Quiet Year on the Clock

This week we lived through a Quiet Year (game by Avery Alder) as a community living in a city reclaimed by nature after a long-ago apocalypse. Having harvested all the foods, metal, and fuel available in the ruins during the recently-ended war with the outsider Jackals, we struggle with building a community that will thrive next to a large municipal building in which a clock tower, miraculously, still functions. Luckily we have an abundance of small livestock to provide milk and eggs, and occasionally meat, as we follow the lead of the Clockkeepers, who maintain the Clock and order our days and months around the movements of time.

We work diligently to surmount the problems we face. We build a wooden barrier to protect our food stores from the rising river, and build a path that will allow us to transfer stores from the riverside warehouse to the clock tower. We build more permanent housing to address our disparate sleeping situation, harvest honey from the local bees, and fell trees from a dense forested area to create wood stores.

Drawing of our post-apocalyptic community including play materials for the Quiet Year.
Our communities map.

We send expeditionary parties into the sewer tunnels only to learn that the sewers are collapsed and impassible, upriver to investigate the sudden proliferation of red pollutants in the water, and into the subway system to search for our missing Clockmaster, who disappeared as he completed the ritual to exorcise the subway of the haunting sounds coming from it. The party upriver is turned back before discovering the pollutions source by raiders who have occasionally attacked our settlement, and the subway party returns without having found our missing leader. After learning of the scale of the raider threat, we begin to form and train a militia, build defensive fortifications eventually known as Fort Franklin in honor of our expeditionary leader who was felled by the diseases caused by the pollution, and make fire weapons using the fuel we uncover after the city’s stadium collapses due to our unsuccessful attempts to strip it of metal.

And we’re visited by many people over that year, including a wandering stranger who joins us for a time before leaving again and refugees from the upriver raiders who become permanent members of our community. From the subway emerges a group called the Parrish, who come, they say, in answer to the call of the Clock. When we learn the truth—that the Second Clockkeeper had conspired with the Parrish to eliminate the Clockmaster and replace him—we exile the Second and his followers and the Parrish, who disappear back down into the subway tunnels. With so many clock keepers gone, our lack of leadership makes it difficult for us to integrate the newcomers, who grow in size when the wanderer returns with more refugees from various places.

To remedy this, we institute a new weekly social gathering to bring people together and create more cohesion, and hold an election for leader. During the campaign, one candidate goes missing, but the election turns on the question of whether we should complete the damming of the river, a foolish project begun during a moment of strife in our community. The anti-dam candidate wins in a landslide and converts the project rather than abandons it, providing us with a lumber mill to process our wood stores and aid our building efforts, and to screen some of the pollutants still flowing from upriver. Giving everyone a voice in the running of the community brings us together just in time, as the Frost Shepherd arrives, blanketing the land and our community with freezing temperatures that still the river, still the clock which had ordered our lives, and drive us indoors for the foreseeable future. Our preparations in food, housing, fuel, wood, and social harmony should, however, allow us to survive and prosper through the long winter to come.

The King is Dead

Tonight we played a session of The King is Dead by Vincent & Meguey Baker in which our characters compete for control of the kingdom of Banteave after the death of Eyvard III of House Dillestone. Our characters are courageous and devout Prince Micah of House Oake, long-standing loyal supporters of the crown, and the tall, good-hearted Clan-Prince Aiden of House Antyre, the wild barbarian clans who once ruled Banteave.

Three pictures of the game The King is Dead, one with the box closed, one with it open and the game materials inside, and a third of all the game materials spread out on a table.
Image from Lumpley Games on itch.io.

Our story starts with news of House Antyre having raided the ships of the foreign House Luneste en route to Banteave, a fact that Micah and Aiden discuss at a Dillestone festival. In the conversation, Aiden casually mentions that one of the Antyre elders is ill and, in the context of a possible future rule, that Antyre rewards loyalty. Later, the two have a heated disagreement regarding whose people get access to the sacred lake for worship on the Autumnal equinox. After exchanging insults and exhortations, Micah leads the worshippers of the New Gods to the lakeside for their ritual and the hierophants of the Old Gods march away disgruntled. After this dispute, antagonism between the two houses escalates, with Oake continuing to publicly back Dillestone but secretly reaching out to House Sandoreale about taking the throne. But when an Antyrean priestess invokes the Blood-goddess of Vengeance, a war breaks out between the two Houses.

During the war, the Treaty Hall at Farran is ransacked by Antyre warriors as they bivouack inside until the Oake forces can retake and rescue the now ruined Hall. While Oake archers are overrun at the high passes of Ashendarrow and a company of heavy horse soldiers led by an Oaken daughter go down in valiant defeat in the rocky foothills, the Untamed warriors led by the great Clan Chief are destroyed by two companies of disciplined knights but valiant barbarians successfully defend the Stones of Trurall where the three Blood-goddesses sleep. In the end, Oake has the advantage when the sides sue for peace, and Aiden and Micah reunite while the chiefs and generals divvy up the spoils. They talk of the future and whether having a baby upon the throne can possibly last, they reminisce about the last time they saw each other, and they commiserate on the horrors of war. Aiden never mentions the dispute that set the houses on this destructive path.

The two great houses come to terms that set Prince Aiden upon the throne of Banteave and once he is crowned at Crag Ayl, he is joined by Dillestone and Oake on a procession to the capital. Sandoreale are forced to support the alliance while Luneste are excluded entirely, their trade routes having been given to House Oake as payment for supporting the Antyrean claim and serving the new crown. Aiden shows his respect to Oake by making Aiden the captain of the Crownwall, who guard the King’s person and keep the crown safe.