Cairn: Dread Acre Wood

cairn-rpg A long time ago, humans walked the face of the world, but were destroyed for their arrogance and hubris. The Bright Ones lifted up the simple animals of forest and field, giving them the ability to think, build, and stand on their own two feet. In order to keep the newly Favored animals from making the same mistakes the humans did, The Bright Ones gave them the Compact — a book telling them how to live together in harmony.

Those who engage in dark deeds or refuse the ways of Harmony eventually become Dire — sinister, twisted versions of themselves, acting out of greed, vengeance, or selfishness. You must protect the town of Cairn and help it survive the winter. But beware! For you can become Dire, too.

Last summer, Sean ran a one shot of Cairn. I enjoyed the game and thought you might appreciate learning about the system. Enjoy!

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  1. So, Weasels wozzle, but they DO fall down?

  2. deep iin the dred aaacre wooood wheeeere christ pher ro n llllaaaaaaaaaaaaaays[cut to black with a single bass drum beat]

  3. That was a fun game, props Sean.

  4. Man, this game is on par with Legacy of NIMH with childhood references, combining that with darker tones and fun woodland character moments.

    I cant believe it took me an hour in to realize the title… sigh.

  5. Sean is now two for two on starting with a premise I react acidly to (communist kobolds?!) and immediately proving he has the chops to make it work (course I didn’t know he had the history background when the combolds came up). Fallen Flag has kept me from listening past the first hour here yet, but I just hope the almost bottomless darkness gets explored. have you (I guess this is the general you, I’m mostly just trying to increase exposure on a wonderful piece) read Mallory Ortberg’s Children’s Stories Made Horrific: The House at Pooh Corner? she is perhaps the finest horror writer of all time:

    there’s also a lot of fun stuff from the books of poems When We Were Very Young and And Now We Are Six that’s…kind of horrifying just by itself, absent of context. …I didn’t really remember until this was posted that I know a lot about Winnie the Pooh in all his incarnations.

  6. Thanks! @CrawlKill: I now desperately want to hear what that dark theme song would sound like. 🙂 I was not aware of Ortberg, but now I am going to look for her work!When I first saw the system, my first thought was “Of Mice and Mystics” as an RPG system.

    @ All:
    I enjoyed creating this game and running it, though as a group playing it, the system left a bit to be desired as far as clarifications on mechanics, particularly on the issue of Harmony. The Harmony mechanic is quite interesting, but it doesn’t work quite as well as the Stability mechanic in ToC and could possibly result in…shall we say…animosities between the GM and the players and among players if drawn out into a campaign. That said, it could be quite juicy as a GM to transform Aaron from a Paladin in Platypus skin into a rapid creature hell-bent on devouring his teammates…I leave that there for any who wish to expand on that and corrupt everyone’s favorite wild card in a game. 🙂

    There were additional horrors I wanted to explore in the game and pose problematic “questions” about the original Pooh stories given my knowledge of the history and possible symbolism surrounding the stories, but we simply didn’t have time that day. I had also briefly considered a one-shot taking the Velveteen Rabbit (which is a truly horrifying children’s story if you think it through) and throwing it into the middle of a lagomorphic witch hunt, but abandoned it when it just looked too ridiculous to hold together.

    Ann and I miss the RPPR crew now that we’re out on the West coast. Sadly, we haven’t found a new gaming troupe of our own, but the search is still on.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyable. Interesting game, clever adventure, banter at the table was funny. I hope we see this system again some time!
    Also, that theme was surprisingly awesome. I don’t think my childhood memories will be the same again…
    I’ll admit, it took me a while to recognize ‘Buck’. I should have realized it at “OCD rabbit”, really, but I wasn’t expecting one of the original cast to be in the opening scenes like that.
    “Buck’s a rabbit. You’re an ass!” The moment of realization everyone had to the terrible pun was priceless.

    +1 on the fun woodland character moments.
    All the cool character niches brought on by the creature/class/class system seem really nice for getting lateral solutions for problems.
    It’s fun to see how the widely varying characters in games like this, Engine Heart, and Eclipse Phase can interact with the scenarios. Flight, wall-clinging, venomous spurs, natural armour, echolocation, breakaway limbs, and spikes were all available for the party’s problem-solving pleasure, as were a variety of sizes.
    I suppose this requires more open-ended scenario design in these kinds of games?

    The copious donation of intoxicating beverages and the sale of chemical weapons extracted from party members is the source of all good relationships with mad scientists and their minions! Nothing bad can POSSIBLY come of this!

    Percival Platinumheart: Platypus Paladin is a perfect mix of ridiculous and adorable. He needs a TV show or something.

    Also, the whole ‘pretty much everything is forbidden magic, but even the basic NPCs in town dabble to some extent because, seriously, they need all the technological help they can get just to survive’ thing is an interesting choice. It could get a bit tiring with the see-sawing up and down on the Harmony scale, but I suppose it would take a longer campaign to see.

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