Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Quiet Year: The Dead Port (Solo AP)

THIS would have been the post to put In Ruins by Fol Chen on. But alas, I used that already.
This is Stroll Around The Town from Custom Robo. It's great. The whole game's soundtrack came out of nowhere and is amazing.

So I played The Quiet Year, which just released its pre-release PDFs into the backer crowd yesterday. I didn't play with others though - this is a solo endeavor. The game doesn't come with solo powers to begin with, but I made it work, and apparently I'm not the only one! Here's the big points to know:

* I am three people. I played as if I was three for purposes of setup and discussions.
* I played a Fleeting Year, which means 4 less cards per suit (random), the King of Diamonds is ALWAYS gone, and the King of Spades is NEVER gone.
* I did not use Contempt. As a social signal without a ton of game power, I don't need to signal to myself when I make myself upset with a move. Plus I can't think of how to use them.
* I DID include discussions. The way I worked them is I came up with the usual question or declaration and tried to come up with alternative stances on it within the community. It showed a divided community, and presented some concrete options rather than leaving everything vaguely undefined. Later, thanks to an amazing suggestion in the Quiet Year thread on Story Games, I've started Tweeting the question when I do discussions, attaching the hashtag #QuietYear to them. I wanna keep doing that.
* For this particular post, I decided last minute to not tell you which card I drew. I'm telling the prompt for the card, but with card names on there I'd basically be giving away the game. Plus, not knowing precisely which card I used doesn't actually affect the reading experience.

The Dead Port
detail 1: The community lives among the cargo containers.
d2: With those enormous container cranes, looming like great iron horses!
d3: And the wreckage of a container ship just a bit too far in the water. Her name is The Salvation!
resource 1: Clean drinking water. (Scarcity) (Poison bubbles in water)
r2: Storable food. (Scarcity) (Empty Containers)
r3: Protection from the Corrupted Weather. (Abundance) (Open Containers for Shelter)

w1: What's the most beautiful thing in the area? The flaming auroras that light up the night sky. Discover Something: A second maze of containers, all sealed up tight.
w2: A young boy starts diggin in the ground, and discovers something unexpected. What is it? An unrusted silver key. Discover Something: An old empty well, leading into darkness.
w3: A charismatic young girl tries to tempt many into sinful or dangerous activity. Why? How does the community respond? Nina is drawing people to Paradise Beyond Far Waves after having a dream-vision. Some are compelled, but many react with anger to this community-breaker. Hold a Discussion: *Nina should be cast out before more join her suicide voyage! * But Nina's family is in charge of the food supply and would react with anger... * We cannot allow her to leave with our people or we will all fall.
w4: Two of the community's younger members get into a fight. What provoked them? Disagreement over the existence of Paradise Beyond Far Waves. Start A Project: Build a better boat for an exploratory journey there (4 Weeks).
w5: What important and basic tools does the community lack? Any form of power generation (scarcity added) due to the generators being destroyed by the Corrupt Weather. Discover Something: The lighthouse on the far side of the port lit up for the first time in memory. (Boat Project Die: 3)
w6: There's a giant, man-made structure on the map. Where is it? Why is it abandoned? The Salvation is difficult to navigate, being mostly sunken in the middle of the poison bay. Start a Project: Investigate the new set of containers for usable supplies (3 Weeks). (Boat Project Die: 2).
w7: There's another community somewhere on the map. Where are they? What sets them apart from you? The Reefers live out on the water in their motorboats. We won't stoop to their raiding (and sometimes cannibalistic) lifestyle, but they ought to die soon out in that sludge. Hold a Discussion: *What are we doing to prepare for the next Reefer attack? * We need to fashion a better place to shield the supplies. * But what of us? We need to be protected too, we should shore up the shelters. * Isn't it time to stop hiding? We ought to fight back and show them that we can't be pushed around. (Boat Project: 1). (Container Project: 2).
w8: Alarming weather patterns destroy something. How and what? One of the container cranes was struck by Red Lightning and melted to slag. Even amid the rain, the fires have yet to go out. The Boat Project: The larger boat, fully ready to sail to Paradise Beyond Far Waves, is awaiting a crew. Hold A Discussion: * We should strike out immediately before tragedy hits! * We cannot head out now! The Reefers would be too dangerous to the explorers. * To the ship!? With people gone, use here in the settlement won't survive an attack! (Container Project: 1).
w9: What natural predators roam the area? How safe are you? Spider-drakes nest in the beams of the spires and cranes, but only descend upon the community when the Corrupt Weather threatens them. There's little to stop them then though. The Container Project: Enough containers have been broken open and enough food has been found to last for quite a while. Start a Project: Prepare measures to prevent spider-drake hazards in the coming rains (2 Weeks).
w10: Predators and bad omens are afoot. What measures do you take to keep everyone safe and under surveillance? Corrupt Weather is driving down the spider-drakes, and the preparations to keep them out need to be made faster than expected, and the continuing container-scavenger teams are pulled off their own jobs. Without their foraging, food is once again running low (Food Scarcity). The Home-Protection Project: Strong Bars have been welded over the container openings, wide enough apart to get though but too narrow for the spider-drakes. Start a Project: Fashion weapons and learn to use them (3 Weeks).
w11: Summer is a time for production and tending to the earth. Start a project related to food production. Modify a few containers into makeshift greenhouses for food production (3 Weeks). Discover Something: glowing lights can be seen on The Salvation at night. (Weapons Project: 2).
w12: An unattended situation becomes problematic and scary. What is it? How does it go awry? The lighthouse spotlight has begun sweeping and holding on the settlement, and has turned from its old bright yellow to an unsettling red. The lights on The Salvation have turned red too. Hold a Discussion: Why is the lighthouse scanning us with its crimson light? *They're with the Reefers, looking for victims! *No way, the Reefers stay out on the sludge. This is a new group trying to find people. *Could they be friendly? Folks need to band together in these trying times. (Weapons Project: 1). (Greenhouse Project: 2).
w13: A project fails. Which one? Why? The Greenhouse Project fails when a bout of Corrupt Rain drives the spider-drakes down and they smashed through the glass panes and ruined the containers. The Weapons Project: The attack of the spider-drakes gave the community a chance to test out their skills and get some real experience (Melee Weapons added as an Abundance). Start a Project: Descend into and explore the well caverns (4 Weeks).
w14: Predators and bad omens are afoot. You are careless, and someone goes missing under ominous circumstances. Who? In another descent of the spider-drakes in inclement weather, Nina went missing. However, her boat wasn't at the shore, and was in fact spotted over by The Salvation. Start a Project: Mount a rescue of Nina (1 Week). (Cavern Project: 3).
w15: Someone tries to take control of the community by force. Do they succeed? Why do they do this? The Resuce Project: When the group arrives on The Salvation using the large boat, they find Nina with several savages, smiling. She declared that she was upset with how long it was taking to go off to Paradise Beyond Far Waves, and commanded that the community submit to her vision or she would release the savages and call the Reefers to bear. Unfortunately for her, the community members incapacitated her and the savages with their weapon skills. Start a Project: Occupy The Salvation and observe all that goes on around (6 Weeks). (Cavern Project: 2).
w16: A project finishes early. Which one? Why? The Cavern Project finished a bit early, thanks to the discovery of the end. This end was a pristine mineral water spring of substantial size, clean enough to drink. We also grated over the well to keep the spider-drakes out. Discover Something: A bioluminescent fungus is growing in the caverns as well. They're no good for food, but it's nice to have lighting again with the power out. (Observation Project: 5).
w17: A contingent within the community demand to be heard. Who are they? What are they asking for? The people who believed in Nina's vision of Paradise Beyond Far Waves still clamor for the voyage, even after Nina's betrayal. They want to stop with these other distractions and go since Paradise Beyond Far Waves will provide for their every need. There's about a dozen believers. Hold a Discussion: Why can't we all have faith in Paradise Beyond Far Waves and begin our voyage? *We should set out immediately. All out needs will be provided for! *I don't believe it even exists! It's a fool's errand! *That's why we should only send a few! But we cannot leave the rest of our people unprepared when we go. If we had more supplies, perhaps... (Observation Project: 4).
w18: Someone leaves the community. Who? What are they looking for? Charlie couldn't handle waiting for the others and living in fear of Reefer raids and struck out on his own in the little boat Nina had, looking for Paradise Beyond Far Waves. Start a Project: Prepare to raid or infiltrate the Reefers for supplies (3 Weeks). (Observation Project: 3).
w19: You find a body. Do people recognize who it is? What happened? It's Charlie - slashed across the throat by barbs and hooks. Looks like the Reefers didn't even let him get out to sea before they struck. Poor guy. Start a Project: Prepare the ship for its voyage (6 Weeks). (Observation Project: 2). (Raid Project: 2).
w20: Cold autumn winds drive out your enemies. Remove a threatening force from the area and the map. The spider-drakes, feeling the coming chill, have fled southeast to warmer pastures. Discover Something: Community scouts following the spider-drakes for a distance managed to find a building, locked and sealed tight. It looks almsot like a storehouse. (Observation Project: 1). (Raid Project: 1). (Voyage Project: 5).
w21: (DAMN this throws a wrench in things. And by "a wrench" I mean awesome) A natural disaster strikes the area. What is it?  You focus on getting everyone to safety. Remove an Abundance and a project fails. A Plague Tempest hits the port, its thunderous rumblings nauseating all and striking the exposed with the disease-causing Blacklightning. Everyone in the community shelters underground in the well caverns, but the general illness causes the community to mostly exhaust the spring. Very careful rationing will be survivable, but for any real work to be done we'll need to find more. (Drinkable water is in scarcity again). The Raid Project: Entirely called off for the moment due to the Tempest. The Observation Project: Surprisingly, the observation team was fine over on The Salvation, having taken shelter below deck. Over the course of their work, they've identified quite a bit. They've found the base camp of the Reefers, located their fuel supply (in the lighthouse) and know that the savages are directly working for the Reefers. The biggest observation was immediate: the Reefers used the community's containers to shelter from the storm and are currently occupying the area. Start a Project: Retake the Village (1 Week). (Voyage Project: 4).
w22: Disease spreads through the community. You spend the week quarantining and treating the disease. Project Dice are not reduced this week. (wow, this followup to my choice of natural disaster is perfect). We're stuck down here in the well. The Reefers don't know we're here, but they're not leaving now that they're in the port. Start a Project: Further explore the tunnels for supplies (2 Weeks). (Retake Project: 1). (Voyage Project: 4).
w23: Someone is caught trying to sabotage the efforts of the community. How does the community respond? Elder Silvi was claiming to explore the tunnels and did not actually do so. He was afraid about the retake attempt failing because they rushed into it and was trying to stall the effort. The community is furious, but postpones punishment until safety has been reached. The Retake Project: Taking the Reefers by surprise, they're pushed back into their boats and back to their camp. This is a major success for the community. Silvi's fate rests on the success of finding more supplies in the tunnel. Start a Project: Find a way into the Warehouse (1 Week). (Tunnel Project: 1). (Voyage Project: 3).
w24: Someone issues a dire warning, and the community leaps into action to avoid disaster. What is the warning? Start a contentious project that relates to it. A pair of twins, Lin and Lo, were both struck by the Blacklightning and the disease gave them extensive dream-visions. They saw the aurora descending on the world, burning the bay with its otherworldly flame. The community begins fireproofing all of its containers to protect itself from this, but many consider this a waste of time and energy on a fevered dream. The leaders believe it though, and it's started (4 Weeks). The Warehouse Project: Simple enough, they didn't need much effort at all, seeing as the silver key fit the lock perfectly. Inside was a host of food and supplies (Food is now in Abundance). The Tunnel Project: After exploring the tunnels, food isn't found, but a secondary spring is, providing ample water. The tunnels are completely explored now though. Host a Discussion: Are the burning auroras really going to descend on us like in the twins's dream-vision? *Absolutely. But even if we're not sure, protection is best. *This isn't needed right now, we have bigger priorities, like the Reefers and the voyage. *This is absurd. Following her vision drove Nina mad and we can't let ourselves be deluded again. (Voyage Project: 2).
w25: A small gang of marauders is making its way through local terrain. How many are there? What weapons do they carry? The Sewer Rat Gang, made up of about a dozen mad bikers with clubs embeded with rat teeth. They'll be sweeping along the whole coast soon. Start a Project: Repair the Generator (3 Weeks). (Voyage Project: 1).
w26: Something goes foul and supplies are ruined. Add a new Scarcity. The Tempest was weathered without major casualty, but it exhausted the supply of medicine.  Medical Supplies are now Scarce.The Voyage Project: Everything is prepared for the voyage to Paradise Beyond Far Waves. All that remains is for an opening to present itself. Start a Project: Prepare to raid the Reefers (3 Weeks). (Generator Project: 2).
w27: Conflict flares up among community members, and as a result, a project fails. Just as it was beginning, tension between the growing faction looking to Paradise Beyond Far Waves and the now-warriorlike remnant faction erupts. The Remnants lose, and their plan to raid the Reefers is scuttled. Start a Project: Create a shore defense against the Reefers (3 Weeks). (Generator Project: 1).
w28: Winter is harsh, and desperation gives rise to fear mongering. Spend the week calming the masses and dispelling their violent sentiments. The week ends immediately.
w29: What is winter like in this area? How do community members react to the weather? Winter is unrelenting and frigid. The chilled metal of the containers is painful to the touch, and the poisonous ice isn't good either. The community reacts by spending the evenings either underground in the well tunnels or in the Warehouse, or by any spots where Red Lightning has ignited the clay. The Generator Project: The generator is finally repaired, and low power is restored. Heating units are immediately establsihed in the Warehouse and tunnels. Discover Something: The lighthouse has stopped lighting up at night - either the Reefers are locking down for the winter or they're planning something. (Shore Project: 2).
w30: A headstrong community member tries to take control of the community. How are they prevented from doing this? Due to the conflict, project dice are not reduced this week. The most outspoken man against the voyage to Paradise Beyond Far Waves tries to quash the idea, but is stopped. In the process, he attacks several important voyagers, and while he deals no significant harm, for his crimes he is exiled. Start a Project: Build a second generator (3 Weeks). (Shore Project: 2).
w31: In preparation for the coming year, the community begins a huge undertaking. Start a project that will take at least 5 weeks to complete. Approximately half the population gets on the ship and sails for Paradise Beyond Far Waves (6 Weeks). Discover Something: The Sewer Rats, in their madness, stayed outside in the air all night for several weeks now and have frozen to death. Their bikes are found, gasless but intact. (Shore Project: 1). (Generator Project: 2).
w32: Someone comes up with a plan to ensure safety and comfort during the coldest months. Start a project related to this. By establishing a better fireproofing measure, Lin and Lo's dream-vision could turn out to be beneficial in these cold months. With many of the doubters gone, the project begins again (4 Weeks). The Shore Project: A significant rock barrier now walls off a large section of shore form the bay, giving the community ample warning in an attack. (Generator Project: 1). (Sailing Project: 5).
w33: King. The Frost Shepards Arrive. Will the now-two generators be enough? Will the aurora inferno now fall? Will the Reefers survive the winter? Can the rest of the community reach Paradise Beyond Far Waves? Does it exist at all? Unfortunately, we won't know these things, because our Quiet Year has ended, and next year we will be thrust back into the tumult of the Jackals of Fate.

And because the heart and soul of the game is the Map, here's mine!
Click it for a full view! Hopefully it's at a good size. Warning: I did ZERO editing, that's just the straight photograph, my bedsheets and all.

What were my favorite things? Blacklightning and the Plague Tempest, Burning Auroras, spider-drakes, Paradise Beyond Far Waves, Nina, dream-visions. So a lot of supernatural. That's kinda my thing. Oh, and Tweeting discussions.
I loved loved loved this game. I will be playing again by myself sometime soon for sure, and convincing others to play whenever possible. Maybe I can get in on one of Mcdaldno's games at Technicolor Dreams in Portland on the 8th, which I will be at.



  1. Great AP!
    I was fascinated by how good the different cards built on each other. The short format, too is a cool feature. Especially since my attention-span isn´t that gerat :)
    In the end I was a little crestfallen, that the sailing project didn´t, but, alas, the Frost Shepards are harsh!

    1. Thank you! It was a ton of fun to play.
      Everything really did build in a way I wasn't expecting. I decided to play A Fleeting Year mostly out of fear that if my games all used all the cards, they'd start feeling the same, but the way they build up differently based on the order played dispelled that. Specifically, the natural disaster made it very clear to me.
      And yeah, it definitely didn't take too long at all. It says in the text 3-4 hours (with teaching included) for a non-fleeting year, which I feel is accurate. Up there with Fiasco and 3:16 for short-time games for me.

      I was totally anxious about the Sailing Project too! The community worked all year for that since Nina's vision in week 3, I was hoping I might get there before the Frost Shepards arrived. I like to think they made it though.

      Thanks for the kind words, and I highly recommend trying it out yourself.
      - Ego