This is a game for one player, designed for contemplative solo play. It’s a bubbling cauldron of simple rules and writing prompts, stirred together to produce the story of a teenage witch spending a year away from home in an unfamiliar city called Koriko.
The game’s primary inspiration is Kiki’s Delivery Service, both the Studio Ghibli film and the Eiko Kadono novel. I’ve watched the film countless times as it’s one of my son’s favourites, and its story and themes have burrowed their way deep into my soul.
You don't need to have played a roleplaying game before—this isn’t much like most of them anyway. A passing familiarity with witches, urban exploration and teenage drama is all the background you’ll need.
Seasons of play
Your witch’s story is told in six sections, or volumes, each taking an hour or two of your time. To play, you'll need this book, a deck of tarot cards and a stack of dice. You’ll also need a journal to write your story in.
We’ll start by helping you to create your witch and their home village, then we’ll whisk them away on their journey to Koriko. This city is a place of your own invention. It might be a charming seaside resort, a smog-choked metropolis, a palace in the clouds—whatever you can imagine. We’ll make this place together, asking questions to inspire your creativity.
Then, with your version of Koriko established, your witch can explore and meet its weird and wonderful residents. To do this you’ll draw cards, each relating to a prompt that introduces a new event to your story. These prompts are a chance to exercise your creative writing muscles—and when things get risky, we'll add dice to an increasingly-precarious stack!
At the end of each volume you’ll pause to reflect, spending time resting before writing a letter home to your witch’s mentor. Then, perhaps after a break, we’ll move on to the next volume of events and ephemera. In this way you’ll be guided through the gentle rhythms of the year.
Then, as winter draws to a close at the end of your witch’s year in the city, you'll make their biggest decision yet: will they stay in Koriko to remain the city’s resident witch, or leave—back home, or off to pastures new?
This is a perfect jumping-off point for your journey (or return) to the world of roleplaying. There are no complex rules to learn, no group of players to coordinate and no need to talk in a funny accent.
Solo roleplaying games are pen & paper experiences that are designed primarily for just one player—you. I like them because they let me squeeze some storytelling into the margins of my life, on my terms. Or, if I'm blessed with a rare quiet evening, I can luxuriate and spend an hour researching Italian pop music or Basque cuisine as I play the game—and there's nobody at the table to get bored with my diversions.
# Version 1.0
This is the launch version of Koriko, ready to play and enjoy.
There are a few things still on the to-do list, which will be added later as free updates to this game:
- A soundtrack! I'm very excited to start properly making this now :)
- The Patron confidant, which all Patron backers will get as a printed bonus.
- Rules for asynchronous play, that will allow you to play the game alongside your friends (in a very loose sense!)
- Plain text & accessible versions of the game's files (I'm currently learning how to do this in Affinity!)
- "A Magical Sandwich", an alternate start for playing as a college wizard.
- A rules explanation video, where I'll play through the setup and opening volumes—for those of you who learn better by watching.
This game is absolutely superb! Seriously elevates solo RPGs both because of its mechanisms but also the way it introduces the player to the game. I am in absolute awe, and I’d very much like to get myself a physical copy but it seems the only physical reward available on Backerkit is the boxed version. Now I never thought I’d say this but I don’t need more dice… will it be possible to just purchase a copy of the book in the future?
Either way many thanks for such an outstanding experience, this is the best I’ve played all year (and I play a lot)!
We’re very likely to have some excess book-only stock after the Kickstarter is fulfilled, as we’ve got plenty of extra copies to ensure everyone gets their rewards. Sign up for the mailing list at Deernicorn, they’re going to be stocking the game once it’s launched :)
(that being said, the custom cards do make the game a lot quicker & more fun to play imo!)
Hello! This beautiful game is already one of my favorite hobbies to do after my kiddos go to sleep. It's so wonderful, magical, soulful, and fun! Well done with it!
Question - I've played through Arrival and I'm moving onto Spring and I'm confused on building this next volume deck. The card I didn't draw from Arrival gets discarded, but do I shuffle the other ones (not including Confidants) back into their respective decks, or discard those too?
At the end of any volume, the only cards that go back are confidants that you’ve met already (those that are in your ‘circle’). Moments (minor arcana) from your volume deck are discarded, whether you drew them or not. Any confidants (major arcana) you didn’t draw and have never met are also discarded. Hope that helps!
Hello Jack! I just claimed a community copy and I'm SO exited to play it! But I have a question: When playing in digital, how to use online tarot websites since there's no way to make a custom Volume deck in digital?
Hello Jack! I have a bit of a silly question. I'm struggling to understand the Arrival volume mechanics on page 60-61. When creating the volume deck, it says not to add any confidants, but in the coda, it says to choose one of your confidants. Is this just picking any one of them that is available? Thank you for creating this amazing game! I'm so inspired
Hello! You won’t have met any confidants at the start of Arrival, so there are none to add. However, because you placed a confidant on the top of each suit deck during setup, you’re guaranteed to draw 3-4 confidant cards as you draw cards in the volume. Hence, by the end of the volume, you will have met some!
A question about the circle and confidants: If I added 3 confidants to my volume deck, but only end up drawing 2 of them during the volume do I return that unplayed confidant back to the circle? Or are they discarded for the remainder of the game? Thank you!
Hello! Good question, here’s a passage from page 49 😊
If you have cards left in your volume deck at the end of a volume, return any confidant cards that you’ve previously met to your circle. Discard any other remaining cards, including confidant cards you haven’t met.
I'm back with the link to the first part of my playthrough! I went as far as drawing out a little image of my witchy gal, Hazel, for the thumbnail. I hope I did well enough showing off the 'tutorial' section of the game, and I really hope this convinces more folk to try it out!
It would be lovely if this page could list what kind of dice and how many dice comprise "a stack of dice"? I'm planning to purchase the game this weekend, but want to have all my materials ready before I begin play.
Got the chance to play through Volume 1 while on stream for Extra Life, and I had fun! Lot of reflections and interesting world-building happened, and since it was streamed, I decided to make my Volume 1 journal public. We'll be adding the play-through videos on youtube later, if anyone wants to have a glimpse as to how the first part of the game goes! As I'll be streaming Volume 2 tomorrow, I'll be back to post here how it goes as well.
Hello! That’s rad, I’m so happy to see the game used for a good cause. Sorry I missed your stream announcement, I’m on my own with the kids this weekend so it’s been a bit full-on 😅 looking forward to watching the video!
I finished chapter 1 yesterday and had a fantastic time.
Just like MadMerryM below though I can't figure out how and when to add skills. The Rest at the end of the first chapter mentions writing a lesson under the relevant skill, but there was no instructions on adding skills to begin with. Is there a list of skills to choose from? How many should I add per quadrant?
Ohhh now reading this again I see I’ve misunderstood. I thought power, craft, care etc are categories. And that at some point I’ll be adding skills to those categories like potion making let’s say under craft.
Now I see that power, craft, care etc ARE the skills and the lessons are what goes in the empty space in the quadrants
Thanks. I read those sections a few times but for some reason I got confused.
I find myself thinking about and looking forward to visiting Koriko daily - I’m only drawing a card a day and writing a quick two page journal entry due to work demands, but it’s refreshing me so much to be writing and imagining again! I do wonder if I’m understanding the instructions right, I can’t quite figure out how and when to add skills (just with risks, only successes, or also hangouts?) and am new to rpg so am not sure if there’s examples or lists out there of skills to choose from that will make sense later. But I’m having fun making it up, whether I’m doing it right or not! Thanks Jack! I’ve recommended this to so many friends already!
Your skills are always the same—Power, Craft, Care and Lore (see page 15). Underneath those skills you add lessons (see page 19)—short summaries of an experience, typically a single sentence. For example:
I helped Farmer Benetto cure his orchard of blight.
I broke the curse on Gonville’s pigskin hat.
I stood up to Andrea’s bullies in the palace gardens.
You write a new lesson whenever instructed—most often at the end of a volume or after a successful dice stacking, but also in a number of other ways. You’ll always see it written as ‘Write a new lesson’. Hope that helps!
Ah, yes - very much, thank you! I did not read that quite right, and then was looking much later in the book for his info. I just went to a writing retreat and everyone was so curious, was really fun to share. My witch just figured out how to rig a clever cooling device - if only I could have one for this heat ;)
Jack Harrison is one of those game designers of whom I'm rather jealous; because he's successful, of course, but also because his games are little jewels of game design, always brimming over with one shiny idea after another. In Koriko, everything is magically intertwined: the game's theme, a sort of variation on Kiki's Delivery Service, but also its mechanics, which combine tarot cards, dice stacking, a bingo system and so much more... Koriko takes up the principle now very common in solo games of prompts around which to embroider (with highly oriented questions) but with the elegance of prompts that can be used in many different situations and be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the circumstances. For me, elegance really sums up Harrison's games, and Koriko is a perfect illustration of this, the kind that pushes me to do even better in my future creations!
I have now finished up my first Volume after struggling to find a physical tarrot deck and I just can not get over how amazing this game is! It manages to perfectly capture the feelings of that hopeful but unsure twilight that is being a teenager out on your own for the first time, while providing plenty of fuel for the imagination to craft a world that really feels alive and vibrant. Jack’s usual structure of mindful play that involves intentional rest and introspection just makes the places and people of this game come to life. I want to recommend this game to everyone I’ve ever met who likes RPGs. Brilliant Work!
This is the best solo TTRPG I’ve ever played. It’s the only solo game I’ve played that really felt like a full TTRPG campaign. A lot of times, solo games with cards are fun but feel disjointed, like they don’t really add up to anything. In Koriko, the mechanism for hangouts and crossroads events means you get to form attachments and run through full narratives over the course of the game.
It’s a sweet game with a big heart. From the mid-century modern vibes to the general theme of a young ‘city witch’ arriving in their new home, it obviously takes more than a little inspo from Kiki's Delivery Service. I'm a fan of Kiki; I have a friend who's never seen it, so I'm curious to see whether she'll still enjoy the game. But if you are a fan, I can't imagine how you wouldn't love this game.
Although I tried to play a character as different from Kiki as I could imagine, she still managed to have a heartfelt adventure full of painful but generally wholesome growth. (She’s not happy about that, but I am.)
I noticed there are enough cards in the tarot deck to play through a few more volumes, so I’m considering seeing if I can figure out how to give my witch a “year two.”
Wow, thank you so much! What a lovely comment. The extra cards are there primarily to make replaying the game with a new character feel fresh and surprising, but you could definitely hack something together and keep writing! Good luck :)
Hi! I just got a Community copy of Koriko, but wanted to make at least a contribution but if I put any amount other than $18 it wouldn't let me checkout. Is there a Paypal account where I can "buy you a coffee"?
Oh man, this is not generally the kind of thing I seek out, but boy am I glad I found it. It's such a pleasant experience and it's great discovering more about the witch I've created as I've gone through my journey with them. I can definitely see myself coming back to this every couple of years to revisit the journey.
Hi Jack, I write The Soloist - a newsletter focused on solo and co-op RPGs. Congrats on the release of Koriko, it looks lovely! I am including it in the new releases section of the July 3 issue, and was hoping to use your cover art (with attribution) to illustrate the article. And if there is a press kit, let me know. Thanks, and congrats again!
Super duper excited to jump into this! The art is already blowing me away, and it's easy to see the improvements in formatting/flow from the playtest version. The confidants, especially, are so cool???
Quick question, any word on the 'Magical Sandwich' stretch goal content? I don't see it on the 'things to come' list above but if it's in the main game text, I totally missed it!