A downloadable Solo RPG

The (Un)Naturalist: Forest is a solo journaling RPG in which the player takes on the role of a scientist exploring and documenting a tropical forest. 

As the research expedition progresses the player must contextualize increasingly unnatural events. The game concludes when the expedition concludes, naturally or otherwise.

Currently the game is available in .pdf and .txt with more formats on the way.

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

Additional Art by Perplexing Ruins: https://www.patreon.com/perplexingruins/


The (Un)Naturalist_ Forest - Apex v5.pdf 8 MB
The (Un)Naturalist_ Forest - Apex v5.txt 16 kB

Development log


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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!