Los Angeles has Strategicon 3 times a year, and that’s amazing. The 6 months between Gateway (early September) and Orccon (mid-February) is the big gap… and we just crossed it. Officially the con starts Friday at noon, but my out-of-towner Andy and I headed there a day early. We met up with Morgan for a lovely lunch at Metro Cafe, one of my pre-con traditions. We followed that up with a bit of outdoor adventure and romantic walking at the overcast and chilly beach, with delicious matcha and Spanish lattes in hand. After than the very small critical mass of friendly peoples were arriving at the LAX Hilton, so we went to join it.
Our friend CaDave let Andy and I crash his room, and soon after we met up with Kurt, Katie, and Kurt Jr. It wasn’t long before we moved on from the talking, and moved on to the gaming.
Playing Forest Mother
We pitched a few things, and Kurt pitched both Guns N’ Sharks and Forest Mother, and we settled on the latter. It is Kurt’s story game-in-development, a weird-o story game, and I’m 100% here for it.
The game is about forest spirits trying to reclaim their forest from invaders. The story is GM-less, and beautifully collaborative. To start, everyone creates their place in the forest, as well as a forest mother, and a initial minion. These are all places on index cards, and are very loose, story game-style characters and locations. Everyone then creates an invader of the forest. In a normal game there’d also be a pinnacle invader that must be dealt with after all the initial invaders, but we didn’t play with that.
As an example, my location was “The Pine Spires: A forest heavily populated by fungoids, friends to all the dead flesh”. My forest mother was “Atura: The veins in the earth”, a mushroom creature that links thousands of trees as one large organism. My minion was Blorp Thorman, a fungus blob creature that rides in a huge flesh golem composed of hundreds of dead bodies (similar to piloting a mech). For my contribution to the invaders of the forest, I chose “Human Farmers: persistent, and using ingenuity.”
The invaders are shuffled and placed, face down, in random places in the forest. They get revealed later when minions go exploring, and seek to cleanse the land. Also, the longer you avoid dealing with the issue, the stronger those invaders get.
Apparently the mechanics used to involve dice, but Kurt has tweaked the game to use playing cards, which was simpler and effective, and felt like the right touch.
The game itself was lovely, and strange. There is quite a bit of flexibility as far as tone, based around what the players bring in. We had a range of evocative darkness, weirdness, and silliness, in roughly equal parts. And it all worked together to tell a story that it felt like we were all happy with.
Where can I get this thing?
Eventually, I’m assuming you can get it on Kurt Potts’ itch.io site. Check back there for updates.
The game was originally written as a 200 Word RPG: Forest Mother: Motherhood in a dangerous wood. However, Kurt has updated this as Forest Mother Redux, which looks roughly like the version we played, except that version still uses the dice rules. So… stay tuned!