The Coziest Den

I always have a rule of thumb for picking out RPGs to play. If the setting is interesting enough, it’s worth a check. If I feel like I can play this solo, it’s worth a play. There were definitely games that I solo played just because of its setting and premise: A Flower for Mara, Titan World, and Bliss Stage being such examples.

This game is no exception. A Cozy Den has this for a setting: players are a race of snake people called Lesbisnakes who are part-human, part-snake, all lesbian. The game takes place during the chilly winter months as Lesbisnakes live in dens to hibernate. The more Lesbisnakes there are in a den, the better, and the aim is to make… a cozy den. Roll credits.

This setting is just amazing and it’s not because it appeals to the LGBTQ community, since lots of games can be tailored to appeal to that demographic. You play as a snake girl who lives with other snake girls to survive the winter. It’s a simple slice of life kind of game, which you barely see any of in modern RPGs. The closest ones are games that try to emulate Stranger Things, such as Tales from the Loop or Kids on Bikes. Not to mention that romance is involved in this game, hence why it’s this year’s Valentine’s Day game.

The engine I will be using is CRGE Kai since I barely use that at all even though it’s my go-to engine. Not only that, but I will be using the Social Focus Table from Mythic GM Emulator’s Variations. Character Creation is simple because I’m the only person here. The idea is that the group must be unanimous with what species of Lesbisnake they want to play as. I’m going with a Garter Lesbisnake.

We unfortunately come across a problem. The book mentions a character sheet, but as I skimmed through it, I saw no such sheet. This is an appropriate time to point out that I have a physical copy of the game and not a PDF. Thankfully, I found a sheet on the official website and it just so happens to be a Garter Lesbisnake. Though it wouldn’t matter which species it was that much given how everyone plays the same species and as such every option for each species is virtually the same.

However, I decided to take advantage of a feature that the book had. You could say that this is sponsored by Bits and Mortar, as it’s with them that I was able to nab myself the PDF of the handouts, the necessary half of the game that was missing from the book. With Bits and Mortar, you can get free PDF copies of physical books you’ve purchased, or in this case, handouts, provided they were published by someone who has joined the initiative. A good chunk of indie developers have joined this initiative, including the publisher of this game, Serpent Cyborg, and my favorite company due to their constant stream of character development-driven games, Genesis of Legend Publishing. Definitely worth a check out if you have a book of a game you like to see on PDF.

Anyways, we should get started with character creation. Stat assignment is unique. There’s seven stats: three intensities of Femme, three intensities of Butch, and a middle ground. The idea behind these stats falls under the common theming of who the girl and tomboy are respectively. There’s two methods to stating up the character. I’m going with the first method of putting a three on one trait and two ones on the neighbouring traits.

So, with that in mind, here’s my backstory for my character:

Jessie is a Garter Lesbisnake who had been kicked out of her den in the cold of winter. She struggled to go find another den before she freezes, and she eventually is taken in by a kind Lesbisnake who seems rather lonely. Jessie has a nervous demeaner due to her last den being so hostile to her and her project is to figure out where to go once the snow melts, as she made it clear she’s only trying to stay for the winter. There’s a nice personality matrix that can be statted up by splitting 12 evenly across two opposite ends. For instance, I have a 2 in Lustful and a 10 in Platonic, which adds to 12. I won’t go too much into detail.

With that, my character is created. Now I need to stat up the other Lesbisnake. Our partner is gonna be the opposite of our character, being the Femme to our Butch. She’ll also use the 3, 2, 1, -1 method instead of the 3 and neighbouring stats get a 1. We use BOLD to generate her story. Our partner’s name is Steph and her problem is a little more personal. The winter happened a lot earlier than she had predicted, and it commenced with a flash freeze. While she was able to get to her den in time, her partner was too weak to make the journey and died. Now she wallows in depression, at least until Jessie showed up.

[Q: Does her Project have to do with Jessie? Purpose: To Knowledge. A: 82]

Yes, and she intends to try and move on from her lover’s death by making our stay as cozy as possible. Maybe even falling in love if she is successful. Well, this is probably gonna be the most emotional SRV I’ve been on… and I played A Flower For Mara.

Next up are the actions. You assign those seven Identification stats mentioned earlier to seven actions. This isn’t too much work because you only need to really care about four, the ones you gave points to, since everything else rolls at 0. Still, it’s fun to come up with how your character thinks of arranging the den. For instance, Steph sees arranging the den as no different than any other mundane task (Soft Butch), but Jessie sees it as something completely feminine (High Femme).

Lastly is the Den itself. This is easy to make because of what I established in the story. It’s situated inside a mountain, a makeshift home with a campfire, and it’s just one huge room with a circular pillow. With that, we’re ready to play.

The game begins the day after Jessie was taken in. She wakes up, snug inside the bed next to Steph. Naturally, she wakes up and asks Steph what happened. Steph wakes up and explains that Jessie was outside her den when she passed out and, as such, she was taken in for warmth. Steph asks what Jessie was doing outside in the freezing cold. I don’t feel like now is the right time to talk to her about the circumstances, so I play the quiet game.

[Q: Does she persist? Purpose: To Knowledge. A: 20]

No, and she decides to drop the topic. She leaves us be and arranges the den while we nap. The game’s system is Powered by the Apocalypse, though with an interesting stipulation if you fail. In hindsight, I should have used Tiny Universal for the Engine, but I’ll continue with CRGE Kai due to the Social Focus Table.

[Arrange The Den Roll: 10]

[Nap Roll: 6]

So, while Steph managed to rearrange the den to better accommodate for her guest, Jessie failed so much at napping that she must draw a Threat Card. This is the consequence to getting a six or less in this game. Eighteen Cards give out different, interesting scenarios that detriment the den, its inhabitants, or both. In this case, the scenario is that an important object is missing from the den, which damages the overall den’s score by one and hurts the feelings of our characters (think of it as their health) by one. The object in question is the keys to the den. Steph wakes up Jessie and ruins her nap as she begs her to try and find the key with her since otherwise, they’ll be locked out of the den the next time they hunt. The scene ends there, and Chaos goes up.

[Scene Roll: 7]

No scene event. The next minute, Jessie groggily tries to find the keys along with Steph. I guess this is another Arrange the Den check.

[Arrange The Den Rolls: 6 & 4]

Aaaaah, not good. So, this now results in the internet being taken down (Jessie pulled the cord trying to find the keys) and Jessie becomes so tired that she becomes irritated and yells at Steph for getting her involved in finding the keys. As such, Steph’s feelings get hurt much harder than Jessie’s. The way most scenes go is to establish a need that is to be fulfilled. So, as such, an hour later, Steph gives up searching for the keys and begins to cry. Jessie, realizing she screwed the pooch, goes over to comfort her.

[Q: Does Steph regret taking in Jessie? Purpose: To Conflict. Modifiers: Her Forgiveness value of 11. A: 30. Surge Counter rises to 2]

She doesn’t regret taking Jessie in and is just upset that she lost her keys and now they can’t go out. As she mentions that, she remembers her lover dying and she begins to break down. Jessie just frowns and realizes just how lonely Steph is and decides to go and try and find the keys again. I would make a check for a modifier, but the modifier is a +1, which means that it only truly applies if I rolled a 6 or a 9. If I fail, that’d be a -1, but that also doesn’t matter unless I roll a 7 or 10.

[Arrange the Den Roll: 7]

This time Jessie finds the keys and gives it to her. Now, the 7-9 result is that someone is bitter with the arrangements, so I’ll have it be that Steph is still shaken up from remembering such a traumatic event. The scene ends with Jessie giving Steph her space and Chaos lowering, as we managed to wrest control of the situation.

[Scene Roll: 5]

Scene is altered in some way. Five minutes have passed as Steph is still upset and is curled up in a little ball. Jessie tries her hardest to try and get Steph to feel better, even asking if he could cuddle with her.

[Q: Does she accept? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 64, with Surge rising to 66. Surge Counter is 4]

Oh snap! Now we have a random event to deal with!

  • Event Focus: 62, Close a thread.
  • Thread Focus: 2, Steph Finding Love
  • Event Meaning: 71 & 17: Trick the Spiritual.

She nods, citing that it helps open chakras that enable for her to feel better. Obviously, this is a lie, but the otherwise dense Jessie buys it anyways. The Cuddle move is a lot different than the other moves. For one, the move requires two people doing different things. Then there’s a whole step-by-step process.

Not only that, but the 2d6 roll isn’t even applicable to this action. Instead, you roll 2d6 to get what sort of cuddle your Lesbisnake wants to have. The other actions have descriptions of what happens when you roll a 9-7, with the below 6 option automatically going to the Threat Card. But here? This is entirely fluff.

So, I guess I’m gonna assume there’s no real threat from this and the rolling is just to show how good they are at cuddling. The result is that Steph, who is an expert cuddler, must educate Jessie, who only cuddled in mating balls, how to properly cuddle. In this case, the cuddling in question is resting their head on the human half of their bodies. With that, Steph feels better and recovers one feeling. The scene ends with us wrestling control back.

[Scene Roll: 8, no scene change]

An hour passes as Jessie and Steph are just chillaxing. As I don’t feel like now’s the right time to open up about his past, which prompts Steph to talk.

  • NPC Mood: 60, Sociable
  • NPC Bearing: 7 & 8, Enigma
  • NPC Focus: 93, Weapons

Erm… Jessie has no weapons. So I guess Steph will ask Jessie about what he was doing out in the cold. Jessie still doesn’t want to answer about it and instead, they should just bask. Cue the rolls.

[Bask Rolls: 4 & 5]

Wow, things just can’t go right for our couple! So I draw the threats. No matter what the two do, they just can’t keep warm. Not only that, but something isn’t right with the den. As it turns out, there’s a crack in the den that they now must fix.

[Arrange the Den Rolls: 11 and 5]

While Steph manages to fix the hole rather easily…

[Q: Is it a temporary fix? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 33, surge lowering to 29. Surge Counter is 6]

(We’ll get to that later)

Jessie ends up fumbling and draws a Threat. It turns out that Steph completely forgot to go get food as she was so occupied with Jessie. While the den takes damage, it ties into the next scene quite nicely, albeit that it damages the Den by 1 (though the 11 cancels it out).

Oh, and random event time.

  • Event Focus: 67, PC Negative (PC in this case is Jessie, as I regard Steph an NPC)
  • Event Meaning: 33 & 53: Stop Home

I’m guessing this means that Jessie is having seconds thoughts about staying here for the winter. As in he’s trying to stop thinking that this is his home.

[Scene Roll: 5]

Jessie opens the door… And suddenly snow pours into the house. Welp, they’re snowed in. Thankfully I established that there was a campfire set up, so all Jessie must do is go over, grab a burning piece of wood, and melt the snow. This takes about thirty minutes to an hour, but she ends up melting enough snow to clear a path.

[Hunt Roll: 8 (+ the 3 from it being her key trait makes it 11)]

Jessie manages to bring home some tasty rabbits for the two to eat, which seems to be the only light patch in their situation as we end the scene with the situation more or less in our control.

[Scene Roll: 2]

Scene interrupt!

  • Event Focus: 96, NPC Negative
  • NPC Focus: 2, Jessie’s Family
  • Event Meaning: 36 & 84, Imitate Status Quo

So, to expand a bit on the last hunting scene, Jessie spent about four or so hours hunting. That’s when he encountered a member of his family who had kicked him out. They basically dismissed Jessie as a dead Lesbisnake walking and say how they just took in another person to replace Jessie…

Oh… Damn… I wonder… I’m tempted to ask CRGE if this is the case, but given how one of the events is called “Drop a Bomb”, I might as well just confirm it to myself and reveal it when it comes time for the bomb.

Jessie gets pissed and proceeds to wrestle her sibling.

[Q: Is Jessie’s Sibling good at wrestling? Purpose: To Knowledge. A: 29, Surge making it 23. Surge Counter increases to 8]

No, they are not. Also, because Jessie’s vengefulness is ranked at 11 (Forgiving/Vengeful is one of the personalities you had to do at the beginning), he gets another +1 (I’d roll for that bonus, but given how it’s a 2d6 roll, it’s impossible to get a 1, which is what the DC is to fail it).

[Wrestle Check: 8 vs. 7]

In the ensuing scuffle, Jessie manages to hurt his sibling, but his emotions were hurt as well. He remembers what happened as he just cries. Steph just approaches Jessie and gifts him with something. An old silver ring that her former love had given her. I don’t accept the gift, merely because it has more sentimental value to her than it does to me.

[Q: Does Steph try to explain what she meant when she gave Jessie the ring? Odds: To Conflict. A: 12, surge making it 4.]

No, but Steph just leaves it by Jessie’s side regardless and she goes to her bed. Scene ends, and the situation’s kinda bad.

[Scene Roll: 0]

Another Scene Interrupt!

  • Event Focus: 84, Ambiguous event
  • Event Meaning: 78 & 50, Cruelty Travel

Another hour passes as Jessie tries to chart the fastest path away from the general area the moment snow starts to melt. Steph comes in and notices this. She decides that enough is enough and asks me what happened. I don’t feel like talking and she’s probably gonna have to score a Be Social check to make sure I talk.

[Be Social Check: 7, +2 is 9.]

Alright, so here’s how it goes down. Steph approaches Jessie and asks her what brought her to her den in the first place. She coaxes Jessie enough to spill the beans, albeit rather crabbily. Long story short: Jessie got into a fight with the other Lesbisnakes at his old den and she got kicked out for it. Steph realizes how horrible Jessie’s life must have been as Jessie continues about how she ended up getting replaced by some other Lesbisnake. Jessie yells at Steph for forcing it out of her, expresses a desire to get the hell away from the area, and how she hates her life.

But Steph calms her down and holds her. She understands what it’s like to be abandoned. Albeit the circumstances are heavily different, Steph vows to stay by Jessie’s side and that’s why she handed him the ring. Her old lover gave it to her as a symbol that they will never be apart and she wished for that to be the same for her and Jessie.

Jessie… accepts and cries in her arms. Jessie’s healing has officially begun.

[Scene Roll: 8, no Scene Change]

It’s the next day as Jessie asks Steph for a favor. She wants Steph to out and check in on her family. It’s one of those periods where the temperature is warm enough to go out with a jacket. I presume that because Lesbisnakes are part-human, they have some tolerance to the cold than if they were full on snake.

[Q: Does Steph accept? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 59, Surge Counter goes to 2]

She complies and goes out. I’m gonna use Hunt for this one.

[Hunt Check: 6]

Oh boi! What’s the threat this time? Oh, she feels cold… again. So she is in the blistering cold when suddenly she is taken in. Good place to cut to the next scene. Situation is baaaad.

[Scene Roll: 0]

Scene interrupt! Wait, I have been anticipating this…

Rather than roll, I think it’s an appropriate time to DROP DA BOMB!

Steph comes to and finds that she’s inside Jessie’s family den. She wakes up… and finds that her lost lover, Kamilah, is with them. She’s shocked and asks how it was possible for her to survive. Kamilah explains that while it was true that she lost consciousness, she was taken into the den before it was too late.

[Q: Does Kamilah resent Steph for leaving her to die? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 52, Surge building it up to 54. Surge Counter goes to 4]

Yes, she does. She yells at Steph and calls her scum. This ends up hurting Steph’s feelings and she runs off. She’s gonna need another Hunt check to get back.

[Hunt Check: 4]

And another threat is drawn. Heavy snow knocks out the electricity. However, the flavor I have in mind for the den is more cottage like, so I’ll write it up as Steph enters the den and drags snow in, damaging the den by 1. The scene ends there with her explaining to Jessie what is going on. Obviously, the situation has gotten worse.

[Scene Roll: 5]

Scene gets altered. An hour later, a knock comes to the door. Jessie opens it and it’s her little sister. She explains how she felt as though Kamilah’s rant was too over the top and it scared her, and thus she followed Steph. She is elated to be reunited with her sister. However, Steph is too depressed to think straight.

[Q: Does she take the young Lesbisnake in? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 10, surge taking it down to 6.]

No, she doesn’t, but Jessie lets her in anyways. The scene ends there as they take in a new companion. Situation is alright.

[Scene Roll: 8]

No scene shift. So Jessie is gonna try to make Steph feel better with another cuddle attempt.

[Q: Does she want to cuddle? Purpose: To Endings. A: 81]

Yes, and she wants Jessie’s sister to join.

[Q: Does Jessie’s sister (henceforth Cassie) wanna cuddle as well? Purpose: To Endings. A: 2]

No, but she’ll sleep next to the two.

[Cuddle Rolls: 11 (Jessie), 7 (Steph)

[Nap Roll: 8]

It’s all good. Steph is healed. As is Jessie. Scene ends happily.

[Scene Roll: 2]

SCENE INTERRUPT!

  • Event Focus: 43, New NPC [Q: A member of Jessie’s family? Purpose: To Endings. A: 86, Yes And it’s the Manserpent that kicked Jessie out]
  • Event Meaning: 56 & 100 (Usurp Information)

Suddenly, Jessie’s father, a manserpent (basically the male version of a Lesbisnake who sometimes donates sperm to the Lesbisnakes who can otherwise not be pregnant) busts into the den. He’s finally found where Jessie is, and he has noticed that she’s planning to escape the immediate area once the snow melts. He destroys the information. He’d rather Jessie stay and suffer. Jessie just snaps and wrestles his dad.

[Wrestle Roll: 7 + 1 (+1 from her vengefulness) becomes 9.]

[Counter Wrestle Roll: 9 + 3 becomes 12]

Jessie’s dad manages to hurt her, and this causes Cassie to try and defend Jessie.

[Wrestle Roll: 6 +1 becomes 7]

She struggles, but her arms are pulled in the process.

[Q: Does Steph join in? Purpose: To Endings. A: 16]

No, and she just breaks down and cries as the three fight each other. Oh, and Jessie’s father forgot to close the door.

Sooooo… yeah, this is probably gonna end Dinosaurs style where everyone just freezes…

No. Screw that.

Jessie cries out that she will stay. Her father stops and chuckles. “Good, the dog knows where her place is.” However, Jessie declares that she’ll stay with Steph. And Cassie will stay as well. Her father just glares.

[Q: Does he accept the terms? Purpose: To Endings. A: 36, Surge increasing by 2]

No. He’s stubborn and drags Cassie out into the cold.

[Q: Does Steph do anything about this? Purpose: To Endings. Adding 2d6 to the roll due to her realizing that Jessie does indeed care for her. A: 52 (Originally 46, where if Surge is applied, would subtract 2 to make 44), Surge becoming 54. Surge increases to 4]

Steph screams and pushes the manserpent away from Cassie.

[Wrestle Roll: 9]

[Counter Roll: 5…]

Dude rolled snake eyes modified by 3. He gets the bad ending befitting him as Steph shoves him right into the snowbank and closes the door on him, pressing him close to the snow and pretty much freezing him. Steph realizes what she’s done and breaks down. Jessie and Cassie comfort her as Jessie commenting to herself on how brave she became. That’s when the two realize they had shared a strong bond despite their short time together (they spent about a month or so). Jessie reaffirms her intent to stay by Steph’s side as Cassie exclaims how glad she is to not have to deal with their father’s abusive patriarchy.

Though the two should try to spend some tact as Steph is still horrified at the fact that she probably killed a manserpent. Scene ends and that was pretty hectic as hell.

[Scene Roll: 4]

Another scene interrupt. Actually, make that two because I am gonna count the unofficial doubles I rolled.

  • Event Focus: 38, New NPC [Q: Is it Jessie’s Mom? Purpose: To Endings. A: 39, surge decreasing to 35, Surge increases to 6] (UNE Time, baby!)
    • UNE NPC: 99 & 32: Righteous Explorer
    • Power Level: 4, Much Weaker
    • Motivation: 33 & 48, Hinder Advice
  • Event Meaning: 27 & 34, Praise Expectations

And the next event.

  • Event Focus: 6, DROP THE BOMB!
  • Event Meaning: 88 & 12, Control Opposition

Hmm… I can work with this.

A month passes and another knock at the door comes as Jessie answers it. It’s a travelling den checker, a Lesbisnake who looks at dens and judges them based off how well equipped it is for the winter. This is to ensure that Lesbisnakes don’t get left out in the cold. She looks through the den and concludes that it’s rather small and has occasional snow drifting despite how well kept it looks. As such, the den inspector insists they move into a larger den with other Lesbisnakes.

So, let’s break down the meanings.

  • Righteous Explorer: Obviously the den inspector. Exploring and being right about everything.
  • Hinder Advice: This advice seems to be a hinderance to our group, since it means moving out of the den and into another one full of Lesbisnakes they don’t know.
  • Praise Expectations: That said, the den inspector concludes that the den’s only flaws are that its small and it’s prone to getting snow in.
  • Control Opposition: As the inspector, she controls any opposition to the decision she makes.

There’s also a bit of mechanics to this as well. See, every time a character rolls a 10-12, a point is added to the den’s score. Whenever a Threat explicitly targets the den, it decreases the score by one point. Whenever feelings are hurt, that’s when the den also decreases in points, so obviously there’s a lot of negatives that would put the score for this den in a rather low spot, but the game has us start from five and we had some good rolls, especially with the last fight. At the end of the game, the score is totaled and in this case, it’s seven. Seven to Nine in the score means that it’s alright, but needs improvement.

And so, the Lesbisnakes pack up and move out. Fortunately, the den inspector gave them a new den to live in…

It turns out to be Jessie’s family. Of course, there’s awkward tensions all around. For one, Jessie alienated himself from the family. Kamilah is pissed with Steph still… And now I just realized I created a tense love triangle…

Wow, I put the game in a tight bind here. I mean, I could borrow from Lifetime and have the outcome be “by removing man from the equation, everyone is now happy”, but that’s incredibly cringy and sexist. It’s the easy route, but it’s by no means the best route. Not to mention it’d be uncomfortable to do it in a game with LGBTQ as a primary premise.

I will say that Jessie’s father was a major player in Jessie getting kicked out of the den, but simply taking him out won’t fix everything. Yes, he is a dick, but not every problem is tied back to him. The best I can do for this scenario without relying on a driver or asking CRGE Kai is to try some “Be Social” rolls.

[Jessie’s Be Social Roll: 5]

[Steph’s Be Social Roll: 4]

Snake Eyes again! Welp, time for the bad ending as I draw two threat cards. The first threat is “Another Lesbisnake is asking to stay in your Den.” That’s literally what’s going on right now. The next threat is “Something important just broke.”

… Welp, time for downer ending. The two can’t get back into their friends and family’s good graces and the scene ends with broken trusts all around.

[Scene Roll: 8]

Spring soon comes as Jessie doesn’t share a word with her family, nor does Steph share a word with Kamilah. As soon as the snow melts, they vamoose far from the immediate area. The bridges are burned to the ground and Jessie and Steph just high-tail it out of there.

[Q: Does Cassie go with them? Purpose: To Endings. A: 10, Surge Decreasing that to 4.]

No, and she wishes to live with her mother now that the manserpent is gone. Jessie obliges but decides she’s going to live on her own with Steph. Jessie must make a Hunt check to remember where she planned to go.

[Hunt Roll: 11]

She perfectly remembers and they head off to a place where they won’t get harassed… New York.

[Q: Is there a sudden snow storm because spring nowadays has a lot of sudden snow falls. Purpose: To Endings. A: 82, and it’s a blizzard.]

Wow, this game is out to torture the couple. Like, this is some real tragic stuff. So, they’re on their way to the new den when suddenly a blizzard out of nowhere. Turns out the weather guys messed up or we just messed up the environment so much that spring was just a false alarm. So, they freeze.

Lovely.

Just once, can I have a Valentine’s Day game where it doesn’t end morbidly? Like, the only Valentine’s game that ended nicely was a story about hanging out with a Pokemon. That was it. Everything else either had something blow up, people dying, or both. Or, you know what? Just pretend that snow storm never happened, and everyone was happy. Or hell, everyone was happy when they reunited at the den.

Jessie and Steph are married and happily together in New York… Look around, look around at how lucky they are to be alive in New York…

I’m not crying! You’re crying!

B-bon voyage, gamers… {sniffles}

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