim of a shipwreck or crash of some sort.

The author suggests the same rules would work for a person shipwrecked on an island, an aviator who survived a crash in the mountains, a speleologist, waking up in a ghost town, etc

Primary Mechanic

  • 19 Cards laid out in 3 rows (Acts of the story)
  • As cards are turned over, a prompt is looked up, and a journal is written
  • Some prompts have optional leads you can select
  • When a lead is selected, it is shuffled into the top 5 cards of the pack to resolve later

How it works

The system is broken into 4 phases

  • Setting definition – Does the story take place in the mountains, a cave, on the road etc. Is it in the real world, or a fantasy world?
  • Initial situation – This can be predefined, or in the case of After the Accident, the King, Queen, and Jack of Spades are shuffled and one is selected at random to pick a predefined situation.
  • Setting up the Story Deck (3 Acts) – Each of the suits represents an Act or chapter in the story.
  • Drawing cards and following leads
  • End Card – When the Ace of spades is drawn, the King, Queen, and Jack of Spades are shuffled. The first card selected gives you a final prompt to complete the story.

Building the story deck (Acts)

Before starting the story, the player separates the deck into four suits.

After shuffling the hearts, 6 cards are drawn and placed face down. These cards become Act 1 of the story.

Next, they do the same with the diamonds. This time they deal out seven diamond cards and place them under the hearts. This becomes Act 2 of the story.

The clubs are next to be drawn. Draw 6 cards and place them at the bottom of the pile.

Finally, the Ace of spades is put at the bottom of the pack. This is the card that marks the end of the story.

The remaining Spades are put to one side. They will be used to keep track of the Leads.

The “Story Deck” is now ready.

As well as the story deck, you will need to print a reference sheet where you will keep track of the leads you have followed and match them to a Spade card.

Drawing cards

Each card represents a period of time. In the case of After the Accident, each card represents a day. However, there is no reason the cards could not represent an hour or a week.

The game starts like most traditional journaling games. The first card is drawn, and a journal is written based on the matching prompt.

What’s different?

Some of the cards offer leads. These are shown below the prompt in the form of three words (eg Signal – Toy – Animal)

Leads are what makes the journaling really interesting.

As a player, you have the option of following one of these leads (or ignore them completely).

You can’t select more than one option, so the player needs to pick the one that provides the most interest to them.

At this stage, its up to the player to interpret the keyword as they see fit. It should become a key part of the journal entry for the day.

It is important that the player DOES NOT read the prewritten prompt that is associated with the keyword. This will be read later in the story when the lead is redrawn from the story deck.

To add the lead to the story deck, the player first ticks off the keyword and matches it with a free Spade card (on the reference list printed earlier)

The selected Spade card is then shuffled into the top 5 cards of the story deck.

To do this:

  • The player removes 5 cards from the top of the story deck
  • After adding the new Spade card, the deck of 6 (or less) cards are shuffled
  • The shuffled cards are added back to the TOP of the story deck

The game continues as normal. But when the spade is drawn from the story deck, it is time to read the prewritten prompt associated with the keyword. (You can find the keyword that matches the card by referring back to the reference list created earlier)

My Thoughts

I really like the way the story had a predetermined length and doesn’t rely on a tumbling tower.

Without utilizing any of the leads, the story is always 19 cards long. You can also add an extra 9 cards as leads, meaning the maximum story length is 28 cards.

Shuffling the leads into the top 5 cards makes you feel that you are actually following a lead to its conclusion. Having it so close to when it is first discovered keeps the lead relevant and doesn’t dilute its meaning over time.

The fact that you don’t use all of the cards in the deck, and the order of the cards change each time you deal, makes each game unique.

If you throw three lead options per card into the mix, and the ability to interpret them as you see fit, the scope of where you can go with it in the game increases greatly.

Finally, when you get close to the end of the game, placing a lead in the final 5 cards changes the chances of pulling the Ace of Spades, increasing the chances of ending the game early.

Depending on how you like to play, you may decide to have multiple leads in play at once, or delay introducing any new leads until the previous one had been resolved (pulled from the story deck).

No matter which route you take, the choice is yours. The rules don’t force you to take leads until you are ready.


The LEADS system is very clever. It’s a shame there are not many games utilizing the system yet.

It takes away the tension of using a tower, but always provides a full story arc of at least 19 cards.

Because each lead is visited twice (once when it is first decided by the player, and once when it is drawn from the pack), it gives the opportunity to reinterpret what it means as the story progresses.

How to get it

Following the LEADS is written by Nicolas “Gulix” Ronvel

The SRD can be download from the itch page :

Several games are can be found on the LEADS Jam page.

The LEADS SRD is licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license ( The LEADS logo is a creation of Nicolas Ronvel, and is used with permission.

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.