A downloadable game

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The Plot Unfolding Machine (PUM) is a one-pager GM Emulator that helps you come up with scene proposals, challenges and stakes for your PCs to fight for. What stands between your characters and their goals? Who is opposing them, and how? What happens next?. These are questions PUM tries to help answer, moving your game forward.

By placing conflict at the center of the adventure, you'll find your characters having to fight for their goals, and your RPG system to actually matter. PUM's main goal is to bring Solo RPG players back to the player side, lowering the GM authorship effort on the game content.

It can be played stand-alone, or along other solo systems like Mythic.


  • Get Scene Prompt ideas for those times when your PCs open that mysterious door or traverse that mystic forest

    • Inspire yourself with challenge ideas
    • Problematic circumstances
    • Reminders about calling your setting elements
    • Prompt complications and plot twists
    • Figure out what is at stake if things go really wrong
    • Figure out what your PCs discover after they hack a node
  • Play with 8 oracles that can answer any kind of questions you have, what, who, why, how, etc
  • Plenty of advice for playing solo, examples, coop solo, optional roles, and more

Digital Tools to play PUM

Community Tools:

Finally, you can expand it with my new auxiliary system Scene Unfolding Machine.

Join me and let me know how this works for you :)

Check out my blog here: https://jvhouse.xyz/ for actual plays and other goodies

CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(17 total ratings)
GenreRole Playing
Tagsmythic, solo, Solo RPG, Tabletop role-playing game, writing


Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

Plot unfolding Machine - old v1 for the curious! 4 MB
Plot unfolding Machine - V2-2.pdf 2 MB
Plot unfolding Machine - V2-2 - Print.pdf 2 MB
Plot unfolding Machine - V3-2.pdf 3 MB
Plot unfolding Machine - V3-2 - Print.pdf 2 MB
Plot unfolding machine v4-5.pdf 4 MB
Plot unfolding machine v4-5 - Print.pdf 5 MB
Plot unfolding machine v4-5 - Spanish.pdf 4 MB
Plot unfolding machine v4-5 - Spanish - Print.pdf 5 MB
Plot unfolding machine v5-5.pdf 5 MB
Plot unfolding machine v5-5 - Print.pdf 7 MB
Plot unfolding machine - Game Prep v5.pdf 789 kB
Plot unfolding machine - Game Prep v5 - Print.pdf

Development log

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Will there be an epub version of this?


Hmm..it looks like all the earlier versions are available to purchase, but only the most recent update is available without paying a second time.  Is that an itch thing, or maybe I'm missing something?

Hey there. It is strange that you can even see earlier versions... They should be all hidden except the most recent one. And no, none of them should have any price tag at all (other than donation). Which version were you looking for?

What I see is (1) the Download section with only v4-5, and (2) the Development log with a partial list of previous versions.  The Devlog also has a "View all posts" entry that takes me to a page with ALL prior versions.  All this is exactly the same whether I am logged into my account or not.

The one difference when I am logged into my account is that I have the grey bar at the top that says "you own this game".  That bar has a download button that allows me to download without being asked for $$, and I can see only the 4-5 versions there, as you would expect.

When I look at other games I own via itch, I notice that some of them display a Devlog list and some of them don't, so I assume it's a configuration thing.  The items in the Devlog are always available for sale as separate purchases, and never show up as files that can be downloaded because you already own them.  (They are sometimes older versions but more often seem to be related content.)

I am not looking for a particular version.  I was just going to look through the old versions to see if you had taken out anything that I actually wanted to use, or whether I could safely ignore them.  It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  This is great stuff and I appreciate your efforts!


Thanks, yes. Not sure about how itch io manages the devlog, but for the simplicity of things, I hide the old versions not to confuse people. As of removals, no big things were removed but indeed lots of renaming and refinement. Most of the changes went in the direction of "evoking" ideas on the player, where older versions were more frontal, for example what now is "Room for hidden things or intentions", before it was "Perception test". I like the newer more because it opens to more different interpretations, where the old one forced the PCs to do something in a specific way.

The most different release of all, was version 3.x, which coincidentally, is the one implemented online, here: https://perchance.org/plot-unfolding-machine
Version 3 did everything quite differently, in a sense that it helped players "build sentences". But it forced you to roll many more times to complete those sentences. Works well if automated, but not so much on paper.

Hi JV! :)

I was wondering--I've been following PUM for a few weeks now and I'm really excited to see where you're going with this. Was just wondering, would it be possible to have the 4.2 version up for a while longer? I missed out on it and I was wondering if I could look at the differences between 4.2 and 4.3.

Thank you!

Sure thing, good idea! I also re-published old Legacy v1 version, it holds a special place :) (You can see how it was originally, with skills and stakes)

Thank you! 

Had to remove it now, to avoid confusion. Ping me if you would like to get any older versions.

Hi, friend, I am very excited for your system, and I print it and laminate it so that I can use it with my solo games. But could you add a little change log to every new version, to know if the changes are worthy for me to print it and laminate again? I can do it, but reading comparing side by side both versions is not comfortable. Thank you.

Thank you, and sorry for the frequent releases. I continue refining it as I play, but all are good and as long as you are okay with them and see nothing wrong it is what matters. Regardless, you are right, and I will try to be more specific as in the past.

For now, V1 is the "classic" version, where skills were specific and the tables were open to be used as you like. V2 is a focused version where prompts are more vague and up to you  to read, and V3 is like a "sentence builder" you roll phrases that give you everything you need to setup a scene.

Don’t worry. I like the fact that you keep refining it. I read the third version and found it better than the second one, but maybe I would keep the second one for more options to roll on tables but using the third one as base. I also printed the first one, for reference and will be using it for inspiration. What I meant is that, for instance, if I print and use the version 3.0 and then I see that you have already published the v.3.2, I wonder what the changes can be compared to v.3.0. Will it compensate me to print it again, will it be just cosmetic changes, one phrase, or a new table that maybe would make the game much better? Without a log, I can only just forget about successive improvements or otherwise it will never end, or check carefully side-by-side the previous version and the new updated one. If you just include a small developer’s log explaining “I changed two phrases, this and this”, or “New table X added”, or “Mechanics revamped”, then it would be easier to correct my own print with a pencil for small changes or decide if it’s worthy to reprint the new version, or just pass until a new major update. I like a lot what you are doing. And I intend to deepen in the use of Foundry and Obsidian to play ttrpgs, following your advice in your blog. It would be nice if you could show more how to setup Obsidian for that.

Hi the 3.0 and the 3.0 Print are the same.

Thanks! fixing

Thanks but there is a little difference on page 2 Scene Prompt #3 "take risk" (v3-0) "an opportunity to" (v3-0 Print)

Hey Steve! You do have a keen eye my friend!!!

Today I found the time to correct this. Sorry about that. The correct phrase is "A risk to... {Risk}, in order to... {Goal}". Thanks


Oooo print version is very welcome :) As well as the detailed advice. I haven't had a chance to play yet but looking extra forward to busting this out as it looks like a unique way to guide the story along. I especially like the focus on the 'game' aspects in it's design. Also thank you for your blog too, it's very inspiring!

Hello RestlessThoughts, thank you so much for the nice words! I just updated to Revision 21 so I hope you didn't print yet :) I have made some cool changes!

Revision 21 looks really good! I wanted to second the appreciation of the detailed advice on how to use the tool.

I'm downloading all updates as they come in and really appreciate their frequency.

PUM has quickly become one of my core tools for playing solo rpgs.

This is amazing.

It's done so much to make starting up a solo campaign easier. There are a number of ideas that I've never been able to explore that I now have prepped and ready.


This thing is absolutely brilliant!

Really appreciating the additional oracles.

Oracles like action/theme and descriptor/focus like in Ironsworn Starforged would be nice.

Keep up the great work!

(1 edit)

Thank you!! I have been wanting inspirational oracles too. Currently, "Looks" is a bit bare bones and "Intent" or "what" are quite pin-pointed to certain questions. Will be thinking about it, but don't underestimate them either! I'll think what is really missing, intent is really powerful.

Hi, I am very interested of this document but there is an error.

The attached file is a txt instead of a pdf, and opening the txt, it contains a lot of meta data etc. Would you please upload the correct format? 

Thank you


(1 edit)

I am so sorry about this. One should never make changes at 2AM. Fixed! The txt file was just a wrong file I uploaded

Thank you very much! 

(3 edits)

Hi, I red it and it looks great, now I have to try it in play.

May I suggest you to change 3 lines in the document? 

1st page: 1.Propose a scene, then roll Scene Designer Expectation Checker to verify it,...

2nd page: In the scene 1 and 4 has to be written like in Scene 2 and 3: Scene Designer ->... and Scene Challenge Designer ->...

Thank you

Good job.

Very appreciated that you took the time to point out this errata. I've been doing short edits during travel, also playing with it :) thanks

(1 edit)

It looks very interesting, but could you explain me how to better visualize the file?

(1 edit)

I am so sorry about this. One should never make changes at 2AM. Fixed! The file type is now a PDF you can check with any PDF Reader.

Very cool product. Like the scene designer. I very much like your blog.

Ohh you are so kind, thank you! I really enjoy the topic of playing RPGs without a game master, firmly believe there is so much to explore :) - and even more sharing such ideas with others


may i suggest you add a preview