A Cold Forest Night

Working on a simple PbtA game for the Folklore Jam.

It's called a Cold Forest Night. Feedback on the design, economy (of Fear, Pride, and Poison), and clarity of writing all appreciated.


  • I really like the fairytale vibe I get from it. The moves seem tailored well! I don’t think I’ll be able to playtest it anytime soon though.
  • I really like the premise, the basic form of the design, and the presentation/writing.

    I have some concerns, too:

    Some of the moves seem to constrain outcomes to a degree that’s very extensive, and potentially leave little choice for the players.

    A result of a “save/help them” roll could be that I save my friend from a danger and rebuke them for being an idiot. On a 7-9, I’m never going to choose that I don’t save them, right (unless I’ve already decided that I’m not willing to be injured to save them)? So there’s no real choice, and now the move is telling me how to role play my character, as well.

    That might be ok... but it might feel really restrictive, as well.

    The design does this a lot, in general. There are only certain thugs we can do, and the outcomes are all pretty set.

    That serves the idea of a focused “jam game” well, but it’s something I’d look out for in a play test.

    In particular, “all three” on a miss means that the outcome of every miss is basically completely set - there’s not much room for a different outcome from roll to roll.

    It could be frustrating that each time you miss a roll to deceive someone, you have to taunt them even as you fail to trick them, for another example.

    I can’t share a thought or a moment with a sibling because I don’t have or don’t want to spend a Sweet? Another example. Everything is very tightly constrained.

    At the same time, the choices are clever and interesting. It’s a balancing act!

    Finally, are you sure the math here is working the way you want it to? It seems to me that those “roll minus a stat” rolls will almost all be misses. PbtA is usually set up so that +1 is the midpoint of the scale. In your game, rolling at -2 or -3 is going to be quite common, and, as we saw earlier, that means we basically already know what’s going to happen - rolling at -3, for example, a 10+ is completely impossible, and a 7-9 only happens 17% of the time. The vast majority of results are going to be “all three” (basically completely predetermined).

    You might need to switch the scale to 5-, 6-8, 9+, or something like that.
  • edited April 2019
    It looks like it is intended as a short game with little replay value. Maybe 2-3 times and you're there. But that's not a problem : that's a solution.
    In fact, its best quality seems to me that anyone, even without prior PbtA knowledge, could pick it, play it 2 or 3 times, and then start to tweak it for different Interactive Fiction scenarios, changing mostly the tables of outcomes and NPCs.
    I like that !
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