Sunday, 5 April 2015

Day One: Journal of Hikikomori

After writing up my "review" of Hikikomori I thought it might be interesting to post the journal entries I wrote whilst playing the game. The game is a solo pen-and-paper RPG wherein the player navigates through seven consecutive days in the life of a socially isolated individual, producing a journal entry based upon the results of rolling on several interconnected dice tables. My original post can be read here.

As with the majority of RPGs, the first step is character creation. I decided to keep the biographical details sparse, and not to state the information explicitly; instead I relied on my understanding of the character to influence the tone of the journal entries.

My character's name was David Merton, an Englishman living in Hong Kong. He'd originally travelled there as an EFL teacher but in the not too distant past he decided to withdraw from social contact, for reasons unknown. I recorded his name on the word document I was using to a sheet of paper and made a note that my Hope stat consisted of a pool of 3d10. This stat is used to make opposing rolls against the various randomly traits influencing the Hikikomori's behaviour, which in turn determine the essential content of that day's journal entry.

Your character begins with three traits, randomly determined by rolling a d10 against a table. Each trait begins with a set amount number of d10s, which are used to make opposed rolls against the character's hope dice. David received the following traits: delusion (illogical, 2d10), health problem (3d10) and obsessive hobby (3d10). To add colour to the narrative I decided that David had a lung infection (health problem), was obsessed with drawing perfect graphs and was under the illogical delusion that doing so would some how grant him occult powers, though his frazzled mind hadn't quite worked out what those powers would be.

A perfect graph, yesterday.

David was ready to begin his "adventure" (albeit when where the most likely outcome would be "nothing has changed: David remains socially withdrawn"). Each day begins by rolling trait actions for the three traits with the largest respective dice pools, making any consequent adjustments to the characters stats and then writing up the journal entry. I'll jump write in and paste day one's journal entry below, with a brief explanation of the mechanics provide in the footnotes:

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything down, but for some reason, things feel different today. The coughing woke me up, as usual, though with more violence than usual. The pain in my chest was unbearable: it's definitely getting worse... maybe that's why I feel the need to keep some kind of record...

I remember looking around the room and wondering when it was going to come. All the time, all the effort, all the graphs I’ve drawn, over every surface, sometimes one atop the another- perfect graphs of the first fifty primes, so far… it was supposed to grant me some kind of power, the precise details are getting hazy, for some reason… and it’s power I lack, wheezing and spluttering on my camp bed at the centre of this room.

I was lying on the camp bed for a long time this morning, contemplating the ceiling, covered in its beautiful glyphs. Their power was evident. Clearly, some external force was preventing me from realising this. But what?I knew that the answer to that question could only be found outside. It had been weeks- months- since I’d last ventured out into the world beyond. Outside is rife with chaos and imperfection, but lurking somewhere in that chaos my invisible nemesis is attempting to thwart my project… I had to leave- I have to leave, but it feels impossible. I stood by the doorway for a long time, but was unable to overcome my inertia.
Since then I’ve been working on the next perfect graph- the 51st prime, 233. I’m maybe a third of the way through, but thought I should take a break and write down what’s been happening today. My lungs ache and my mind is foggy, but somehow I know that all this is utterly necessary.



HOPE:                        3d10

Delusion (illogical)     2d10
Health problem           3d10
Obsessive Hobby        3d10

        • Delusion roll- 10, hope roll 19 difference +9.
            • Sanity triumphs! Reduce delusion by one die.
        • Health roll, cause pain, result 15, increase dice by one
        • Hobby: roll 11- indulge in hobby, lose one action.

Just two actions, because of my hobby...
        • Do nothing- roll, gain new trait, gain new delusion Paranoid 3d10 (great)
        • Go outside- 16, doesn't make it outside

I'll post the next instalment tomorrow, with the journal entry followed by the mechanics. You can read up on the mechanics work in the free Hikikomori download here

Read the second journal entry here

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