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Don't Walk in Winter Wood
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Don't Walk in Winter Wood
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Lars L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/10/2016 14:00:45

Nice, to the point. Minimalistic horror. Reminds me of Dread and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Walk in Winter Wood
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/01/2016 10:48:13

An review

This game clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of credits/thanks/reference, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? The simple answer would be that this is a cooperative, narrative, rules-light HORROR game set in a vaguely colonial setting in the United States. Society is one of rough and closely-knit, often isolated communities. Superstitions run wild and even well-meant belief may seem barbarous to us. Transportation is still mainly defined by equestrian means and print books are rare and expensive. AT night, it is still candles that are used to pierce the dark. Against said backdrop of, quite literally, dark times, there is the village. On its east side, there is the Winter Wood...and pretty much everyone agrees that its strange, unseasonal cold is not natural. The perpetual fog, its nature as unexplored and the people going missing - all of these mean that it is a place usually not visited.

Children grow up with folklore pertaining said dread wood - the first would be supplemented by Indian legends, underlined by e.g. The Algonquin Legends of New England, and war chiefs may still haunt this place. Similarly, the cowardice of erstwhile settlers may have brought the ire of a woman scorned, deprived of her husband upon the place - strange, legless apparitions and vanished women do not bode well...

The sad tale of Nelly Anderson supposedly has her taken by a strange crone of clouds and changing eye-colors; the purported Roe Witches, caught, according to statements, in some pagan rites and thus executed, replaced with effigies...deer with wolf-like, sharp teeth...and then there would be the soothsayer Caleb, who averted calamity from the village, only to give his life...consorting with a strange trophy...

Within the forest, there is a hole, which may lead to hell...and there was a strange tendency and occurrence of a grave robber paying dearly for his crime. A strange, horribly mutilated, perhaps undead bear, Scarfang...and, of course, wars and skirmishes among the colonial powers have also cast a dark shadow on this land. The chittering tress and a tale of cannibalism and, purportedly, eternal youth...and Mr. Buglesuede...the grey wolves and the dread meadow in the midst of the foreboding woods...oh, and those ghosts on the Indian hill... it is not wise to thread where so much darkness gathered...

The village does have a series of entries pertaining folk wisdom: Red thread around the throat of women does supposedly cloak them from evil. White grass supposedly kills you, inciting horrible hunger; doors are warded with iron nails or crucifixes and there is a secret sign to ward versus evil...of pagan origin, some belief. Similarly, the burial customs sport silver coins under the tongue and separate paths are taken home after burials. Of course, children's games are about dares here...but is it smart to recite the rhyme about the women of Roe?

So this would be the basic set-up - complex, evocative and suitable dark. How do you play it: Well, you have two types of players: The Walkers, each of which controls a single character. The second type would be the Watcher, who is basically the GM of the group. You need one six-sided die per player and some sort of object you can use as tokens. That's it. Regarding atmosphere, a dark place, slightly cold, is obviously ideal.

Character creation is dead simple: Make up a name, concept, motive - there you go. As a default, actions are described in the past tense and 3rd person, thus making it akin to the cooperative telling of a story. Whenever a character comes across something frightening or harmful, he hands the walker a cold token. Entering the wood nets you cold token #1. To determine whether you encounter something and for conflict resolution, the basic system is easy: You roll the d6 and compare it to the cold tokens you have: If you roll more than the cold tokens held, your result may become less pleasant - in short, this does mean that things escalate further, increasing the pace in the latter stages of a game. Upon gaining 6 or more cold tokens, you are taken out. And that's it. As simple as can be, right? Yep, but also deceptively efficient.

The game continues to provide a section on building proper scenarios for the game - these steps are simple and contain the notion to build a premise, then the woods, mood and climax of resolution. Sound advice regarding the generation of folkloric fear (subtlety is king, my friends, and so is the rule of omission) bespeaks an obvious knowledge regarding how to run evocative horror. (Fyi: A solid b/w-conceptual map of the area's provided.)

The pdf also features ready-to-play scenarios, which focus on saving a girl from a witch's curse, strange lights in the woods (love that one's antagonist(s), but won't spoil it here; there's also a gory take on a classic creature's haunting from American mythology; there are foolish kids, seeking to steal totems..The sample scenarios with their details mean that, basically, you can just take this pdf and play sans any preparation.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard in b/w and the book is intended for A5 (9'' by 6'') in size, so you'll rather have a booklet-style offering. The pdf's artwork is thematically-fitting photo-montage-ish artwork I enjoyed. The pdf has 3 rudimentary bookmarks, but I'd strongly suggest printing this out - navigating this in its electronic iteration can be distracting and none too comfortable.

Clint Krause, with additional material by Daniel Bayn, Jason L Blair, Rafael Chandler, Jeremy Keller, Daniel Moler and Jason Morningstar, has created a ridiculously simple, amazing little game that shows that horror needs no vast rules. This game is simple, works amazing as a means to show non-roleplayers how amazing RPGs can be, understands its genre and generates a truly evocative, disturbing atmosphere. The fact that you can play it literally with one die, if you want to, makes it a perfect companion for urban exploration or trips in the wilderness...or spontaneous games on days like Halloween, amidst the darkness... You can explain the rules in less than a minute and a watcher who has read this book (and has a good memory) can literally run the game without a book! Handing off, deliberately, slowly, a cold token can be nerve-wracking and the various ideas presented should carry a ton of games.

This is as simple as it gets and as efficient as it gets. This understands proper horror. An awesome, inexpensive little game - 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Walk in Winter Wood
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Buck K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2012 07:13:23

Complexity is the enemy of good role playing games. There. I said it.

I know that some people fetishise “realism”, but nothing brings the fourth wall crashing down on a good role-playing session like your GM flicking through the rulebook looking for the “ballistics-of-a .38-calibre-handgun-in-a-slight-crossbreeze-on-a-tuesday” table.

Don't Walk in Winter Wood is a horror/campfire story mashup set in the colonial US that makes a virtue of simplicity. A great and wondrous virtue.

DWIWW that does away with character stats completely. The GM gives characters a “Cold Token” every time something nasty happens. If the character needs to do something (e.g. listen out for a sound, fire a shot, etc), they need to roll over this number of cold tokens on D6. If the character collects 6 cold tokens, they meet a nasty end (grisly death or insanity, in the grand tradition of good horror).

The game's simplicity makes it ideal for introducing new people to RPGs without weighing them down with rules and stats and extraneous guff.

I bought the book and hosted two old friends (experienced players both), and our wives. Now - these are three smart, creative women; but as we're all in our early 30's and...well...your mad GM-ing skills didn't make you a hit with the ladies back in the day.

I was apprehensive. It could have been a total disaster.

I shouldn't have worried. We had a session that made me remember why I love role-playing.

Everyone totally bought into it. There was a wonderful frisson ever time a cold token was handed over. As the games wore on, players were taking them with shaking hands, identifying wonderfully with the fear and alarm of their characters. A character met a horrifying and abrupt end. There was genuine shock in the room. The others fled from the old house in the woods in terror, never knowing what happened to the little girl lost.

My wife was the first one asking when we'd get to play again.

Buy it now. Right now.

Seriously. Stop reading and click “Add to Cart”.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Walk in Winter Wood
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by john b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2012 14:05:33

This is a good gateway game for non-roleplayers or a nice game to play when the game master didn't have time to prepare material for the week's game. It is meant to harken back to telling stories around a fire, and I think it does a good job of that. All you need is a d6 and a few babbles to keep track of your "Chill" points (how scared or potentially, dead your character is), so expense and table real-estate needed is minimal.

A semi-intelligent monkey could figure out the mechanics, and that is their charm. Simulationists will find it way too simplistic, and the lack of a true progression (i.e. a good experience mechanic) means it is going to be relegated to one-shot games for the most part.

I think it has a place around the table for people who role-play regularly. For instance, if you want the characters in your current game to come across a diary written by someone hundreds of years ago, this game system would be a great, organic way to play out an incident or two in that diary (instead of handing out a big block of narrative copy and saying "here's what you find in the diary"). Want to do a flashback to something that happened in one character's childhood? This system might be for you. An hour, maybe two is all that is needed. The characters consist of a concept (innocent child, cold-hearted woodsman or whatever) and Motive (the reason to "Walk in WInter Wood" i.e. why would your character do something scary and potentially dangerous.) That's it. For $5, it was worth the price of admission for me.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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