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Andrea ran Carolina Death Crawl for us on Google Hangouts. Kai, Jonna and me jumped at the opportunity to play this highly regarded and creepy looking game.

imageAt the height of the American Civil War, your characters have been abandoned deep behind Confederate lines. Can they fight their way through enemy territory and treacherous terrain back to safety? For all but one, the answer is “no!”, but the dark story you tell in trying will be memorable and thrilling. Fun and competitive, the game gives you all the history you need—you supply the desperation, depravity, and destruction.

Wow, what a game! Reading the free PDF rules I had no idea how 1) this was going to turn out 2) this would be fun. It turned out to be very cool and very intense experience. Phew!

In the prologue we narrated all the horrible things we already did in the war. In the first act, we started playing. There’s a strategic part of the game where you get dealt cards with story elements and point on them, and the more you can get into play, the more points you rack up. (Kind of like Once upon a time with Death instead of Enchanted forests). At the end of the first act, the person with the least points dies.

Our very first scene saw us raiding a house for clothes – it turned out to be Maybeck’s house, and through a disastrous series of events his mother was killed by the Bugler. My corporal refused to stay long enough for Maybeck to bury his mother and the tone was set. I think almost the entire story flowed out of that one scene. At the end of the act, my corporal gave coverfire so the group could escape, only to get shot in the back by Maybeck who whispered “No grave for you”.

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In the second act, that player comes back as a ghost and starts haunting the remaining players, Wraith-style. That player is supposed to play standing and whisper taunts in people’s ears. They also get to narrate a scene and play cards against the remaining charcters. Other than that, play continues as normal. At the end, another player dies.

As a ghost, I got to mess with different scenes and add unearthly elements. My favorite bit was after they had left 300 freed slaves looking for help to their fate – in fact, they’d even killed their leader to get them to leave! After that, they went into a church, where I narrated that they heard a negro spiritual faintly reverbing through the church and then sang it! (I don’t know any negro spirituals off heart, so I went for Only remembered for what we have done, which is actually a WWI song).

That was fun to do, and gave a very creepy result. It was also fun private messaging the players will all kinds of guilty and negative thoughts and acts. I alluded to horrible things they did (“After what you did to the Lord’s daugher… she was just a girl!) and how they deserved death and were going to hell.

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In the third and final act, the two players both work together as ghosts to bring the downfall of the remaining characters. After this act, only one person will remain, and he will get an epilogue.

Jonna joined me for the ghost team (her character committed suicide) and together we rained down misery on the remaining two characters. In the end they had to crawl over a field of corpses to get to their fortress. One got shot by their own troops, and one made it to life at least another day.

***

Wow, what a game! It’s depressing, tense, exciting and definitely badwrongfun. I was a little depressed in the first act because I couldn’t score any points, but it turned out being a ghost was great. It’s very interesting. It was still fun, but not funny. Something many other grim games (CoC, Warhammer 40k) don’t manage.

I was also curious how far we would go, would our characters actually be raping and torturing? As it turns out we didn’t, but that didn’t make the game any less excting. Plus, it gave me leeway to hint at much further things as a ghost and push some boundaries.

I actually felt a bit… I don’t know, not depressed but physically impressed by the game. A bit shell-shocked. Perhaps it was because I’d been standing as a ghost and was still recovering from a heavy cold, but it left me in a light daze the night and the day after. Powerful stuff.

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