In April 2020, I wrote and released Bear, a solo tabletop role-playing game (available here.) It is a game that allows the player to tell an ongoing story that they can revisit at any time (with the player imagined as a magically empowered patron of an adventurer in another world), and I’ve decided to write down the story I’ve been telling whilst playing it here.
Everything is moving fast, jumping and springing and shifting – Bear is training in a forest, in her rigged course of obstacles and challenges. She should have stopped and rested long ago. It’s relentless.
She’s stayed in this forest for too long, training. Trying to honour the traditions that mean so much to her. She has made promises to many people, many who aren’t here any more.
Bear’s sister, at the edge of the course, stops her. Asks how much longer she intends on doing this, levels at Bear the accusation of no longer being here for her, no matter how much it’s claimed. Tells Bear that she’d clearly rather keep training than put herself to an actual test. Bear’s protests are met with a clean statement: ‘I don’t want to be a bond that stops you from leaving.’
Bear needs intervention. But she must make this decision herself. And so an ability is granted, a recognition of her strength, and her agency to use it.
Green flames pour from Bear – flames that wouldn’t set a forest alight, but instead dissolve her training ground, green dust carried away by the wind.
‘See what you’re capable of. You can’t stay.’
Bear’s things are swiftly packed. She walks through the forest, through shallow streams, through small hills and valleys, to the edge, where it becomes desert.