…is this mini-game I made. It is on sale now right here, but I want to take this place to talk about the game and the design. I really like reading things in an interview style, or FAQ style, so that is how i am going to write this post. Read more after this huge sampling of art and layout from the book.
What is this and what is this all about?
Do Not Let Us Die In The Dark Night Of This Cold Winter is like a tiny little board game that fits into your regular fantasy RPG system/campaign. Its a game about a village besieged by a super shitty winter. They’re out of food and medicine and fuel, and it is up to your group to take a break from looting gnoll corpses and help these people out. Survival games are in right? This is something like that but at your table top instead of on the steam store. It has a light abstraction to mind-meld it into as many RPGs as possible so that if your group is playing B/X D&D you can still play ‘Cold Winter’ and if your other group is playing Mouseguard (especially Mouseguard, shit son) you can still play this game and it works the same way for both games. You can even play it as a board game, by itself. Get some friends though, it’s a blast.
How do you play?
First you need to buy it and read it and it’s really small so that shouldn’t take too long. You can go from buying the PDF to playing the game in less than an hour, easy. There are some printouts in the back of the PDF that you use to track stuff like how much food you have, and how sick your dudes are. So grab those. Then decide who the village elder is going to be (this is usually the game master of your game; give that person a break though, run this for them)and what class your adventurer is. This game gives you three classes to pick from, and it is your job to best pair the class of your regular PC to a ‘Cold Winter’ class. After all that you make your village and get ready to try and keep all the villagers alive.
There are rules to follow! I mentioned somewhere else that ‘Cold Winter’ is lightly abstracted to fit into other games, and that sounds scary or whatever but it isn’t actually like an abstract activity; there are some hard baked rules here to follow. For example, there are turns, and those turns have things to do in them like gather supplies and gathering supplies has its own dice rolling mechanic and fun parts. The abstraction tells you why your adventurer collects x amount of supplies but there is a dice roll to decided how much that amount is.
So through this tiny abstraction and dice rolling you gather supplies. You have to also divide those supplies among buildings full of freezing cold locals who are also getting sick, or dying of other terrible things. These other things are random occurrences that you roll up at the end of each turn, and they say stuff like “a guy fell off the roof onto a pile of sharp things” and gives you a situation where you can help this guy out or let him die to the potential betterment of the rest of the village. You play for a certain amount of turns, and then you get rewarded or you end up hiding a bunch of bodies…..
A lot of the fun comes from planning your next turns and deciding how the supplies get used best. Villagers have to eat so often or they die, or get medicine, and you have to heat the homes. It is fairly uncomplicated though, especially if you compare it to similar board games or something like…I dunno…Dwarf Fortress. Give it a try, I think you’ll like this game.
This seems violent and depressing.
Kind of depressing, yeah. Players are encouraged to name their villagers and build a relationship which can make it even sadder if they die. But this game is sort of meant to be depressing; no one reads about the Donner party and goes “man that sounds like a blast” but people will always be fascinated with that shitty expedition. So if you think its a violent, depressing thing then that’s okay because that’s how I guess we should feel about these situations. ‘Cold Winter’ is only as violent as you make it though, its not written with visceral explicit language or anything like that. Warning though: villagers will die.
What RPGs do you think this game would work well with?
Hopefully all of them, if not most. It definitely pairs best with lower magic fantasy games but can be used with high level/magic systems with a little bit of tweaking. Here are some games I think would be a blast to pair this with: Beyond the Wall, Mouseguard, Burning Wheel, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Dungeons and Dragons (any edition), Into the Odd, Sword & Backpack, and Swords & Wizardry. These are just games that I have some familiarity with and can speak on about compatibility. Real talk; you can make this thing work in space or wherever. It really should be able to fit into any game without much work.
Great! What about the book, what is it like?
I think it’s pretty tight myself, but I made it so that’s to be expected. I hand illustrated every element to this thing; there isn’t a title line or page border or fleck of snow that I didn’t draw and I didn’t re-use anything. Everything is unique. That’s just how I like to do it. As far as influences on the design of the book goes, I was going for an ‘old fairy tale book’ vibe with a little modernization. I think it came out okay and I am very proud of it. It is, in my mind, elegant and sleek and easy to read. I went with a single column layout because that’s how I prefer my shit. I had to learn how to actually use scribus for this thing and it was a long and arduous process to get this thing lookin’ so good. If you prefer huge, two column spreads with full page art of dragons dick-punching each other every three pages then you will probably not like this book, visually. I like dragon-dick punch pics as much as the next dude, but I definitely prefer a more novel-like approach to book designing.
There will be a POD version ASAP,
and there is also a 5th chapter forthcoming. It isn’t in today’s release because of a combination of things, but mostly because the 5th chapter isn’t integral to the game play and I was hesitant to even add it to begin with. If you buy this PDF from DriveThruRPG then please check to receive emails from me, I promise not to forward you my aunt’s family newsletter but anyone who buys the PDF between now and when the POD version launches will get a coupon to pick up the physical copy. I will only send these coupons through DTRPG, so if you buy the PDF and don’t get a coupon in the mail eventually it is because you didn’t give me permission to send it to you. Heads up!.
It comes with map tiles?
Yeah it sure does. The 5th chapter has a set of map tiles you can print, cut, and paste onto some paper to make a map of your village. Or you can open it up in GIMP and make your village digitally. I made this video that includes a tutorial on how to do that. There are even some advanced rules in the 4th chapter on how to use the map tiles as a die-drop table.
Shit dude. Everyone? First, Shasta for being such a champ and having a shithead husband who wants to stay up late makin’ elfgame death-traps. Secondly I’d like to thanks Brad Murray from Canada. He was a constant source of suggestions and critique on this project, and I think without him this book would look like garbage. Shout out to RPG Talk for being the inspiration for this thing, and a place full of total babes who will roast you til your shit rocks. Thanks be to the G+ DIY RPG community too, and all of my play testers and reviewers and everything.