Don't Walk In Winter Wood is a rules-light, narrative-based
roleplaying game billed as "A Game of Folkloric Fear by Clint
Krause." The premise for the game is simple: the player characters
live in an unnamed 18th -century village, something threatening
is in the nearby woods and they must attempt to deal with it.
To play, create a simple character (no character sheet necessary;
there are no stats) and get a six-sided die. It is also recommended
players find a number of counters or tokens to help track "Cold
Points" (more on that later), but since you only ever need five
counters at most, it is likely that you will have little trouble
keeping track of them.
The actual mechanics to Don't Walk In Winter Wood are
simple. Each time you take some kind of damage in game —
emotional, psychological or physical — you accumulate
Cold Points. Cold Points act as the character's life total and
more importantly influence a character's decision -making process.
During the course of play, the Watcher (aka narrator or gamemaster)
may pose yes/no questions to players. Each player rolls a six-sided
die. If the roll result is higher than the number of Cold Points
the character possesses, the player may answer yes.
If the roll result is equal to or lower than the number of Cold
Points the character has, then the player must answer no. As
you may have already guessed, six Cold Points makes it impossible
to get a yes result. At six Cold Points the character is considered
to be either dead or insane.
Don't Walk In Winter Wood has a clean and easy-to-read
layout. Considering the suggestion to play in darkened areas,
I doubt the look of the product will be a serious detriment
to anyone's enjoyment of the game. Like many PDF games, the
artwork is comprised of a sparse two pieces. The first is the
cover, a black-and-white photo of a forest, whilst the second,
inside, is an "18th-century sketch of the village."
The document is divided into two sections: setting and rules.
The setting section includes location and history. The location
was intentionally left vague to allow players to develop the
setting to their liking. The history section is not as sparse,
with six pages dedicated to past happenings that a Watcher can
incorporate into his game.
The rules section has three subsections: rules, advice, and
a mini-adventure. The brief rules section attempts to explain
the rules by providing examples of play. The advice section
provides quick and useful advice for creating new stories as
well as suggestions on how to set the proper mood. A two-page
mini-adventure ends both the rules section and the document.
I love the concept behind the game. I have always been a fan
of horror roleplaying, especially games that focus more on mood
than monsters. The unique method in which the narration is delivered
in Don't Walk in Winter Wood was fun, though admittedly
it took some getting used to. Player and Watcher are asked to
describe the story in the past tense and to refer to characters
in the third person. For example, instead of saying "I look
around the corner," a player would say "Ezekiel looked around
the corner." This made us feel more like we were telling a story
rather than playing a game and contributed to the ghost-story
feel of the game.
From a Watcher point of view, I appreciated the adventure creation
section. Its list of plot hooks and rough adventure outline
made it simple to create my own simple one-shot adventure quickly.
However, I did have some problems with the setting section.
The setting was too vague to pick up and use. I think a few
more details (names for possible characters, a brief overview
of life in 18th-century United States, etc.) would not have
hindered any attempt to redevelop the setting to suit one's
own needs and would have made the game easier to run quickly
Overall, though, Don't Walk In Winter Wood delivers
what it promises: a quick, easy storytelling game that evokes
the feeling of telling scary stories in the dark. It is an entertaining
game with an enjoyable premise — but as a resource, I'm
left feeling a little disappointed. With a few more tools to
flesh out potential settings it would have garnered high marks.
As is, I still recommend checking out the game (available from
but you may find you have a bit of work to do to prepare your
village for game play.