Forts & Frontiers at Cold Wars

By Jameson Proctor

April 25, 2018

I GMed our Forts & Frontiers quickstart/prequel Feast of the Dead at Cold Wars with Marco and Kimber at the table playing NPCs. We were all a bit worn out from a non-stop gaming schedule that had kicked off the afternoon before, but , once the game got going, our fatigue was quickly forgotten. The game ran for three hours as planned and transitioned more or less seamlessly from wilderness travel to encounters and back again. All in all, a good time seemed to be had by all, and we were pleased with the results. Below are a few key takeaways from the game… Takeaway 1 We had a couple of younger players join who play in a weekly D&D 5e game. Given that we decided to base Forts & Frontiers on the D&D 5e Systems Reference Document, they were able to easily pick up the game. While Marco and I both thought that skill based systems like Burning Wheel or Mythras we’re a better fit for historical roleplaying, we also agreed that combining a niche period of history with a niche system would limit the game. It’s good to see the potential for broader appeal provided by basing Forts & Frontiers on “the world’s greatest roleplaying game”. Takeaway 2 One of the design goals of Forts & Frontiers is to provide a platform to explore the territories and themes of 18th century North America. We’re finding that the sense of realism that we’re trying to bring to the system encourages this kind of exploration.  Period maps and the game’s detailed travel system provide the opportunity to interact with the setting as opposed to it just being a backdrop. Realistic boons and class features allow for the exploration of character backgrounds and motivations instead of focusing on superhero-like powers. Adventures that bring the depth and nuance of history to the gaming table encourage learning and challenge GMs and players to run and play games that feel congruous with the past. Takeaway 3 The belief mechanic that Kimber came up with during our early playtests adds another unique element to the system. The Feast of the Dead adventure module describes it as such:

As American Indian and European civilizations come into contact with one another, characters’ beliefs will be challenged. When an extraordinary event occurs, for example a European priest heals someone by laying on hands or an American Indian ritualist predicts an event that comes to pass, players must make a Wisdom saving throw with the DC set by the magnitude of the event. On failure, their characters gain a point of belief. The more belief points characters have, the more disposed they are toward the influencing civilization.

Belief provides another path for exploring 18th century North America, in this case, from the perspective of the collision of cultures and its impact. This led to a very dramatic close to our session at Cold Wars! Maybe once we finally release the Feast of the Dead adventure module, we’ll tell you more. Speaking of the Feast of the Dead, we’re hard at work getting it ready for the invitation only release. We were delayed a bit over the course of the past month with travel (both business and pleasure), children’s birthdays, and lots and lots of work at our day jobs. Excuses, excuses... Anyhow to get on the list, please send an email to or sign up for the Campaign Games email newsletter. Until next time, I hope we all get to play our fair share of games and have a great time doing so.