In The Quiet Year, the game is ended by the arrival of the Frost Shepherds. When this happens, the instructions tell us to end the game immediately and without discussion. (And, if we like, we can have a conversation after the game, about what the Frost Shepherds might have been and whether our community might have survived.)

This is the only game I know of where we're explicitly prevented from finding out how the story ends. Has the designer said anything about why they made this design decision?


1 Answer 1


I emailed Avery Alder, the designer of The Quiet Year and they were very helpful in answering this:

The Frost Shepherds are left as an ominous unknown for a lot of reasons.

The first reason is that the game is supposed to be entirely focused on the process and progress of a single year, and defining the Frost Shepherds would shift the focus in a lot of ways: encouraging players to plan defenses, solve problems that don't exist yet, and so on. The second reason is that the Frost Shepherds are an empty form that is given particular meaning by the session played. It might just be an anthropomorphized way of saying "frost arrives and kills our crops" or it might be a way of saying "the aliens who's arrival has been fortold in prophecy finally descend from the heavens." It might mean something different entirely - the game invites players into foreshadowing and emergently discovering what the Frost Shepherds might be.

Finally, the Frost Shepherds arriving is an anti-climax, a way of saying, "and that is all that remains of their history." It's abrupt and harshly minimal on purpose, for aesthetic reasons.


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