Today’s theme is “Comfort” so I thought it’d be good topic to have a look at some slightly more cosy games.
I like the idea of RPGs with some slightly calmer concepts, especially in this year of our Hellworld 2020. One of my first experiences of wanting to run RPGs was going around Arundel Castle as a kid and wanting to experience stories in that sort of an environment. Not slaughtering orcs or massive battles, but something more exploration-based and pastoral. It’s possible to have quieter moments in some more popular RPGs, but it’s kind of difficult when the mechanics incentivise murder and loot acquisition.
Journey Away by Jacob S Kellogg
Journey Away is a game which advertised itself on being without conflict. You make characters who are going on a journey in a small pocket of land, with stats you work out and give ratings to with no demand on how many of each stat you have. The older GM in me balked a little at that idea in the kind of, “What if players just put the highest rating possible in everything?” But then this isn’t about that so much. It’s a bit short and simple, but something I want to try out just in case it does work, as it’d be great if it did.
Sleepaway by Jay Dragon
Using the Belonging Outside Belonging system, Sleepaway is about young camp counsellors in a spooky summer camp. You look after new campers and have serene moments all while the Lindworm who tormented you in your youth is still there. It’s not without challenge and still has some spooky moments, but it looks like it’ll be great at showing those wistful camping trip moments. As an additional point of note, Wanderhome by Jay Dragon is on Kickstarter right now and looks like it’ll be an even more perfect game for this sort of theme.
Brindlewood Bay by Jason Cordova
Billed as ‘Murder She Wrote meets Shadow Over Innsmouth’, this game is about a book club of old women who happen to also solve mysteries. There’s literally a Cosy Move in the game. It has techniques like painting the scene baked into the system and a move where you can recall how your favourite mystery novel character solved a problem similar to what you’re facing. One thing I love is that you don’t even know who the murderer is until the players collect clues and process who the murderer was out loud.
Weave by Minerva McJanda
Weave is a game about young wizards in a world where magic is all created through clothing and the act of making it. If you have time and resources to work your magic then you succeed at what you’re doing, but if you don’t have both those things then life can get a bit tricky for you.
You’re on a kind of pilgrimage to discover the secrets of items belonging to different communities and by staying with them, you gather enough information to create a kind of clothing golem which will teach you secrets. It’s beautiful and interesting, with diceless mechanics and colouring in patterns for the different rote spells you can cast through your clothing.
You can build up relationships, but then when you’re done with your current step of the pilgrimage you move on, ever forward until you have made enough stops to learn your last spells and graduate. It was a really simple system, the book itself is tiny with every other page punctuated by example patterns people could make or get inspired by. Still, it worked for a two-session game and would carry on even better for a campaign.
Finally I also have:
Tavern, by Graham Walmsley
Tavern is a game I’ve had for a while but haven’t played yet. It’s a story game about daily life in a tavern. Not really even a fantasy one, although you probably could do that. You are the staff of the tavern, serving food to the locals, hearing some of their stories and then they set back out. You won’t always get a full story from them, but you’ll get bits of these people’s lives. You’ll use playing cards to represent them, but also the meals being prepared. It sounds like a fascinating little experience of liminal relationships and quiet moments shared in a pub. And what’s more cosy than a little chilled time in a pub with friends?