The Quiet Year – Actual Play

I had the opportunity to play Joe McDaldno’s The Quiet Year. The game revolves around a map that the players build as a community tries to survive & build in a post-apocalyptic setting. What follows are a number of pictures as the map of our game evolved. After each image I’ll detail some highlights. Later I’ll make a post about my thoughts of the game itself.

Play Begins

Starting Map

Starting Map

Our community is staying within an abandoned run-down amusement park. The three areas of note on the map are a system of run-down maintenance tunnels (scarcity of protection from the elements), a castle attraction with fake, useless weaponry (scarcity of weapons), and a central lagoon fed by a stream that keeps it fresh (an abundance of water).


Map 2

Abigail (a teenager) had found some old romance novels. Those drove her to start spreading the word that there was no need for people to wait until marriage to have sex. Sex was a joy and the community needs to grow. She was exiled for what many considered dangerous ideas.

The community all sleeps within a haunted house attraction. Space is tight and many believe the place to be actually haunted.

Following Abigail’s exile due to her ideas, some Elders within the community decide that a church should be built to keep everyone on the right track. The project will take 6 weeks.

Map 3

Map 3

A handful of teenagers (lead by Claude) left the community in search of Abigail, believing she had the right idea.

A woman calling herself Samantha came from a village to the east past the mountains. She claims their village is perfect and they want for nothing. She invites our community to move to them.

The old tunnels have been repaired. Now all the women sleep in the tunnels and the men stay in the haunted house. The elders make the decision mostly to keep the younger kids segregated to hopefully dissuade any pre-marital sex.

The amusement park had been abandoned before the fall of civilization. Kids/teenagers used to sneak in and party, have sex, and other things teenagers do. One night 4 teenagers managed to get part of the roller coaster operational. There was an accident and all 4 kids died.

Later, old man Willard (the oldest member of the community) confesses that he used to work for the amusement park and when he heard the stories of what was going on, he decided to rig an accident on the old roller coaster. The community is unsure of what to do with Willard for the time being.

At some point some kids search the castle for some replica weapons or something, but all they find are a bunch of mostly worthless replica weapons.

Map 4

Map 4

A large parking garage is found just outside the amusement park. The bottom levels are flooded, so a project is started to try and irrigate the water out into a nearby stream.

Another woman, also naming herself Samantha (identical to the first) comes in from a different village on the other side of the mountains. She also says the village is perfect and they lack for nothing. A group of teens heads off across the mountains to determine what’s going on with the two villages across the mountains.

The new church has been completed, but it’s only large enough to house about half of the community at a time.

Just outside the amusement park in the town center, the community’s food stores are kept hidden in the basement of Town Hall (access is only through a well-hidden trap door).

Map 5

Map 5

The parking garage is successfully irrigated. The team of people manage to drain it into a nearby stream that feeds the lagoon in the amusement park. The parking garage is in pretty good condition and makes for great shelter to keep out of bad weather and the elements. Protection from the elements is now in abundance.

There are sightings of something within the water. No one’s sure what it is, but some people are spooked.

Brian comes back from the scouting mission to the villages. He’s the only survivor. Before he dies of his wounds, he says that we can’t trust Samantha (he doesn’t say which one) and that one of the villages was attacking the other (again, he doesn’t say which).

Feeling unsafe the community decides to shore up and reinforce the main gates into the amusement park.

Old man Willard is found dead, crucified in the chapel. A short investigation turns up nothing, except that a number of people are glad that he’s gone, but a lot of people are frightened that someone in the community could do such a thing.

Also, we learn that every morning the community as a whole gathers around the lagoon and holds hands and gives thanks for the abundance of water they’ve been blessed with.

Map 6

Map 6

The gate has been reinforced with lumber. It won’t hold out an army forever, but it’s a lot better than it was.

After the gate was reinforced, the community decided to look over the walls surrounding the park and making sure the rest of the wall is secure. It’s in pretty good shape and doesn’t take much to fix any weak spots. There aren’t any other large gates, just some small doors for employee entrances and such.

One day when gathering supplies from the food stores at town hall, there are some broken windows and the ground level is ransacked. There’s evidence of wild dogs around the building. Luckily they didn’t get into the hidden basement.

A week or two after that the remaining food is all gone. The community suspects bandits.

One morning the remains of a body are found floating in the lagoon. It’s Joanna. She was attacked by something. Some community members spend some time trolling the lagoon & stream and eventually manage to trap an alligator. Some members call to kill and eat it. Others claim it should protected, because it’s a sign from god. Unfortunately, the water now appears to be tainted and there’s no longer an abundance of drinkable water (but not a scarcity).

A group of teens decides we need to better protect ourselves. Searches through the castle have turned up nothing, so they start trying to tear down the old roller coaster, figuring they can use scrap metal and wood as improvised weapons. It’s a lot of work and it will take a while.

One community member, Angus, says he’s good with animals. He thinks the dogs could be tamed and made to be good guard dogs. He spends some time assessing whether they can be trained or not.

Remaining teenagers start again voicing their displeasure about the restrictions against sex outside of wedlock. The community is getting smaller and they believe there will always be a need for the community to grow.

Map 7

Map 7

Another teen, Jonah, takes it upon himself to check out the two villages out past the mountains. The community doesn’t know enough about what’s out there and he decides to see what he can find out. He gets across the mountain to see that one of the villages has been destroyed. It’s not clear what the motives would be of the surviving village and if they could be trustworthy, so Jonah comes back without making contact.

One night a group of strangers sets up camp outside the gates. They have a lot of sick. The community decides we can’t spare the resources to bring them in.

After a couple weeks Angus realizes the dogs are too wild to be trained/domesticated. However, he does manage to steal a litter of puppies. He hopes that bringing them up from birth will be successful. He notices something different about them, their eyes are totally black, but they otherwise seem like normal dogs.

He’s able to train them as guard dogs much faster than expected. They’re growing fast and they’re extremely intelligent. Sometimes Angus swears that their barks and growls almost sound like words.

Meanwhile, the community has instituted a militia training program at one of the old performance stages.

A young child was exploring the tunnel system and finds that it exits somewhere outside of the park. It’s a ways away from the park and no one’s sure yet where exactly it comes out, there’s no major landmarks.

Later a dead Jackal is found near the tunnel exit. They’re human, and they all wear old-style baseball caps.

A teenager, Megan, starts showing signs of being pregnant. When confronted she admits that a number of teenagers have been sneaking into the Tunnel of Love ride and making out and even having sex sometimes.

Map 8

The militia training turns into lookout training. The teens were unhappy and the community wanted to focus on defense and security. The training eventually finishes, though it takes a while.

Thanks to some work and good fortune the lagoon is running clean again, restoring the abundance of drinking water.

The roller coaster gets dismantled and turned into a large cache of improvised weapons (now a surplus).

The harvest from the small patch of land being used as a farm was better than expected, creating a surplus of food (corn, grain, etc).

Delilah steps in to try and further train the dogs, she thinks they can be more than just guard dogs.

After his time with the dogs, Angus warns that there’s something wrong with them, that it won’t turn out well. He runs off and leaves the amusement park. He manages to steal the alligator under the noses of everyone in the community. No one knows why. Maybe he thinks he can train it.

Later, the puppies comes up missing. Delilah can’t tell where they went or if they’re even still in the park or not.

A group out looking for supplies finds a small stash of weapons in the basement of a convenience store near the middle of town in the form of a handful of firearms.

Another group is scrounging around town for whatever non-perishable foods they can find.

The Elders decide it’s time to bring Abigail, Claude, and the other teenagers back into the park. They don’t think they’ll do it peacefully, so they sound out a group to bring them back under force of arms and make them be their front-line if they get attacked.

There’s a tornado that ravages the nearby countryside. Everyone manages to get to safety, but it nearly completely destroys the parking garage. There’s no longer an abundance of protection from the elements.

Map 9

Map 9

The group scrounging for food has great success, adding non-perishable food items to the already abundant grains and vegetables.

A third woman calling herself Samantha (identical to the first 2) shows up in the camp of sick strangers outside the gate. She’s giving the same story of a perfect village across the mountains. The next morning she’s found dead in front of the gates. She was beaten to death. It doesn’t appear that anyone in the camp of strangers was fit enough to have done it.

The exiled Abigail and her runaways are brought back into the community. There’s a lot of friction, but they have little choice in being forced to fight for the group.

A disease starts to spread, likely from contact with the strangers outside, creating a scarcity of Health & Fertility.

A group goes off to search a hospital near the center of town for antibiotics and other supplies, hoping to help the sick within the community.

There are rumors that the returned teens have been gathering in the castle every night. Strange chanting is sometimes heard.

Map 10

Map 10

The group searching the hospital spots a nasty looking biker gang roaming around the streets. They manage to stay hidden, but the existence of what might be bandits is troubling. They’re probably the sames ones that stole all the food from the town hall so many weeks ago.

Delilah takes it upon herself to find out what happened to the missing puppies. She doesn’t find them, but discovers a number of burrows they’ve been using to get in and out of the amusement park.

Megan is found battered and beaten (but alive). She says the lost group of teens abducted her and beat her, causing her to abort, and then they took the aborted fetus back to the castle for some unknown purpose and left her where she’d fallen.

The community struggles with how to deal with the teenagers. Some call for their execution.

Supplies at the hospital are found, but not enough to alleviate the scarcity of health and certainly not enough to help the strangers outside the gates.

One winter night Delilah goes off searching for the dogs. Her behavior lately and obsession with the dogs spooked a lot of people. No search party is formed. She’s never heard from again.

Final map

Final map

Jonah stands near the center of the amusement park, near the lagoon and confesses that he beat the woman, Samantha, to death, and crucified Willard. He saw them as threats and thought it was for the good of the community. A trial is put together to determine what to do with the young man.

Megan gets it in her head to get some revenge on the teenagers. She finds some of Willard’s old engineering books and hopes to make some sort of bomb. Her plan falters and fails.

The teenagers in the castle find an old exhibit with some actual medieval weaponry and torture devices.

A man from the strangers comes to the gate, less sick than the rest. He says he’s a doctor and that he can help our sick, especially with the supplies gathered from the hospital. There’s no longer a scarcity of health & fertility, but a new infection begins to spread in the community.

The Frost Shepherds arrive.

Final Summary Card

Final Summary Card

Play Ends

Post-game we discussed some broad strokes of the community. We decide the Frost Shepherds are Samantha. And there’s a large group of them. All clones. Intentions are left unknown.

At the end, lacking any scarcity and having a number of important abundances, it appears the group is in a pretty strong place to survive.

It’s unknown how things will play out with the teenage cultists, but there’s hope that outside threats (maybe the Frost Shepherds) will drive the community together.


2 responses to “The Quiet Year – Actual Play

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