Something in the Woods

“Seven more days. And then they’ll get someone to come look for you. You only need to survive for seven days. Just make sure that thing doesn’t get inside again.”


At the strike of midnight, as Monday, July 18th turned to the 19th, the submission window for Themed Horror Jam #7, hosted by Beregon ended. My own submission made it in 27 seconds before the deadline. It hasn’t been until this weekend that I’ve had the time to play some of the submissions, and I wanted to write a blog with my results for the Solo Journaling rpg SteelWhale submitted: Something in the Woods. I’ll let them explain the premise:

In this solo journaling game, you were attacked by a monster in the woods and sought refuge in an old shack. Your leg is not looking great, so even if you knew your way out of the woods, chances are you wouldn’t make it far before nightfall. 

-SteelWhale, on their itch page.

I’d encourage you to check out the rules, and throw a couple dollar-bills SteelWhale’s way. Here’s what happened when I played:


Day One

  • 5 preparations
    • Sterilize bandage: 4/8 HP
    • Eat some nice food: 6/8 HP
    • Set up bear trap: +2 Defense
    • Search Shack
      • Rusty Knife: +1 Defense
    • Look outside the Shack
      • Broken Glass: +1 Defense

The most important key to my survival is making sure I’m strong enough. I sterilize my wounds, and while I’m outside, I find an old beer case full of busted Budweiser bottles. Perfect, I think, and take them to make a trap for that wretched beast.

Once I put the case down, outside, I notice a torn path through the brush in the east. Following it a bit, I see some of the MREs I’d packed. Having a good meal makes me feel much better.

Back in the shack, I scour the room to find a rusty knife… and a bear trap. I smash the glass and place the bear trap in a seemingly safe place away from the glass so that creature will get right fucked up. And then, I wait for night.

Monster Attack

The Monster is angry, and further infuriated by the glass and bear trap. When it sees me wielding a blade as it breaches the entrance, it backs off reluctantly.

Day Two

  • 2 preparations
    • Sterilize wounds: 7/8 HP
    • Eat some nice food: 9/8 HP

I can’t wait around here any longer. In the morning, I do my best to wrap up my leg, eat the rest of my MREs, and hike off. I grind my teeth through the pain and exhaustion, but I know enough at least to read the sun for my cardinal directions. The bandages bleed through and soak my boots, but that’s better than being eviscerated by whatever dark being lurks around that shack.

When the first night comes, I don’t even make a fire. I managed to find a spot close to a stagnant pond. I coat myself in thick swamp stink, feeling the mosquitos and bush-mites tear at my skin, and I bury myself in downed foliage.

I barely sleep. Frightened coyotes yip. Nighttime creatures visit the pond and drink. That they do so in my presence does not convince me my disguise works. But I do sleep. When I awake, shivering and nauseous in the pale morning light, I run again to warm my body.

Soon after noon, I find the trail. Not an hour after, I see a family of hikers, call for help and collapse.

Everyone thinks I hallucinated it all, that it was a coyote. Or a wild dog. But I know that there is Something in the Woods.

Post-play thoughts

I’d probably say the start of the game could be a little more difficult. With a solid 5 preparations (on a d6), I was able to set up enough defenses to protect myself enough from all the monster attacks but one, the worst AND I upped my health to 6/8 HP. That means any player has more than a very good chance to beat the game on Day 2 by rolling 5, 6, or a 1 with a 4-5-6 follow-up.

Still though, I liked how the prompts drove me towards details. SteelWhale did a good job here hitting the Jam’s requirements and suggestions too. Give it a try!


Published by ChrisAiriau

I'm a science and SF content creator, specializing in writing technical scientific concepts in clear and engaging language. Alongside many writing and editing side-projects, I taught English in French universities for eight years. At university, I worked mainly for engineering Master’s programs and science undergraduates – from economics to physics, biology to psychology. My goal is to tailor SF and science content to a diverse range of audiences, and my background provides all the necessary tools to succeed.

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