A downloadable Solo RPG

Buy Now$8.00 USD or more

The (Un)Naturalist is a solo journaling RPG in which you take on the role of a scientist exploring and documenting a tropical forest. 

As the research expedition progresses you must contextualize increasingly unnatural events. The game concludes when the expedition concludes, naturally or otherwise. Do you dare to proceed boldly into the shifting unknown?

This page is for a digital PDF of the game, want a physical one instead? You can find physical prints here: https://knaveofcups.com/product/the-unnaturalist/


About the files:

The game is available as individual pages or spreads for your convenience, the content of both files is the same so you will only need to download your preferred format. 

The Community:

Bigots are not welcome in my community, nor are those who deny proven scientific topics such  the impacts of man-made climate change or the existence of the gender spectrum. 

The Contributors:

Cover art: “Mutant Gator” by Taylor D. Hewitt - www.taylordhewitt.com

Copyediting by Brent Jans (@DorklordCanada)

StatusIn development
CategoryPhysical game
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(20 total ratings)
GenreRole Playing
TagsCreative, Forest, Narrative, Sci-fi, Singleplayer, solo, Solo RPG, Text based
Average sessionA few minutes


Buy Now$8.00 USD or more

In order to download this Solo RPG you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $8 USD. You will get access to the following files:

The (Un)Naturalist_ Custom Prompts.txt 4 kB
The (Un)Naturalist_ Custom Prompts.pdf 37 kB
UnaturalistVol1-Spreads 52 MB
UnaturalistVol1-Pages 55 MB

Exclusive content

Support this Solo RPG at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Join the Expedition - Community Copies

If you are unsure if the game is for you or are unable to pay for the game at this time feel free to download a community copy, no questions asked. If this item is ever "all claimed" please reach out and I will add more so anyone can continue to access the game free of charge. 

Development log

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Hi. Is there any chance of more community copies being added? This looks really cool but I currently can't afford it

I've added a few more, feel free to claim one! If you do and have time please consider leaving a review!

Thank you!

I had a great time with it!

Applying the scientific method to clearly unnatural phenomena was what I absolutely loved about the game. Trying to concoct a coherent, testable hypothesis was a great brain teaser and an inspirational exercise. Drawing the illustrations was also fun.

You can read my journal here.

Here is a video of several submissions to Zimo including The Unnaturalist! Thanks to Goblin Mixtape for spreading the word on all of these: 


This is also me checking the theory that video comments have an impact on Itchio discoverability, wish I had seen the video back during ZiMo!


Just wanted to say, I bought this game two days ago. It's my first solo roleplaying experience and I am obsessed. The prompts are brilliant, and I've already written 11 pages in my journal. So much fun! 


You made my night! I'm glad you like it and I hope the extra prompts coming later this month add some replayability to the game for you!


Is the mentioned playmap under construction, missing or is assumed I make it myself?


Hello, sorry I didn't catch this quicker. For now the grid is player provided. I'll try to add a note that clarifies this in future versions. I've been playtesting in pocket notebooks with Grid or Dot ruling which makes creating the grid quite easy. 

Part of my layout hopes for later in development is to include a sort of playersheet with a grid and player identification page!

Just wanted to let you know that the new version of the upload does have a premade grid in the back of the book that you could write directly on or photo copy! 

The sample entries show the first 3 levels of the 'scientific method flow chart' and a proposition for the fourth level. Is that generally the way to make the journal entries or am I meant to do all 6 levels (from observation down to communicate results), if so would it be possible to include a sample entry that demonstrates all 6 levels as an example?


Thanks for the note!

The samples were intended as sort of "average" as in theory some of the levels should fall off over time because of the (Prey) prompts. 

I'll think on a Sample with more of the steps present for the next round of release! 

While I'm ok with instructions it's usually when I see how something is done (e.g an example) that it clicks, right now I'm not sure how the other levels would look in the context of the game, so its on 'pause' after my first entry until I do.

Also thanks for getting back, I'm really intrigued by your game

Hello, sorry it took a few days to turn this around but I've tried to improve the examples in today's updated release. Link to the devlog is here but you can also just re-download the game normally!  https://donniedynamo.itch.io/the-unnaturalist-forest/devlog/295048/version-5-rel...

The v5 is today's update and contains a slightly better example section. If you have any remaining confusion just mention it here and I"ll take the notes for next time. Cheers

Thank you, I hadn't realised the 1st example had been the full flow chart, its much clearer with the bracketed labels and spaces, I'll print it out and resume the journal and see how it goes. The new artwork is great too at inspiring ideas.

Regarding to the 'First Return' section: if my character returns to a location they had previously been to, they go there to examine their original hypothesis. In the case of locations where there were (Prey) events, does my character get stalked by the monster predator again, or do they just re-examine what's there? Does returning to a (Prey) event square count towards the loss of scientific method tracker?

I think either option here could make sense, but really does affect the pacing of the game/story. If it counts as either another (Prey) event or even just freaks out my character with the possibility (and contributes to the loss of scientific method), this shortens the game and makes it more dangerous to the fate of the expedition. If returning for new examination does not count towards (Prey) encounters, then my playthrough is very long...

Perhaps I could flip a coin to see if returning to reexamine (Prey) encounters puts my character in danger? That might be a good middle ground...

Additionally, I did use a four-sided die instead of spinning a pen to decide which direction I travelled. I think that might be a good accessibility option to include for low-dexterity folks? Especially since that can be done in a dice-rolling app.

All this to say, I really love this game! Thanks so much for putting it out here, I'm really enjoying it. I feel like it naturally (ha) led me to thinking of a Victorian Era sort of fantasy setting? But the conceit could really easily be turned toward mapping out a section of new planet in a sci-fi setting.

Oh, I also added to my playthrough a mysterious company/corporation that commissioned the expedition, which was fun. Maybe a table to roll on with updates and news and letters from friends and rivals might be fun in your game? It definitely added some drama :)

Hi there, excellent feedback! Thanks for giving the game a more in-depth look. 

The First Return DOES trigger Prey again, as you see the markings left by the stalking actions of the Predator. I'll be sure to clarify that in my next update. I would much rather risk accelerating the end-game than letting the game drag on too long. 

On the D4 / Pen: I'll look into adding some phrasing or a subheading that proposes some accessibility options. I think in the primary rules I may leave the Pen, as I do want the basic reading of the game to suggest that  the game is playable without any specialty equipment (dice) or electronic devices. I don't want to alienate those who can't / don't play the game in that way so thank you for raising this topic!

I wonder if some intrepid writer-artist created a game like this for themselves and generated the Voynich manuscript that folks scramble and obsess over trying to understand at least the sketches if not as much the cyphered and perhaps nonsensical text.

I actually want to try this with some kind of Alone Among the Stars hack, and using a d6 to create doubt on rolls of one pip. I tend to prefer more open prompts for myself.

Funny you should mention it, the next draft has a more chaotic/ variable doubt mechanic for each prompt to add uncertainty and speed up the game. You lost me a bit in your opening jargon but I agree the next step for the core system is to build in a bit more narrative flexibility.


Oh, in the beginning I was thinking about the Voynich manuscript, which is an artifact that's a book with weird text and weirder scientific (?) drawings. It is a real thing in a museum somewhere, and it might be an Unnaturalist kind of journal done back in the Middle Ages. Worth a Google if you like.

hi, i haven’t played a lot yet but i wanted to comment regardless; i like the game very much so far! it has just enough guidance to hold up its own weight, without feeling constricting or stilted, and the minimal setup is great. i feel it could be also be a really fun framework to explore other “weird fiction” scenarios like QZ and adapt them to solo play as well. and i wonder what it’d be like to play as a scientist in a world with a different natural baseline, if that makes sense? wandering into spec bio territory. anyway, i really like this game! it’s very fresh and enjoyable, and i’m excited to see what else you make of it in the future :)

Cheers! I'm open to continuing to expand the setting both in biomes and in reality parameters (what would this same set of prompts look like in a world with micro gravity or no surface tension).

Feel free to post along with any progress on your own journal! 


Following up now that the base game is finished. I do have ideas for a Speculative Evolution spin-off, I've recently been inspired by the Astrovitae magazine. You can find it here if that's up your alley: https://www.astrovitae.com/issues.html