The Farrier's Bellows - Don't Walk in Winter Wood

It’s a new episode of The Farrier’s Bellows, and while it may be Spring where you are, but it’s cold in Winter Wood–best to stay inside where it’s safe.
In this week’s episode, we talk Clint Krause’s Don’t Walk In Winter Wood, a wonderfully minimalist game of folkloric fear and Colonial American Horror. We talk about tone and how to make it work at your table, as well as the benefits of a system that gets out of the way and lets you do your thing.
Bundle up tight and get close to the fire, things are about to get spooky.


As I have played both Cthulhu Dark and Don’t walk in Winter Woods I find it interesting to look how similar and yet so different the resolution mechanism of the two games are. The episode shortly touched that topic.

DwiWW rolls a d6
CD rolls highest of up to 3d6 (one basic, one for specialized, one for the risk of gaining Insight)

DwiWW target is higher than current Cold
CD is against a separate d6 roll

In DwiWW, Cold is increasing and hence tasks more often go wrong towards the end of the game.

In CD, tasks become more dangerous in the fiction and hence the use of the extra Insight die more likely.

A Cold of 6 is the end of the character.
An Insight of 6 is the end of the character.

I have to say, the increasing probability of failure in DwiWW isn’t doing much for me. I prefer keeping the change of threat level on a fictional level.

Am I missing a design idea behind it?

Insight though is designed fabulously: especially with the extra twist of being able to reduce Insight again in exchange of decreasing the “insight of the rest of the world” is the simplest and yet most elegant mechanism I have seen to reflect what is going on in cthulhoid horror stories. The temptation to take this extra die to survive the situation but risking your sanity in exchange is a powerful decision to be made towards the final acts of a CD session.

EDIT: corrected game’s name.

1 Like

Having not played CD or Trophy (which I understand has some Cthulhu Dark DNA), I can’t speak much to the similarities or differences. It sounds like they definitely have some similarities, though, and from your breakdown it sounds like CD might have a little more meat to it as a game that gives you some narrative and mechanical control. What I think DWIWW does so well is give you a very small, neat package to tell ghost stories in. IMO I don’t think you’re missing a design idea behind DWIWW’s Cold Points. Its super stripped down, which is naturally going to cut down on what it can do as a game and will definitely not be for everyone. But for a small game that you can play really easily around a campfire, I enjoyed it immensely. Like you said, the death spiral of the increasing Cold points isn’t as interesting or mechanically useful as Insight seems to be, but for that neat simplicity it’s definitely something I’m into.
All that said, I have a great desire to play Cthulhu Dark and Trophy now. That same horror of DWIWW with a little more mechanical meat to it is definitely something I could get behind.