Friday, September 6, 2013

Flying Solo: The Quiet Year

So I recently came into possession of a copy of The Quiet Year and got the chance to sit down and play it solo. While I'm not entirely sure I did everything right, I had a lot of fun playing. 

Read on after the jump to see how it went.

In The quiet Year, players take turns drawing cards from a deck. There's one card for each week, and each card tends to give a few options.  I did a fleeting year for this playtest, removing four cards from each season. I handled discussions by posing the question in IRC to some friends, and let them ramble on a bit.

While playing the Quiet Year, you draw a map, which evolves as resources are added and lost, things are discovered and the world matures.  I enjoyed this, though my mapping skills are subpar at best.

All in all, the game was interesting to play. As time progressed, I felt a sense of melancholic urgency. That the year was speeding to a close. And in the last few weeks of the game... It really hit me. I felt for this little community of people, and I hope that they survive the Frost Shepherds... whatever they may be.

The People of the Towers

Detail 1: The community lives in one of the last standing skyscrapers in a city
Detail 2: On an island in the bay, a statue of a broken goddess stands, shattered arm upraised
Detail 3: The other skyscrapers are stubby broken fingers.

Resource 1: Food Abundant
Resource 2: Tools (originally scarcity) Abundant
Resource 3: Water (originally scarcity) Abundant

The fleeting year begins, Winter fades to Spring
  • W1 Where are you storing your food, Why is this a risky place to store things?  Food is stored in plastic totes on the top floor, this is risky because the windows are broken, allowing wild birds and the weather to get in.
  • W2 A Charismatic young girl convinces many to help her with an elaborate scheme. What is it? who joins her endeavors? Start a Project. Celia has discovered a series of tunnels beneath the tower of glass, she believes that by reopening them, the People can move among the other towers and forage safely for supplies. Several of the younger folk agree wholeheartedly.
  • W3 You see a bad omen, what is it?  The statue of the Goddess, which has stood for as long as the elders in the community recall, has collapsed.
  • W4 Are there children in the community? If there are, what is their roll in the community?   There is a healthy population of children. Those who are old enough to carry a smaller child help with the child raising, and the farming.
  • W5 What's the most beautiful thing in the area?   The evening sun causes the many towers to sparkle and glitter like gemstones.
  • W6 There is another community on the map. Where are they? What sets them apart from you?  A tribe of nomads lives in the streets that surround the towers. Where the People are peaceful, wishing to be left alone, the nomads are violent, friends of the Jackals.
  • W7 An old piece of machinery is discovered, cursed and dangerous. How does the community destroy it? A folding box is found. Odd sounds and pictures of yellow squares and pink stars frolic about a strange undersea world. These images cause some of the children to fall into mind sickness and shake uncontrollably. The Community leader casts the accursed thing off the Tower roof. A nomad is struck in the process.
  • W8 Two of the community's younger members get into a fight. What provoked them? The two hotheads both strived to impress Celia and win her affection. A scuffle broke out over who had cleared the final stone.
    • Project completes: The tunnels are cleared. Though in some places rubble blocks them, the People now have a relatively safe route to travel.
  • W9 Are there distinct family units in the community? If so, what structures are common?  There are 16 distinct families in the community. Most common is two parents, with extended relatives sharing care duty.

The fleeting year speeds by, Spring fades to summer.
(realized at this point I wasn't taking player actions... Woops. Summer will be better)

  • W10  A contingent within the community demand to be heard. Who are they? What are they asking for? A Goddess cult wishes to leave the community, travel to the island and attempt to rebuild the statue. Discover something new: There are giant rats in the tunnels.
  • W11  Boredom leads to a quarrel. A fight breaks out between two people. What is it about? Darren, Celia's suitor,and Jarl the cloth spinner get into an argument over a collection of shining circles that Darren has been constructing as part of his dowry to Celia's family.
  • W12  Summer is a time for production and tending to the earth. Start a project related to food production. Some new seeds have been scavenged, a new plot is being created, and netting woven to keep birds away.
  • W13  You discover a cache of supplies or resources. Add a new Abundance (Tools) 
    • Discussion: On the sanity of the Goddess cult.
  • W14  Outsiders arrive in the area. Why are they a threat? How are they vulnerable? A strange people have come into the tunnels.  They try to drive our scavengers away. They don't know the tunnels well yet, so we're able to outwit them for now.
  • W15  An unattended situation becomes problematic and scary. What is it? How does it go awry? Wild birds get in and spoil a good deal of the food.  The guard on duty was off seeing her romantic interest.
  • W16: Someone leaves the community. Who? What are they looking for?  The cult is left unsatisfied with answers given, and sets out in search of the island. 
    • Project Completed: The new garden plot is established.
  • W17  Predators and bad omens are afoot. You are careless and someone goes missing under ominous circumstances. Who? Celia was lost in the tunnels. All that was recovered so far is her carry bag. 
    • Start a project: Search for Celia

The fleeting year speeds by, Summer fades to autumn

  • W18  Disease spreads through the community. No one knows what to do.
  • W19  Someone leaves the community after issuing a dire warning. Who? What is the warning? Jarl declares that by abandoning the goddess and her cult, she has abandoned the community. 
    • Discover something new: A tower full of books.
  • W20  A project just isn't working out as expected. Radically change the nature of the project. Celia's remains are found. The search party declares war on the Outsiders in the tunnels.
  • W21  The strongest among you dies. What caused the death?  The burning fever took Owen, the Community's strongest hunter. 
    • Start a project: Find a cure for the disease!
  • W22   The Community becomes  obsessed with a single project. Which one? Why? The cure is important, and the community decides to take its time. 
    • Project completes:  The outsiders are driven up into the streets after a bloody battle. the search party returns with the bad news.
  • W23  A project finishes early! Woo! The cure is found when it is discovered that moss from the tunnels draws out the fever! Remove Health and Fertility as a scarcity!
  • W24  A group goes out to explore the map more thoroughly, and finds something that had been previously overlooked. The tunnels come up into a small park lined with odd stones. The tall fences will keep out danger. 
    • Hold a discussion: On the nature of the towers.
  • W25  You find a body, do people recognize who it is? What happened? The leader of the cult of the Goddess is found. He is badly mangled as if by a wild beast.
  • W26  Introduce a dark mystery among the members of the community. women in the Community are going missing. Everyone is on guard. 
    • Start a new project: Develop new weapons.

The fleeting year speeds by, Autumn fades to Winter.

  • W27 Winter is harsh, and desperation gives rise to fear mongering. Spend the week calming the masses and dispelling their violent sentiments.
  • W28 A great atrocity is revealed. What is it? Who uncovers it?   Darren has been holding the kidnapped women prisoner, forcing them to act as Celia.  Thorth, one of the hunters, discovers the secret.
  • W29  A child goes missing, alone in the winter elements.  The community organizes constant search parties and eventually the person is found.
  • W30  Now is the time to conserve energy and resources.  There just aren't enough resources for new weapons, but fresh snowfall is melted into good drinking water.
  • W31  You see a good omen, what is it? A baby is born with bright blue eyes.
  • W32  The frost shepherds arrive.... The game is over.


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