The Immortal Charm of Thousand Year Old Vampire Solo Journaling RPG

Thousand Year Old Vampire RPG

Thousand Year Old Vampire RPG

As a fan of solo gaming experiences I have been curious about Tim Hutchings’ creations. They are often clever experiments packaged into game form, prompts and directions that push the reader to create something with the elements at hand.  Thousand Year Old Vampire is a high mark of these creations – a role-playing game that simulates the life and experiences of a vampire over the course of a thousand years. It’s a game about storytelling that is designed to be played with a pen and paper, a set of dice, and your imagination.  The book is designed to look like a discovered relic with layers of depth on the cover, library markings, scribbles on the inside. But the real treat of Thousand Year Old Vampire is the series of prompts that drive you further into your own vampire narrative in a procedurally generated game. 

Thousand Year Old Vampire

A Work of Art

To meet the theme of this solo RPG, I woke early before the sun to meet my vampire. The book glitters in the morning light with a magical quality. When you open this book you’ll find library stamps, torn pieces of paper, and pencil markings give this the feel of a discovered item. Thousand Year Old Vampire feels like something that was passed down through the centuries, hidden and then found and now in your hands. The book is a treasure to hold. Gold foil printing on the cover, dual bookmarks, and a tight binding give give this volume a feel of quality.

Character Building

Before gameplay can begin, players must first create a character. This process that can be lengthy but it’s essential to establishing the backstory and motivations of your character. The Thousand Year Old Vampire takes players on a journey through time to the year 1000 AD. The game invites players to immerse themselves in the historical context of the era by incorporating real-world events and figures into their stories. In preparation for the game, players may find it beneficial to research and familiarize themselves with the political and social landscape of the time period. 

Thousand Year Old Vampire

How to Play Thousand Year Old Vampire RPG

This is a game of journaling and storytelling with an emphasis on time, memory, and loss. You will create experiences through your play and those experiences will become memories. But not all memories will last! Part of this game experience is the loss of memory along with the loss of people as time moves on.

The game starts with some basic rules and flavor text but pretty quickly gets you into the process of journaling. To play Thousand Year Old Vampire you need two dice (a D6 and D10) that will determine which prompts you move to as you play the game. The following steps are a basic outline of gameplay:

  • Create your vampire character by choosing their name, their first experience, and three mortals that they know.
  • Choose your starting memories: You start with a few memories that define who you are and how you became a vampire.
  • Roll the dice: To move through the book and through your vampire’s life. Dice rolls move you to the next prompt to create experiences. 
  • Create new memories: As you play, you’ll be creating new memories for your vampire character. These memories can be positive or negative, and they will shape your character’s personality and story.
  • Balance skills and resources: As you play the game you will gain skills and resources. These advance the capabilities of your character. When they diminish your character may also find trouble.
  • Deal with the consequences: Your character can gain and lose abilities, and they can even die if things go wrong.

Thousand Year Old Vampire

Gameplay Experience

In play, Thousand Year Old Vampire is an immersive experience that gets you thinking, researching and writing. There is a game aspect to the book as well, with six variables driving the gameplay: Experience, Memory, Skills, Resources, Characters, and Marks.  The creation of Experiences is a big part of the game and serves as the driving force behind the story. Experiences are stored in Memory. However, Memory is limited. We are living for hundreds of years so players can only remember 5  Experiences at a time, which forces them to make tough decisions on what to forget.

Players begin with three Skills and three Resources, which represent performable actions and objects acquired, respectively. These elements can be gained or lost as the game progresses. The game ends when there is no Skill nor Resource left. Supporting Characters act as NPCs and can influence players’ decisions or cause mayhem. Players will encounter new Characters and lose others as time goes on because mortals are not immortal.

Thousand Year Old Vampire Prompts

Solo RPG Experience

I didn’t know what to expect from a journaling RPG. But as a self-proclaimed Buffy aficionado, I was left with a wealth of supernatural knowledge after the show ended. As a newcomer to the world of role-playing games, I  am eager to find entry points that speak to my interests. Thousand Year Old Vampire presents the perfect gateway to begin my RPG journey. 

For those who may feel apprehensive about diving into the world of tabletop gaming, I’d like to suggest that solo gaming offers a fun alternative to socializing and improv. As someone who was initially hesitant to engage in social gaming experiences, the idea of being in control of my own narrative was a a fun change. Without the need for companions, solo gaming provides players with the freedom to dictate the pace and direction of their RPG journey. Below is the outcome of my Thousand Year Old Vampire journey. Read on to get a sense of what this game is about. Or stop here and grab your own copy of Thousand Year Old Vampire to start making your own experiences! 

Thousand Year Old Vampire Example Experiences

My Thousand Year Old Vampire

Below is a part of my vampire journey. I am still working my way into the full journal experience, so I’ll save the ending for a later date. Hopefully this will give you a taste of what this fascinating solo RPG is all about.

When I was born during the unstable period after the Tang dynasty. My name was Lu. My mother and I lived in a small village, earning a living by cultivating silkworms and weaving silk fabrics. We traded our fabrics in a nearby town, which took a full day of walking to reach. My father was executed for writing a critical book about the government when I was two years old, leaving behind a beautiful necklace and a hidden copy of the banned book for me. My best friend, Xi, often accompanies me to the town as we both come from families of silk farmers.

On an autumn evening, Xi and I were chatting under a tree until Xi’s mother called him. While waiting for his return, I fell asleep. I awoke to a stranger’s cold hand on my face. Paralyzed, I couldn’t scream as he bit my shoulder, and a voice in my head told me to stop resisting. I saw my life flash before my eyes as he drank from my neck.  As I lay dying, the stranger fed me his blood, drop by drop. Soon after, I blacked out. When I woke up at home, my mother said I had slept for days. In my pocket, I found a note from the stranger with the word “Aye.”

An Account of the Lengthy Existence

Tim Denee’s Vampire

One of the most interesting things about Tim Hutchings is his involvement with the gaming community. From his fascinating Reddit AMA to his teachings as a professor, Hutchings seems to enjoy being involved with people who play his games. An example of this is the beautiful printing of illustrator Tim Denee’s vampire experience, titled An Account of the Lengthy Existence and Numerous Experiences of Ambrose Blackhouse, Vampire, With Special Attention to Those Years in Which He Walked Upon This Earth Tho Dead, an Illustrated Novel. With foil printing and delicious texture, this book is work of love. The illustrations are as lovely as the printing while Denee’s story is worthy of a read.

Thousand Year Old Vampire

Thousand Year Old Vampire RPG FAQ

Is Thousand Year Old Vampire replayable?

Thousand Year Old Vampire can be enjoyed multiple times. The mechanic of rolling dice to find prompts will change with different games thanks to the random element of dice. And your creativity is the only other limit in creating lots of vampire stories.

Is Thousand Year Old Vampire good?

Thousand Year Old Vampire isn’t just good, it’s one of the most creative solo experiences that I’ve seen and it’s much more than I anticipated from the experience.

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