(more on the stretch goals below.)
(song in video: "odnam (with Discography)" by Johnny Ripper. Used with permission.)
For a long time, we were at war with The Jackals. But now, finally, we’ve driven them off, and we have this - a year of relative peace. One quiet year, with which to build our community up and learn once again how to work together. Come Winter, the Frost Shepherds will arrive and we might not survive the encounter. This is when the game will end. But we don’t know about that yet. What we know is that right now, in this moment, there is an opportunity to build something.
The Quiet Year is a map game. You define the struggles of a post-collapse community, and attempt to build something good within their quiet year. When you play, you make decisions about the community and you record those decisions on a map that is constantly evolving. Parts of the map are literal cartography and other parts are symbolic. Players work together, but they also play devil’s advocate and introduce problems and tensions into the community.
This game is inspired by my experiences working in communities, both the good and the bad experiences. It's a game about hardship, about antagonism, about overcoming antagonism, about place, about seasons, and about what it means to care for something that is in danger.
This is not a roleplaying game, exactly. Players make decisions about a fictional community, and a story emerges, but they never exactly adopt a character. Instead, they represent the currents of thought and action in the community, and play from a bird's eye view.
The game plays through a year of relative peace for a small post-apocalyptic community. Players take turns playing through weeks in this year. Each week, the active player draws a card from the top of the deck (which represents the year), and reads the card. They carry out the actions or answer the questions that are specified on the card. Once the card is resolved, some quick upkeep occurs: projects that the community has in motion get closer to completion. Finally, the active player picks an action from a short list: hold a discussion, make a decision, discover something new.
The three actions give players a meaningful and difficult set of choices: do you spend time listening to others, in the hopes that they'll listen to you in kind? Do you pursue your own goals, ostensibly for the good of the whole community? Do you focus inward or outward?
The game has been playtested over a hundred times, by over a hundred playtesters. The last round of blind playtests gave me lots to chew on in terms of text presentation and some individual weekly cards, but they affirmed something I already felt inside of my heart: the game is solid and produces meaningful play. It's ready to present to you for funding, as I finish tweaking the text + working on the layout.
I plan to print the books through Scout Books. They produce small, beautiful artifacts. The aesthetic matches my vision for The Quiet Year perfectly. The layout is going to be simple and minimal. Art placed throughout the book will be drawn by Ariel Norris, evocative line-art that suggests possibility and something uncharted just beyond it:
(art by Ariel Norris)
The printing of the cards will occur through either Superior POD or Customized Playing Cards, depending on how many decks need to be printed. I am still making artistic decisions about what the cards will look like - out of focus photos? textured backgrounds colour-keyed to the four seasons? I'm hopeful that I can preview some cards mid-campaign.
The bag sets are something that I am really excited about. The bag itself is a small burlap/jute bag, non-descript in a fitting sort of way. Inside it you'll find a copy of the book, a deck of Quiet Year cards, a set of six project dice, a set of 20 Contempt tokens, and a pair of Tarot-sized reference cards. All that you need to gather in order to play is a piece of paper and some pencils.
(This is a mock-up. The bag is the actual bag to be used. Deck of cards would be replaced with a fancy custom deck. Book would have title & illustration on it. Different dice will be used, although those are the actual Contempt tokens. Double reference cards not pictured.)
I am hopeful about my ability to ship out all rewards by mid February. The component that will take the longest to produce will be the card decks. I have already sourced all materials and begun working with an artist.
Our community is struggling to survive and grow.
We raised $4000, meaning we've successfully fended off The Jackals, giving us our quiet year. I'll release the game in print and pdf format, as per the perks. Thank you all so much for making this happen.
We raised $8000, meaning we've made it through spring, and gathered a better sense of our surroundings. Tony Dowler (a cartographic dreamer) will draw up three Charted Areas. These are instant-start playsets for The Quiet Year, maps that have the game setup choices sketched in already. Charted Areas is a neat idea, not a core component of the game. Expect a printer-friendly download.
If we raise $12,000, we'll have had a prosperous summer, and send a search party out to check on other communities. Or put differently, 5% of all the money raised here (after IndieGoGo & Paypal deductions) will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, so that real-world struggling communities can grow and be healthy.
If we raise $14,000, we'll have survived autumn, and left our stamp upon our surroundings. The bags mentioned in Gathered Supplies will be silk-screened with the help of Don't Stop Printing in Olympia, with a beautiful Quiet Year logo on them.