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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › So high up on that mountain... (The Quiet Year)

So high up on that mountain... (The Quiet Year)

sev (.
Seattle, WA
Post #: 40
Ben, Martin, & sev.

The general setting sprang from early discussion about what constitutes a resource, and whether "breathable air" counted. Once we decided that of course it counted, it didn't take long before we were all excited about the idea of telling a story where whether or not there was breathable air was a worry. So our Quiet Year opened with a community that lived so high up on the mountain that all the physical work was done by the young, who were the only ones with the lung capacity to handle the thin air.

I loved the old water tower stuffed full of pre-collapse technology, and the evidence that it had *walked* itself to the edge of the cliff. And that our project to turn it into a weapon had *one* week left on it when the Frost Shepherds came. I wish we'd taken more time to explore the cache of supplies found at the base of the dam, and whether it had anything to do with the swimming taboo. I was satisfied that we found a more humane way for our elders to spend the ends of their lives.

We nearly ran out of contempt tokens! About halfway through the game Ben finally couldn't stay silent anymore & he had to share: He kept taking contempt not because he disapproved of the guardhouse, but because I'd put it on the wrong side of the river. And just when I was about to start a Discussion with the question, "Ben, what the heck is your problem?" I don't recall us spending Contempt to act selfishly, though we did put it back as people did things that we approved of. It *was* frustrating to not know which part of what-just-came-out-of-my-mouth was causing people to take Contempt, and the post-game-discussion made it clear that I'd mis-assumed the answer more than once.

I liked watching the Contempt move around as the alliances shifted -- Ben seemed to be representing the highly pragmatic & hawkish; I represented the knowledge-seekers & those interested in physical defense; Martin represented the long memory of tradition & lessons learned. Especially as questions of physical security arose, who-agreed-with-who seemed to shift around a lot.

The cards often trailed the story -- we pulled "How are you preserving your food? In what way is this setup risky or insecure?" the very next turn after we'd just drawn in a foolish food storage solution. This kind of thing happened enough that it was starting to get a little eerie.

Three turns in a row I was faced with the choice between "projects don't advance, or fail altogether" vs. "people die." It's a good hard choice, and totally random that I kept facing it (it started in summer, & extended to autumn, so it's not like there was an overabundance of it in one season).

Afterward we talked about a bunch of things including:
* the Action economy (and how expensive it feels to try to get consensus, or to poll opinions before acting, or even to figure out what somebody's upset about)
* where to draw the line between the-player-as-an-author-of-the-story and the-player-as-a-representative-of-the-co­mmunity-in-the-story (I wasn't bothered by the fuzziness of that line, but my sense was I was in the minority, there)
* how to handle things that felt like they came out of left field late in the game (especially in late fall and winter, and a card was drawn that was hard to fit in with the story-as-it-happened-so-far. I found this particularly tough in Winter where the cards seemed more heavily weighted toward surprise changes.)

I still find it hard to remember to decrement the countdown clocks. I mean, it's *right* *there* on the summary sheet, but it happens in between all these big story-pieces. After a first few times forgetting it, Ben & Martin made sure it happened every turn, which is a good thing, because I never did get any better about remembering to do it. (I did remember to put dots on the map when we held Discussions, though!)

I'm pasting in Joe's playtest questions here in case Ben or Martin wants to answer them:
1.) What was the pace/tone of Spring like?
2.) What changes in pace/tone occurred throughout Summer?
3.) How often did people take Contempt?
4.) Did people tend to discard/spend Contempt, or let it remain in
front of them forever?
5.) Were any cards confusing, disappointing, or non-applicable? Were
any cards duds?
6.) What got said when The Frost Shepherds arrived? What were the
reactions at the table?
7.) Did the end of the game feel satisfying?
8.) How long was your session, from the moment you sat down until the
moment that it ended?
9.) How long was the set-up & rules-reading part of the game?
A former member
Post #: 22
1) Spring was very exploratory. Most of what was said in Spring was about establishing what this community is, rather than really addressing any problems. "An avalanche buried the mountain pass we use for trade" was more significant in telling us we trade via mountain passes than in forcing us to deal with the loss of a trade route.
2) Summer really did feel like a time of surplus. We kept running out of active projects because cards would make us finish them earlier, and that in turn made us think of larger goals.
3) EVERY TURN. Sometimes twice.
4) People discarded contempt semi-frequently. Unfortunately it was generally as a result of an action that caused another player to take contempt. Not knowing one another's agendas made it impossible to really check that.
5) Several late game cards were duds because they added something to the fiction that was already there. It might have been better to have less bold cards in the later months.
6) We followed the suggestion of stopping instantly with no epilogue.
7) It was a bit of an anticlimax. I know the story isn't about the Frost Shepherds, but it just feels unnatural for a story to end on an elipsis like that.
8) ~7:00 to 10:30, so 3.5 hours.
9) Didn't keep track of this, really can't say.

To elaborate on the fuzzy line problem sev mentioned: I was frustrated by not being clear on whether I was supposed to be reflecting a current of thought in the community, or whether I was reflecting the perspective of me, sitting in this chair with my 21st century Western mind, even if no one in the community would think like that. We interpreted the rules as saying that both should be the case simultaneously, but that often makes no sense. For instance, we had established that our village had a taboo against swimming, but clearly none of the players do, and so I felt like I had to both oppose swimming (because everyone in the village does) and endorse it (because I do in real life), so I kind of felt like I was Breaking The Rules whenever we talked about it. I played again this weekend, and we kept it all in-community, and I thought that worked better.

Still, we moved past that and had a lot of fun. It really worked beautifully in bringing out the tensions in the community and making us feel like we didn't have time for everything.
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