Don't Walk in Winter Wood is a rules-light collaborative horror game written and designed by Clint Krause and published by Red Moon Medicine Show. The game's intent is to capture the feeling of an evening of campfire ghost stories; as such, mood and narrative are prioritized.
The game is set roughly between the 17th and 18th centuries in a vague location in the American Colonies of Britain. The little villages established by intrepid or desperate colonists tend to be tight-knit and suspicious of strangers, whether they be the Native Americans who still dwell in the hills, or even folk from the next village over. The villagers work hard, keep to Christian virtues (certain... folkways notwithstanding), and for now consider themselves loyal English subjects. It's not an easy life, but they manage to get by.
Unfortunately for this particular village, there's a little extra problem: The Winter Wood that stands silent and unnaturally cold just beyond the creek. Though when necessity demands it the villagers hunt and harvest lumber in the Wood, no-one goes there if they can help it. Strange, unnatural occurrences are said to happen in Winter Wood, and now and then, something strange and unnatural comes out. The name of a cruel, cannibal Indian chief killed by his own warriors carves itself into trees. The ghost of a madwoman wails at night, mourning her husband and cursing the village. Cunning, sharp-toothed deer lure hunters to their doom. A coven of witches make unholy sacrifices to unknowable powers. Somewhere, burning bright in the cold darkness, a tunnel to hell tempts unscrupulous men to correspond with the damned.
All these stories and more might be true. At least they're true enough to devil villagers unlucky enough to draw the attention of something in Winter Wood. Left with no other options, the Walkers (player characters) must walk in Winter Wood, and find salvation or unspeakable horror. The Watcher (game master) guides their progress through the Wood, where madness and ruin are a dice roll away.
- Child Eater: There are a few in the Wood. And there are children who eat adults, too.
- Everytown, America: A Colonial variant. Vagueness of location is intentional, in keeping with the campfire tale vibe.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Winter Wood got its name because it's always unseasonably chilly, and prone to thick fog. And if the Wood itself isn't evil, the things that live in it certainly are.
- Godzilla Threshold: People only go into Winter Wood if they're ignorant, foolhardy, or have exhausted all other options.
- Hypocrite: Appropriate to the time period, the villagers are mostly devout Christians who regard "heathen" practices with fear and disgust. This doesn't stop many people in the village from drawing a particular pagan sigil in their homes to ward off evil.
- The Savage Indian: This is how the villagers tend to regard the natives due to prejudice against non-Christians, though positive interactions aren't impossible. Notably, the natives are as scared of Winter Wood as the colonists.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: They and other creatures wait in Winter Wood. This is a game about old-fashioned ghost story fear, after all.
- Wicked Witch: The villagers live in fear of witches. They have good reason, but sometimes pick the wrong targets.