I am a big believer in backing tabletop gaming projects on Kickstarter. I’m willing to accept the small amount of risk involved in crowdfunding projects. However, I feel much better when I can throw my support behind a project from creators with a proven record of success. That’s why I was happy to back Cold Shadows, a new game project from Alan Bahr. I have discussed Alan’s minimalist science fiction game, Tiny Frontiers and its expansion Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters here before. Cold Shadows will be his first game since he joined Nocturnal Media. I had an opportunity to correspond with Alan over the last week and pick his brain on the new game and what’s on the horizon for him and Nocturnal Media.
What Is Cold Shadows?
Alan described Cold Shadows to me as his first “non-Tiny” game. Cold Shadows uses a new rule set built off of Blood & Honor and World of Dew. In fact, Alan has teamed up with Ben Woerner, author of World of Dew, to write this game. However, Cold Shadows is not set in the world of samurai. Instead, the setting invokes the world of classic Cold War novels from authors like Robert Ludlum and John Le Carre. But, why an espionage game? I asked Alan if there was a specific aspect of espionage stories that lends itself to a tabletop RPG. Here’s what he had to say:
“I do think there’s a unique style of thriller story that RPGs have yet to fully tap into, and the sense of betrayal and watching the story unfold, is almost like a movie. As participants, you have full view of all the secrets and character arcs, but your characters don’t get to interact with them as much. It leads to a very unique style of game.”
Cold Shadows does offer a unique style of game. The GM, the Narrator in this game, provides a plot and controls all the outside forces in the world, but ultimate control of the story is left to the players. The players roll dice from a pool they develop to determine which of them gets to narrate the outcome of actions in each scene. Player control of the story allows Cold Shadows to be played with only one player and the Narrator or without a Narrator at all.
Risks and Rewards
Alan has more than earned my trust when it comes to delivering on Kickstarter promises. Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters funded at the end of September last year and I received my rewards this week. That is less than five months for delivery.
Like Alan’s previous games funded through Kickstarter, the draft rules for this game are complete. This will greatly reduce the time between the campaign ending and delivery of rewards. Cold Shadows has already reached its funding goal so there is no risk that the project won’t fund. With twenty days left in the campaign the team has already unlocked twenty stretch goals. These include chapters that detail different notable Cold War cities such as Tel Aviv, Moscow and Washington, D.C. The Nocturnal Media team has brought in Tobie Abad, C.A. Suleiman, Shoshana Kessock, and many other impressive writers to pen these chapters. The Kickstarter page only lists stretch goals up to $25,000. However, Alan let me know that there are more stretch goals which include upgraded Trust tokens, pre-built adventures and more books.
Rewards for Cold Shadows start at $10. Pledging at this level will get you PDF copies of the core rulebook and the Black Book. This supplement includes information for NPCs, enemy agencies and more. Higher reward levels offer more rewards such as a softcover copy of the core rulebook, a set of custom Cold Shadows D6 and Trust tokens. I would recommend the Tinker, Tailor, Backer, Spy level at $40. That level will get you the print book, tokens, dice and all PDF rewards.
I pestered Alan for secrets about what he has in store for the future. He himself would make a good spy because he didn’t crack. What he did tell me was that Nocturnal Media has acquired the Tiny Dungeon ruleset and relaunched it as Tiny D6. This means that we can expect expansions to Tiny Frontiers and new Tiny settings. According to Alan, the company plans to launch new Tiny D6 material directly, but will also use Kickstarter for bigger launches.
Alan will also be traveling with Nocturnal Media to Gen Con this summer. He will be running game demos and promised an announcement there about a brand new RPG. If you’re going to be attending this year don’t miss out on a chance to check out everything that Nocturnal Media has to offer.