Don’t Walk in Winter Wood, I Dare you!

Don’t Walk in Winter Wood (2nd Edition)
Author: Clint Krause
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
Page Count: 44
Available Formats: PDF and Print
PDF (DTRPG)$5.00
Print – None (except from 2011 Kickstarter campaign)

PREMISE:
Don’t Walk in Winter Wood is a game designed to create the tension and spooky nature of those campfire ghost stories we all heard as kids growing up. As such, Don’t Walk in Winter Wood is a storytelling game of folkloric fear. Players will take on the roles of nearby villagers who must enter a legend filled and haunted forest and uncover its sinister secrets. As players venture into Winter Wood they will work together to try to meet their stated objective without too many characters going insane or dying a gruesome death.

The game book includes the following:
 Legends of Winter Wood
 Game Rules
 Advice for Gamemasters
 Scenarios

PRODUCT QUALITY:
I own the print version of the 2nd edition rule book which was only available to Kickstarter backers in 2011 but I do not own the PDF. Therefore my comments only pertain to the printed book itself. While the book is logically laid out the font size is far too small and negatively impacts my overall opinion of the book’s quality. Don’t get me wrong, the text is far from unreadable but it could have been a size or two larger and would be more comfortable to read. Aside from that issue, the cover art is awesome and evocative and the overall arrangement of the book is well done and logical. Lastly, the physical quality of the book (I’m the second owner) has thus far proven that it will stand up to repeated use.

GAME MECHANICS:
The game operates with super simple mechanics and kind of works like this–The storyteller will devise a reason why the players need to venture into Winter Wood. It could be a child has gone missing, a rare herb that only grows in the Wood is needed to stave off some sickness or some other viable reason. The storyteller will essentially layout several scenes with which to present to the players, each of which will be geared toward driving up the fear and spookiness factor; ultimately leading to the final scene and climax of the story.

The game is played using only the 3rd-person perspective and past tense vernacular. For example “Ebeneezer stopped in the dense fog bank and tried to hear if his companions were nearby.” To determine the outcomes or decision points within the context of the game, there are two things at play. First, each time a character encounters something terrifying they are given a “cold token” and this is a representation of everything from fright to a physical wound. Second, if the gamemaster wants to leave a player’s fate up to chance, he or she might respond to our example statement above by asking “Did he hear anything?” To which the player would roll 1d6 and if the roll is higher than the player’s cold token count the player would answer “yes”. If the roll was equal to or less than player’s cold token count the player would answer “no”.

Everything the players do should propel the story through the scenes with a sense of escalation and looming fear and dread! The gamemaster’s responses to in game questions and descriptions of everything should also help to propel the story forward but more importantly, it should always elicit a sense of fear and unknown from the players.

PROS:
 Simple game mechanics
 Easy to get the game started with minimal prep required
 Lots of folklore provided to inspire game masters
 Four ready to run scenarios are included with the book
 A thematic game that works well in any dimly lit and quiet location
 Usually played in 2 hours or less – great pickup game

CONS:
 Very small font used in the book making hard on the eyes
 Needs the right physical environment to help set the tone and mood of the game

PARTING SHOTS:
As a short playing game that is meant to elicit fear through the things that go bump in the night, this game hits all the right notes for me. I grew up with camp fire ghost stories every summer at sleep away camp. Don’t Walk in Winter Wood really brings back that sense of wonder and fear at those things that lurk in the shadows and that most likely far from fact. Getting the location, lighting, and mood right in this game is key to giving the players the best possible experience. The rules facilitate game play and are very intuitive; once you learn the few rules you really don’t need the book any longer. This is a game that will be going into my “convention bag o’ tricks” for late night gaming. I will also be using it as a filler game when my regular group can’t all make it to a game night, but still, wants to play something.

~ Modoc

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