Tales of the Winter Soldier

Okay, so something caught my eye while I was browsing for Solo Roleplaying on an RPG.Net forum: Winter, by Zachary Donovan. It’s a solo RPG set during World War 1 (I think. There’s a heavy amount of trench warfare, similar to WWI) in the middle of winter. I always wanted to play a war game, so naturally, this among the bunch of RPGs that were submitted for a contest would be the first game I’d play.

So grabbing the things we need, I make my character… Which is simple.

Health: 10 Hope: 10 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day Zero

After that, I have to pick three sentences. Two of them roughly sound the same (“I never wanted to be a soldier” and “I can’t believe I volunteered for this”) so I’ll pick the odd one out: “The wintertime has a certain beauty here.” And so now, I do my first journal entry. Yes, I’m going to write it out like a journal. I’m gonna try to free write, see what I get.

It’s been a few months since I got drafted for this war. Time seemed to cease for me, though, as the seemingly endless winter entranced me. The wintertime has a certain beauty here. The cold helped clog my nose, since the smell of corpses can drive off practically anyone. Our trench, however, is neatly clean. As clean as a trench can get, at least. However, one of us has to shovel out the snow to ensure that we get to out places… That’s where I come in. For the past few months, I’ve been assigned to shovel duty. They say I’d be home by Christmas, but my lost sense of time can’t tell me if it’s nearing that time of the year. The only thing that can help me is my friend, Petey, who has an advent calendar sent to him by his mom… Poor soul. Still has parents to fight for and go home to. I have no one to go home to. Guess that’s a good thing, since if I go home in a box, at least there’d be no tears for me. I want to ensure Petey is safe, not just to help keep track of the time, but because I want him to go home to his family. Let the people who have nothing to live for die. At least let him die in the arms of his family than in the arms of the enemy.

Alright, after five minutes of free writing, this is what I got:

  • I’m a soldier assigned to shovelling snow off the trench.
  • I’m expected to be home by Christmas, but it’s been so long since I had a good look at the time that I don’t even know when that is.
  • My only information on hand is a friend who keeps an advent calendar with him.
  • This friend has family, I have none.
  • I want to keep him safe, and I have no qualms about my own safety.

Interesting character. Now, another blog did the system, but randomized the scenes. I won’t for at least the first five scenes, but after that, I’ll start rolling random scenes. For now, let’s begin with Day One, the introductory Camaraderie scene.

Health: 10 Hope: 10 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day One – Morning

Morning comes up, and I hear the crunching of the Advent Calendar as Petey popped out another chocolate. I ask him how many days are left, and he told me twelve. Twelve days of Christmas. If the Kaiser was my true love, I really wish he wouldn’t give me a bombshell in a pear tree. He tossed me half of the chocolate. I ask him why he gave it, and he told me that he has my back, just as I have his. I smile. Kid’s in the right place in his heart, just not the right place in the world.

While I’m sure Camaraderie counts as a Free Parking sort of deal (every other option has a chance for death sans Camaraderie), but I’d count it as a recover one hope scene, with sSurvival being a recover one health scene. Speaking of…

Health: 10 Hope: 10 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day One – Afternoon

Survival Attempt: 1 – Failure.

Fire went out, and Petey and I have to make a new one. Petey wasn’t the best at making fire, and neither was I. The others were out on their mission and the officer was busy planning out something that I have no idea about. The freezing beauty of winter bit us hard and we were without fire for all of afternoon. By the time the troops came back to help light the fire, night fell.

Ouch, took my first blows… And now I’m going to take more.

Health: 9 Hope: 9 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day One – Night

The troops told us that they got an ambush and they retreated back here. The problem is that some of the enemy soldiers were following them. Sure enough, as soon as the fire was lit, a stream of bullets hit us. Of the twelve that came back, only one remained. Me and Petey took up arms and fought off the enemy troops. Petey got off lucky with a grazed bullet. However, I took a mental blow watching those Germans mow through our allies like a lawnmower.

Alright, that’s the end of the day, and holy crap. Things got hurtful. My character took a massive hit on his hope and we’re fighting a losing battle. On to Day Two, where I will roll my first Relief roll.

Health: 9 Hope: 7 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day Two – Morning

Relief Roll: 5 and 9. No Relief For Me or Petey.

The officer comes back. He’s pissed. He wants us to do a strike on the enemy camp while they relax. He and some men had dug tunnels towards the trench without being spotted, but they need one volunteer to go in, kill the soldiers, and cave in the tunnels to prevent further use by the enemy. I know this because I was the one who volunteered. Petey didn’t seem to mind, since the officer told him that his wound would prove to be bad on the battlefield. And so I go.

Alright, so that was my volunteer task. And seeing as it’s always accompanied by a violence scene, that’s what it will start with.

Health: 9 Hope: 6 [ ] [ ] [ ] Day Two – Afternoon

Volunteer Roll: 9 – Badly Wounded

The raid went badly. Not in a bad way, but in a good way. As soon as I snuck in, I shot at several soldiers and proceeded to blow up one of their foxholes. They were taken aback by this sudden attack that some of them even died from heart attacks. As soon as the fighting was done, I blew up the tunnels like I was ordered to. Unfortunately, there was just one enemy remaining and he shot me just as I blew up the tunnel. My body was sent flying and I blacked out.

Now, since I’m badly wounded, that means I have to end the game now. That was a fun game though. Now for the epilogue.

I awoke in the hospital feeling lighter than usual. The doctors said they couldn’t save my legs that were crushed in the rubble. It was a miracle that one of the debris from the tunnel’s explosion killed the enemy soldier, but all miracles come with a price: I’m going home early. Petey and the others are gonna be stuck until they get relieved. More troopers will be drafted, and I can’t be there to protect them.

I’ve succeeded, and yet I’ve failed.

… Holy shit. That was pretty dark. I like this game, it’s in that “20% Effort, 80% Output” category where you have a minimal amount of story generating devices and manage to get a kick out of it. However, it was all predetermined from the five scenes I picked, so I’ll do a next run with random scenes to keep it tense. See ya all later, and happy Remembrance Day.

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