hi i'm mouse and once in a blue moon i contemplate writing about games i actually sort of like i guess
Since it doesn't look like anyone else has done up a thing on it and I'm trying to find something with which to occupy my time right now (other than staring at a slow cooker and/or Cabela's Olde Tymey Dong Hunter 2014 and/or finishing Autumn Peop--nope nope nope not doin' that sorry not sorry ), Iiiii'm going to write a bunch of words about Summerland .
Summerland bills itself as 'a roleplaying game of desolation and redemption in the Sea of Leaves,' which probably sounds snappier than 'the Last of Us with less angry MUSHROOM PPL and more buried trauma,' but...well. Let's unpack this, mm~?
One night, for no apparent reason, a vast and ancient forest appeared across the land as if it had existed there for hundreds of years. Destructively superimposed on all that existed before it, the forest devastated the works of man. Nothing escaped the blanketing of the trees, not even the tarmac of the roads or the buildings of the city centres. Life as we know it ceased: structures collapsed; roads, rail lines and runways were choked; and anything that may have helped with a swift recovery was lost. For a short while a state of emergency was broadcast over all available media, but soon these reassuring words fell silent.
As devastating as the Event was, much worse was to follow. It became apparent that this forest, soon to be named the Sea of Leaves, was not like any ordinary, mundane wood. Ancient, foreboding and somehow alive, it was a wild place, full of cunning, dangerous animals, and permeated by the Call, a siren-song, a lure that sucked the weak-minded, the desperate and the lonely into its depths. Within weeks over eighty per cent of people succumbed to the Call and entered the depths of the wood, never returning.
so pretty much #mybrand then huh
Those that remained clung together however and wherever they could, slowly forming close-knit communities in locations that could be protected from the dangers of the wood. These survivors learnt that only through human connections could the Call be resisted, friendships and family binding each community together in the face of adversity. Within these settlements normal people could forget the lure of the forest, bolstered by the community around them. But they avoided the woods by day, and could not sleep under the trees for fear of the Call. Outside of these communities the landscape was warped, the remnants of humanity’s work still recognisable but now broken and twisted into something new and frightening by the trees. Here the Call was powerful, especially in the deeper, wilder woods.
There are people who can go into the woods, but there's a catch because of course there is. (And it's kind of....I like games about coping with trauma! I like weird modern fantasy! I reeeeeally fucking like games about weird all-enveloping sentient-ish plant life! ....but, I guess I'm kind of ambivalent about this game's treatment of the whole thing? Because d a m n.) See, the only people who don't just go right under are folk who've gone through some kind of past trauma so awful it literally separates them from the rest of humanity . They're called drifters, because they're so ~damaged~ and fundamentally different from everyone else that the remaining communities straight up won't take them in, so...they drift. Get it? Eventually, though, people figured out drifters' Broken Human Being Consolation Prize powers, and communities offer fleeting shelter and human contact (or whatever) in exchange for doing stuff.
In exchange for these services the settlements offered temporary shelter from the dangers of the forest and a brief exposure to the warmth of a human community. But they would not accept drifters permanently; they were seen as too unstable, too damaged. It seemed that only through healing themselves of their past hurts could the drifters join the communities they served.
Doesn't that just warm your heart?
This is the intro chapter (sort of! This book kinda....does not have proper chapters.), so they follow up with a little preliminary explanation of stuff -- the PCs are drifters who venture into the Sea of Leaves, it's big and strange and scary and there's everything from feral people to freakishly intelligent animals to coming back and getting caught up in inter-community politics and the end goal is to
be accepted into a community by "curing the wounds of their past" and it's a roleplaying game and there are dice and....yeah.
Next, setting notes! The book notes that the game assumes a North American/European setting with mostly deciduous trees and the kinds of animals you usually get in those kinds of forests, but that you can set it in other regions with different environments or go with weird, alien forests full of flora no one has names for or w/e, depending on the tastes of the GM and players.
This is a game, and should be treated as such. Summerland deals with some mature themes such as mental illness, repentance and guilt, so always remember it’s not real! If you and your fellow players start touching on ideas that you’re not comfortable with, bring it up straight away and work it out between you. We’re just giving you an environment for an exciting adventure, and you should always treat it that way, nothing more.
Not sure how I feel about a content warning taking the shape of 'this is a game about broken human beings trying to fix their horrific psyche-altering trauma so everyone left in the world stops shunning the--OKAY GANG REMEMBER IT'S JUST A GAME IT'S JUST SUPPOSED TO BE A ROLLICKING ADVENTURE,' but five points to Gryffindor for trying I guess?
Next time: character creation, themes, Roll +Triggered By The Horrifying Memory Of My Friend Pleading For Me To Save Him As He Slowly Burned To Death