Review of The Librarian’s Apprentice, an all-ages solo-journaling TTRPG
The Librarian’s Apprentice is a TTRPG for all ages (reading and writing required)
The Librarian’s Apprentice requires some reading, being able to write in your journal (though it is flexible on how much to write), and math for up to 2d6+2. The story is all-ages friendly, and the prompts leave a lot of interpretation for how to handle situations with a lean towards non-combat encounters.
For playing with my kid (4yo), I helped him with writing down responses for the journaling bit since he’s 4 and still working on reading and writing. It made for a fun tag-team game with the little one, and, for older kids, this would be a great way to help practice writing.
The Librarian’s Apprentice is set in a fantastical library!
Naturally, The Librarian’s Apprentice kind of HAS to take place in a library, but this particular library is very special. It shifts and changes and is full of strange rooms, creatures, and books. There’s glow mites and forbidden rooms, cute cattacoons and “The Thing Below”. Every room you encounter is new and carries a different wonder to discover or a different challenge for you to overcome! All through this, your character is questing to find six lost documents that are scattered through the labyrinthian shelves and display cases of this strange collection in order to prove their skills to The Librarian.
Your character in The Librarian’s Apprentice
On your character sheet (which is a bookmark! How cool is that?!) you fill out your character’s name, pronouns, skills, and familiar. This part covers the basics and mechanics part of your character that you’ll be using to take on challenges.
There’s another part to this though, which is where the whole journaling aspect comes in. There’s a series of truths to fill in about your background, your community, and your library to set the scene and flesh out your character. Because this is a solo-journaling game where you won’t be talking to other players and developing your character that way, I really appreciate the prompts in the beginning to help establish the character and give ways to have connections with the NPCs or lore from the way the questions are set up.
Cards, dice, fatigue, and tables in The Librarian’s Apprentice
Cards and dice working in tandem
While playing The Librarian’s Apprentice, you draw 2 cards per action from a standard deck of playing cards to interpret what your roll that turn means, create your path through the library (representing rooms on the board), see if you find a document, and determine what bonuses you get for trading a card in.
You roll your 2d6 each turn versus the value of both cards and, depending on if you beat the values of both, one, or neither of the cards you drew, you get a specific result depending on what action you’re performing.
This was really cool because you have a bit of double randomization. Many games have set dice rolls (i.e. 4 and above is always a success), but this combination of the cards and dice means that your target numbers are always changing and create some fun chaos as you may get some random really easy or really challenging rooms in your journey.
Fatigue and taking rests
While there are many other elements of this game to talk about (handling complications, resources, and more), I don’t want to give too much away or just restate the game. However, one of the fairly simple mechanics that I really liked about The Librarian’s Apprentice and wanted to make sure I discussed was how it used fatigue instead of health and gave a lot of options for resolving fatigue.
Your character is trying to race against the clock to find these six documents, but as time passes or they face some disheartening challenges, they may get too tired to complete their mission that day and need to wait until tomorrow (i.e. a new game) to take the task on again.
It gives some stakes for players to want to strategize and try to succeed each challenge or actively watch their fatigue without having the pressure of watching health and being worried about their character dying. There’s also built in rests, cards you can turn in, or help from a familiar that you can use to recover from or absorb some of that fatigue, and it makes perfect sense in the game – if you get tired, you take a rest to recover. It’s a good lesson to practice too. While this is a fun quest and you want to do your best, you need to rest and try again tomorrow sometimes, and that’s OK.
Roll tables full of great prompts
So, I love roll tables in TTRPGs because sometimes I can get a ton of ideas that I want to pour into my story, and other times, I need some help coming up with prompts or I want to understand the creator’s mood for the game. The Librarian’s Apprentice has some great roll tables to help with this. The whole second pamphlet of the game (because, it comes as two pamphlets that you fold to look like books, which is beyond cool) has a list of descriptors and library area details to help with setting the scene and a table of events and secrets to help with prompts. Some of these gave us some great new vocab words to teach my kid (again, 4yo), like arboreal and marginalia, and we got some fun prompts ranging from a karaoke party to catching a thief!
What did my kid think about The Librarian’s Apprentice?
Kiddo said (paraphrased a bit for clarity):
It was like the real library but magic and way cooler!
I loved Shoe [the Cattacoon familiar], and it was OK to take a nap to help Shoe.
He gets really excited for library visits, so a library game was definitely a big hit. As for his familiar, he loved his cattacoon, Shoe, so much and was really keen on keeping her safe… even to the point of admitting that a nap (he hates naps) was needed so they could all rest and recover some fatigue.
Overall thoughts on The Librarian’s Apprentice
This was a really fun game to play, and I loved the setting and how the cards and dice worked in tandem with each other to create a very unique difficulty scale and challenge each round. The prompts were great and engaging, and the mechanics were complex enough to be interesting without being too complicated to explain to kiddo. Having a familiar was a great win for helping kiddo connect during the game, and I also loved the artwork – this whole game is only two pages front and back, but they have so much on those pages, AND they fold onto each other look like two old library books! This was a really cool game, and I had a lot of fun playing it with kiddo.
Find a copy of The Librarian’s Apprentice
The Librarian’s Apprentice is available here on itch.io!
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